Producing Self Employment


Producing Self Employment

Alicia Minter is the Owner and Creative Director of marketing agency, Biggs Creative. She has 20+ years of experience writing, shooting, producing, and elevating 360-degree marketing campaigns. Branded content is her first love, and a close second is creating television and web series. She has the honor working with several brands & Fortune 500 companies, including Disney, Costar Group, PBS, TLC, AMC Networks, TED, Under Armor, and more.

Alicia spent the first half of her career writing and producing for television networks like TV One, National Geographic Channels, TLC, and Discovery Channel. She then transitioned to a Creative Director at a Manhattan agency before starting her own creative agency in 2016.

A multi-Promax and Telly award winner, she’s equally as proud of her Master’s Thesis about the effects of branded content on television viewers.

When and why did you join NASE?
I joined NASE in 2019, two years into the business. My husband and I had just moved from New York City to Maryland to be closer to family. The business was so young and I was suddenly starting over in a new geographic location — building new Maryland client relationships while juggling those I had established in New York. I was looking for tools, resources, and a community of other business owners that I could access for professional advice and I found that quickly with NASE.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
At the young age of 16 I knew I wanted to be a producer. It’s funny but true — I saw the film Waiting to Exhale, where Whitney Houston’s character pivots her career and starts working as a producer. I had no clue what a producer was but I saw how she was in charge of the creative and how she handled the challenges. At that young age I thought, that’s what I want to do, and I never looked back. I majored in Television Production & Communications at Morgan State University and one week after graduation started working in marketing at TLC. I’ve been producing content ever since.

When and why did you start your business?
I started my business in September of 2016. I had about 15 years of experience producing, and I had taken on a huge role at the creative agency where I was employed full time, even opening up a new division for them. I was in charge of bringing in new clients, running the website, execution, budgets, project management, and more. After one year I thought, I can do this on my own. I can step out on faith (with an emergency savings fund of course) and start my own company. As confident as I was, I was equally as terrified. I thought, I’ll try this for six months and we’ll see how it goes. That was seven years ago and I’m so grateful to be going strong and growing the business.

How do you market your business?
We have a few different marketing strategies: in-person meetings and pitches with current and future clients, email blasts, social media, sponsoring women and minority-owned business events, participating in local chamber events, and actively pitching through NMSDC events. (NMSDC is the organization through which my business is a certified MBE, aka a minority-owned business).

What challenges have you faced in your business?
There have been so many challenges while running the business over the past seven years. Here are a few scenarios…

I have worked with clients who wanted the world on a shoe-string budget. Through those experiences, I had to learn how to stand up for myself and my team, and be firm yet kind about our worth. Those conversations are never easy — I don’t like talking about money — but they’re so important. My team works hard and we should always be compensated accordingly, and it is up to me to stand up for us. I recently withdrew from a project we truly loved working on because my team had put in tireless hours and the client simply didn’t know what they wanted. They were happy to keep spinning our wheels but I explained that unless they had more room in the budget, we could not keep starting over at their every whim. Hard decisions like that are necessary for myself and the team.

When I moved to Maryland (from New York) just two years into the business, it was a scary time. I wanted to keep my existing clients in New York while simultaneously starting over with new clients in the DC area. I remember applying for staff jobs I didn’t want because I was nervous I wouldn’t have enough work in DC to sustain the business full time. Luckily there was plenty of work and we efficiently made the transition into the DC area clientele.

When my husband and I had a baby and I took maternity leave, I was so unsure. A million questions ran through my mind: Will all my clients forget I exist? Will they not want to hire me anymore because I have a family? How will I balance having a baby and the uncertainty of owning a business? I’m thrilled to say that my clients didn’t forget I existed, and while it was definitely a challenge getting used to having two babies (my biological one and my business), I am making it work. It’s not perfect but I’m able to be there for both, and that’s what matters.

After the George Floyd tragedy I saw a huge, unexpected boost in business, as clients scrambled to hire more diverse-owned businesses like mine. That was a bittersweet time because I was thrilled for the all the new business but also it saddened me that it took that kind of tragedy for media executives to finally prioritize diverse hiring.

This is just a sampling of the challenges I’ve faced and survived. I’ve learned that no matter the problem, I have to keep being true to myself and our mission, and the business will continue to thrive. Keep marketing, keep building long-lasting client relationships, keep having fun, and keep producing beautiful work that I’m proud of for millions of people to see.

Do you have any employees?
Currently I have ten contractors that work on a project by project basis, and I am the only full time Biggs Creative employee. I have plans to hire 1-2 people in the next year as we continue to grow. My favorite part about working with my team is that we’re all in different geographic locations but we work together seamlessly. I work with an amazing Executive Producer in Los Angeles, an Editor in Atlanta, and an Art Director in Washington, DC. I love the flexibility we have to work with talent anywhere.

What’s your schedule like, what’s a typical day for you?
After my toddler wakes me at the crack of dawn and my husband and I get her off to preschool for the day, I get my favorite coffee from a local coffee shop and settle into my home office. On nice days I move my computer out to the backyard because so much of what I do requires creativity, and it’s often easier to be creative when not at a standard desk. I spend about 70% of the day watching footage or picking music cues, writing scripts, viewing rough cuts from my team and giving feedback, and working on getting new business. The other 30% is spent on the back-end with managing invoices, project management, and marketing. At 4:30pm I go pick up my daughter and spend time with her until bedtime — then I often get back to work for about an hour in the evenings. Most weekends, I don’t check email at all — I even turn off email access on my phone. That way I can really be present with my family during days off.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
I’m so grateful that owning my own business means I not only work remotely, I also have the flexibility to go to my daughter’s field trip in the middle of the day or to be at home when my daughter is sick and still get work done. A few times of year I travel to be on set for filming, but I feel like I’m able to maintain a good balance so I can be a present parent, wife, and business-owner. That’s the dream for me — finding a balance between all the wonderful things that make me happy.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
In 2022 we designed and produced 12 all-graphic spots for a large Disney and Kraft campaign. All the spots promoted different Disney movies and incorporated Kraft food products, like building a castle out of Kraft Lunchables pretzels and cheese. In 2023 Kraft and Disney came back to us for another campaign, only this time they doubled the size! Now they want 26 all-graphic spots created. This is the absolute best compliment because not only did they love our work, they loved it enough to come back the next year and double their marketing spend. That is the kind of relationship we try to build. We want our clients to be so happy with our creativity that they keep coming back for more.

Here are a few of last year’s spots. (Since they already aired, they are now shareable.)

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
Use tools that help keep you focused. It’s easy to get busy doing the paid work and put off the behind-the-scenes business tasks like updating your website, posting to social media, and chasing down invoices. Build in time for those things with tools you like, so you prioritize those tasks too.

Invest in a logo and website you love and hire an awesome accountant who understands the nuances of your industry. For instance, I can write off my cable bill because I work in television. Find someone who knows the best tips and can help you save money.

Don’t be afraid to have multiple business models. Most of my clients are networks or corporations, but I also work closely with other creative agencies and production companies like mine. Instead of being competition, they hire me and my team when they have project overflow.

Lastly, pay it forward and make positive change where you can. Use your decision-making power to do good things. When we were assigned a Disney and Barbie project, I felt it was important to have an all-women production behind the scenes. So I made sure that my entire team was all women: Executive Producer, writers, editor, and graphic designer. When I had the opportunity to direct and cast a special episode of Doc McStuffins, I made sure the entire cast — every single child — was a person of color. We also requested same-sex and adoptive parents in the casting sessions.

Being more inclusive and diverse on and behind the camera is a personal goal that I feel is important to change the industry. There were many years in my career where I was not the decision-maker, and now that I am, I use that to make positive change whenever possible. No matter what your goals are, every business owner should try to give back or make the world better where they can.

Which NASE member benefit is most important to you?
I really value the opportunity to chat with the NASE experts and I’ve used that benefit several times for IT and HR questions. I also really appreciate the life insurance benefit. As a mother and wife, it’s one thing that helps me sleep well, knowing that is one less thing my family must worry about. Insurance is so expensive for self-employed business owners, so that’s truly valuable for me.

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