i receive so many emails asking me to share the details on how to start a creative business. although i share all the specific how to’s in my ebook series, i’d like to share my general thoughts on how we can begin to step into the creative lives we’ve always imagined – whether you are interested in starting/expanding a creative biz or not. because it’s really about dreaming big and listening to our own unique callings, no matter what those dreams and callings may be.

so, over the course of this week, i will highlight a few excerpts from my ebooks – thoughts that i share in the opening chapter before getting too specific on the ins and outs of the how to’s. i hope you get inspired!

photo session with denise at bohophoto.com
(my hands, photo by denise andrade)

I deeply believe in the power of listening to our inner voices and inspirations that nudge us to dream bigger, to simply begin, to acknowledge what is calling us. Perhaps it’s why you bought this ebook – something in you whispered to take the next step, to gather information, to allow yourself to be inspired.

No matter where we are in our journeys, the whispers in our lives want us to take notice, to nurture their message and to discover our own potential. Whether they’re quietly nudging us from time to time with long periods of silence in between, or annoying us with their persistence, their presence is important and meaningful. We must listen. It may just be a whisper, a small voice tucked deep inside the pockets of your heart, but really, it’s your life’s inspiration calling you. And we all have them, no matter who we are or where we might stand in our creative journeys.

Many of you may still be deciphering what your whispers are telling you while many of you are hearing them loud and clear. I also suspect that they’ll start nudging you as you move along in this ebook. Be sure to pay attention, write them down, and lean in for their messages. Inside all of those whispers live your life’s inspiration. And we’ve got to have the inspiration to have the passion, to have the commitment. It starts with the whispers…

We can’t control what our whispers tell us just like we can’t control what inspires us. These things are bigger than us, they’re callings that we can’t necessarily explain. We just know when we feel the lift, when we feel the joy, when we feel that slightly uncomfortable yet exhilarating feeling of ‘I really want to do that!’ Follow THAT inspiration, not what you think will sell or what you think would be profitable in the marketplace. Your inspiration has to be deeply yours (even if it’s the wonkiest idea out there) if you want to create a deeply fulfilling (heart + soul) creative business. It’s true that people make oodles of cash everyday from running various businesses, but when it comes to running a creative business, where you are the creator of the creative in that business, the inspiration needs to be deeply embedded in your heart. Otherwise, you’ll be working against the current of flow.

And by flow, I mean the idea that doors will open more readily for us if we’re following our true passion, that things (opportunity, success, luck) will happen more organically and easily when our creative businesses are aligned with our true inspiration.

For example, when I was dreaming up ebook ideas, I had a few options to choose from. I could either do an artsy/painting–oriented ebook or I could do a creative business–oriented ebook. When it came down to it, the creative business–oriented ebook was more aligned with my inspiration. I got more excited when I thought about writing about that kind of content for an ebook vs. writing an ebook about painting techniques. Of course, my mind was taunting me with “you’ll make more money if you do the painting ebook, that’s what will sell better, that’s what everyone wants.” Yet, my heart and inspiration were truly with the creative business ebook – it was the idea that put a skip in my step, the idea my heart kept circling back to. Luckily, I followed the creative biz ebook inspiration and I’m so glad I did. Everything about setting up this ebook, writing it, promoting it, etc., etc. has come fairly easily because it was aligned with the flow I talked about earlier. If I had chosen to do the other ebook, I bet it would have been harder for me, less fun, and more frustrating. And hard + not fun + frustrating = an unhappy existence = a price I’m not willing to pay (I want to be happy!).

Get the idea? When we follow our true inspiration, our energy communicates it in every way. It’s contagious, draws people into not only what we’re doing, but what we’re selling too. It’s a win–win.

Once we allow ourselves to listen to those whispers of true inspiration, our passion unravels with clarity and vision. Whatever that passion is (writing, photography, scrapbooking, painting, etc.), it wants you to commit to its offerings. By purchasing this ebook, you’ve acknowledged your whispers, inspiration, your passion, and now I’m asking you to really commit. Commit to the reasons you bought this ebook whether it was to start an online presence, expand your online presence, or to find ways to face your fears — whatever your reasons or goals, I’m asking you to wholeheartedly commit to seeing them through. Because, I promise you, when you have the inspiration, and the passion, AND the commitment, your wildest business dreams can come true.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the very second I committed to my dream of creating a successful creative business. I was working as a fulltime medical social worker by day and creating my heart out in the evenings and on weekends. I was feeling stuck and uninspired in my full time job and beginning to dream about the idea of going part-time and supplementing my income with possibly selling my art. But at that same time in my life, my husband and I were about to move to California so he could enroll in fulltime graduate school. I was dreading moving to California because I knew I’d have to get another uninspiring fulltime job because my husband wouldn’t be able to bring in an income while enrolled in school. I was having a hard time envisioning any other way out. At that time in my life I hadn’t yet discovered Etsy and had zero knowledge about creating a creative business that made actual money. But yet, the whispers were battling my fears every step of the way: “You can do this, Kelly. Think about this creatively. How can you make money with your art?”

Just before moving to California and surrendering to the idea that I would likely have to get another fulltime job, I went to the mountains of North Carolina to visit my best friend, Gina. In the quiet and calm of those mountains and fresh air, my commitment to my passion and inspiration hit me and I wrote the following in my journal:

And that’s what happened. We moved to California. I got a part-time social work job and I poured my energy into making money from selling my art, one small goal/step at a time. The sheer time and energy and hard work would have consumed me without the passion and commitment and the dreams buoying me to keep going. More on my specific journey later in the course, but for me, it came down to commitment. First, I had to listen to my whispers to start making art. Then I had to acknowledge the inspiration and the passion and the dreams of wanting to make a successful creative business. And then the missing piece, the thing that really set my creative biz life in motion, was the commitment, the promise to myself.

I’m asking you to do the same. You’ve already made a commitment by purchasing this ebook but make it in your heart. Before we dive into the how’s of creating an online presence etc., etc, you must, must, must commit to the dream, to your vision of what you want your creative biz life to look like. Say it out loud. Write it down. Tell your family and friends. Have a little dorky ritual with yourself (they work!). Light a candle. Declare it from the mountaintops. Whatever you do…make one deep, heart–felt promise and commitment to this creative biz dream of yours despite the fulltime job, the fears, the to-do list, and everything else getting in the way. And the rest is one small step and goal after the next. The potential of your dreams, your goals, and your passion – they’re all asking you to commit to their unfolding. Because there might just be a whole other life waiting for you.

(me, photo by tracey clark, script by ali edwards)

In essence, I’ve learned that there is something very powerful that happens when we simply acknowledge all of those creative biz dreams that tug at our sleeves. A shift occurs, our hearts expand, and our possibilities seem more accessible. Then, as we begin to lean into the passion and bravely commit to the dreams, a whole new world opens up, both externally (success) and internally (heart + soul). It’s vitally important, if you want to have any kind of fulfilling creative business success, to 1) listen to your whispers along the way 2) have a passion for what you are doing and 3) have an absolute commitment to living the dream into reality. Without those three things, you won’t have your very own heart and soul roadmap to guide you along the way.

up next: I’ll share how I really feel about business plans and goals.

Hi, I'm Kelly Rae Roberts!

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my whispers and started playing with paint and everything changed. Now I’m a full-time artist, author and Possibilitarian, who helps women explore their creativity, nourish their souls and build a thriving creative business.

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