Setting up and running a successful creative enterprise, like an author business, is challenging, for lots of reasons. One reason is that we must balance the needs of three kinds of work: producing, processing and positioning–often without knowing that's what we need to do.
Or to put the work another way: making, managing and marketeering.
Or yet another way: being the creative crafter, the creative director and the creative promoter in your business.
The easiest way to think about this, as you go through your day's work, is to imagine yourself donning three different hats for the three different roles.
- We make our books and associated products and promotional content e.g. reader magnets, ads
- We manage our money, our time and our business processes e.g. banking, taxation, business plans
- We market ourselves and our books and develop our author platform e.g. marketing plans, sales plans and programs
The Indie Author's Three Hats: Producing, Processing, Positioning
Success for an indie author results from good performance in three distinct areas: creative craft (producing), creative business practice (processing), creative enterprise (positioning).
The better we are at each of these, the more money and meaning we generate, for ourselves and everyone who is touched by our work.
- Producing: You put on your Maker Hat to work in your business: your creative projects, products and services. [Creative Crafter]
- Processing: You put on your Manager Hat to work on your business: your creative assets, processes and profits. [Creative Director]
- Positioning: You put on your Marketeer Hatto to grow your business: your creative pitches, publications, and partnerships. [Creative Promoter]
I have never met a creative who wants to give away the Maker Hat but I've met many who ignore or denigrate the role of the Manager or the Marketeer. But creativity is not something we put to one side when we turn to process or positioning.
Creativity is core, whichever hat we're wearing.
The Indie Author's Three Hats: Perspectives
The Maker (Creative Crafter)'s perspective is focussed inwards. For the Maker, the business is primarily a system that allows making to continue. Wearing this hat, we have a list of tasks we need to do in order to make our books and other products: writing, editing, design.
- The Maker craves creativity itself and the solitude and space to create.
- Crafter Occupational Hazard: Blaming others, or outside factors, for poor productivity, instead of recognizing the role of the Manager and Marketeer
The Marketeer (Creative Promoter)'s perspective is focussed outwards. Wearing this hat, we see the business as a system for turning ideas into ever-expanding value. Our sights are on partnerships and projects that enable us to grow. Perhaps even, at a more advanced level, looking at how we might disrupt our genre.
- The Marketeer craves influence and impact, to be seen and heard.
- Promoter Occupational Hazard: Trying to do too much or grow too fast. Prioritizing other people's opinions
The Manager (Creative Director)'s perspective is holistic. Wearing this hat, we see our business as a system that delivers profit and pleasure to ourselves as maker and marketeer, and our assistants, team members, readers– everyone touched by our author business.
- The Manager craves order and security, to be organized.
- Manager's Occupational Hazard: Rigidity. Forgetting to make it fun.
Let's look at four important aspects of an author business (customers, work, time, money) from the perspective of each of the three hats.
The Indie Author's Three Hats: Readers
- Wearing the Maker's hat, finding and keeping happy readers is a matter of producing great books.
- Wearing the Manager's hat, finding and keeping happy readers is about getting pricing, features, availability and support right, and having good problem-solving processes.
- Wearing the Marketeer's hat, finding and keeping happy readers is an opportunity to make money and meaning, for ourselves and for others.
The Indie Author's Three Hats: Work
- The Maker says: “I’d love to work on this product/do that campaign/offer such a service” and thinks this content is the key to a successful business. Wearing this hat, the work is to create more and better offerings to sell.
- The Marketeer asks: “What can we make of these ideas and how can we get it out there?” Wearing this hat, the work is to win customers’ attention and money and turn ideas into products and projects, and products and projects into impact and influence as fast as possible. To grow and scale the business as much as possible.
- The Manager says, “What makes this business run smoothly?” Wearing this hat the features of the business itself, not just its projects and products, are important. Operating expenses, communications, customer support, the effectiveness of team, tools and techniques: all these key to success. In the Manager's view, the work is keeping the business orderly and sustainable for the long-term.
The Indie Author's Three Hats: Time
- The Marketeer starts with a picture of a desirable future, and then comes back to the present to make changes that will measure up to the vision.
- The Maker looks through the funnel of time from the other direction. Future success will come from what I want to make today.
- The Manager looks at three timeframes. How we got here, what we're doing today and the direction we're taking, with the aim of continuously improving tools and techniques that protect the Maker, and take the business where the Marketeer wants it to go.
The Successful Creative Entrepreneur's Three Jobs: Money
- The Maker can get caught in a “I'm creative, not commercial” duality and forget about money until need becomes critical.
- For the Marketeer, money is about growth. More money means more opportunities.
- For the Manager, money is balanced with other resources like time and energy. Money provides the protection needed to bring projects to completion and how money comes to and goes from the business is the true statement of its values.
If you'd like to attend a creative business planning workshop with me each month, find out more here.