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Carmen McDaniel
Creative Expressions, Create-a-Look Publishing
(512) 451-3070
Austin, TX

About Her Business
Carmen has been self-employed for 8-1/2 years. Her primary business is in printing, advertising specialties and photography. She provides her clients with complete printing services, including standard & full color, labels, cards, brochures and booklets. Her ad specialties include imprinted business gifts, pens, mugs, t-shirts and a whole host of other personalized items, including photo postcards, business cards & brochures.

In planning for retirement, Carmen has also become involved in a co-op of MLM home-based business opportunities. The residual income potential of these businesses is what motivated her to diversify.

Why did she start it?
Carmen started this home-based business venture when she was on unemployment, after loosing her photography job when the company she was working for filed bankruptcy. Though she was under funded, she pushed forward by becoming an independent representative for a national print firm. She initially offered photography services for postcards and brochures. Her business grew and diversified in response to client requests for additional products and services.

How does she keep her clients coming back?
She is committed to meeting her client's needs. And by meeting these needs and providing quality work at prices below the market, she has grown a successful business. She also attributes her success to the fact that she provides one-on-one personalized service and design.

What's it take to break into this industry?
Carmen says that her background in photography and design was extremely helpful. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field here's the background you'll find helpful:

    • product familiarity
    • work experience in the industry
    • training in photography and design

Start-up costs will depend on the equipment you already have and your decision about purchasing or leasing the rest. Carmen already had her photographic equipment and purchased or leased other equipment as the need arose. (Remember, she started out on a shoestring while on unemployment!)

What does it take to grow your business?
Referrals are the key to continued success. Provide your customers with more than they expect at a competitive price and they will return and will tell others about you! She has her best success through developing personal relationships with her clients and potential customers.

Other ways she markets includes: promotional imprinted gifts, postcard mailers, small ads, website and networking.

So what's it like to work from home?
Carmen claims that starting out was stressful. However, she admits that most of her difficulties stemmed from financial concerns and lack of time. She was seriously under funded when she started this venture and her first few clients were various small jobs that pulled her in too many directions at one time. Another financial concern is funding large expensive projects on purchase orders.

However, even with the initial financial stress, Carmen wouldn't throw in the towel! She loves her work and does a great job at it. And she doesn't have to put up with temperamental co-workers or bosses. If she does happen into a temperamental client, it is only a temporary situation, and it doesn't happen very often.

She currently dedicates 60 hours a week to her home-based business. Carmen commented that since she lives alone, she doesn't have other family to care for. So she is able to take breaks when ever she needs to. She has also developed the discipline to go back and finish up work, when needed.

What advice does she have for others?
Always treat your business as a business and not a hobby. Organize your files/records for easy access and discipline yourself to get up and work a schedule each day. And last, but not least, ENJOY your work!

Carmen McDaniel provides high quality affordable printing and promotional items for businesses, groups and special promotions. Including 4 color printing, photo brochures, postcards and business cards. You can visit her websites at: and

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