What business should I start as a creator?

Published: by Michael Kove
What business should I start as a creator?

In my previous newsletter, Personal Brand is not a Real Business, I stated that every successful creator stands in front of his real business.

You can read that article later (on my website), so stay with me here.

Understanding what I’m about to tell you will save you major disappointment in the future:

Your personal brand will not make you money. Your business will.


The question remains,

“what kind of business should I start?”

It took me almost a decade to understand this.

What kind of business is best to start?

I jumped from idea to idea and failed way too many startups to count. For some we had funding, for others I bootstrapped myself.

Mistakes were made and in this writing I will break it down so you do not have to.

Let’s assume couple definitions:

  • Your Core Business - this is the business that will bring you money
  • Your “personal brand” would be your marketing channel (primarily for your core business) - it’ll make promoting that business easier.

Let’s go!

There are several routes you can go with your Core Business.

Unless you want to start a brick & mortar business (restaurant, construction, landscaping) then your digital personal brand will be your #1 marketing channel.

Most Businesses Fall Into 5 Categories

The categories are:

  • Service
  • Education
  • Products
  • Software (SaaS)
  • Media Company

Obviously there are more categories, but these are the most common ones for creators.

Understanding the upsides and downsides of each category will save you a lot of suffering. I have tried every category and there’s one that’s better than the others.

And that category is the easiest to strive in especially if you do not have a lot of time, money or expertise.

I’ll cover each and dive in depth into one I picked.

Starting a Service Business As a Creator

Service business

Service is the simplest one to get started but it requires skills.

You learn a skill, like, web development, copywriting, ghostwriting, video editing and or creating ads. With your personal brand you build authority in this space and offer your services.

I started as a freelancer WITHOUT a personal brand. I started as a web developer, before freelancing was even a thing (2003-ish). Facebook did not exist. Digital presence was not a thing.

Today, Personal brands are the new “portfolios” that help you get clients. Every single client I’ve gotten in the past 8 years would find me online, read my content. Being digitally active helped me a lot.

The upsides:

  • Finding clients will become easier, assuming, your personal brand targets the right audience
  • Doing cold and direct outreach will be easier, if you have a solid content to back up yourself
  • If your presence is strong, potential clients will call you to work with you (wild, I know!)
  • You can turn this into an agency and scale

The downsides:

  • You will do a lot of client work
  • In many cases, you’ll be trading time-for-money or time spent for pay (per project pricing)
  • You can only scale by rates (how much you charge)
  • If you don’t turn into an agency (or pivot) you WILL burn out
  • Freelancing is getting very competitive in all areas

As a Creator, Should You Start an Education Business?

If you have something to teach - this might be a business model for you. Whether hosting a series of courses on platforms like Kajabi like Greg O’Gallagher (aka Kinobody).

Or building a cohort-based bootcamps like “Ship 30 for 30” by Dickie Bush this can be a valuable model.

It helps if you achieved something or have expertise in your industry. At one point I had a course on Cold Outreach for Freelancers.

But, as I mentioned above, freelancing is competitive and I no longer believe it’s the best way to earn a living.

The upsides:

  • This business can MOSTLY run on autopilot once setup
  • Scaling is only limited by your marketing abilities
  • You’re not trading time for money
  • This can make you a decent money bag without crazy effort

The downsides:

  • You’ll have to refresh, update and redesign your digital courses
  • Community and support can be tedious, your reputation relies on it
  • You’ll have to test and figure out different marketing funnels
  • Eventually, you’ll need to hire support team
  • This business works only if you have achieved notable success in the area you teach

Is Product Business a Good Fit for Creators?

Product business

Digital products, with the exception of education (see above) can be licensed downloads, such as music, artwork, stock photography, LUTs, presets, templates, etc.

Some examples of strong personal brands with digital products: Peter McKinnon sells presets and LUTs, Tomas Frank became a millionaire selling Notion Templates.

Crazy. I know.

Then there are physical products and those go wide. From a custom coffee brand to full blown Amazon FBA.

Those require significant monetary investment and can be promoted with personal brand.

Some examples are Greg’s supplement line: Kinbody, Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics and many more celebrity owned and endorsed physical products (Jordan, Ye, Rogan)

The upsides:

  • Physical products can be outsourced to 3rd party white label company
  • Products can be dropshipped
  • This business can scale rapidly and make you wealthy

The downsides:

  • Large initial investment
  • Support is likely require hired personnel
  • Bad product can turn into PR nightmare and hurt your personal brand

Maybe Building a Software (or a SaaS) Would Be a Good Business to Start?

Software business Unfortunately, this category has less first to market success stories.

You will have to build that software.

If you’re new to the world of business, this is the riskiest venture.

In my experience, as a developer that built many SaaS for various startups (including my own) - this is by far the most difficult category to break through.

But damn, the money is so good there, if you do.

Some examples of such stories: Alex Becker built, first MarketHero then Hyro with multi-million dollars exist. Sam Ovens built Skool (after years of having a successful consulting business).

The upsides: This can make you a multimillionaire Scaling is limited by your own ability to market Eventually will grow into a big company (if that’s your thing)

The downsides: This will eventually grow into big company beyond “indie founder” A lot of work upfront, a lot of costs too (if you’re not a developer) Requires understanding of market needs, hard to find scalable Product-Market-Fit Be prepared to eat ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Publishing Business Is a Better Business Model for Creators

Software business In my opinion an underrated business that many skip. With the mainstream and legacy media era coming to an end, we have smaller publishing companies replacing them.

You might say, but publishing is just glorified blogging?

Sure it has a lot in common with blogging, but publishing focuses around specific markets, audiences and topics.

While publishing business can be run solo, eventually, a team of independent writers can be engaged.

Who does publishing well?

You’d be surprised but most YouTube channels are in a publishing business. Newsletter behind a personal brand that takes sponsors, yep, a publishing business.

Podcasts? You guessed it - publishing business.

You don’t even need to be an expert or have skills - you can invite experts and platform them for your audience

We won’t be naming big names (i.e. Joe Rogan or Lex Freedman). Neil Patel built a personal brand in the SEO space via publishing. Brian Dean runs Exploding Topics, Pat Walls built Starter Story out of Starbucks.

As you can already tell - this is one of my favorite kinds of business.

The upsides:

  • Business model does not require a lot of time invested
  • Can be started next to nothing
  • Can be intertwined with the personal brand
  • Scalable once you get traction

The downsides:

  • Will require you to hire additional writers or creators
  • Picking the wrong topic can lead to dry advertising niche
  • Takes longer to make money (compared to product sales or service business)

I am building a Media Company as a Creator

Media business Media company and publishing business overlap a lot. But media company is beyond just writing, it invloves video, audio, and other forms of content.

As a busy father and sole breadwinner in my very large family, I cannot take neither financial risks nor do I have a lot of time on my hands.

My foundational, cash flow business, is still services (freelancing) while my secondary growth business is publishing.

The publishing business is a business of niche advertising. You build an audience that trusts you and has a lot in common.

Do I have to pick one type of business as a creator?

However, here is the wild part of entrepreneurship: you can combine them. You don’t have to pick one.

Greg (Kinobody) has done so. Not only does he have a solid personal brand, he also sells physical products (supplements), owns an education portal and does private one-on-one consulting/coaching with selected clients. Greg is also tangibly in the publishing business. If a non-competing product approached him (as a sponsor) - he has the audience to promote it.

Eventually I will be in the software business. Hey, I am a developer, after all, I breathe, eat and sleep software.

You will see some educational material from me (at much later point).

So which business are you picking?

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