by Cricket Desmarais
“Change the way you look at things & the things you look at change.”- WAYNE DYER
Despite the title, this post is not about getting people to buy your product. It’s not about getting you to buy my product, either. It’s about getting people to believe in you.
Which will never happen if you don’t believe in yourself, first.
In the last two posts I shared my personal story- the summary of how I came to this place of being a creative never short of inspiration or project ideas but almost always challenged with follow-through, completion, & monetization when it came to my own work.
I thought I’d found the answer in the job that integrated creativity with business- marketing! I got the hot job at the cool place, enjoyed the freedom of a salary for a short while & all the trimmings that came with it, then felt an immense sense of corruption & falsity about how I was using language (my first art form), & proceeded to have a nervous breakdown.
Or maybe several nervous breakdowns.
After I make marketing the bad guy, I dump my job, give nearly everything I have away & move as far south as I can possibly get- to an island brimming with eccentric, creative people. There I work on boats & jump from one creative pursuit to another, with the encouraging warmth of the sea & the island’s people all around me. It is healing. I am happy. I am healthy. At times I reach heightened states of flow & bliss.
But I am still almost always broke. I’ll come visit you NEXT year, I tell my west coast friends. Every single year for nearly fifteen years.
At one point, I get angry. What the #!@!? I wonder, & sometimes say out loud to no one. I am working my heiny off & to what end? I cannot sustain the energy.
Despite some great consulting & coaching work that lands on my lap (when you live on an island, these things happen quite easily), my own personal mojo, for the first time in my life, fades.
We (my partners, two young daughters & naughty black cat) move north, for support from nearby family & more resources. Personal shit hits the fan on both sides of our families & they become, for the most part, unavailable to the proverbial equation even as I write this. We live in hotels until we find a rental we can afford. I look at the cracked & paint-peeling walls, the dismal hints of the town outside & wonder what it’s all for.
It gets worse before it gets better. (Life’s an ass-kicker sometimes, testing you for your level of commitment & resilience, your ability to adapt).
My first winter in fifteen years comes. I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder & sudden allergies that make my head feel like it’s in a vice grip. I rarely leave the house, have not done yoga for months, can scarcely manage to make my kids pb & j, & though I try to call forth my spiritual tools to assist me with tenacity, I sink.
I halt all connections with friends because I feel I have nothing to offer, & intend to use that time to cultivate the revisions of my manuscripts. I struggle to embrace form, hoping that some structure will give me a platform from which to crawl out of my hole.
I call a writing coach I’ve long admired, inquire about working with her, but have not budgeted enough for her fees, which also calls to question my own sense of value with the rates I offer. I decide I will coach myself, ask myself all the questions I ask clients, hold myself accountable, find a form that fits & stick with it.
I dive into research & strategy mode, pouring through immense resources the online world offers while also revising my manuscripts of fiction & poetry, trying not to feel guilty about the copious amounts of My Little Pony & Diego screen time I’m dishing out to my daughters as I work.
I also start consulting again for one of my favorite clients who owns a “green” boutique, encouraging her on the importance of engaging her audience & the strategy in which to deliver her message authentically. We optimize her site & start building her platform. Customer interest builds momentum as she prepares her blog launch & hosts special events in her store.
I wake one morning, my face resembling Rocky Balboa after the fight, allergies gone amuck inside my sinuses. It is in my five day prednisone high that the holy choir or reason sings down upon me:
“Heed the advice you give to business clients. If you want to move forward in the world with your creativity, if you want to get PAID for what you do in your role as a writer & artist, you need to treat THAT work like a business, too, & not just your coaching & consulting.
Start by applying the basic principals (ie FORM) of business, one of which is CLOCKING IN (ie showing up for your work vs. waiting for inspiration), another which is MARKETING. Build your platform, make your message, & share it with others.
Don’t worry about doing it “right.” Just do it. Start now.
NO ONE WILL TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY IF YOU DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY.”
I couldn’t believe it. For someone who considers herself pretty smart, it seemed pretty stupid that I didn’t get this concept sooner.
I think, on some deeper level, I’d been stuck in my negative perception rut about what I thought marketing was, how it had negated my feelings of creativity & took advantage of language in a way that so often enhanced delusion to create anxiety & persuade people to believe in & buy something false, destructive or unnecessary.
Language, my sweetheart, the precious string of letters woven together which I wore like a hairshirt.
I realized I’d held it as too sacred & separate to be manhandled by the means of marketing for too long. It was high time to shift the approach. I had to let go & learn how to INTEGRATE language in both my creative & business realms in order to truly thrive & help my work reach its potential. If I could do it so easily for others, well, by golly I could do it for myself, too.
So there you have it. I am at the very beginning of treating my creativity like a business, & not some separate, holy entity outside that. )Though I DO feel it IS a sacred place in which to enter, which is a whole ‘nother post….)
I hope that the research I do & the stories I write will help you benefit, too, & that you’ll feel inclined to share YOUR STORIES, also.
I’ll be posting a mix of education, entertainment & inspiration to help you keep your flow mojo going, which will include both the FLOW & the FORM to contain it.
Oh, & in case I wasn’t clear… marketing is NOT the bad guy.
But you knew that already, didn’t you?
How do YOU feel about marketing? What methods do you use to spread your message & engage your audience? Does it interfere with your ability to do your art? Share your stories below. Your insights help us all.