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Marketing for Artists & Writers: You Too Can Sell

How to Get Your Creative Work Out - Your Way

Creatives love to, well…create. We love to write, paint, sew, build, mold, and more. The slightest mention of marketing can make us shiver. We just want to create. The challenge is that many creatives are not natural marketers. We don’t want to advertise, present, or god forbid sell. And many of us associate “marketing” with car salesmen, spam phone calls, or flamboyant, gregarious deceivers. Meanwhile, many of our products languish on shelves, hard drives, or containers aching to be shared with others. Our homes fill up with magnificent creations and our bank accounts drain as inventory builds. How can we find a path to market without increasing our stress level or compromising our values?

For years I persevered in corporate America, relishing the projects and team leadership, but struggling with social interactions I often interpreted as sales calls to get others to like me or my ideas. Finally, after 30 years of stories and scars, I removed my mask and retired to reunite with my childhood passion for writing. No more managers, no more unwanted social calls, no more marketing myself for other’s approval.

And then I finished my book. I had to wake up to the harsh reality that few people knew me or fewer knew my work. I had to decide if I was okay writing for my family or if it was time to market my work.

Five Reasons to Market Your Way

  1. This is the phase to connect creatives and our audience – to help convey our message, inspire, impact lives...

  2. Many creatives think marketing tasks can be passed to others, While neither publisher nor agent will take the reigns, even paying expensive consultants will not alleviate you of a prominent role. It is, after all, your personal works of art.

  3. Marketing is the broadest and most nebulous stage of the creative process and thus needs some further definition.

  4. There are thousands of people prepared to offer sage advice – well-intentioned fellow creatives, experienced consultants, and some unscrupulous “snake oil” salesmen. Lots of great input which I do encourage everyone to tap via books, podcasts, blogs, and face to face meetings or conferences, but somehow, we must weed through this plethora of information to chart our own course.

  5. Thus, many people, perhaps especially introverts and shy people, find this process overwhelming. Their manuscript remains on their laptop or their art adorns every wall of their home. It's time to move your creations into the world that is waiting for them.

Fortunately, the crafting of my memoir provided the perfect opportunity to learn about myself, my introversion, my talents, and my discomforts. So when it came to marketing, I was armed with my newfound joy of knowing myself. I embraced my penchant for learning and surrounded myself with podcasts, books, and fellow writers.

Steps to Determine Your Marketing Style

Rest assured, there are plenty of purveyors of sage advice in the marketing space. Eventually, I found myself overwhelmed with secrets, magic formulas, potions, programs I must buy, and tactics I must employ. Finally, stressed and uncomfortable with most of the approaches, I stepped back to reassess. I refuse to return to a life of complete discomfort filled with psychosomatic scars, unable to keep up with my own determination to succeed. So how do we creatives tackle this marketing dilemma?

1) Know yourself: as with much in life, happiness starts by knowing ourselves, our strengths and values, and striving to adhere to this guidance. Regarding marketing, ask yourself:

  • Why did you write your book or paint your art or create your music?

  • For whom do you create?

  • What drives your passions?

  • What are your financial needs or aspirations?

  • Do you enjoy sales?

  • Do you consider yourself a motivational speaker?

  • What’s your preferred communication means – writing vs. speaking?

  • Do you like small or large group engagements?

  • What makes you nervous?

  • What gives you energy?

These reflections must be answered by you and you alone. This will help you to reveal what your true dreams are and what your comfort level is regarding marketing tactics.

2) Gather information far and wide. What is marketing? What are your options? Consider other creatives – new and old, boisterous and quiet, and other business marketing models besides your art area. You will find a plethora of information in local Meetup groups, creatives organizations, industry conferences, books, podcasts, and more.

3) Filter all the information to form a marketing plan you believe in. There are literally a million marketing tactics. Many of these “experts” are adamant (“you must”) about their paths. I despise that approach but rather than completely disregarding resources, I like to filter for the nuggets that fit my strengths and values. You should do the same.

Through my own process, I concluded that I love to write. I find all writing helps improve my skills. On the other hand, my introversion and more so my shyness makes large speaking gigs numbing. Though many will insist you must speak, why can't we have it all? Why must we be miserable sharing our creative work? We should do what we enjoy. Whatever that is, sharpen your skills and message, engage with others, and reap the benefits…your way!

It’s great to challenge ourselves to stretch, learn, and grow, but not to the extent that we dislike the process. Try something new every month or quarter but give yourself permission to pass after trying if that approach isn’t right for you.

Marketing Mediums for Creative Introverts

  • Topical Website

  • Weekly Blog

  • Audience-Targeted Social Media

  • Personal Requests for Endorsements & Reviews

  • Guest Blogging

  • Magazine Articles

  • Launch Party with friends and influencers at home

  • Stretches: I’m dipping my toe into guest podcasting and YouTube to see if I enjoy the medium. Though many may see the product, each feels like an intimate setting of two people chatting about my passion, so I’m finding comfort in this new stretch

Others may get energy from more public speaking and thus may replace many of these with a launch at a larger venue, various speaking engagements where your audience can be found, or your own podcast…

Don't Stop Here - Make it Happen

Once you have an approach, organize:

  1. Use a spreadsheet with tactical tasks in rows and weeks in columns

  2. Note weeks you will schedule, prepare, or execute each tactic

  3. Every Sunday, transfer next week’s activities to your planner (whether paper calendar or online organizing tool – I use OmniFocus).

This may sound tedious, but organizing provides control which provides comfort, especially for many introverts.

Marketing can be an intimidating, stressful process for everyone. Introverts, in particular, may feel like we must wander too far from our comfort zone that we avoid marketing altogether. But there’s a better way, to market with integrity. Your way.


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