Guide to Running Your Own Business While Working Another Job

If there’s one thing any creative professional knows, it’s that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Instead, it takes years of practicing, experimenting, trying, failing and trying again as you hone your craft, and that’s all before you even have the necessary chops to start your own business. Even once that happens, it takes years to build the reputation, clientele and experience required to quit your day job and pursue your creative venture full-time. So what’s the artistic hopeful to do in the meantime?

For most people, the answer is working multiple jobs. Creative professionals around the world spend their days in offices, boardrooms and business meetings, only to rush home to spend the evenings and weekends working their second job.

How can a creative professional find the time to do this and make their lives a little easier on themselves? That’s what we’re here to talk about today. We want to go over some tips for starting a business on the side, balancing two jobs and maintaining your passion even through the busiest seasons.

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Raleigh Wedding by Dave Shay

One of the top wedding and commercial photographers in Raleigh, Dave Shay has created a strong brand identity in both the wedding and commercial world. He’s an ambassador for MagMod, former technician for Leica and FujiFilm, and he spends his time when not working for Dave Shay Photography or Táve teaching photographers how to build better systems for their businesses.  Raleigh Wedding by Dave Shay

Images courtesy of Dave Shay Photography

What Is It That You Do?

Your business probably does more than one thing. Are you making it clear to your customers what exactly it is that you do?

What Are We Telling Our Customers?

Branding and the visual representation is more important now than it has ever been. In a visual marketplace, consumers have access to hundreds of options at a glance. You need to stand out and prove your value immediately. When you start off a single business with one goal this is easy, but if your business offers multiple services this can get confusing quickly. How do you create the ideal sales pipeline for a client looking for one of your services when you offer them so many? Are you giving your clients confidence that you’re the right fit for their job, or are you just shouting all the things you do at them?

Isolating Your Voice

Dividing pieces of your business that compete against each other for attention into their own brands gives you the opportunity to market yourself as an expert in that one area and lock your target client without making them

Raleigh Headshot Photographer

sort through a bunch of material never intended for them to see.

You get one chance to book each client. Make sure they’re being presented with the information they need and nothing more.

The first question you have to deal with is how far do you take this? Do I need separate Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Instant Messenger, and Fax Number for every facet of my business? The short answer is, yes… If you hate having free time. Otherwise, probably not. Isolate the different places that those clients are most likely to find you, and create from there. For some, this will mean two separate websites, for others it means a LinkedIn profile that directs to a different page on your website. For my commercial and wedding businesses, it meant two separate websites and appearances completely. If you’re looking to get into commercial photography, one of the best things I can share with you is that commercial clients don’t want a wedding photographer. They want someone specialized in dealing with corporations. By dedicating a website just to handle my commercial clients, they see me as an expert.

Commercial clients don’t want a wedding photographer.

A good rule of thumb on this is that if your services can add on to each other, you can keep them together. If they don’t overlap, they should be separate. If I’m selling corporate headshots, wedding photography, and a wedding GIF booth, there’s a good chance that my wedding clients will book a GIF booth. While possible, it’s very unlikely that they’ll book me for a corporate shoot the same time as their wedding. Since those two services can compete for attention, I’ll make sure they’re separated to strengthen each brand individually.

Appearances Matter

One of the biggest mistakes clients make when they book their clients is thinking that the appearance doesn’t matter at this point. They want to book with us, so we’re good. Maintaining a consistent brand throughout the entire process is essential to confirming yourself as the expert. One of the biggest reasons I chose Táve as my studio manager, was their ability to have multiple looks to the different brands inside of my account. Being able to send over a booking link specifically branded for my commercial clients, and send a softer branded quote full of wedding images to a bride moments later was a game-changer for me. The identity that my commercial client became accustomed to after viewing my website and portfolio was strengthened when my contracts and invoices had the same design to them. I even had a commercial client tell me that they’d be working with me going forward just because I wasn’t ‘one of those wedding people’, despite the fact that I very much am one of those wedding people.

Growing Your Business

Adding a second brand in Táve took me a few minutes at most to upload the images and get everything together. The real power of doing a second brand in my Táve account came when I was able to use the advanced reporting Táve offers. By breaking down profit and loss, lead sources, and product sales by each brand, I was able to see how to strengthen and grow each branch of my business individually and as a whole.

Wrap Up

While it’s not going to be the right move for everyone, separating your services into separate brands is something that’s worth looking into. Take some time, study the services you offer, and make sure your voice to your clients is clear and concise. Once you’ve got your brands figured out, take some time to use the tools from a studio manager like Táve to build your business to the best it can be.

Looking to set up your branding in Táve? Head here to learn more.

You can learn more about Raleigh Wedding Photographer Dave Shay at or on his instagram @daveshay.


Online Marketing Starter GuideIt all starts with an idea — something that’s unique to you. Maybe you’re a photographer. An artist. A designer. A writer. A makeup artist. These distinctions don’t matter when it comes to the actual business side of things. What matters is that you’re a creator. You’ve created something special, and now you want to share it with the world.

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