MSEL: A different way to think about marketing

My Self-Employed Life

Marketing doesn’t come easily to many of us makers. We think of it as something outside our craft, something that is slightly foreign and jargony and sometimes even a bit…phony.

When I took a step back and thought about it (thanks a recent search to fill a Marketing Manager role for one of my clients), it’s none of those things. Marketing is about building a community. As artists, we are good at that. Building is making, after all.

And how do you build a community? I’ve come to the realization that it’s much like engaging your friends. You share details about your life, tell them interesting stories, throw in some silliness, share your successes and challenges, ask them how they’re doing, listen. And you do this regularly.

Ana and I were talking about her social media consulting, and, we both had the same thought – when you only contact your community when you have something to sell them, you’re like that friend who only calls when he needs something. No one likes that person. After a while, people stop taking that person’s calls, responding to his emails*.

Don’t be that guy.

Which means don’t send out a newsletter sporadically, and only when you’re launching a new product or collection. Don’t only tweet links to your shop. Don’t blog just about your upcoming workshops.

Develop and nurture your community. Post, tweet, blog – use whatever media you’re most comfortable with – consistently. This is something I’ve tried to do ever since I got my new website. For me, this means blogging three times a week (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday – did you notice?), sending an email newsletter the first week of every month, and continuing to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram daily. This works best for me. What works for you could be completely different. Just make sure that you’re connecting and engaging more often than you’re trying to make direct sales.

How have you developed your community? What marketing tips do you have? Share your thoughts in the Comments.

*I mentioned this idea to Liz, and she said she’d thought the exact same thing as she unsubscribed from a number of artists’ newsletters that she receives only when the artist has something new to sell.


24 thoughts on “MSEL: A different way to think about marketing”

  1. TOTALLY. I think you are doing a great job of non-pushy marketing! And actually, I think, though this is kind of weird now it occurs to me, a lot of the SF/Bay Area artistic folk do a great job of that! Sonya Philip, Andrea Scher, Lisa Congdon, Rena Tom (which is amazing because she is in the biz of business advice and marketing rather than actual art making)…

    I have in the last 6 months or so unsubscribed from SO MANY newsletters, Facebook pages, blogs, etc. because of just that – all that it is, is selling. And when all someone does is try and sell you stuff, you realize you’ve subscribed to advertisements, not interesting or meaningful or personal or useful content.

    So a big high five for speaking out about this, and for marketing and building community in a positive, non icky, way!

  2. Ariane, your comment really hits it on the head: “And when all someone does is try and sell you stuff, you realize you’ve subscribed to advertisements, not interesting or meaningful or personal or useful content.” Thanks for this. You said it better than I did :)

  3. Love this thought. I have been continuing to engage and share, listen and respond and its working. As you said it is the artist way, crafting a community that sees value in the work you are doing only if you share the process along the way.

    Its been so challenging for me these past few months as a crafter without my sewing machine, but I have been finding other ways that show my creativity within my lifestyle, that is the true essence of an artist.

  4. I love what you said “I have been finding other ways that show my creativity within my lifestyle, that is the true essence of an artist.” I hope you get a sewing machine soon – it’s so hard to be without the tools of your trade!

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