Making It Makers

Puno and Her Experimental Creative Playground

The creativity of digital entrepreneur Puno knows no bounds: from vlogging to web design to cat calendars, Puno goes all-in with her creative experiments—including founding ilovecreatives, her community for creatives as eclectic and passionate as she is. 

Squarespace chatted with Puno about building the resources that creatives need, trying out new revenue streams, and the value of knowledge-sharing in the creative community. 

SQSP: You founded ilovecreatives as both your own design studio and a digital resource for multi-hyphenate creatives. What initially motivated you to build the platform?

Puno: ilovecreatives was (and still is) an experimental playground on the internet where I could link a spreadsheet to help find your hourly rate or figure out where to meet other creatives or learn how to design websites—or we can help build your website! 

I never had a big plan. It was all pretty reactionary based on what people needed help with. Honestly, having a space on the internet (a.k.a. a website) with a pretty specific name was enough to continuously build on it. I’ve built a lot of things, but this is the one that has endless ideas and opportunities.

SQSP: ilovecreatives enables people to make profiles and ads to promote their services, and also offers paid courses to grow their skills. How do you balance free resources with your paid offerings?

Puno: This is a tricky question! I’m always trying to figure out what the balance is. Typically, I just ask myself, is this something I would buy? How much would I buy it for? Or what does it need to solve in order for me to purchase it? 

If it’s a one-off or something that is part of something bigger, then it’s free. If I don’t know, then it’s free. 

In the beginning, it was really easy for me to just lean towards paid vs. free because as a designer I was used to charging for my time and buying courses and resources to save time. I valued digital goods because I knew first-hand that they were worth it. 

SQSP: How has your content strategy evolved over time? Have your goals shifted?

Puno: For the first three years, ilovecreatives was only a weekly email newsletter. We’ve never missed a week since we started ilovecreatives, and the newsletter itself hasn’t changed too much either. 

Most of our bread and butter comes via paid ads and emails. Personally, I think it’s because it’s very straight to the point. No fluff. This is what we’re selling, but we do it in a fun way. 

Since 2018, we’ve dabbled in various social media channels, podcasts, digital events, and some more web content. This is where the content strategy has been constantly shifting. In the beginning it was definitely a spaghetti-on-the-wall kind of strategy. Before we can even make goals, we need to (1) make sure we like the content we’re creating, (2) can afford to make it, and (3) see if the community engages with it. 

After a few years of experiments, I think we’ve landed on a clearer direction that’s more of a content ecosystem. But we still have yet to execute it, so only consistent posting will tell! Stay tuned. :) 

SQSP: You also have an online shop that sells both physical and digital goods. What advice can you offer to other entrepreneurs and creatives who are interested in establishing and maintaining multiple revenue streams?

Puno: Our online shop is truly an experiment. I love to dabble with Squarespace features, so anytime there is a new one, we try and figure out how we can use it. We just have to remind ourselves that it’s not always going to hit, and when that happens, you’ll need to cut your losses and move on quickly.

For anyone looking to have multiple revenue streams, continuously create and iterate on systems and make a budget. Even if you don’t know the cost, you know how much you can afford. Once you know your costs, consider hiring other freelancers, companies, or paying for software/online services. And if it doesn’t work out, move on quickly. 

SQSP: What tools do you leverage to build community with your platform?

Puno: Squarespace is where our website lives. I love it because a lot of people on the team (specifically, TAs in our courses) need to upload resources, and it’s super easy for people to edit it. 

One big change for our community is that we switched to Discord. Such a game changer because Discord is truly a community builder. Since our online courses are gamified, we use the roles to give access to new “levels” in our Discord. Plus, it’s been fun to just casually start a coworking voice chat with people. 

I think video is also a very important tool for us. It allows us to communicate dense information with our personality. Without video, I don’t think ilovecreatives would have a community—or at least not the community we have now.

SQSP: How do you see your online offerings evolving in the years ahead?

Puno: We’ve been working on a few more courses, but I would love to create a lot more mini-courses with creatives in our network. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by people that are transparent with their business or career and happy to share it. With how fast the world is moving these days, I think it’s super important for us to share that knowledge.

Annnd I would love to build a virtual world with cute characters and furniture that I can’t afford IRL. Not sure why it would exist, but wouldn’t it be so fun!?

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