It’s hard having talent. Mix in passion and an entrepreneurial spirit, and things can get even trickier.
Because now you have a choice.
Either you do what most people do: fear failure, keep that drive inside, and apply for that company job that doesn’t look too bad.
Or you can act on that talent, turn your passion into a business, and let your dream shape reality.
Dina Rodriguez followed her dream. Using a simple online shop, she’s now cashing in on her hobby by doing something she loves.
Here’s how she did it.
Turning your hobby into a career
While some worry that digital natives are sending the written script to its grave, Dina is breathing life back into the hand lettering trade.
Today, she’s a professional illustrator and hand lettering artist. And as the founder of Letter Shoppe, her work has been commissioned by companies like American Greetings and Penguin Books. How did she get there?
It all started as a hobby, just a few hours a day doing something she loved: writing letters in all sorts of fonts and styles. Until the day she realized it was meant to be something bigger.
But Dina knew that being good wasn’t good enough. So to transform her love of drawing into a business, Dina had to hone her skills.
This meant getting better at her craft, and also gaining a stronger understanding of the business side of things. As she tells her clients, you need to:
Craft your online brand
Build an audience through your website and social platforms
Create a production process, from first contact to online payment
And don’t forget the power of self-promotion:
““When designing your website you need to sell the crap out of yourself.””
It’s also about understanding the value that you can provide. And in Dina’s case, it’s not just about words:
“It’s about making a real connection with your community, audience, and customers using professionally-crafted hand lettering. I’m talking more than just words on a page, but handmade visuals that tell your story.”
Beautiful product, strong community, and a clear value proposition—great start. But if you want to set up shop, you’ll need a store front.
How to set up your online shop
When you work online, you need a personal way to interact with clients. Dina explains how she has these conversations:
“I created a typeform to educate my customers on how they could purchase a custom art commission. Their answers inspire me to craft their original hand lettered illustrations.”
These interactions give Dina her first piece of critical info: inspiration. And then there’s that second bit of essential info her business needs: payment information.
Dina found that Typeform could make all this happen in one swoop.
“A single form gives me the information I need to develop a creative direction for my clients’ pieces, and it lets me calculate a quote for them.”
Click ‘start’ to check out her online typeform shop here, with secured payments using Stripe:
It was quick and easy to setup, and it saves tons of headache. Or as Dina puts it:
“I love using the typeform because I don’t have to go back and forth via email to give people an estimate. It’s a simple introduction to my process that helps my business run smoothly.”
An online shop with no website? Yup. Here’s how it works:
Picture options. Projects can be printed on cards, t-shirts, canvas, and more. Customers can have a look, then pick the format that’s right for them.
Personalized branding. Dina customized the look and feel of her typeform, so it’s personally branded. This is Letter Shoppe’s shop, not Typeform’s.
Rush delivery. Customers who want a fast turnaround time just click a button, and a rush delivery fee is added to their total quote.
Legal terms and agreements. Things you’d expect: like restrictions for how how clients can redistribute the work, and notes on international shipping.
Summary of purchase. The typeform provides a cost breakdown for the work. This is thanks to the calculator feature that quietly sums up a customer’s order as they create their project.
Secure payments. And once they’re satisfied, customers can make a credit card payment right in the typeform, 100% secured by Stripe.
What happens next? Dina personally gets in touch to answer questions. And then clients receive a stunning, customized, hand-lettered project.
Find out exactly how she built her shop here.
Make more than a portfolio
Building a successful business is much more than creating an amazing product or service that people want. You’ve also got to educate your audience.
Dina is a master at this. The Letter Shoppe blog is full of practical and incredibly useful tips on how to grow a freelance business. And now she’s writing books, even teaching at a fine arts college in Portland.
She also hosts a weekly live stream on Twitch, to give aspiring artists insights into her work. And she’s built up a community across different social media platforms, where she shares inspiring tips like:
The only way to develop your unique style is to show up everyday and work on it.— Dina Rodriguez (@lettershoppe) March 16, 2015
By teaching her craft, Dina engages and educates her audience. She’s also realized that teaching is a powerful tool for self-improvement, another trait of successful entrepreneurs.
Dina was determined to create her future by following her passion—and she’s scripted it beautifully.
What about you? What’s your dream business?