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Keeping The Creative Edge
Being creative entrepreneurs without sacrificing creative edge doesn’t seem like an issue until it is. There’s a saying I hear around the internet a lot lately, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That’s the case with becoming a creative freelancer. It sounds perfect until you know what it’s really like. Thousands of creative entrepreneurs venture out on their own every year. The goal is to get away from the conformity that hinders creativity. We start a business only to find ourselves doing less of the work we love and more selling, bookkeeping, invoicing and so on.
As creative entrepreneurs, we fantasize that we will go off into the sunset and create all day. Instead, we spend more time selling and marketing than working on what we love.
You may be an artist, a writer or a blogger but when the words “freelance business” come into the mix things changed. You became so much more than your passion. You’re not only a creative. You are the face of your brand. A marketer, a PR specialist, a social media and content manager. These are only a few of all the other business hats you wear.
You didn’t sign up for marketing and bookkeeping, but you’re willing to do it in the name of creative autonomy. Sure, we all want to create passionately from the heart, but we also have to pay the bills.
Marketing without Marketing for creative entrepreneurs
You’re a creative entrepreneur. Marketing isn’t ideal, but you’re willing to do it in the name of creative autonomy. How do you do that and create your next masterpiece? So how do you create, promote and sell all in one shot? It’s a lot easier than it sounds.
Breaking the Creative Mold
If you’re a writer, you know how to write a novel. You probably have a few under your belt already. You’ve spent a ton of cash on editing and done all the work to promote your book. I know you’ve set up book tours, tweeted until your fingers fell off (figuratively of course). You’ve done virtual book tours on every book blog under the sun. You’re the most active author on Goodreads but guess what? Everyone else is doing that too.
Selling Your Brand
So what can you do to share your creativity without losing time creating? How can you stand out from everyone else doing the same things?
There’s no secret. We’re all unique
Everyone has a unique process. We all have a personality and way of creating that sets us apart from everyone else. We go wrong when we try to conform. We believe things like: This worked for so and so, that’s what I’ll do.
You’re missing the point.
So and so’s unique selling point is specific to them, it can’t be replicated just as yours can’t. All you have to do is identify your unique selling point and deliver it freely and consistently.
It’s difficult to open yourself up to criticism. Experiencing vulnerability is never easy. The path to a unique selling proposition is not a plan or a strategy. To develop your unique selling proposition you have to be an open book. Opening yourself up is the only way if you want to deliver the artist you need to be.
Your portfolio is not a salesman. It cannot get you where it once did.
Your clients want more. Your fans expect more. So how are you going to give them more without sacrificing precious time away from your craft? Follow these four golden rules, and you’ll be, well, golden.
Golden Rules for creative entrepreneurs
1. It’s not about you, change this mindset
Don’t ever let it be about you, the artist or the creator. If you find yourself indulging in this mindset, change it, fast. It’s always about your customers and fans. Give them everything you’ve got and don’t complain. You get to do this. It’s not a chore it’s a privilege no matter how much you bleed for it.
It’s about your work. Keep this in mind when you’re on social media. If you’re in business, as a freelance creative you are in business. If you’re in business, we tend to think social media isn’t for socializing but it should be, in a particular way.
- No, not more ranting about how people are pirating your material.
- No, not more about your family problems, we already have those we don’t want yours too.
- 80/20 on the give and take. Give them four, ask for one. Keep this formula in mind for any social media engagement.
Remember, that narcissistic stuff about your personal life needs to stop. No one needs to know how difficult it is for you to write when the kids are screaming in your ear. Complaining about how your family never supports you is an ask. Please save the asks for the important messages like BUY MY STUFF! Okay, not so drastic on the ask but you get the point.
Caveat: people love to know about your life, they will go out of their way to buy from a friend but don’t be THAT friend.
2. Give till it hurts
To clarify, I’m not talking about giving your work away for free. Programs like KDP and free goods on Creative Market are useful for a small window of time. You can leverage these platforms to a point. Selling strategies like these aren’t what I mean. The real goal is to give away something they can’t buy, you.
Lay it all on the line, be authentic. Create what you need to create, but this isn’t a magic trick let us see you, your process and the work. The final product is only one part of what you sell, let us appreciate the process.
Give to Your Fans
I’m a fan of art and literature. As a fan, these are the things I adore getting from an artist. These things make the actual product that much more special.
Samples of your work
Short stories, I know a writer who puts out short stories to go along with her series books to her Facebook group. You have to be a member of the Facebook group to get the exclusive, unedited scenes. She has 30,000 people in this group, and we’re all holding our breath to get the next one. This fuels anticipation and keeps her series top of mind between books.
Sneak peeks into your day, your process or your work environment. Years ago I was reading a series, and the author would put out pictures of her “cave” as she called it. As a fan of the books, I loved seeing where my favorite characters were created. It not only created anticipation but years later I still have the visual, now that’s impact.
What inspires the work that I love
How the characters I love came about
What made the work that I love what it is.
Making Other Creative Entrepreneurs Fans of Your Work
Don’t discount other writers and creatives from your fan base. We need love too. For a writer, learning something about Steven King’s writing process would be amazing. Likewise, if you’re on the front page of Behance or some other creative water cooler, your insight is valuable. We’re all paying attention, why not make us your fans.
I am also a writer and a creative person. As a writer, it’s a given that I also read. As a creative person and as a fan of your work, I admire and am inspired by what you create. Thus, as a fellow creative these are the things I want to get from you.
Another caveat: I stole these ideas from the book “Steal Like an Artist.” The inspiration didn’t come from any single thing that the author says in the book. For me, this is the essence of the entire book. I am a huge fan of this writer work. His ideas and processes helped me become better as a creative entrepreneur
These things can only enhance your art and reward fans curious about what you’re doing.
- Teach, inspire and give massive value. If you can teach me something, I automatically hold you in a higher regard. In other words, if I’m learning from you then you’ve mastered something I’m still trying to grasp, I respect that. Publish useful tutorials and videos of your process. Everyone’s process is different but gaining a tip or two is invaluable.
- Your art, book, the article is the tangible piece of something much bigger. Give back story that you wouldn’t put in the book and give some insight on why it didn’t make the cut.
If you’re an artist, let us inside your head. Your process is valuable and inspiring for a fellow creative. The final product is only one aspect of what I’m buying. Your unique perspective is what your fans want, and it’s what fascinates them.
This thing that you do that makes them give up hours of their time to get into your head. Having all of that makes the final product that much more special and appealing.
3. Tread carefully with social media
Social media can be a blessing or a curse for creative entrepreneurs. Don’t let search engines and social media influence your work.
Okay, I’m so guilty of this, I’m telling you this because no one is perfect. I write something great and then butcher it in hopes that Google will bless me with some organic traffic. Most of the time Google hates me. Not only that, my work sucks because I wrote for Google. Don’t do this, you may not be perfect, but at least now you know when you’ve gone wrong.
It’s dangerous out there in the Internet world for creative entrepreneurs. We can easily lose ourselves in what other people are doing. We fixate on what others are saying about us and our work. Worst of all we compare ourselves to what others have accomplished to the point where we can’t create. We also use social media as a crutch, a way to socialize without being social.
The topic of social media and how it affects us is a much larger problem than I can handle here. I recommend you read this article, How Social Media Affects Your Creativity. It’s full of good advice on dealing with the social media abyss. This article and the suggestions in it are so valuable for us as creative entrepreneurs.
4. Stay Balanced, Humble and Ready for Opportunity
Stay balanced. Always be grateful for what you have. You may have nothing or everything, but you’re still alive and doing what you love. Don’t get so successful you forget why you loved it in the first place. On the same token, don’t get so discouraged you forget why you loved it in the first place. I realize I repeated myself. Creative entrepreneurs have an unhealthy all or nothing relationship with their work. Seek a middle ground. Keep yourself balanced.
There has never been a more opportune time for artists and creative entrepreneurs to be successful. According to James Altucher, robots and computers can take over the world at some point. It’s still not possible to automate or outsource our creativity.
If you are the creative aspect of your team, you are the talent.
If you’re creative, right now you are sitting in the eye of a perfect storm. Think about it. It has never been easier to get your work out into the world. Publishing a book with a click of a button was unheard of twenty years ago. We are sitting on a tremendous opportunity. What will you do with it? How will you seize this opportunity and show the world what you’ve got?
I hope you found these insights helpful. If you like the topics on this blog, please subscribe. You will always be the first to know when we have something new on the blog or in our freebies lounge.
Until next time, have a great week!
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