This month, we've focused on bringing together resources for anyone embarking on a creative venture. No matter where you are in your creative journey, staying inspired is key. Keeping track of the images, colors, and articles that inspire you is an art unto itself, so we've rounded up some tips and DIYs for keeping your inspiration boards, well, inspirational!
This month, we're focusing our content on resources to aid your creative endeavors. Today we're bringing you 6 articles that deliver simple and direct marketing advice for a venture of any scale. We would love to know what marketing advice or resources you have found helpful, so please do share in the comments!
Today we’re serving up advice and tips from creative business owners to aid in your own creative entrepreneurial journey. To get started, we’ve collected a handful of articles on topics from important business practices to creating a brand that reflects your personality. Start your week with fresh ideas and perspectives on how to get your crafty business up and running!
As we approach the end of our March series of posts about marketing your creative business, modern quilter and surface designer Thomas Knauer shares his simple approach to marketing.
Marketing can feel like an exceedingly complicated thing, especially as one gets into the weeds of particular decisions: this card or that, to place an ad or not, etc, etc. It can be mind-boggling, expensive, and often garner little to no reward. That is why I do very little of it, at least in those particular ways. My business cards are simple; I’ve never taken out an ad. I’ve stopped doing giveaways because that traffic doesn’t really endure, and I don’t do a newsletter. When it comes to all of the usual marketing suspects, I don’t do much.
For me, all of those particulars that are the trappings of marketing make up the surface of marketing, not the substance. For me, marketing is all about the plan—the long term perspective—and the plan comes from two simple questions: Who am I? and What do I do?
I don’t look at marketing as a means to reach an audience, but a way to tell the stories that flow from those two questions. The individual things you do—the cards, the ads, the giveaways, and the sales—are simply tools for conveying the core message, and the first thing you need to do is figure out what that story is. That means really making sense of and understanding your business and putting together a vision for what you want that business to be (a really honest one, not the sudden celebrity version).
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the indie maker world doing incredibly awesome things. In an ideal world just being awesome would be enough, and at a certain level it is, but in order to succeed you need to actually build an audience, which is different from just reaching people. You need an audience that will come back again and again, one that will support you creatively and materially.
All of the practical decisions, then, need to support that goal. Blog posts don’t just show the things; they share the nuances, the bigger picture. If a blog post is there for no other reason than to generate hits to support ad revenue or bolster stats you are doing yourself a disservice. Rather than host giveaways I build relationships based on mutual respect that leads to supporting each other through our work and our resources; you have no idea how much working with other makers can do. The goal should always be to market through good content; the mechanisms should support meaningful things, not just the mechanisms themselves.
To put it into blunt terms, lots of eyeballs are meaningless if your conversion rate is terrible; the blunderbuss is a pretty terrible tool. Reach is great, and is important as your business grows, but the key is to not sacrifice quality for quantity, mouse impressions for human impressions.
Yes, the ads, the cards, the newsletters can all help, can all get the message out there, but the most important thing is to seriously invest in knowing just why you should succeed. And then, of course, do the insanely hard work of doing amazing things; without that all of the marketing in the world won’t mean a thing.
About Thomas Knauer
Thomas Knauer holds MFAs from both Ohio University and the Cranbook Academy of Art, and before entering the quilting world he held faculty positions at Drake University and the State University of New York. He currently designs fabric for Andover Fabrics and is expecting his first book with F+W in early 2014. At times he thinks it might be best to flee to Outer Mongolia.
This week we continue Market Yourself March, our series of posts on getting the word out about your creative enterprise with tips and practical project ideas from creative business folk. Today, Rae from ARMOMMY visits with some encouraging words on discovering your personal strengths and using them in your creative business endeavors.
Hello, friends! I’m so excited to share some marketing tips with you today! A little
background before we get started; my name is Rae and I own a creative business with my mom (Jane) called ARMOMMY. We’ve been in business now for six years and
have experienced lots of successes and failures.
Two of the greatest turning points in our business came when we 1. defined what our strengths are, and 2. leveraged our strengths in our marketing. So, let’s talk about number 1! We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about what we aren’t good at or should be better at and very little time thinking about what we are good at.
If I asked you, “what are you good at?” what would you say? Do you know? Are you
confident in those strengths? Or do you just know that you are creative? That’s a
good place to start, but it’s still pretty broad and can feel overwhelming.
If you are like I was about a year ago, and have no idea how to answer the above
question, here are a few ideas that might help you:
- Read the book, Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham &
Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. They also have a website and strengths test you can
- Email those closest to you and ask them what your top three strengths are.
This might feel awkward, but will payoff.
- Do some soul searching and ask some specific questions. What do you love
to do the most? What do you get the most positive feedback about? What
have you been successful at?
- Find a place to record what you’ve learned in a way that is simple to read and
easy to see (such as bullet points pinned to a board).
Now it’s time to shake whatcha mama gave you…. Or in other words, use your
natural strengths to move your business forward.
Here are some examples of how you can use your newfound knowledge in your
Your personality is always a strength, so share it with the world by using it in your marketing. Are you sweet and sentimental? Do you make friends quickly? Maybe you are good at encouraging people. Whatever it is, use it in your social networking, status updates, blog posts, business cards, packaging, campaigns, and any other copy you share with your customers and potential customers.
The picture above is an example from my own life. When I received an email inviting me to do an interview and home tour on a well known mommy blog, I immediately went to the site to see what other people had done before me. What I discovered were beautifully decorated homes that had been remodeled and staged and my mind immediately started focusing on how I’m not good at displaying things on my shelves, etc. However, when it came time to take the pictures I resolved to be myself. Which includes messes and playtime, and working around the kids and wearing my workout clothes. I was scared to death about what people would think, but the response was amazing. (You can see and read more about that interview here.) Lesson learned.
Time is precious. Especially if you are growing your own small business. So, use your talents to help you decide WHAT you should spend your time doing. For instance, do you love long projects? Prepare a four-part remodeling series on your blog. Are you good at sharing details and keeping in touch with people? Promote your Instagram feed, Twitter feed, and Facebook page and keep them updated as a way to grow your audience. Are you good at public speaking? Look for opportunities to teach classes or speak at events. Do you love starting conversations and meeting new people? Say yes to farmers' markets and craft fairs!
Last but not least, look for people you can trade services with. If you are really good at writing product descriptions and you have a friend that is a talented photographer, ask if she would like to do a work swap. You write her product copy and she can take pictures of all your products. The best part is that it will result in less work (it usually takes us less time to do what we are good at) and everyone will be happier with the results. So in short– define what you are good at and apply those things to your business and specifically your marketing. Then when you are on a roll, start to build some of the skills you wish you were better at and outsource those tasks you know you will never want to do! Hopefully this information was helpful for you… I would love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
This week we continue our “Market Yourself” series of posts on getting the word out about your creative enterprise with tips and practical project ideas from creative business folk.
As a quilter, I find that a quilt isn’t truly finished until the label is added. Not only is it a great way to remember when and where you were when you made a quilt (especially when you move as much as I have the past few years!), it can act as a calling card for your blog or business.
When you sell or donate your quilts, your label is a great way for you to brand your work in a polished way, as well as help people find and connect with you online and off.
Below is a tutorial for a simple quilt label using a logo and text. While the directions are specific to Photoshop CS5.1 on a Mac, they can easily be adapted to other Photoshop versions, on either Macs or PCs.
To start, open Photoshop and click on File >> New. Enter a file name and dimensions for your label. My preferred size for quilt labels is 4 inches wide by 3 inches tall, but feel free to do whatever size works best for you and your projects. Enter 150 pixels/inch for your resolution and click OK.