It was an unlikely pairing, Big Tech and me. She’s a steely loud behemoth, I’m a sensitive writer.  I knew from the beginning she probably wasn’t the one, but we looked good on paper. My friends and family liked the life she afforded us. Over the decades we built a decent, monotonous life together and I kept my restlessness to myself.

The pandemic hit. I worked downstairs, my son was in school online upstairs, and the relationship seemed to insidiously tentacle into every corner of the house. Work conversations began earlier every morning, went later into the night, and text flurries weren’t uncommon at 2 a.m. Emotional burnout blurred the days together into an indiscernible slop of Zoom, Teams, Slack, texts, missed calls and Outlook.

I made my exit plan. I began to see others on the side: I revved up my own communications shop and secured some loyal clients. Once that was humming along, I gathered the energy to leave my relationship. I did so unceremoniously, my announcement leaving neither of us surprised or upset. My little business pulsed along, the kids went back to school, and the world inched its way toward new normalcy. But I missed being part of a team; I craved camaraderie.

Then I did something I’d wanted to do for years. I applied to reasonable, creative jobs. I chose the one with the people I liked most.

I landed at Commerce surrounded by fellow birds of a feather– corporate refugees, entrepreneurs, one pirate and wry creatives.

One of my first tasks was to edit the Creatives Academy which I procrastinated on for two days and then devoured in less than three hours.  

The Creatives Academy is a sibling of our Entrepreneur Academy and The Small Business Playbook and was written by my boss and elder creative, Robb Zerr. More than 20 years ago, Robb managed to turn his talents into a thriving business before turning his attentions to overseeing small business programming here at the state. I’m mostly confident he knows what he’s talking about.

Robb is able to see creatives as small businesses, and gives the steps, support and resources needed to be successful. Even better, it’s delivered in a simple, delightful way. Useful videos are sprinkled throughout along with awful song puns, movie references, and oddly specific and deeply intuitive advice that feels somehow written just for me. Hopefully you’ll feel the same.

Here’s the breakdown of lessons within the Academy, although I highly recommend starting at the start where most things should start:

Lesson 1: Thinking Like a Business

You don’t have to sell your creative soul to own and run a business. But having the mindset of a business person will open doors for you never thought would could open as a creative.

Lesson 2: Business Structure

The way you structure your business can affect your liability, income and assets. Learn about the different options and see which one suits your personal situation and business goals.

Lesson 3: Access to Capital

Money makes the world go round, especially if you’re trying to grow your business. We’ll take a look at the many ways to access the funds you need, from those slightly out of the box to more traditional sources.

Lesson 4: Creating Revenue Streams

Riding the revenue rollercoaster can be exhausting. In this lesson we will look at ways to diversify your creative output so that you escape the feast and famine cycle of doing the work and then selling the work.

Lesson 5: Marketing

It can be hard to get the word out about your creative skills, products and services. We’ll offer up some ways for you to stand heads and shoulders above the crowd, including the importance of storytelling as a business tool. 

Lesson 6: Finding Customers

It is far more profitable to have a long-term customer than a one-time sale. We’ll show you how to find and keep customers that value you and your creativity to the point where they keep coming back for more.

Lesson 7: Pricing

Finding that sweet spot can be a real challenge. In this lesson, we will look at the different pricing strategies, how to build a quote and how to steer a client to a point where you both value the outcome.

Lesson 8: Creating a Winning Pitch

First impressions are everything. So is a pitch that sticks. We’ll walk you through the mechanics of making a winning pitch and give you valuable tips and techniques to create a winning pitch that leads to the next step.

Lesson 9: Effective Negotiation

Nearly everything is a negotiation in life. In this lesson we will look at negotiation as a business tool, including how to guide the discussion, overcome objections, adjust terms and pricing without sacrificing value and more.

Lesson 10: Intellectual Property

Your work is more than likely unique. You spent a lot of time creating it. This lesson walks you through the various ways to protect your creativity so that scurrilous pirates don’t rip it off and steal your money.

Lesson 11: Managing Your Money

It’s easy to spend money. It’s much harder to manage it, especially when more seems to be going out than coming in. In this lesson, we’ll show you how to master money so it works for you instead of against you.

Lesson 12: Going Global

75% of all purchasing power lies outside U.S. borders. Learn how to harness the power of exporting to reach more customers, make more sales and increase your revenue and earning potential.


Creatives are a different breed in the working world. Charmed with boundless imagination, they have astounding products and services, and often, few business skills to ensure that their work is valued, monetized and protected.

We hope you the academy gives you the tools you need to turn your passion into a thriving, lasting, lucrative business.

From my mossy corner of Wallingford where I refuse to get backyard chickens,