You’re an artist — a writer, musician, illustrator, or dancer. Maybe you’re into doll sculpting, keepsake jewelry making, fashion photography, plein air painting, or composing ambient electronica.
You’re pretty brave when it comes to creating, but the mere thought of marketing your work might make you break into a cold sweat.
Would you rather be shot out of a cannon than toot your own horn? Is balancing on a tightrope more attractive to you than asking people to shell out money for your masterpieces?
If so, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Keep reading, because I’ve got enough reassuring marketing ideas for you in this article to keep you occupied for the next several months …
The mission is unnerving, but the stakes are high
Many people — faced with the choice of either promoting their latest writing project or entering the ring with a whip and an elephant — would choose to face the moody and unpredictable pachyderm.
You’re good at your craft. You want to spend your time making more stuff, not annoying people by schlepping your wares. Besides, that’s not your strength, right?
The problem is, learning to be a good marketer really is a matter of life or death to an artist. You simply can’t make money unless people are buying your products, coming to your shows and exhibits, or reading your work.
But — there is good news. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life hiding, boring but safe, behind protective glass.
With the proper training, preparation, and official pro safety gear, you can learn not only to be a master marketer but also to actually relish the thrills of your commercial daring and death-defying, cash flow-generating feats.
Throw your hat into the ring
Officially and publicly announce to the world your intention to be a competitor.
Stand up as an artist who rebels against the common assumption that you’ll always be broke, forced to live in your car, and starve to death if you have the audacity to try to make good money from your passion.
1. Reframe the ruthless tiger into a cuddly pussycat
The words marketing and sales can put more fear into people’s hearts than saber-toothed tigers. If this describes you, I have just one piece of advice: talk to people. Just talk. Convey information, have conversations, educate. Whether you’re online, at lunch, or on stage … it’s all just conversations and relationships. Once you realize you are simply making your work available to people who are already interested in it, all the pressure is off.
2. Resolve to use your superpowers for good.
Here’s the deal. Someone out there desperately needs what you do. People are starving for connection, inspiration, fun, beauty, laughter, depth, momentary distractions, and the warm fuzzy feelings and memories that art brings them. If you found a cure for cancer, keeping it to yourself would be wrong, wouldn’t it? You have a moral obligation to get your work out to the people who need it. Art might not be a matter of life or death, but it sure makes the difference between a beautiful journey on the planet and a bland existence.
3. Imagine yourself accepting your Lifetime Achievement Award.
What will it be for? What will you have accomplished? Think in terms of the impact your work will have on people. You need a vision for your art business and entrepreneurial career that will carry you through the tough times. You’ll need to know who you’ll be, what you can do for your audience, and where you’re headed so you’re not distracted from your main goals.
4. Commit to the long haul.
Be patient and kind to yourself. Your road won’t always be easy, and yes, there is a lot to learn. But it’s not complicated; you can absolutely do this. Build your fortress one block and one wall at a time.
Identify your most thrilling feats
If you’re not sure what you do that’s worthy of prime-time TV with big ticket sponsors, try some of the following tactics:
5. Realize you’re already brave.
Ask friends, fans, and customers what things you have the nerve to do that they admire. You probably tend to take your piano compositions or playwriting for granted, yet how many people have told you they could never do what you do? You can talk to them in person or send them an email with a few simple questions. You might get some surprising answers.
6. Revisit/relive your standing ovations.
Think back — when have you done something that absolutely delighted your fans, customers, or clients? What have you done to make people throw money and praise at you? Write these things down and purposely do more of them.
7. Stand proud in the spotlight.
You’re unique. Play that up. List some key ways you are different from your competition and communicate them. Your goal should be for people to say, “I know them; they do this!”
8. Become a mind reader.
Get into your customers’ heads and read their thoughts. Not literally, of course. But ask yourself what they like, what they don’t like, how they spend their time, where they hang out, how they are feeling, and what keeps them up at night. Interview current fans and customers to find out why they buy from you. Ask a handful of people if they would mind answering a few short questions in exchange for a small gift. Then ask these same questions to a larger group via SurveyMonkey or similar online tool. Listen when they respond.
Find your adoring, adventure-hungry fans
It’s all about the tension, excitement, and the energy of the crowd, right?
9. Build your command center.
Get a real website if you don’t have one. Social media sites should all drive back to the main hub of your operations and engagement on your website.
10. Craft captivating stories.
Tell how you got to this place. Daredevils don’t start out jumping canyons. They start on three-foot-high ramps. Stories are powerful ways to build connection and they’re universal. How did you get where you are? What were your turning points? What struggles did you overcome? What have you learned? Use humor and emotion.