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From Stressed Out Painter to Million Dollar Business with Jennifer Allwood

The term “starving artist” is being completely debunked thanks to Jennifer Allwood’s approach to building a business for the creative entrepreneur. Listen as she shares how she went from stressed out painter to having a business that is thriving (without requiring the non-stop hustle).

Q&A with Jennifer Allwood

Q: We recently talked about how never before has there been a better time for people who are creative to build a thriving business doing the things they love. Just like you, you have continued to support other creatives in doing more of the things they love by simultaneously building an amazing business. [4:53] 

A: My background is in decorative painting, also called faux finishing. I owned a painting company for 17 years, so I have a huge heart for creative women, in particular. It grieves me when there’s that starving artist mentality, thinking that you can’t do the things you love while making money out of it.

Q: This is where we want to dispel a myth that the only way for a creative to be able to generate income is to produce more stuff. Talk to us about some of the options that creatives have today in terms of additional revenue streams from their creative work. [6:04]  

A: A lot of times creatives get on a hamster wheel where they’re only making money while they’re physically making something. But today with social media and other online platforms, there are so many ways that a creative can make money in addition to selling their product or service. There’s seven ways that I figured out personally how to generate money in the online space as a creative. And I think anybody is able to start with the lowest hanging fruit, figure out what makes the most sense for you and your business, and then start implementing those things little by little. 

Q: You’ve broken free of that hamster wheel and helped so many other creatives break free of that. But what was one of your first revenue streams that you started? [8:20]

A: I was at a job site once where I had eight women painting for me that day. And I thought, “Gosh, this is actually a lot of work.” I kept thinking to myself that I’m working really hard managing all these women and trying to position our family different financially. But I was capped in terms of how much money I could make because I didn’t have enough hours in the day. So I started thinking, what would happen if instead of just being able to paint houses in Kansas City, I taught people all over the world how they could paint their own house with DIY videos that I sold online? I put up three to four different videos for sale, and that was my first revenue stream.

Q: The only downside of creative work is that it’s a one time production, but those videos became a long-term asset for you. Are you suggesting to people to teach what it is that they do as a revenue stream? [11:08]

A: Yes. Most creatives think they have to know everything about whatever it is they do, but actually you just need to know a little bit more than the people behind you. So doing e-books or e-videos is a great way to make money with your creative talents. And with all the great technology available nowadays, you don’t have to be very techie either. 

Q: What’s an example of another revenue stream? [13:09]

A: I had been blogging for years and years at that point, so I just put ad revenue on my website. It’s a matter of if you have some traffic already on your website. And that generates a couple of thousand dollars a month with us never touching anything. Also, a membership group is so hot right now. I had a Paint Finish of the Month group for many years for $27 a month, and I taught people a different way of painting cabinets and furniture every single month. I also have a monthly membership group where I teach creatives how to get more followers in the online space. 

Q: I love seeing the creative community be able to generate recurring revenue with memberships. [14:41]

A: It warms my heart because for so long creatives have been barely making it and barely scraping by. But actually, creative people are really wired to do well in the online space because they’re just a little more interesting. I love seeing them show up online, gather their own little community and make money from that. Essentially, it’s just taking what you’re doing in-person, pivoting it into the online space and reaching more people. 

Q: So what are some of your other favorite revenue streams? [18:09]

A: I love affiliate marketing. I have so many painting people in my community, they’ll be painting furniture, and they’ll have this can of paint, promoting that paint company. You don’t need to have a huge audience to be able to do affiliate marketing, but you do need to know how to make an ask. A lot of small companies don’t even realize that if they would pay a couple of people to promote their products, they could explode their paint brands.  A lot of it is just making conversation with a company that you would like to work with. And you’re already using the product, it’s not like you’re trying to push something that you don’t love. Creatives are the absolute worst at being able to reconcile in their brain that it’s okay to be paid for your talents and for recommending the products that you’re using and for the knowledge that you have about the thing that you’re doing. 

Q: Another one that I want to talk to you about is sponsored content. This is an opportunity that is growing because brands are realizing there’s a massive opportunity to work with people in the online space. [22:21]

A: I’ve worked with a lot of big companies that sponsored me to write a blog post or do a video. It’s not like affiliate marketing because you’re not getting paid based on how many people buy the earrings you’re showing off. You’re getting paid just to wear the earrings. A lot of companies are realizing they don’t have to give money to the huge platform people, and give it to those of us who have much smaller but very engaged audiences. 

Q: Any final words for our creative community? [26:40]

A: I want to encourage everyone, even those who are not creatives, to look for other ways of making money. It’s mind-blowing how much easier business is today than it was five years ago, the opportunities are endless. If you’re a creative person, you don’t need to be struggling. There is literally no better time on the face of the earth than right now to be in business as a creative. It’s just a matter of looking at things from a different lens, seeing the opportunities and then figuring out how to do each of them. 

Memorable Quotes

If you’re a creative person, you do not need to struggle. There is literally no better time on the face of the earth than right now to be in business as a creative. – Jennifer Allwood

It’s not about the money, it’s about what the money makes possible. – Stu McLaren

Quiz for Creatives
Paint Finish of the Month Club
MYB 042: An Unusual Marketing Strategy with Bigtime Results

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