I have just started a conversation on social media with a woman who is setting up her own business in a creative industry.
Her big dream is to turn her passion and love for art into a business.
I’ve met many people over the last few months with similar goals.
So here is my top 15 guide to success for creative businesses;
- If you don’t have a budget for marketing your business (which is nothing to be ashamed of, think of Richard Branson and his market stall!) Do not start your marketing with a website, SEO (Search Engine optimisation) or advertising. Unfortunately, as you get known and network and tell people about your business, some people are like hyenas around a carcass and will swoop in offering you support to grow your business, get on the first page of Google (don’t listen to that one, it’s not true) and basically tell you for £X amount they can get you lots of lovely customers. Even if they can, don’t start there! Time for top tip 2.
- Get on the right social media. In the start you won’t have time to be on all of the social media platforms that could be right for you, so think carefully. Am I a business to business company or a business to consumer company? By answering this you will know whether LinkedIn needs to factor heavily or not. In my opinion for myself and those creatives I’ve worked with; Twitter is great to get known and raise awareness of yourself as an expert in your field. A thought leader. And it has led to some great free PR for me. Facebook gets me clients for The Business Womans Network events. For my training, sales of my 6-week online course, book and public speaking clients. Not so much for the clients that want to retain me for a year. Or invest in a full day with me. (I get them on LinkedIn) Instagram is great to meet new people and share great content without having to think “What shall I write?” Remember a picture paints a thousand words and for your business it really could. Pinterest is great to group my interests, and thus those of people who are likely to like me and what I represent, thus get them interested in finding out more about me and maybe connecting in other ways. YouTube is big business and gaining strength all of the time. Don’t just share images think about what content could you share that get people subscribing to your channel and busting a gut to see your latest master piece.
(There are plenty of others and social media is a constantly evolving monster so be prepared to explore, trial and play with it. So no matter what you can stay current and create an effective marketing strategy organically.)
- Are you going to sell online? Will you be on Amazon? eBay or Etsy? Or all of them? Remember there are likely to be new players all the time, so think about what you want your marketing to say about your brand and your products? Do you sit comfortably with Amazon? Will you have a shop on Facebook? Is eBay the right image for you? To help you decide think about your products and research what is sold on each platform. Asking other creatives in forums can also be a good way to research what could work for you. Let other peoples mistakes be something you learn from.
- Know your pricing structure. If you can only produce one piece of work in 2 months your prices are going to need to reflect this. On the other hand, if you make 4 items in a day, again will this reflect in your price? Don’t make yourself too cheap. If you were to buy a wedding cake in the centre of London, you could pay a lot more than if you bought one in your local high street. Do you want your products to be owned by all, or admired from a far because they are something to aspire to owning one day?
- Know your brand. By deciding on what you make and what you charge you will start to appreciate who you need to target. What are your perfect clients like? Do they own horses, ski at Christmas, holiday in the South of France in the Summer? Do they like to update the look of their homes all of the time? Are they into history? Art? Travelling? Building a bio of your perfect client helps you create your brand. Everything I do is synonymous with showcasing that you can run a successful business without spending a fortune on marketing and helping people to stay motivated, building confidence and overcoming fears. I’m not likely to be online promoting advertising or moaning about the size of my thighs. What is your brand? What do you talk about? Care about? Are you a public “No holds barred” “Wear your heart on your sleeve” artist or private and an enigma? One artist turned down the opportunity to have her work displayed in a New York Gallery because she discovered they used furs and this was against her beliefs. Will your beliefs impact on your business?
- Who else will sell your work? I was speaking to a designer of high fashion T Shirts, when she said that her designs sometimes were inspired by her own tattoos. She is now going to talk to her local tattoo artist. Could she be promoting him and she be promoting him? Do you want your work to be in galleries? Promoted by interior designers? Wedding boutiques? Cross promotion is a great way to promote someone else and for them to promote you. Free marketing when you are busy!
- Have the guts to go and ask! Yes, it is really scary walking into a gallery and saying “Hello could you take a look at my art, and are you interested?” I get that. However, every business owner on the planet that succeeds has learnt that no’s are good too. A no is a chance to learn. And ensure you don’t use questions that start with Why. Why questions carry guilt. “What is the reason you are not interested?” Has no guilt. What questions could you ask? And yes I get that it is really scary! So carry something to show with you at all times, you never know where you might spot the perfect place to be showcasing your work.
- Boost your confidence now. As one creative told me. “Showing people my art is like sharing a little part of my soul, what if they don’t like it. I don’t think I could cope with that.” Know why you rock today. Because business has knocks, lots of them. However, by dealing with those knocks you become a better business owner for it. (I promise) and the first thing you need to do is build your confidence. You should be able to write me a 2 page A4 document of why you rock, are awesome and can make this work. Because when you have a tough day you are going to need to remind yourself that you can do this, and this can work!
- Know who you can talk to for non-biased advice and support to stay motivated and positive. The Business Womans Network in the words of so many women, keeps people on target positive and motivated. Where can you go to get that? Being creative is likely to mean you spend a lot of time alone with your work. However, be aware that business success is a lot easier if you rely on the right people. Not people who want to sell something at you. Just people that want to keep you motivated and believing in yourself. As top tip 8 tells you. You need self-belief. It is amazing how many times that I have helped someone build their confidence and magically they have gained new customers and more sales. It’s not magic though, the fact is when you have confidence you believe in your products and when you believe in your products you are not second guessing yourself and undermining your chances of success or the positive result of a sale.
- Protect your intellectual property and respect others IP too. Don’t rip off someone else’s work because it will get back to them and could seriously damage your reputation and business.
- In your business plan don’t rule out offering corporate events/training days/team building days. Yes, you may wish to be a creative selling to the public, however more and more corporate training is just as likely to head for a pottery barn or a Shabby Chic preloved company as they are the golf course. Just ask ShabbyAnd…’s Ann Beament.
- Build a following. Both on social media and on Mail Chimp. A free resource to create a Mailing list of people interested in what you do. The easiest way to start here is set up a mail chimp account and then get one of their integration widgets to get you a link to your Facebook business page. That way you can get people to sign up to hear from you. And at the start even if you are only speaking to 5 people, still send them a nice email campaign thinking about what they would want to hear about from you. On social media think about the magazines, the glossies, the celebrities, the experts who your perfect clients would love. And get involved in their conversations. Follow them. Share their great content and help get yourself noticed and recognised as the expert you are.
- Get clever with your time. Things like Hootsuite will enable you to schedule your posts. Think about the times of day your perfect clients are online. The galleries, the interior designers, the image consultants, the celebs, etc. etc. What TV shows have hashtags that would be good to get involved with? # = hashtag. Mailchimp enables you to schedule your emails that go out. Remember if you are targeting people with lots of disposal income, are they likely to be online checking out great interiors for their office or home at 10am or are they more likely to be hard at work?
- Create a business plan and a marketing strategy and think about how you will stay motivated and focussed on achieving it. In the early day’s lots of opportunities could come your way. Be realistic, do these opportunities really fit in with your business model? With your target audiences? With what you wish to achieve. Knowing what you want to achieve and having clear goals mean you are far more likely to achieve them. And writing them down can rocket that success even more.
- And lastly for now here is a copy of my marketing production line. If you are using 8 to 10 tools on this marketing production line (effectively!) then you should be able to gain new leads, new followers, new opportunities, new sales and get that business of yours up and running. So while you are busy getting creative and doing what you love new business could still be coming to you, now how nice does that sound?