Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jan van den Hemel, owner of Blender Secrets, located in Gent, Belgium.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I create one-minute tutorials for anyone who's learning to use the 3D software Blender. For those who want to dive in deeper, I sell an e-book on the same topic.

Tell us about yourself

Originally I was making these tutorials for fun in my spare time while working as a freelance motion graphics artist. I felt like the tutorials on YouTube were all overly long, and it took me forever to find the info I really needed. So I started making those one-minute tutorials as it seemed nobody else was doing it, and it seemed like a real time-saver. I was surprised by the positive response, which motivated me to write the e-book. Since the e-book took off, I was able to quit my freelance work and focus solely on that.

I'm motivated by the fact that I'm able to focus on learning 3D graphics together with my customers. The interaction with happy customers and the short production time of a one-minute YouTube video is much more fun and rewarding than making medical explanation videos for big corporations, which is what I did before.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I feel like I'm really helping people put money on the table, as they can freelance internationally with the skills they learn from my content. I've had messages from people in places like Syria who told me they were able to make a living, thanks in part to my book. That's very satisfying feedback to get. And just being able to get paid to do something I love is something I'll never take for granted.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

When I was freelancing, it was stressful to search for clients, especially when you're just starting out.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

If I had to start again from scratch, I would recommend spending a year or even more building up an online presence of the thing you want to make a living at while earning income with something stable like a 9 to 5 job. If you work on that long enough, at some point, your online presence will be strong enough that clients will come to you, and you can switch from your day job to your dream job. That way, you can focus on the work and won't waste time looking for leads.

If you're selling a product, don't hide behind perfection. Get it out there and start selling it as soon as possible. I started selling my e-book when it was just a couple hundred pages, and now it's grown to 1800 pages. Writing that many pages took several years. But in the meantime, I was already selling it and, very importantly, getting valuable feedback and suggestions from customers. And I wouldn't have had the opportunity to focus on writing all those pages without the income from customers.

Something I see often is that someone will work really hard on a product and then not do any marketing for it. It baffles me. They'll be sad and confused about the fact that nobody buys it. If your customers don't know your product exists, they won't buy it. I spent about a year doing daily videos on Instagram before I started using it to advertise my e-book. Without my social media presence, nobody would have known about the e-book, even if it was something they wanted.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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