How to Get People Pounding Down Your Door to Buy Your Creative Work

[Read to the end of this post to learn how you can take advantage of my best coaching offer ever…]

How would you like to find your band of loyal followers?ViewingSeuratbyKevinDooley_FlickrCC

You know, those people who will love your writing, art, music, or other creative work so much that they’re the first to buy whenever you release something new?

The people who open your emails as soon as you send them.

The folks who tell all their friends how much they love your work.

The fans who buy multiple items you’ve made or several tickets to your shows to give as Christmas gifts.

Maybe you’re trying on your own to attract enthusiastic followers through your website, social media presence, or personal interactions.

But you could be running into one or more of these problems:

  • You don’t know how to stand out in a sea of noise online or in person,
  • You’re posting on social media without a solid strategy and not getting good results,
  • You’ve tried (and failed) to figure out who your ideal client is,
  • You’re stuck because you don’t know where to start when it comes to marketing,
  • You attempt to do it all and just wind up frustrated.
    You probably wish you were independently wealthy (but of course, you’re not.)

You wish everyone would just leave you alone so you could get your work done (but of course, they don’t.)

You don’t have all the time in the world to figure this out. You want to spend the time you do have, creating.

You just want to know where to find the people who will love your work, how to connect with them, how to talk to them, and (ultimately) how to sell to them.

You want to know what are the most important things to do and what you can let slide.

You need a plan and you need to know where to start.

Well, I’ll tell you.

It all begins with you.

Where most creatives get stuck building their platforms

It may seem like you’re doing everything that “they say” you should be doing, but you’re not getting the results you hope for.

That’s because everyone’s talking about tactics, tips, and shortcuts, but no one’s giving you the big picture specifically for creatives.

Say “Unique Selling Proposition”, “elevator speech”, or “tagline” to an artist and what will you hear? Groans and gnashing of teeth.

Talk about defining an ideal client and a writer will say, “But I don’t know who’s most likely to love my poetry!”

Tell a creative to meet their customers where they hang out, and they’ll say, “I dunno where they are… Facebook? The grocery store?”

I get it. As artists we want to connect, inspire, and excite people.

The usual marketing advice isn’t exactly exciting; as a matter of fact it’s often downright boring, (let alone confusing.)

So how can you inspire people when you’re not inspired yourself?

The secret to getting people excited about your work

Any good marketing advice will tell you that you have to know your audience inside and out, and that’s absolutely true.

But if you don’t know yourself inside and out first, you could find that you’re attracting people who aren’t a great fit for your work – if you attract anyone at all.

Your work – the hard work – has to start on the inside.

You have to know who you are and what makes you unique –not just what you think that might be, but what others see in you.

In addition, you have to know what it is you really do and who you do it for.

And if you’ve tried in the past, you know it’s not necessarily easy to figure these things out.

You have to tap into your passions, the things that excite you, the things you value most, and the things that matter most to you.

You have to know why you do what you do.

What topics can you talk about for hours? What projects keep you up all night because you just have to finish them?

Everything you need to market yourself as an artist starts there.

Because once you start communicating about the things that really excite you, you’ll start connecting with the things that excite your audience – and those things reveal what they need from you.

  • Your fans aren’t as good as you are at expressing their passions through creative outlets, so they need your work to fill in the gaps for them.
  • Your audience needs relief from the stresses of life. They need to have fun. They need beauty. You can give them with all of that.
  • Your followers need to feel and to be inspired and moved to act – and as an artist, you’re the perfect person to do that.

Connect those things that you love with what your fans need, and voilà!

Now you’ve got a business that doesn’t rely on your mom to buy everything you make. ;)

Venn2

This is your marketing foundation. All those marketing tactics (websites, email, social media, etc.) fall out of that intersection between what drives you and what your fans need and will pay for.

All you have to do is show your followers that a) you know what they’re looking for, and b) that you can give them exactly those things.

Let me show you what I mean with a few examples.

How to apply this theory in the real world

Here are a few scenarios you may be able to relate to.

As you read them, think about how you would complete these for yourself. You’ll want to list what drives you, what your fans get excited about, and how you can let them know that you have what they need.

Better yet, pull out a piece of paper and give it a try.

1. You are passionate about sourcing your jewelry beads from Africa, where you help the makers in villages to earn money for themselves (instead of some middleman) and increase their standard of living. You’ve been to Africa and you see what a difference this makes within families and communities.

Your customers think of themselves as global citizens. They love your designs and the original statement your jewelry helps them make, and they love the fact that they’re making a real difference in the peoples’ lives when they buy from you.

Your marketing message needs to focus on people who love to make bold statements with their personal style, who consider themselves to be global citizens, and who are driven to make positive change in the world.

2. You are a poet who is passionate about strong words and shaking up the status quo. You want to shock people into thinking differently and taking action that changes their corners of the world in positive ways.

Your audience wishes the world was different, but they don’t know how to lead change or aren’t sure they can make a difference. They certainly don’t have your talent with words and expression. They want to be energized, entertained, and inspired, and they don’t mind if you use a few colorful words.

Your marketing message will focus on the rebellious types, the ones who don’t really fit in (even if they have corporate jobs), the ones who question everything, and who also like a great night out with talented performers.

3. You are an acoustic party band who writes smart, humorous lyrics and amazing guitar riffs. You can keep the party swinging, laughing, and rockin’ all night long.

Your fans are tired after a long week of working. They just want to have a good time with their friends and forget about everything else until Monday rolls around again.

Your marketing message will focus on people who love acoustic music, dancing, singing, community, and irreverent humor.

Note that all of these messages are more electrifying than “Women who are between the ages of 35 and 55, college educated, 2 children, with an average annual income of at least $50K.”

Don’t fret over demographic details that may or may not have any real impact. Those may be useful in other settings, but not here.

Instead, find your passion and what makes you unique, determine what your audience loves and will pay for, and figure out where those two things intersect.

Once you do that, whenever you communicate with your people, you just talk about those things.

The most helpful feedback you can get

The thing is, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to figure this stuff out on your own.

That’s because none of us can step outside of our bodies and really see ourselves (or our work) the way other see us.

Over the years I tried many times to figure out how to make my marketing messages connect with people. (I found it much easier to promote my teaching than my music or writing.)

I used feedback from my fans and friends and what I knew of myself. My results were okay, but lame. I never felt like I really hit the mark.

Finally, a smart mentor helped me turn the corner. He watched what I did, noticed what I was good at (objectively), and helped me to nail down my strengths.

He also knew enough about the market for my writing, music, and speaking to know what audiences were likely to really get excited about (and it wasn’t what I thought.)

The result?

It was like the proverbial light bulb went on in my head.

I felt more confident about spreading my message.

I connected with people better, and no longer felt I had to twist and turn to try to appeal to the wrong audience.

Best of all, I finally had the basis for a real business.

How to make this work in your creative business

You can take marketing courses.

You can read every book and post you can get your hands on.

You can become an expert at listening to and responding to your audience.

All that is great, and it will help you, but you’ll still be missing out on that objective feedback you’ll get from talking one-on-one with a mentor who knows what to look for.

And truthfully, if you’re like most artists, you’re probably too hard on yourself.

So you have a few options.

First, you can look around your professional circle and see who you trust. Is there anyone who understands you and also knows marketing? Anyone who has your best interests at heart, but who can still be constructively honest with you?

If so, talk to them about this post and see if they can help you work through creating a marketing message like the ones in the examples above.

If not, you can try to work through it yourself, or you can talk to me.

Maybe you think your budget can’t handle working with a mentor right now.

Well, I’ve got an option that might just work for you.

Do you want my help?

I’m preparing to offer a new course that will help creative folks to figure this stuff out – and I need your help.

I need to know I’m on the right track, and I can only do that if I help you get results.

So I’ll get on the phone with you for 30-40 minutes.

I’ll help you define what makes you stand out.

You’ll know how to communicate that so you can attract the people who will love your work.

And you’ll have the basis for a strategy that you can apply consistently to finally see results from your marketing.

The downside? I can only work personally with 6-8 people this month. I can’t do more sessions right now, because honestly, I’ve got some freelance projects that are keeping me busy full-time.

But, if you know you want to feel more confident about your marketing and your message, and if you’re ready to see people getting excited about your work, then let’s do this.

The price is FAR less than half of my usual coaching rate, and it will also be less than what I’ll charge for my upcoming course.

This is all about helping you – if you want it.

I want people who are serious, but I also want to make this accessible for you.

I don’t want money to stand in the way of giving you a win.

And I want to find out quickly what will help you the most.

Interested?

Here’s what you need to do

You do have to have work that you can show me. You don’t have to have a website but you will need photos, video, or audio/video samples of your best work.

You can send me a few testimonials or other feedback that you’ve gotten from your fans and followers.

And you’ll have to answer a few short questions over email, so we can hit the ground running once we get on the phone.

Sound good?

Great.

Just comment below or send me an email and let me know you want to reserve your session at an insane discount of 70% off my usual coaching rates – just $67.

Tell me about about your biggest marketing struggle after the post. If I get overwhelmed with takers for this offer, I’ll most likely choose from the people who have participated in the discussion. ;)

I’ll follow up with an email letting you know how to book your strategy session.

You owe it to yourself and your creative work

Once you feel at home operating in that space between what you love and what people need and are willing to buy from you, you’ll start to see big results in your creative business:

    1. You’ll know what makes you stand out from the crowd, so you don’t wonder if you’re just wasting your time marketing.
    2. You’ll know what words you should use to attract the perfect audience.
    3. You’ll be able to define and find those people without resorting to useless demographic descriptions. You can proudly exclude everyone else. “Oh, you don’t like abstract art or improvisational neo-punk banjo music? Well then you won’t like me and that’s totally cool.”
    4. You’ll be able to speak to them in language they understand and never feel slimy or sleazy about selling. Marketing will be like talking to friends over coffee.
    5. You’ll be more confident. You’ll understand how to approach social media, email, and outreach.
    6. You’ll have the foundation in place for the creative business you want.

The hardest work gives the biggest payoffs

    Selling your books, music, latest designs, or other creative work may be tough, but it’s not heart surgery or nuclear fission.

Many successful people do it, and they started exactly where you are right now.

You can do it, too.

Once you know who you are, and who will love your work, then you can craft messages to appeal to those people – and to turn away everyone else.

That’s how you build a loyal following – one that will open your emails, share your work, and support you for years to come.

If you want my help (at a huge discount of $67) just leave a comment below or email me. I’ll email you to reserve your session before they fill up.

You’ll hear from me soon.

And if you’d rather work through this on your own, that’s cool too.

Just don’t let this slide.

Do the important work that will get you moving in the direction of your dreams.

The world needs you!

Photo credit – Viewing Seurat by Kevin Dooley, FlickrCC

About Leanne Regalla

Leanne is a writer and musician and the founder of Make Creativity Pay. She's on a mission to help creatives of all types to pursue their art without going broke, living in their cars, or starving to death.

Comments

  1. Great info !
    Thank you Leanne!!

  2. Brian says:

    Excellent article, thankyou :)

  3. Dave says:

    Great concept. I’m intrigued. Trying to put what I do into words in order to attract the people who will appreciate what I do. Thanks :-)

  4. Zarayna says:

    Hello Leanne,
    It would be lovely if you could advise me but I am so clueless, you might think it a kindness to take me to the vet for euthanasia.
    This year I have had to have a total rethink – I have a very serious side but no one is interested in that. Since March I have been having terrific fun writing ‘thrillers.’ Heaven knows if they would be acceptable to a market because I’m being self indulgent and unprofessional and writing them because they amuse me.
    In January, I began publishing ebooks of short stories (non-thrillers) plus started chattering on Blog Spot. I am non technical and the guy who helps me voluntarily started me on that as he didn’t think I should start on Word Press even though I wanted to try and grow an email list. etc.
    Anyway, it’s been a learning exercise. What I’ve learnt isn’t all that nice – just as Jon Morrow would predict.
    I know I should be building a platform, finding those who write similarly to me and identifying the audience, contacting influencers etc. but, so far, I find it disheartening, confusing and non-productive.
    Can you help me? Could anyone help me?
    Get ready with the syringe.
    Kindest regards,
    Zara.

    • Certainly I can help, Zara. But first you have to be a little – well, a lot – more kind to yourself! ;)
      The good thing about WordPress is that even if you aren’t technical, there are TONS of great, free resources out there to learn how to use it.
      And good for you for writing what appeals to you! That’s an important step.
      Hope this helps – and if you want to do a session, by all means let me know.

      • Zarayna says:

        Hello Leanne,

        I owe you $67 – thank you for accepting me!

        I am about to go out but perhaps I could drop you a very quick email when I return. It is nothing urgent but I don’t want to clog up your site here with my witterings which will be largely irrelevant to your readership.

        Thank you again and kindest regards.

  5. Paula Richey says:

    Hey, Leanne! This is exactly the problem I have – there seems to be an invisible gap between what I can and want to do, and the people who want me to do that for them! I can name things all day long that I am good at and can do, but I’m not getting much engagement and it seems I only get a new subscriber when I talk to them one-on-one, and even then my open rate is a bit sad. I get such encouraging feedback in conversations but then when I create the thing discussed, no one takes me up on it. I swear I’m not asking leading questions in these discussions – but the interest is so transient.

    It’s left me feeling like the world is populated by people who will politely (and even sincerely) say my work is good, but they don’t need it. Right now, I have extremely low-priced offers going on for custom line art, for abstract fairytale-inspired art, for commissioned work, and for local fairs. I’m promoting them as well as I can on social media without spamming people, but I haven’t found any takers yet.

    I’m frustrated and nothing I’ve invested in my business so far has so much as broken even. I had to back out of a show I was counting on and my backup plan didn’t work out. I’ve stopped using my credit card so I don’t get in trouble since nothing is coming in to pay it off – so while I would love to take you up on your offer, I don’t actually have the $67 for the call. You know what they say about what to do when you find yourself in a hole…

    Even though I have nothing (except, you know, art) to pay you with, I appreciate that you wrote this article and I’ll be going over it very carefully to be sure I implement everything you covered. Maybe if I work a bit harder on refining who *I* am, I’ll reach enough customers and clients to clear my debt (fortunately not much – just more than I have coming in) and then give you a call :)

    Wish me luck – and may you find lots of awesome artists half a notch above where I am who’ll see what a great chance this is to work with you. :)

  6. Suzanne Faris says:

    Thanks for the article, these are exactly the kinds of questions I have been asking myself.

  7. Alina Medina says:

    Yes! I’d love to speak with you and hear your thoughts on our business.

    My husband and I are trying to start a film production company. He directs films and his current one is his first full-length feature, a psychological thriller with a Christian message. We’ve been pretty good at generating local buzz. We held a couple pre-screenings at a movie theater and had so many people show up that some couldn’t even get in. The response was awesome! We had a lot of people raving about to us and some on social media too.

    Our problem now is expanding reach. The good news is I love inbound marketing, and I’ve been researching about it for years. But I love it so much, I’ve kinda lost sight of why people love to see and follow movies just because they want to. I’m used to following how-to websites. I don’t want to start a how-to website. Yes, maybe one day it’d be nice to share our knowledge, but I don’t want to attract an audience who’s just paying attention to get their problem solved but won’t care about our film. I’d rather just be inspiring people and attract people who are excited about our art.

    The problem is finding our angle. Christian movies are usually known for being family-friendly but ours is for a mature audience. So it’s not like there’s a group or blog or forum online that declares “hey! We love Christian thrillers!” Because they’re so few and far between.

    I’m a big fan of guest posting, having opt-in offers, email marketing, doing give aways, etc. I’d jump on board for all of that if I could just figure out who would enjoy our film and where they hang out online.

    • Oh, interesting, Alina. I’ll email you.

      I might have some good ideas for you… one of my first thoughts is that there’s a definitely a market for Christian novels but not all those are family-oriented or children’s reading… you’re tapping into a similar (maybe the same!) market.

      I don’t think you have to worry about doing how-to’s. We’ll talk soon! :)

  8. Jamie says:

    Thanks! Lots of food for thought!

  9. Donna says:

    Another really great post. Love the diagram and how you focus right in on strategies that work. As one of your long-term clients, you have never failed me. The best think I did for my business was listening to your guidance, especially when I was scared and didn’t want to! Thanks for holding my hand through it all. Getting ready now to put 50 kids on stage for what I hope won’t be longer than a 3-hour concert. I remember that first concert with my students 13 years ago, with 7 kids and it was a push to get the concert to last 20 minutes! I’ve come a long way, pushing through some tough times, and you were always by my side. I don’t even have the words to truly express my appreciation!

    • Aw, Donna – I love to see how far you’ve come! I’m just glad all my crazy ideas really helped. ;)

      Thinking of you today, wish I could see that concert. Have a blast!

  10. Dija says:

    I so so So agree with what you are saying! After blogging for 7 years I’ve found that a major part of success and peace as an artist is knowing yourself! I feel like that is ignored a lot in marketing. Many times we are
    Told to ou focus on the audience but for artists I believe it’s really important to know yourself as well as your audience. That’s what I love to talk about on my blog now. I love to encourage creatives to get out there and start. Your blog is so encouraging! Thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Dija! I’m glad you’ve had enough experience to see the power of this for yourself.

      We all do have to focus on the audience, but many creatives, when they start out, come from an “I” perspective – “I’m doing this, check out my new thing” for example.

      But that’s different from really knowing yourself and coming from a confident place so you can meet your fans where they are. And peace – you nailed it right there.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

  11. Estelle says:

    this is really good info and very timely.
    Thank you very much for posting.
    Estelle

  12. Eli Seekins says:

    Great post Leanne!

    I like to consider myself to be creative. And I’ve always wanted to make money from my art (rather than working at a job or anything like that).

    I’ve chased a lot of crazy ideas.

    I’ve found that asking questions like:

    “What do I love?”

    “What am I good at?”

    “What will people pay me to do?”

    Helps a lot.

    Thanks for the tips!

  13. Hey Leanne,

    Great tips here. I agree that self awareness is definitely the first step to take before worrying about an audience for your work. By the way, excellent use of “you,” language. I can spot great copywriting skills and you definitely have them.

    Off to share!

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