True Story: Melissa Dinwidie
Today we’re taking a peek into the creative business of Melissa Dinwidie who expresses her creativity in art, music, writing and helping others follow their own creative bliss through teaching, coaching and consulting. In her words, she’s “a Multi-Passionate Creative ARTrepreneur and Creativity Enabler.” You can find her and her wondrous array of talents on display at Living a Creative Life.
In the Beginning
Melissa’s first, and still most lucrative, business is her art and design site where she creates custom artwork for weddings and other memorable life events.
Cash flow is a challenge in a seasonal business like weddings. As she describes it, “November, December and January are typically really slow, and when spring and summer come around I can barely keep up with the work.”
Because of that, Melissa is working to transform her current business to one with more recurring income so she won’t be as vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations.
Trouble Sneaks In
As Melissa reflected on the past cash flow of her wedding art, she says, “I got myself into huge trouble by not paying better attention to cash flow.” In her case, the problem started years before she realized it. Since she normally kept funds in savings she didn’t notice at first that she wasn’t managing her cash flow very well. She just transferred money from savings to cover taxes and other operating expenses. Melissa recalls that it “worked for awhile, but eventually it caught up with me,” she says. “By that point I was so desperate that I started making a lot of bad mistakes in an attempt to bring in more income.”
The Wrong Answer
When she realized that her savings were withering and the business wasn’t bringing in consistent income, Melissa panicked. She started borrowing to fix the problem without a clear idea of what the solution was. “I stupidly borrowed money on credit cards to try some new marketing ideas – wedding fairs, a public relations firm, a new website – none of which paid off”, she says. “I got myself pretty deeply in debt, and am still paying it off.”
But, there was a sliver of gold in the dross of debt. Her financial crisis forced Melissa to confront how she felt about the situation. “I wasn’t happy with the wedding art being my sole business or creative outlet.” She was ready and this was the catalyst she needed to create the change.
Nothing Worthwhile is Ever Easy
For Melissa, the next phase was challenging and difficult because it was all new territory. “The hardest thing was accepting that I needed to change tack, and not knowing what direction to head next,” she says. “Although I made most of my income from sales directly from my website, I felt utterly overwhelmed by the prospect of having to learn all about the new internet business model.”
But, she forged ahead and started her blog, Living a Creative Life, to document her path and learn as she traveled. “I… basically gave myself a graduate school education on making a living in an entirely different way,” she says.
A New Path
From that first, tremulous start, Melissa has come a long way. She now has an online course, another creativity website with tremendous possibility, and, best of all, a dedicated following of like minded people who value her knowledge and expertise.
While her path is still unfolding, she’s far happier and more excited about life than ever. “I’m pursuing my passions, doing what I love, and helping others do the same,” Melissa says. “It doesn’t get better than that!”
One Easy Thing To Do Now
Is your cash flow running unchecked and unseen in your creative business? Here’s one simple thing you can do now . Get as many bank statements as you have and write the ending balance down in a list. Add to the list every time you get a new statement. Is the balance (or total if you have more than one account like Melissa) going up or down over time? If it’s dropping steadily with no explanation, you could have a problem!
More from Melissa!
Melissa’s inaugural offering, the Thriving Artists Project, was created to inspire artists and creative people to beat the “starving artist” mindset and thrive with their art. It’s an interactive membership site full of tool for creative folks including artist interviews, marketing and business tips, a member forum and more. The project is open for enrollment right now if you’re ready to thrive. But, the last chance is midnight (PST) on Thursday, February 10, 2011 so go ahead and get in on it!