by Cricket Desmarais
“But, he thought, I keep them with precision. Only I have no luck anymore. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
-ERNEST HEMINGWAY, THE OLD MAN & THE SEA
I call this the lucky essential post in jest. It’s time brace yourself, because this is the post where most want to let the fish go.
MIND THE MONEY GAP ESSENTIAL # 7: MARKET THYSELF.
You are going to read A LOT of things online about this very critical element on minding the money gap. Lucky for you I’ve just put myself through about three months of personal cyber hell trying to suss out just what’s necessary to make it all a go.
First is attitude. You must absolutely accept that marketing is nearly as intrinsic to the success of your business as making quality art. You simply cannot be a professional if you don’t treat your work with an ethic towards business, & all businesses need some sort of marketing in which to sustain & thrive. It is 100% necessary to develop (at least a small) platform in which to market yourself &/or your work.
Note the word small. It’s truly all you need & a great place to start. Now.
Not when you’re album is done, your book written, your exhibition ready to be hung. NOW. (BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT). Trust me on this: Perfection is a lousy idea for artists. Just start where you are & let that be perfect. (If you’re not convinced, try clicking on some of my site’s links & see what sort of hot mess you find there. & my “about” page, which is written in both first & third person & I keep forgetting to edit- & one of my services is as an editor! Start where you are, maestros! You’ll figure it out, I promise).
As I mentioned, everyone has an opinion about how to make this happen, & they’ll happily give you their free ebooks, seminars, & webinars to vaguely explain how.
That’s not entirely fair. I’m just jaded because I got caught in the full throttle of the business offerings out there for far longer than I care to admit, & like most folks do when faced with too many choices, I cracked. But that’s the truth: there is an entire highway of business that has been created on the very subject of marketing, especially online.
That said, there are also MANY MANY resources out there that are bonafide & bountiful in their offerings. The trick is weeding through the quagmire & finding out which ones they are.
I’m going to offer you something simpler for the sake of sanity, & also so that you can spend more of your time focusing on your art, which is really what you’d probably rather be doing anyway.
Consider, at the least, these few things:
- A basic website. Get yourself a domain name (your own name is a good starting point) & link it up to a simple WordPress site. Even a one pager with your best mug shot, a few samples of your work (images, videos, a podcast) & your contact info is enough to let the world that you mean business. If you’re a writer, there’s no better way to both practice your craft & build momentum & audience engagement than to blog. It. Is. So. Easy. & fun…. (more on that later).
- If you’ve got the time, talent or cash, you could always up the ante & have someone build you a site. There are many fantastic designers out there, all with a varying spectrum of costs. I highly recommend this ebook by Paul Jarvis before you begin, as he offers specific insights around the process & gives you all the right questions to ask yourself & potential designers. He also lays it straight about online business as a whole.
- Social platforms. If you read my post yesterday, you know I am knee-deep in shit around this specific topic at the moment. My best guess is to ignore all the hoopla you’re hearing about wrangling the 97 different platforms out there & choose one that feels like a right fit for you. Read here for more info on my thoughts on this. Your capacity & willingness to embrace more of the social media’s platforms will probably grow as you become more comfortable maneuvering around them & already have some of the basic marketing components addressed.
- Extend your physical network. If you’re lucky & you live in the sort of community where people naturally gravitate to certain cultural epicenters, by all means, tap into that. Arts organizations, theatres, museums, colleges, libraries… even cafe’s & bars can be where the action’s at. Think out of the box, get out of your box (& away from your computer) & go be where the people are. Nothing like flesh & blood to remind you that our hearts beat deeply-& often in unison. Community is truly where the magic often happens.
- Volunteer your time/donate your work. Not only does giving of yourself freely feel good & bolster a sense of community (especially when it’s desperately needed), offering your art or creative services gets your work out there in the most positive of light & with returns you can never truly foresee. I did this for years when I lived on the happy island of Key West & never regretted a moment of it. It created such a connect with the many organizations & establishments that needed a little boost & in the long run, gave back to me tenfold with professional boosts via word-of mouth endorsements, referrals & even a fundraiser party to help me with a creative project that required travel expenses I didn’t have.
- Online “volunteering.” This idea could be applied to the online realm as well, though I’m not so sure what my current opinion is about it. These days, everyone gives away something FREE to encourage new subscribers. While I have been truly uplifted & informed by some of these offerings (Chris Guillabeau’s pdf 279 Days for Overnight Success for signing up for his The Art of Non-conformity blog & Book Mama Linda Siversten‘s The Power of Weaving A New Story audio for signing up for her Pub Tips blog are two recent goodies), a lot of it feels like it was quickly slapped together as a “gotta do this campaign,” both lacking the true voice of the one offering it as well as any solid sense of value. Again, I guess it’s what you unearth in your search. Filters & discernment, I’m learning, are pretty useful skills to develop these days.
- Give value & be authentic. If you choose to offer something free to build up your online leads, be sure it’s something that actually has value to you & gives the person who’s taking their time to check you out a sense of who you are & what drives you. If you’re properly aligned with that from the get-go, you’ll increase the likelihood of attracting the right people to support you as you grow into your marketing platform. (Just be you. A preview of essential #11).
Speaking of offerings, of course one must have the fantastic work to offer in order to market it in the first place. As far as I’m concerned, the process of art-making will always take precedent over marketing. If it ever gets to be the other way around, you’re looking at trouble way down to the soul level.
I know. It’s still quite a lot. But don’t worry. Baby steps will get you there. & while you’re micro-moving towards that ideal, be nice to yourself, & trust the process.
& stop reading about those entrepreneurs who got eight thousand subscribers in two months. It’ll just kill your own sense of flow mojo when you start wondering what it is you’re missing. (Clue: not a thing, dear maestro!)
Keep up the good work. Breathe deep. The “hard” part is truly almost over.
Come share your thoughts & opinions at my new venture with social media platforms: Click here for some Facebook FLOW MOJO.