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47: 10 Business Models That Let You Work from Anywhere

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You can literally wake up to sales in your inbox, which is an incredible feeling.

I'm Bonnie Christine, and this is where all things, creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life.

When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer. Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up.

I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable. Welcome to the Professional Creative Podcast.

I think one of the best things about being a creative entrepreneur is the freedom that it builds into your life so that you can work from anywhere in the world at any time that you choose. If this is something that you have ever dreamt about, this episode is for you. I'll be covering 10 different business models that let you work from anywhere at any time. It's really not a dream anymore. There are so many people in so many different industries making this come true for themselves. And so in this episode, we're exploring all of these different models that can help give you flexibility to work when you want and from where you want.

These business models can allow you to pursue your passions, generate income, and create a lifestyle that really aligns with your values. Just imagine working from where you want. Now, some of you are gonna be thinking about working beachside or in a cozy cabin in the woods, and others of you just want the freedom to travel when you want to travel. And some of you like me, just wanna be able to work from home. I have been intentionally pursuing location freedom for the last 14 years, and it doesn't happen by accident. It only happens with a lot of intention and clarity around what you want for your life. But I can assure you that it's possible and it's worth it for me.

This whole idea means that I get to live in a tiny town tucked away, and the Smokey Mountains where my parents live and David's parents live, and my sister lives, and we get to raise our children here, and I get to work from home, which is really all I've ever wanted to work with my little kids alongside of me and be able to travel and work from wherever I wanted to. So with that, take a deep breath and let's dive into these 10 business models.

We're going to explore the benefits. Now, there's no way that I could cover every single one of them in depth in this one single episode, but I am going to provide you with some actionable steps to help you take the first step in getting started and also talk about the benefits and some of the challenges with each of them as well. So are you ready to unlock your potential?

Let's get started. Number one is freelance services. So there's so many different opportunities for you to offer your skills in graphic design or writing or illustration or web design or you know, stationary design, and you can work with clients remotely. So some of the benefits for freelancing are really flexibility in choosing what projects you work with and what clients you work with.

Your ability to of course, set your own hours and also your own rates on a project by project basis. And also some really cool opportunities for potentially networking and building a really diverse portfolio of whatever work it is that you do. Now, some of the challenges that come with freelance services are income stability. So it's not super predictable unless you get to a place where you're booked out many months in advance.

And so it can be difficult, especially at the beginning, to just find a steady stream of clients. And then the other challenge I think would be just managing all of it, managing multiple projects at a time, managing deadlines at a time, and making sure that you are always on time for your clients. But with a proper tracking system, I know that you can do that.

So let's talk about some strategies for success in freelancing. Of course, you'll want to create a professional website and or a professional portfolio to showcase your work. If I'm hiring a freelancer, I wanna be able to see what kind of work they have done in the past, and I would also love to hear from some of their past clients. And then I would say another strategy to keep in mind for success is just to set really clear boundaries between you and your client and communicate around deadlines and protocols that you have in place so that you're really able to keep that divider between work and life.

Because sometimes I feel like freelancers especially struggle with this because they are really working with so many different people at a time.

Now, number two is my personal favorite, and that is licensing your artwork. If you create a portfolio of your original artwork, you can license it to brands and companies and manufacturers on all different types of products all over the world, like home decor and apparel and stationary and packaging and wallpaper and fabric. And what this does is generate royalties or sometimes a flat fee per design for you, and it allows you to earn passive income from your art. And so this is one of the biggest things that I teach from an illustration and surface pattern design perspective. So let's talk about some of the benefits from licensing your work.

Passive income through royalties is a beautiful thing. And so if you wanna wrap your head around the opportunity here, oftentimes your contract will be for your artwork in a particular industry. And so after that, you can take your artwork and license it in many other different industries, meaning one piece of artwork can really just take on a life of its own. And then the more you create, the more you have available to license. And so it's a little bit of a slow start, but once the ball begins to roll, it can really, really begin to roll. This very much falls under the category of do the work once and get paid for it over and over and over again, which is a beautiful thing. Another benefit is the exposure that it gives you to different audiences, especially the bigger brands and companies that you license with. You'll be getting access to their audience and they'll be getting access to yours as well. And so it can really boost your growth and also your authority in the industry. And then the other really cool benefit is just the opportunity to collaborate with companies. And sometimes you can collaborate with like your dream companies or brands that you've always loved and admired, and it's a really special thing to see your artwork on a real product out in the real world. Of course, it comes with some challenges as well. So finding those licensing partners is not easy, and sometimes I think it's not easy for a reason because they want you to have to work for it. And so just figuring out who's licensing who to get in contact with and get that pitching of your portfolio underway is one of the hardest things to do.

You also have to stay on top of copywriting your work and protecting, you know, the work that you put out. And then you also, unless you work with an agency, if you're pitching your work by yourself, you have to be able to negotiate your licensing agreements and kind of understand contracts or always outsource this and make sure you're working with maybe a lawyer who can go through that with you and help you understand.

So some strategies for success in licensing your work is to develop a strong portfolio of your original artwork and then begin just researching potential licensing partners and their requirements and begin making lists of contacts. And the other thing that you could do is attend an industry trade show. So there are events all over the country every year that focus on helping artists get connected with licenses.

And so we will list the ones that we recommend over on the show notes for today's episode. So you can get [email protected]. Number three is selling digital products. So many of you have this skillset to create and sell products like eBooks or printables or templates or patterns or something like that, that a customer can purchase and download instantly. And so on. All of the sites today, or all of the ones that I know of, this can all happen without you being involved. So it's a download and then it gets delivered and then automatically stays listed or gets re-listed in your shop. So you can literally wake up to sales in your inbox, which is an incredible feeling. So some benefits of this is just an incredible low overhead. There's really no cost associated with it other than your time and no physical inventory, no shipping involved, and it's also an instant delivery and you've got a global reach with it. So this is something that can absolutely scale and you can also easily update your products and offer new products and test the market from time to time. Now, some of the challenges that come along with selling digital products can be really creating high quality and valuable digital products because this is so easy.

There are a lot of things on the market, so it's absolutely possible to differentiate, but you just wanna make sure that you're creating something that's really high quality and delivering a lot of value to the customer because they are downloadable, they can also be a little bit difficult to protect. So you have to do your due diligence and put your name and your copyright on them.

You have to actually copyright them. And then from there, I just do my best and and go with it. But sometimes you'll have to really work through people who've downloaded it and then shared it or sent it to a friend or copied it or you know, re-listed it for sale with their name on it and things like that. So sometimes I don't give my very best work as a download, but I will do lots of PDFs and templates and workbooks and eBooks and things like that as well. So if you wanna get started in selling digital products, you'll first of all want to get crystal clear on your target audience and exactly what they need, and then you'll go into developing digital products that provide solutions and really, really benefit your audience. You know, one person that this makes me think of is my friend Coley Piper. So Coley is a mom to seven. She's an artist, she's an incredible creative, and she is working on a digital download, a subscription or membership-based digital download for moms who can purchase this and have art projects and things for their children to do over the summer that are all beautiful and nature inspired.

And she's done such a beautiful job identifying that target person, the mom who really cares about her children being creative and having creative activities, and also just infusing nature and beauty into their arts and crafts as well. And so it's just such a easy yes for me, this is what me and my kids are gonna be doing this summer. Anyways, I'm I'm sure you're curious now, so we'll link up Coley Kiper in today's show notes as well. So you can go over to professional creative.com to get that.

Number four is affiliate marketing. And so this sometimes gets a bad wrap, but hear me out for all of those things that you find yourself recommending to your friends and your audience all the time. You might as well grab an affiliate link in order to do so. And I think that that's really the key, that you only promote things that you would honestly be promoting with or without an affiliate link. I think we get a bad taste in our mouth from this sometimes because people use it just to make a quick buck. But really what you should do is only suggest the things that you love and you use and you highly recommend and then you earned it.

You deserve to have a kickback on that as well. And so promoting products or services from other companies or other educators can help you earn a commission for every sale that's generated through your unique link. Now, the way that this works is that it's at no extra cost to the customer. It's at a cost to the, you know, person who's providing the service.

They pay you. So it's a great way to just build in a little bit of extra income here or there. amazon.com has this, tons of art supply stores have the ability online to give you a referral link. And then anytime that you are referring courses or classes or platforms like Skillshare or email service providers or you know, anything like that, you can just pause, check to see if they have an affiliate or a partner program and then sign up and be able to start creating income from the things that you're likely suggesting all of the time anyways. So some of the benefits to this are obviously really low startup costs. It's also a beautiful way to just create passive income, and it's also a really fun way to work with various brands and products that you love.

Now, some of the challenges we've already talked about, but it's around that trust and credibility with your audience. You know, you mess up one time and promote something that you know isn't a good fit or you are just doing it to make money and you'll immediately lose trust with your audience. So you've got to make sure that it's the right fit, that you really do recommend it, that you've experienced it firsthand and that you are passing it on as a favor to your audience. So some strategies around this just to be successful are to use a link anytime you can when you're going to be talking about something. And then just make sure to always communicate that with your audience and let them know about your personal experience. I always think tell a story, draw them in, let your audience know why you're recommending it and using it and what it's done for your life, and that will help build that confidence.

Number five is education and teaching through online classes. So developing and teaching online courses or tutorials in whatever your area of expertise is. And you can use all different kinds of platforms too, like Skillshare or Teachable or udemi, and then you can share your knowledge with students from all over the world and generate revenue through your sales and your subscriptions. Now, you can also host this kind of thing on your own platform. So if you have your own website and you use a product like Punjabi or something like that, then you don't have to go through a third party like teaching platform.

You could just run the course or the class on your own as well. And typically, you'll make a little bit more extra income that way as long as you have the traffic and the audience you know to send it to. So, so many benefits to teaching online. One of them is your ability to reach a global audience. I mean, how incredible is it that you can teach an online course and someone all the way across the world can take it and vice versa.

I love learning from people all over the world. It's also an incredible source of passive income, and you can also really work to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Now I also think that it does quite a lot for helping you perfect your very own craft, and I also think it's just a beautiful way to really turn around and serve your industry and serve those around you.

Actually did an entire podcast episode on this, and it's one of our most successful, most popular episodes, and it was number six titled Creative or Educator. So episode number six is all about education as a creative. So some of the challenges here are just creating the actual content with so many online courses today, you really need to focus on your content and make sure that it's really high quality and most importantly, really gets results for your students. And then of course, marketing it to attract people. And so if you use a third party site like Skillshare or Teachable, then they handle some of the traffic for you. And if you are running it on your own platform, then you're in charge of marketing it and driving traffic to it and just making sure that people know about it.

And then of course, the student experience and making sure that you're really there to answer their questions and give them feedback. And just managing the whole student experience is something that takes a lot of effort as well. But if you wanna get started in this, some strategies for success are to really work on choosing the platform that aligns with your goals and your audience.

I've mentioned this before about we use cajabi, we love Kajabi, we use it for everything from our membership to our courses, to our landing pages, to our website. And so it makes everything really easy. Now, you can go check out Kajabi, we'll put it in the show notes for today's episode, so you can get [email protected]. Now, you'll also have to work on developing a curriculum that really, really focuses on not only value, but the flow of building upon each other so that the course feels natural to take and easy to find success with. One of the biggest bottlenecks that I see creative entrepreneurs and small business owners experience is made by juggling multiple platforms trying to manage their online business. Can you relate from your website to your email list to your sales pages?

It can be overwhelming and time consuming, and sometimes you have to wonder, are you a creative or do you just connect the backend of the entire internet and hope it works? But it honestly, it doesn't have to be that way because I want to tell you about the platform I use called Kajabi. Kajabi is the all in one platform that I personally use to manage my membership, my online courses, my classes, my workshops, my sales pages, my opt-in pages, and honestly, even my actual website is hosted on Kajabi. And let me tell you, it's a lifesaver to have everything under one roof. So my website, bonnie christine.com and the podcasts website, professional creative.com, are all entirely built out on Kajabi by me. I didn't have to hire a programmer or anyone else to come in because the designer is that easy to use.

Kajabi honestly lets you say goodbye to the headaches of managing multiple platforms and connecting a million things. And it's like having a personal assistant for your online business because it also has a super intuitive interface and easy to use tools that help you manage your courses or your memberships or your digital products. Kajabi's customer service team is also top notch. They are always there, always happy to help, and they're always rolling out new updates and they're always there to help you succeed. Trust me, I've put them to the test. So if you're ready to simplify your life and take your online business to the next level, head on over to bonnie christine.com/resources and sign up for Kajabi. Experience the free trial. I think you are going to love how it streamlines your business.

Okay, so number six is fun. It's digital assets like stock photography and design, so you can produce and sell high quality photos, illustrations, graphic design assets, and there are some marketplaces that make this easy for you, like Shutterstock, Adobe stock, and my favorite creative market. So the way that you do this is uploaded and then customers can come purchase,

download your work, and then provide you with a source of passive income. So that's probably the biggest benefit is how passive the income is. It truly is, do the work once get paid for it over and over again. Another benefit again is just the reach of a global customer base, especially if you're on one of these third party sites, they've got people from all over the world searching them,

and it's a really amazing opportunity to expand your creative skills and start creating income on the side. Now, some of the challenges are that it's pretty highly competitive, meaning you have to really focus on your work and probably produce a lot of it to create enough passive income to make a difference, but people are doing that all the time. So you can absolutely do that as well.

Just know that because it's so easy to do, a lot of people are doing it. And then you'll also wanna really focus on creating unique and also in demand assets. So this is one area where I would say it's probably in your benefit to research trends and possibly design to the trend or release, you know, images that are to the trend. So I say that because typically in surface pattern design work,

I don't always suggest following trends, but when you're doing something like digital assets, I think it could probably be a great way to get noticed. And then depending on, you know, how big it gets and how much work you put out into the world, sometimes it can be hard to just protect it from unauthorized use. Anytime you're offering a download even for purchase, you have to know that it's probably getting passed around and some things that really, you know, don't make us happy. But at the end of the day, we have to come to terms with what we're willing to do. And so again, sometimes I design very specifically with digital assets in mind rather than giveaway like my most, you know, favorite work.

So with that in mind, it can be a beautiful way to create income. So the strategies that I would say to use in order to get started are, number one, identify trends and then see if there are any gaps in the market, see if there's any platform that doesn't have quite what you wanna offer, and then fill that gap. And then also work to create really high quality assets that really give the customer everything they need.

I'm thinking about sometimes when I download a font, I love it when they give me a bunch of different options for the font and like the italicized version and the bold version and all the different Calli biographies. And it's really nice, not that I will avoid it if it doesn't have that, but it makes me a true fan when it has all of those assets.

Number seven is a membership or a subscription based service. So we've been talking about this quite a lot. So I wanna refer you to episode number 45 and 46. So episode number 45 is where you can meet Stu McLaren, who teaches the membership experience. He's a membership expert and subscription-based service expert who you're gonna fall in love with. He's incredible. And then the next episode,

number 46 is my perspective on my own membership that I've had for 11 years and what it's done for my business. And it's a bit of a membership 1 0 1 for creatives. So creating a membership platform, typically it means that you'll be offering some kind of exclusive content or resources or community to the people who subscribe to it. And this can include everything from live workshops to q and a sessions, to downloadables to recipes, to a private community in so many different things. So that's what I gave you in episode number 46 was an idea vault for deliverables. So you'll wanna go get that if this one is interesting to you. Some of the benefits are, well, the biggest benefit is the recurring revenue. It builds in predictability. That is so hard to come by as a creative entrepreneur that it is just a game changer.

And then it's also just a beautiful opportunity to build community and connect with your customers. Now, some of the challenges or things that you really have to learn about membership are things like retention and retaining subscribers. Sometimes we call this the churn, right? So we wanna minimize the churn and really help members stay. And really the best way to help members stay is to provide incredible value and help them see success.

The other one is just the amount of content. And so if you're providing content, let's say on a weekly basis and you begin a subscription or a membership, well, you have a lot of content to create over the years, but there are strategies for that as well, like batch working and planning ahead. And so I've never found it to be, you know, too problematic and I've been doing it for over 10 years. So in order to get started here, you want to get really clear on your membership idea and who it's for. So what exactly is the idea that you have for your membership, and then who exactly is the perfect fit for that. You'll also wanna offer a mix of content types just so that you keep people engaged and also really attend to different learning styles.

Again, the download in episode number 46, that idea vault is gonna be gold for that. And then one of my favorite strategies for success in membership sites is to just continually listen. Get feedback from your members and listen to what they wanna learn next and where they wanna go and figure out how you can help them get there. Now number eight is virtual workshops and webinars.

So this is similar to an online class or education, but it really is kind of different as well, because I see so many creatives who do something amazing, maybe they are incredible wreath makers or painters or ceramicists or block printers, and they teach workshops in person. Well, the moment that you take that into a virtual workshop space, then you have access to the entire world.

So this is all about hosting a live, or you could do a pre-recorded workshop on a specific topic or skill, and then you allow people from anywhere in the world to come join. So some of the benefits are just flexibility and really turning that one-on-one experience into a one to many experience. You can reach such a wider audience when you move it to virtual or at least offer a virtual atmosphere.

And side note, if this is something that you do, if you offer in-person workshops and you just don't know about offering that virtual, maybe you could hire a videographer to come and record your in-person and then with some editing afterwards, you could turn that into a virtual option that you have available for sale, which could be a really fun way to just kind of do double task.

So if this one has you excited, the way that you would get started is to research platforms and make sure that you're hosting that virtual event on the best one. Now, this can be as simple as a prerecorded video or a live zoom call, or it could be hosted in like a different platform for webinars, but I would say keep it simple and just make it available.

Something that I think you'll really want to do and focus on if it's an, if it's a live virtual experience, is to remember to involve the people who are attending and make it as interactive as possible. Maybe they're working alongside of you or can show you work or unmute and ask you questions, but that's a really fun part to incorporate them in as well.

Number nine is group coaching or mentoring. So you likely often find yourself giving someone advice. Maybe it's one-on-one, someone who wants to meet up for a meal and ask you questions or something along those lines. Or maybe you do small group coaching in person. And then when you move that into an online space, then you can really tap into people all over the world.

This is also like mentoring. So if you are, you know, just one step ahead from someone else, you can really turn around and mentor them in a beautiful way, give feedback on their work, look at their portfolio. That's the type of thing that we're talking about. So some of the benefits are really networking and meeting new people to collaborate with.

The ability to impact multiple people at one time is really, really special. So you can take kind of that magic sauce that you've got with one-on-one or one to a few, and then you can take it to a one to mini platform. And that also is something that you would be able to scale and grow significantly. Now, some of the challenges are around, you know, scheduling and managing group dynamics and making sure that everyone you know, can meet at the same time, and what if they're in different time zones and all of that that goes into it. And then also just getting people to show up and pay attention. You know, we have an attention span of like one second, and with different time zones and calendars,
it can be hard to get everyone synced and in the same room at the same time, even if it's virtual. So focusing on that, but if you're ready to give this a go, what I would say is work to first of all, just identify your perfect person. What type of person can you help? What type of business do you want to pour yourself and your, you know, expertise into? And then work to kind of develop a structured program with clear outcomes so you can utilize all different types of platforms to facilitate this. Probably Zoom is the easiest that you could use and then build off something that really organizes your time together.

Okay, last but not least is number 10. And this is all about selling handmade items. Now this is near and dear to my heart because it's how I got started back in 2009. And so unique handmade items like you probably are all creating like jewelry and clothing and home decor and pottery and selling them through online marketplaces like your very own shop or something like Etsy or Amazon Handmade or however you do it. And then along those same lines would be something like an online art or a design store where you can set up an online store and sell your original art or your art prints or your designs as well.

Now the only thing that I'll say about this one is that it's not considered passive income because it's very much trading time for money. But I do think it's something that is such a beautiful aspect to our businesses, and obviously we need this so much in the world, but I would just say if your business is primarily handmade items, see if you can weave in any of these other business models, any of these other, you know, revenue streams so that you're not only trading time for money. So some of the benefits here are obviously creative freedom and really just doing what you love and making an income from it is so personally fulfilling that it's incredible. It also allows you to really play with your brand and your uniqueness in the market, and it's so fun to come out with a new product line.

And then of course, as long as your shop is online, you have access again to that global customer base. Now, some of the challenges if you're working solo, as I know so many of you are, is managing the production of it and the inventory and then getting it all packaged and shipped and all of that stuff. And then also pretty quickly as you begin to find success is balancing your creativity with more of the business responsibilities and just keeping it all, you know, organized and straight in your mind and on top of both of them. And then unfortunately, one of the challenges is competing with, you know, mass produce items at lower price points, which is all goes back to your branding and your voice and why it's worth so much more because you a real person made it by hand. So if this one has you excited,

then I would just work to really identify exactly what you wanna create and who you want to sell that too. And then begin to optimize your online store for things like product listings, for search and conversion. If you're on Etsy, I am always thinking about Tiffany Emery. So Tiffany is a seven figure Etsy seller who teaches you how to set up your shop for success and how to really, really utilize the power of that platform. So we'll link to Tiffany in the show notes of today as well, because you are going to want to build out an effective marketing strategy to help people find your handmade items. So that's the list of 10. Now, something that gets really, really exciting is when you begin layering these in into your single business, and that's what we call multiple streams of revenue. I think nine out of 10 of these are also considered passive recurring or residual revenue, which is that type of revenue that really allows you to still create income even if you're sleeping or even if you're on vacation. And so the more you can layer in the better, but you have to go one at a time.

And as we wrap up this episode, I just wanna make sure that you're not feeling overwhelmed and inspired inside. The whole world is full of opportunities for creatives just like you. And embracing this location freedom can open doors to so many new experiences and connections and personal growth and fulfillment. And it's important to remember that taking that very first step is often the most challenging part of the entire journey, but you have the power to make it happen. So to keep you from feeling overwhelmed, I want you to start by just choosing one or two of these business models that resonate with you and align with your creative passions and just begin to break down and choose one path to start making forward progress on. So here are some action steps to get you going.

Number one, reflect on your strengths, your passions, and your goals, and really identify which business model you wanna pursue first, and then research that chosen model. Begin gathering information on how others have found success and similar ventures and you know, noting any of those potential challenges that we, you know, went over as well. And just find a way to sink your teeth into it.

Like I'm obviously thinking about the membership and if you wanna begin a membership, you should probably go check out Stu McLaren and see what he's doing with the workshop and the membership experience and just try to figure out a way to learn everything you need to learn about that model as soon as you can. Then what you wanna do, step three, is to just begin writing down short-term and long-term goals for your business and include those milestones and big rocks.

So if you need a way to do this, you can download my map that I highly suggest called Your Path to Success, and that's episode number four of this podcast. It's a download and it'll help you map this whole thing out because you've got to develop a clear plan of action and just break those big things down into smaller, achievable tasks. Remember,

success does not happen overnight and there will be challenges along the way, but with persistence and dedication and just a willingness to learn and adapt, you can create a thriving location, independent creative business that not only aligns with your passions and values, but brings you so much joy. So take a deep breath and believe in yourself and take that first step towards living the life that you've always envisioned as an entrepreneur.

The world is waiting for you, your unique contributions and your journey starts right now. Don't forget, there's room for you. You've got this.


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I'm Bonnie Christine.


Thanks for joining me in this journey. I can't wait to help you to craft a career you love!

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