2014 Photographer’s and Artist’s Market Preview: Giving Greenlancing a Go by Tom N. Tumbusch

Green Business PracticesGreen Business Practices

Does this describe your approach to running an environmentally-responsible creative business? If so, it sounds like you could use some help cleaning up your act and reducing your environmental impact. Running a green art business could help you save money, attract new customers, and, of course, protect the environment. In his article “Giving Greenlancing a Go” Tom N. Tumbusch gives basic tips for making sustainability a core value of your business. You can read an excerpt from the article below. You can also find it in the 2014 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, 2014 Photographer’s Market, or on Artist’s Market Online.

Keep creating and good luck!


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Giving Greenlancing a Go: Make Sustainability a Core Value of Your Business by Tom N. Tumbusch

In late 2009, I made sweeping changes to my freelance writing business. I not only renamed and rebranded my company, but I also added a major focus on sustainability. It’s one of the most satisfying choices I’ve ever made, and I’ve never looked back.

Ever since I made the switch, I’ve received occasional inquiries from other solopreneurs who are interested in pursuing a similar career path. It’s a commitment, to be sure, but the good news is that getting started takes less effort than most people realize.

Are You “Green” Enough?

Many creatives who want to get into green marketing are skittish about making the jump because they worry their lifestyle won’t bear the scrutiny of more sustainable colleagues and neighbors. They fret about being branded as a fraud unless they eat a strict vegan diet, do all business and household errands on a bicycle, recycle every scrap of household waste, flush only under certain circumstances, and water a four-acre organic garden with gray water from their solar-powered homes.

If you can live that way, great. But if fear of having your home office picketed by greener-than-thou protestors is the only thing holding you back, I give you permission to let this anxiety go right this minute. A sincere desire to walk the talk is a good thing. Unearned guilt is not.

. . . .

Make Small Choices, Then Larger Ones

Once you’ve made your initial commitment, periodically take things up a notch. Incremental changes are easier to stick to, and they make larger changes more, well, sustainable later on. My solar watch led to a backpack solar charger, which I use to juice up my phone and other small devices as often as I can. It’s also a great icebreaker when I go to networking events and prospect meetings. Sometime after that I switched my e-mail and web hosting over to a solar-powered ISP. Every month or so I try to find some new way to reduce my impact.

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Decide What Green Means to You

Just because you promote yourself to clients who value sustainability doesn’t let you off the hook from defining your target market. “Green” is a nebulous term that’s used to refer to everything from electric vehicles to organic food, and if there’s one thing you’ll find in this market, it’s diversity. The marketing needs of a general contractor working with the U.S. Green Building Council are vastly different from those of a nonprofit charity protecting coral reefs.

Face Green Marketing Challenges

Many people want to live more responsibly, but only one consumer in five is willing to buy merely for greenness. Three common problems repeatedly confront green marketers:

•    The pervasive myth that green equals greater cost
•    The fear that green requires some kind of sacrifice
•    Consumer fatigue from the growing number of fraudulent claims about sustainability.

. . . .

Look for Green Opportunities

There are plenty of startup businesses founded on sustainable goals, but going after the green market doesn’t limit you to new or struggling companies. Some big names are already on the green bandwagon, including Apple, Continental Airlines, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Honda, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Walmart.

. . . .

Incremental changes are easier to stick to, and they make larger changes more, well, sustainable later on.

. . . .

One final word about greenlancing: Don’t do it unless you sincerely believe in it. Green enthusiasts may not hound you if they doubt your credibility, but they can still smell “greenwashing” miles away. Don’t try to green your business just to look hip and responsible. Do it because it enriches your life on some level. You can waste a lot of time splitting hairs about whether you should pursue the green market, but the bottom line is that enthusiasm, a few small commitments and a willingness to learn more are enough to get you started.


Tom N. Tumbusch is a freelance writer who specializes in creating action for green businesses and creative agencies. His tiny solar-powered corner of the Internet can be found at www.wordstream​copy.com. Sign up for his newsletter of monthly writing tips at www.wordstreamcopy.com/newsletter.

Excerpted from the November 2012 issue of HOW magazine. Used with the kind permission of HOW magazine, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. Visit howdesign.com to subscribe.


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