Daren Smith of Craftsman Creative Creator Case Study

Daren Smith of CraftsmanCreative.co Interview
Please tell us about your business.

I’ve got three businesses… (yikes!) I run CraftsmanCreative.co that aims to help creators build bespoke creative businesses that support their work full-time. We have content, community, courses, coaching, and business consulting to help at any stage of the journey.

I also have an online course business and work as a film producer.

How do you make money?

I have two high-ticket offers. The “Craftsman System” is a done-for-you service that costs $15,000, where we come into your business and build out the systems for you. Then I have the Membership System that costs $5k per month or 10% of revenue, whichever is greater. This is a done-for-you paid podcast subscription that we run for your business, aimed at well-known authors, podcasters, and thought leaders. These are ~75% of my revenue.

The next tier down is the “done with you” offers of coaching and events/challenges/courses. These range from $200 for the challenge and courses up to $1,000/month for coaching. These account for another 20-25% of revenue.

Lastly are books and merch which are all in the $20 range and represent a very small percentage of my business.

What works to grow your audience?

I’m spending $1,000/month on Sparkloop referrals, that’s been the biggest growth channel at around 900 subs per month. The rest are organic referrals from other Sparkloop products like Upscribe, people learning of my newsletter & business from social media, and direct outreach for my high-ticket clients.

My website currently gets ~1,500 visitors per month.

What has been your most popular content?

  1. Identify Jobs To Be Done

  2. How To Create And Launch An Online Course In The Next 2 Weeks

  3. Craftsman Creative | Book

  4. How To Create A Six-Figure Creative Business

Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?

The early days benefited a ton from shoutouts in newsletters by Arvid Kahl, Justin Moore, and Josh Spector, who I now consider all friends. Since then it’s been pretty slow and steady growth for my audience.

One nice boost came from doing the 10k Creator show with Joe Pulizzi in fall of 2022. That gave me exposure to his audience as the show was on his existing Content, Inc. feed. It didn’t directly lead to much revenue growth, but lots more awareness.

The big revenue growth came from the lessons I took away from that podcast, specifically conversations with Jay Clouse and Brian Clark. I added the new high-ticket offers and 10x’d my revenue in two months.

What were you doing before you started this?

I started in music and sound, then transitioned to film around 2007. I had a post-production sound business for a few years before starting a video production company that I ran until 2017, and then left that to become a TV and film producer. I started Craftsman Creative in 2020. So I’ve been a creator for my entire adult life 🙂

Why did you start Craftsman Creative and what did you do when you were starting out?

I started Craftsman Creative to help artists and creators build more resilient businesses. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020) when I launched, and so there was quickly a huge need for guidance and stability in their lives. I saw a huge opportunity to serve and contribute. Those are things that drive me as a creator, so it was a perfect fit.

When I started it was just an online course business. I partnered with other creators who had big audiences, and I provided the technical side while they provided the marketing. It worked well and we crossed $100k in sales within 2 years. Partnering was a huge asset early on.

I applied that same principle in 2022 when I partnered with Joe Pulizzi from The Tilt on the 10k Creator Podcast. We put the new show on his existing feed, so we started with 2-3000 listeners per episode from the start.

How long did it take you to start making a liveable income from Craftsman Creative?

The course business shot up pretty quickly. In the second month, we did $11,000 in sales from one course launch, so the partnership strategy helped a ton getting leads and sales into a new business.

When I turned Craftsman Creative into my “personal brand” with the book announcement in August of 2021, my personal revenue from the business was around $1,000 per month, and only grew to about $1,500 per month in 2022. I was also working as a film producer and had about 6 months where I was doing that full-time and spending no time on Craftsman Creative.

But about 15 months in (from that August 2021 kickoff) I added some new high-ticket offers and landed some clients rather quickly, so the business shot up to $15k/month in December 2022. So for me, it was about 16 months of part-time effort. Most creators could benefit from employing that high-ticket offer much sooner, and getting to profitability and sustainable revenue much quicker than if they start with a low ticket, $20-200 offer that requires a lot more volume to reach, say, $10k/month in revenue.

How much content do you produce each week or month?

It’s a lot!

Twitter – daily posts

LinkedIn – daily posts

Newsletter/Blog – one per week on Mondays

Podcast – one per week on Friday

How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?

It generally ranges between 30-40 hours per week. I generally work 9-3 every weekday.

Do you have any employees or assistants?

Not currently.

What are the key apps, software, or tools you use in your business?

I use ConvertKit every day, as well as Ghost (blog), Typefully (Twitter), ScoreApp (leads), PersistIQ.com (leads), Streak (leads), Basecamp (project management), Tana (second brain), Hey (email), Publer (LinkedIn), Circle (Membership Community)

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

I would focus on one core offer ($500-2,500 range) and one channel until that was doing at least $10k/month in revenue. Then I would systematize that so I could keep the same revenue with <10 hours per week. Then I’d either add another offer ($5,000-25,000 range) and get a channel working there to 5-10x the revenue while systematizing the business further. That would lead to a $50-100k/month business in about a year. From there you can kind of do whatever you want – write a book, grow an audience, expand the team, etc.

I started by trying to be everywhere at once, build an audience, created low-price offers like a book, and grew from there. It takes longer that way. Start with businesses then expand to your individual audience members and you can get revenue much faster.