Happy talk, keep talking happy talk, / Talk about things you’d like to do…
According to the IRS, a business is something you engage in with the intent to make a profit. For creatives that means you intend to make a profit from your products or performances or services.
Did you just flinch? Did your stomach just do a flip?
Sales, salesman, selling are uncomfortable words for most of the creatives I coach with or know.
BUT… if you want others to award you grants, hire you to speak, commission a mural, buy a scarf, or pay you for a story or a film or a piece of music, you need to be willing to sell and market you and your work.
You probably sell something every day; you just don’t realize it. That book or restaurant or movie you recommended to your friend may have convinced him or her to pay money for it. You sold it to them first. Selling and its buddy, marketing, are simply the process of sharing something you love and have a passion for with others. That includes your work.
Of course, when you recommend someone else’s work, there’s no emotional attachment to whether or not that work sells. But when you share your work and someone doesn’t buy it? That’s a horse of a different color! You have an emotional attachment to your work. In your mind, a sale translates as, “You like me; you really like me!”
So what’s a creative to do?
- Get out there! Find a venue for connecting and sharing your work with others that is comfortable for you. Don’t like social media? Start a newsletter or a blog. Don’t like speaking in front of others, then try social media. No market for your products or services where you live? Attend conferences, exhibitions, or special events.
- Define what you love about your work and share that. Have a passion for color? Share that element of your quilts. Love seeing that moment of breakthrough for your client? Share what you feel with and for your clients with that breakthrough. Have a passion for a story that reaches deep into the emotions? Share the power of one of your scenes and how it affected you even as you wrote it.
- Everyone is not your customer. Don’t expect everyone to love what you love. I recently developed a taste for well-prepared Brussel sprouts, but I know I won’t convince everyone to like them as much as I do. Don’t be disappointed whenever someone (or many someones) doesn’t buy.
- Brag a little. I don’t care what you learned growing up, if you don’t believe in your creative gifts and speak well of them, why should any one else? And when you reach your limit for bragging, let happy clients do it for you. Gather testimonials (with photos) and include them on your site and in your marketing materials. Video testimonials are even better.
- Just do it. No excuses. You have to sell if you want to have a business rather than a hobby. If you want to see your book published you have to sell it–to agent, editor and/or reader. If you want to sell a painting, you have to sell it to a gallery owner or institution or collector. You get the picture.
Truthfully, selling is not always easy for me to do either. Bob often lovingly reminds me to be more proactive about it when I am holding back or being too timid. So I dig deep for the love and passion for what I do and put it out there. You need to as well.
Sell your work. Share your work. Do Happy Talk.