Episode 008: Creating a Financially Healthy Business with Val Marlene Creative

The Podcast

My first year as a full-time photographer was kind of a crapshow, not going to lie. Honestly, even before I went full time it was kind of a disaster. I didn’t set money aside for taxes, I couldn’t even give you a ballpark amount of how much I “paid myself” or put back into my business. To be honest, I don’t know where all the money went. I just know how much I grossed (way more than my teaching days) but I had nothing to show for it. 

I wish I would have sought out a coach a lot earlier on to get me set up on the right track. That’s where someone like Val comes in. 

Meet Val: She is a creative business coach and financial guru based out of the midwest. She also started as a photographer and just like you and me, she learned a lot about business and finances the hard way. After years of money mistakes and stress she built a finance routine that finally made sense to her creative brain. Now she’s made it her mission to empower women creatives to take back control of their money!


Were you always good with money and numbers or did you have to learn?

Numbers and Money did NOT come naturally to me at all. Math was my worst subject – tutor a year younger in high school. Avoided math as much as possible but then in business I learned the hard way ignorance is definitely NOT bliss. Owed back taxes, the constant cycle of money stress, booking a wedding to pay for an expense I didn’t plan for, etc.. My husband is better with numbers naturally, so together we created a system and spreadsheets that made sense to my creative brain. Math still isn’t my thing – I rely HEAVILY on calculators and spreadsheets – but because I was able to figure it out I am very confident in my business finances and now I teach others to do the same!


Why do you think creatives specifically have such a hard time with the finance side of things?

There’s the obvious answer: numbers just aren’t our thing – it doesn’t come naturally to us – doesn’t quite compute in our brains as easily, but I think it’s more than that. We’ve put ourselves in a box and decided we’ll never understand numbers – decided we’re incapable – I think this is the biggest problem. You don’t know what you don’t know – and I honestly think so many creatives don’t even realize that there’s more to do than categorize your expenses. We assume we can squeak by until we’re able to hire a bookkeeper and then everything will be fine, right? Wrong.


I wonder how much of that is because creatives are naturally right-brain dominant and left-brainers are the more analytical and methodical.



Val has this awesome Starter Spreadsheet to help creatives like you organize their business expenses and simplify taxes, you can download it here!

What makes your approach to finances different?

Why is it working so well for creatives?

I honestly think the reason my approach is working so well for creatives is simply the fact that I myself am a creative. I speak the language. I lived the same mess so many of them are in right now – I think it makes people feel safe – like they can be honest about how much of a mess their finances are without judgment because everyone’s in the same boat and I can sympathize with them because I WAS them. My approach to finances also does not include the crazy complicated financial jargon. We separate your money in percentages – you make a clear, solid plan to meet all your needs and goals and you walk away with a clear list of what you should be doing weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc..


How can people work with you or find you?

There are a couple of different ways you can work with me – I have a finance group coaching program called Creative Income Cure where I walk you through every step to get your finances under control. If you feel like you’re a quick study and just need the right resources to make it work – my finance tools and templates in my shop are a great way to get started on your own! I also take a few 1:1 clients twice a year for those who need a bit more hand-holding or more advanced coaching!


Freebie reminder 

Download the Starter Spreadsheet to help you organize your business expenses and simplify taxes. https://valmarlene.com/expense-tracker 

– Links mentioned in this episode –

Val’s Instagram

Val’s Website (with a super awesome resource shop)

Creative Income Cure (Val’s finance group coaching program)


– Other Links – 

Honeybook referral link (20% off your first year)

Flodesk referral link (50% off your first year)

Cloudspot referral link (20% off your first year)

Imagen AI referral link (get 1,500 photo edits on me)


Keywords: Profit First, managing finances, tax season,  taxes, finance coach, solopreneur, creative,  creative educator


Check out some of my favorite podcast episodes here:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Keep in mind that I will only ever share about companies that I truly believe in.


March 14, 2023





Take the guesswork out of preparing for a session with my in-depth, 23-page guide, that has tons of links and photo examples!

Session Prep & Style Guide

the free guide!