7 Businesses Creatives Can Start for $200 Or Less

Image via:  illustrator JK Chapman

You are creative indeed. 

People tell you that even when your not fishing for compliments. 

Yet, you either are not allowing your creativity to earn you income on your own terms due to self-doubt, or you are craving to start a venture but have no idea how to narrow down your interest and to begin. 

Plus, more and likely you are low on funds and fear that starting any business will take a small Kardashian fortune. 

Fear not, creative belle. 

Here are 7 businesses that your beautiful mind/soul can start all for under $200 buckeroos and some resources that will compliment the selected entrepreneurial endeavor... 

1. Event Styling
Start with a niche (I've now finally bought the niche Kool-Aid myself) and style events that reflect your own personal aesthetic. 
You can offer to do:
Gothic Weddings
Sweet Sixteens
Baby Showers
Realtor Open Houses
Boutique/Salon Opening Parties
Launch Parties

You can offer to provide:
Tabletop Decor, Floral Arrangements, Space Re-arrangements, Beverage/Cuisine Arrangement, Party Favor Placement, and really a combination of all of the above in your own way.

To get started...
*Create 5-7 virtual mood boards with PicMonkey AND take about $30 and buy materials to create physical collages from tear sheets, real dried flowers, real photographs, matted frames, glitter. Just be creative. Show that you can make a client's event POP!

*Tap into the power of Craigslist to advertise for FREE but only do it to get your first 2 clients because folks on CL are not willing to pay you what you are worth long-term!

What to charge?
Starting out, don't talk yourself into low fees. Either offer your services for free to friends/family/acquaintances or at a very reduced rate for folks found on Craigslist for your first TWO projects only. 

Then for number THREE, offer your services starting at a minimum of $45 per hour. Many established pros charge an average of $60-90 per hour. 

But also try pitching folks a package rate. 

All of the work that is involved in event styling (client consultations, research, creating mood boards, gathering props/supplies) takes time. This is no time to be a $20 per hour girl. 

Get your worth from JUMP...

For a streamlined definition of what an event stylist does, read HERE, by the event styling boutique, Petite Delights. 

2. Host a monthly consignment shop
If your a creative, then almost every girl in your crew has a white hot passion for fashion. 

Gather the past wares from your friends/colleagues/coolAunts, and host monthly consignment shop parties, a la POP-UP Shop

Set-up shop in vacant lofts, the lobby of your Dad's law firm, outdoor markets (in Dallas, there is the Deep Ellum Market held monthly).

I would suggest however, to make it as intimate as possible, like a true boutique shopping experience. Play Amy Winehouse, offer cucumber water, and the sort. 

To get started:
*Gather roughly 80 pieces from folks
*Have them sign contracts for 70/30 split (your cut 70%) that you printed on your home computer. Snag this one HERE via Scribd. 
*Pub it like crazy on FB, start a Twitter hashtag, and distribute flyers that you created on your iPhone using the Phoster app
*Email local fashion bloggers/journalists personal invites and offer them a 50% off discount on one item :) 

Additional ways to make extra dough:
*You could start another POP-UP just for shoes or handbags and apparel and jewelry for the other

*You can sell what is left-over via StoreEnvy

*You can begin offering fashion styling or personal shopping services

What to spend money on:
Neon or craft paper hang tags $5-$10 bucks
5-6 Rolling Racks $22 each
1-2 Folding Tables, roughly $28 (or use your own or borrow)
Hangers (nice ones) try these: 48 for $39.99 @target

To dress up your monthly POP-UP:
Spray paint your rolling racks
Buy at least one canvas cover for a rolling rack
Buy a $5 bouquet and set in a small vase on folding tables

For inspiration and business tips, check out Kate Holmes's extensive consignment Pinterest BOARD

3. Become a vacation photographer
Are you a shutterbug in hiding? Come out to play! 

Offer photography services to vacationers who want pics around your fair city at popular destinations. 

Even hobbyists can jump into this niche.

To get started:
Create packages of 2 hour sessions that will include 30 pics emailed to the client for at least $149 (make it an upgrade if they want prints). 

This trend has really gained ground in Paris. People often do not want half-ass pics snapped by the person next to them on the elevator. They want the touch of a professional or at least someone with a sharp eye and high passion for photography. 

How to get around the fact that you don't have a $700 DSLR camera:

Buy a 35mm Holga Camera or 120 film Diana lomography camera for $60 $80 bucks at Urban Outfitters or Ebay. 

Lomography is old school and is enjoying a resurgence. Tap into this trend and let is define your brand. 

Granted, it costs quite a bit to have film developed and prints scanned onto a disc but you can factor that into your costs, so have shoots be $199 versus $149 if you are using a digital SLR. 

Lomography.COM offers development and CD scans for $12-$13 bucks a roll when you mail it in, but even most metropolitan cities have highly-rated processing labs where you can have film processed in an hour. 

For additional examples of photographers offering this service, read this Today Show article

4. Become a niche publicist
If you enjoy the art of the network and can write a mean letter of introduction on your client's behalf, then PR is right up your pretty alley. 

Your creative spirit will need to be in multiple abundance to get eyes on the brands you rep. 

Niche areas to ponder:
Jewelry designers
Interior designers/decorators
Wedding Planners

To get started:
*Beef up your social media following as much as possible
*DM promos to brands on Twitter that you know you could spice up
*Throw together a talent showcase or fashion show and invite the media (if turn out is good, then surely some of the brands involved will sign-up for an affordable monthly service)
*Offer a "letter of introduction" service for $99 to brands that are looking to get a quick write-up or mention on a local newspaper/morning show 

How to expand your PR business:
Start a blog and offer paid advertising for brands in your niche

Write an e-book on how to execute a DIY PR campaign for brands on a budget and sell it for $4.99

Offer extensive monthly services on retainer (press releases, brand audits, 1 hour fireside chats, event planning for client product/service launches)

Hire Jr. Publicists (the girls in college) to handle smaller accounts

Offer social media management services to brands for $249 a month and up 

One of the savviest niche publicists is Crosby Noricks, read her blog, PR Couture, and learn baby, learn. 

5. Create an online course teaching your passion
Do you know Adobe Illustrator backwards and forwards?
Do you know how to use film cameras for weddings?
Do you know how to buy authentic vintage?
Do you know how to be a paid blogger?
Think about it...
Most of us have some in-demand skill (the more niche the better) but have no idea how to lend that talent to the world at large. 

Well, teach it. 

Set up an online class and charge for classes. 

You can either deliver your classes via a drip campaign (over the course of a defined period of time like 6 weeks) from your own website or partner with an e-school host company. 

Outside companies that you can partner with to deliver classes:

Partnering with these companies means that you earn a commission each time a student takes one of your courses from the fee they paid to take the course. 

To get started:
Make sure you are organized as hell. 

Tweet, FB, Blog, Guest Post, LinkedIn, & Pin, your upcoming course. 

Also network with bloggers for cross promotions. 

Most of the time setting up costs you nothing, because all of the partner platforms listed provide templates/guides that let you plug in your content. 

To motivate you:
Some teachers on Udemy are making upwards of $100,000 from class fees on the site alone. 

Don't scratch your head, get to planning...

6. Become a life coach for other creatives
Do you operate from a left brain perspective but also dive head first into your right brain on a daily basis?

If so, you could be making a killing as a life coach for other creatives. 

Most of the time creatives lack either; focus, direction, life strategy know-how, goal-setting skills, or organizational prowess. 

How to deliver:
Start a blog and offer bubbling spot on advice to creatives

Create FREE downloadable worksheets or 3 week drip campaign courses that encourage break-throughs for creatives in need

Create PAID downloadable e-books, print books, and online courses that encourage break-throughs for creatives in need

Offer 1on1 hourly coaching via in-person, Skype, or through Go-To Meeting

Offer small group workshops in your home, their home, or intimate event space

Offer half-day workshops to employees at major corporations

What to charge:
Stick to an hourly rate you feel justifies your skill level and experience for private coaching. However, the average life coach charges $100 per hour

Meet two women that can be your role models in the field of life coaching for creatives:

Michelle Ward, Coach and Proprietoress of, 

Katherine Torrini, Coach and Proprietoress of, 

7. Ghost write books for a niche group
If you are a classy wordsmith then start an e-book content company writing e-books as a ghost writer for a niche group. 

You can ghost write business e-books for:
Interior designers
Famous bloggers
Etsy Super Stars
Event Planners

The creative pros you could pitch are endless...

To launch:
Write and publish your own e-book on a topic that moves you and that will resonate with your target audience. 

That is exactly what  I am doing with my little e-book, Growth Ink. 72 Bad-Ass Resources for Indie Authors, that I hope to finish by Memorial Day :) 

Send a complimentary copy of your own e-book to those in your target audience. 

Create a banner link and find a blog that caters to your audience for exposure.

What to charge?
I recommend to charge by the word in the 0.35 cent to 0.50 cent range with an upfront non-refundable deposit of $250. 

Most e-books are fairly short, coming in at 5K to 15K words. 

Taking the average of 42.5 cents per word at an e-book that clocks in at 8K words, you will walk away with around $3,400.

If you aim for two book projects a month, you will average over 80K in income your first year. 

The good news is that 42.5 cents is just a starting rate, as you produce more books, you can increase your per word rate. 

The bad news is that if you enjoy writing your own content (books, blog posts, articles) then you may experience writer burn-out. 

However, if you are workhorse and have the tenacity and zest to write like a mad woman for your own brand, and others, then becoming a niche ghost writer, could become an absolute goldmine for you. 

This article on, Write Non-Fiction Now, provides even more details on how to get started as a ghost writer for hire. 

Additional Resources To Launch Your Business...

Business cards are a must, get some that stand out at:
Vistaprint (250 for $10)

GoPrint (500 for $8.50 but are more basic in design)

Tiny Prints (100 for $29 but are very artful and offer impeccable quality)

Websites that tell your story will get you business, try:
Squarespace ($10 per month)
Virb (also $10 per month)

Taking payments on the go will increase sales. Get a card reader system for your iPad or mobile phone at:
They only take 2.75% of transactions, and your money is available immediately to those that have either a Paypal Mastercard or bank account tied to their Paypal as a back-up account source

They also only take 2.75% of transactions, but your money will not be available until the next day 

See, starting a business does not mean you have to skip on your student loan payments or move in with Dad. 

But you may have to for-go some lattes, girl night outs, or call in some favors. 

However, it is possible. 

Remember: Everything's Possible. 

Hopefully you gained some inspiration and have gathered at least a few thoughts on how to take your creative talents and make a business out of them. 

Get your biz plan together, ASAP! 

I wish you luck! 

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