Creative entrepreneurs often struggle to find the balance between doing what they love—what they’ve spent their entire lives studying and working toward—and making enough money to build the life they want. In other words, any of us aren’t taught how to grow the business side of our craft, whether that’s photography, art, music, writing, or another creative venture.
Fabiana Claure—a concert pianist, university educator, entrepreneur, and business coach for musicians—understands this struggle firsthand. “I saw so many colleagues finish their education, but then flip from what they had pursued and studied for their entire lives because they just needed to make money,” she says. “And I didn’t want that to happen to me; I knew there had to be a better way.”
While she initially thought (and was taught) that someone else would have to employ her as a musician, Fabiana discovered that she didn’t have to wait to earn a living from her craft. Fabiana taught herself about marketing, client services, pricing structures, and more from the lens of a creative entrepreneur. And, she started to build the life she wanted while doing what she loved: playing and making music.
Fabiana turned this knowledge and experience into a first-of-its-kind music business course at the University of North Texas, then an online program for creatives called The Musician’s Profit Umbrella—taking the lessons she taught her university students and making them available to the public.
Since then, Fabiana has helped thousands of musicians increase their income through online programs for creative entrepreneurs. With these programs, musicians can learn how to achieve financial and artistic prosperity, win back their time, and build a legacy—all without sacrificing their quality of life.
Why should creative entrepreneurs design & sell online programs?
As Fabiana explains, we’re bound by time and location when we offer in-person-only services. But, when you also provide online programs, clients can purchase your offers and access them anytime, anywhere. You’ll be able to reach more of your dream customers when they can engage with your content from wherever is convenient for them.
According to Fabiana, programs are also great because they can help you attract and educate clients with a curriculum you produce once—a curriculum you can sell in your sleep! “As business owners, we should let things work for us, not just depend on us.” In other words, creative entrepreneurs should make an online program for creatives because this type of offer is something clients can buy days, weeks, months, or even years after you publish your curriculum.
It’s worth noting that Fabiana makes a distinction between online programs and online courses. Programs are higher-ticket packages where you provide live, virtual coaching and personalized instruction for students, while courses are lower-cost offers that consist of pre-recordings. Fabiana suggests that creative entrepreneurs build an online program first, with a combination of pre-recorded material and live coaching for clients. Once you’ve established a program, you can transition to course offerings with pre-recorded materials.
What qualifications & attitudes do creative entrepreneurs need to make an online program?
While online programs can help you build your business and make it run more independently of you, it takes a lot of work to create, publish, and sell a curriculum to your ideal students. But, according to Fabiana, you can make an online program for creatives if you’re willing to:
1. Take action quickly to bring your vision to life.
Fabiana encourages creative entrepreneurs to be messy action-takers. In other words, you should get comfortable with making quick (yet informed) decisions to move the needle in your business. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s just part of being human! Instead of fearing failure, have faith in yourself and take action to build your dream business.
2. Think and communicate as a leader.
As Fabiana tells us, you have to build your business and not just produce for the business. “Think as a CEO, not just a creative entrepreneur,” she says. This is especially true when you make an online program for creatives; you are in charge of selling the curriculum and leading other creatives to success. From promoting the program to communicating information in an engaging way, determine how this program will fit into your business’s growth strategy—and how it can help other creatives experience growth.
3. Hold onto your craft and your priorities.
Fabiana had to put piano aside as she focused on growing her business, teaching university students, and raising her children. But, she was getting burned out with too many commitments. So, Fabiana quit her coveted full-time university job to focus on her priorities: her physical health, time with her kids, The Musician’s Profit Umbrella, and her craft (piano). Fabiana’s online programs have also allowed her to build her business while letting part of it run independently of her—giving her more time to spend with her family and play piano. She’d offer the same advice to you, friend: Avoid burnout by keeping your priorities in mind, including the craft you love.
How should creative entrepreneurs structure their pricing for online programs?
Many creative entrepreneurs use a per-hour pricing structure, where they charge clients a certain amount for their services on an hourly basis. But, Fabiana encourages creatives to stop worrying about charging an hourly rate.
Instead, she suggests that you focus on the result you can provide for clients who enroll in your online program. Whether you offer a two-hour or a 20-hour program, structure pricing strategically based on the value clients will enjoy once they take and complete your program. Fabiana also recommends keeping your overarching financial goals in mind while figuring out your pricing structure. Then, you can offer programs at a price that will move you toward those goals more efficiently.
How can creative entrepreneurs build and sell an online program?
Fabiana shares four tips for making and selling a program to other creative entrepreneurs:
1. Determine who your ideal clients are.
By targeting a clearly defined group of students, you’ll be able to create and sell an online program that’s highly tailored to their specific needs and interests. Fabiana suggests building a one-to-many program to teach a group of your ideal clients with pre-recorded material, along with live content. Then, you don’t have to be teaching online 100% of the time; in other words, the program can partially run without you as a teacher.
2. Sell your program first; then, create a curriculum.
Fabiana sees many creative entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating their entire program, then trying to sell it to their ideal clients. But, as she explains, you won’t know what type of curriculum or content is most effective until you see results and get feedback from your clients. That’s why she recommends selling your online program first, then designing a specific curriculum. Of course, you’ll want to have a framework for the program before you promote and sell it to students, but you can flesh out the details in real time once you’ve gotten clients.
3. Personalize your offers by sharing your story.
Sometimes, creative entrepreneurs worry that they need more certifications, degrees, or recognitions before they can be qualified to release an online program. But, Fabiana encourages us not to think that way. “Just share your story, and let people see the human behind the business,” Fabiana says. This will help you build connections and relate to your clients more than any certification or award will. And, you don’t have to worry about being as talented or as smart as another creative instructor. When you personalize your program with your unique story and experience, that will set you apart.
4. Confidently invite people to work with you.
As Fabiana tells us, “You have to believe in the value (of your offer) before you can expect others to believe in it.” So, when you’re selling your program and inviting your dream clients to work with you, do so with confidence! Whether your online program is free, $100, or $10,000, you’re giving people the chance to gain expert knowledge as you teach them about the craft you all love so they can work to build their business. Don’t be afraid to promote your offer, especially when your experience will help other people succeed!
Friend, I hope this conversation with Fabiana encourages you to make an online program for creatives that helps you bring your dream business to life! Creating programs to instruct other entrepreneurs will not only help you bring in more income and raise your rates; you’ll also enjoy having part of your business run without your constant oversight. Then, you’ll have more time for your priorities and craft—whatever inspired you enough to start a business in the first place!
Want to hear more from Fabiana?
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
Did you enjoy this episode? If so, pin it to save it for later! Follow me on Pinterest for more marketing, business, branding, and boundary-setting strategies!