I’m writing an ebook. I thought it was finished, then I discovered it wasn’t.
It will be out later this year, and it’s called How to Market Your Art. So, as a little teaser, here’s a very practical description of some of the main ways I market my own art.
First though, a quick word about ‘art’. When I say market your art, I don’t just mean paintings, or songs (although it could be those things). I mean your Creative Work – the expression of who you are through artefacts that move and provoke people.
Everyone has their own art. It may be more or less visible. It may be more or less skilfully expressed. But your art is your art.
And then there’s sharing it – marketing it. This is where ‘artists’ traditionally possess less skill, or more resistance. But it’s crucial. Because art doesn’t count if you don’t share it.
So, here are the 3 main ways I share my art.
I’m only going to write about three, because they’re the only ones I can speak to with lived authority. They are not the best. They’re simply the ones I find most aligned with my work (so far).
1. I write on this blog
As a writer, this is my most important platform. It’s where I put my most in-depth and rigorous work. I’ve written very long articles, and shorter pieces. I’ve written practical business articles and I’ve written poetry. If anyone asks about my work, this is where I always point them.
I don’t have a strict publishing schedule. Normally every couple of weeks or so I publish a new piece. I’ve experimented with weekly. At the moment, I’m incredibly sporadic with publishing here due to the writing of the ebook, and various other excuses!
I only write about the things I want to write about. I have an ongoing list of article ideas. Sometimes I pull one out and sit down to write. Sometimes I just journal and something comes out of it. Sometimes I plan something out heavily in advance. Sometimes something pops up and I have to sit down and write it out.
Most of my writing will never be read in public, because most of it isn’t very good.
I write for me first, and my audience second. Which doesn’t mean I don’t constantly think about what would help my tribe. But I’m an artist first, and unless I’m writing something because I want to, because I feel called, it normally falls flat.
Sometimes writing for me first means the first draft, and then I reframe it during the re-edit. Sometimes it means writing the piece I really want to, and then writing a second one that addresses something I know folks are coming up against.
Both aspects are crucial. Writing for me. And writing for others.
Titles are important. I try to write article titles that do two things. Firstly, a title must represent the piece accurately. Otherwise, I’m being misleading or vague. Secondly, a title must be written to draw people in. Attention is at a premium. Write titles that really elicit curiosity for your tribe. Sometimes it’s hard, don’t sweat.
These were some of the titles that really worked for me.
It’s a loud market place out there, and you do have to interrupt people. Here’s no way around that. Good titles interrupt people’s newsfeed scrolling…
“Oh, that sounds intriguing…” *click*
2. I email my tribe
When I work with my clients on their marketing, this is the platform I almost always say is a non-negotiable. If you want to grow your tribe in today’s marketplace, a mailing list of the people in your tribe is basic necessity.
It’s important because this is the place I get to speak directly to my core tribe. These are the folks that have given their explicit permission to speak to them. They want to hear from me, they want to be led deeper into the ideas that I write about.
If you have an engaged list of several thousand people (which is no small tasks these days) that like what you offer, then you probably have a sustainable business (at least for you the artist).
An email list is like your tribal meeting hall. Every time you have something you want to share with your followers, you can simply drop your words into an email, and suddenly, they all get it, direct to their inbox.
I use Aweber for my email list, I’ve used it for years. Mailchimp is also good, and is free for the first 1,000 subscribers.
When I email my list, I try to be very personal, very direct, and ‘un-markety’.
You know those lists you’re on and every time their email arrives in your inbox, a voice inside your head says “Oh nice! I love their emails, let me go read it” – that’s what you want with your own list.
Don’t write newsletters, write letters, like you would write to your friends. Don’t try and ‘sound professional’ just be your post-conventional self.
“Hey Horatio, I wrote a thing about un-markety marketing. I’ve wrestled with doing good marketing without being an ass for a long time. And I had some interesting thoughts about it this week. I think it might help you. Here’s the link, I hope you like it.”
There’s no formula for email. Everyone has to find their own groove. Here’s what I would advocate though.
- Show yourself, write in the first person, don’t be ‘professional’
- Tell people what you have for them and why you think it will be useful or interesting
- Tell them what you want them to do. Be direct. “If you’re curious, click this link.”
- Write to them consistently. It doesn’t have to be on a schedule, but these are your peeps, be in relationship with them.
- Train them to expect good stuff when they open your email, or click a link
Email lists are secure, private and powerful. The rules can’t be changed on you suddenly, like on Facebook or other centrally controlled platforms.
Whatever your art, whatever you create and share, allow people to easily stay in close relationship with you. Have sign-up boxes on your website. Invite them in warmly. Tell them what they’re signing up for, explicitly
“I’ll email you every couple of weeks with my new stuff. I hope it serves the shit out of you. Unsubscribe any time.”
And then welcome them when they sign up. Maybe you want to give them a gift for signing up. Maybe you don’t. But welcome them. These are your people.
3. I write on Facebook
Facebook is a powerful and unique platform, if you use it the way it’s designed to be used. Facebook is not a marketing platform. What I mean by that, is…you can’t directly promote stuff on Facebook. Well, you can, but it will probably bomb.
“Do you struggle to be productive when it comes to phalange making? Sign up for my free webinar: “Phoebe’s 7 secrets to powerful phalanges.” It’s free, but places are limited.”
You might get a couple of ‘likes’ but mostly, people really dislike this stuff on Facebook. It’s like walking into a party and trying to flog your latest thing. People are there to socialize and share connection, not listen to your pitch.
Here’s how I use Facebook. I learned this from Michael Ellsberg who is a fabulous writer and has a wonderful course on the art of writing for Facebook.
- Learn to notice when interesting ideas float past in your mind. Get used to grabbing them with a butterfly net. They happen naturally, practice seeing them.
- If an idea has a somatic feeling with it – a fizz in your chest, gurgles in your chest, excitement, fear – then stop what you’re doing and open up Facebook.
- Type right into the status update box (don’t copy and paste from Word), and share your thoughts. Reveal yourself, don’t self-edit. Don’t try and sound clever. Get vulnerable. Share what you’ve learned, or how you see something. Share your process or your story.
Because people are bored of pitches, and inspirational quotes, and cat pictures, and political choir-preaching.
They’re also tired of what Michael calls bliss fronting – showing only the good shit, in a dis-proportionate way, or an attention seeking way.
“OMG. I just had the most amazing meeting. I’m blown away.”
“I just love myself so much. Life is awesome. I’m awesome. Wow.”
It’s the bliss front. What about the shitty backside? Show us. Why did the meeting impact you? Why do you want to share it? When do you also not love yourself? Tell me vulnerably how awesome you are. Or tell me what’s been really hard for you, and how you navigate it.
I’ve used Facebook to push my edge with my writing. I write about anything that interests me. I’ve shared very tender personal things about feeling like a little boy who just wants everyone’s attention. I’ve written about politics and stirred dissent among many old friends.
And that’s the thing about Facebook. It normally contains a pretty diverse range of people from your life. And it can feel almost unbearable to write things on there that you would really rather certain people didn’t know about you.
Your edge is yours to find and flirt with.
What I will say is that Facebook is an amazing space to practice self-revealing. If you can tell people on Facebook that you’re actually into BDSM, or Astrological therapy, or Libertarianism, or you’ve just divorced your partner, or your father died, then you can tell anyone.
Some people may unfollow you. Let them. And new people will friend request you. Let them. You have no obligation to please your Facebook friends. It’s your party. If they don’t like your toasts, then encourage them to leave, with love.
And then share your art there too. I post all my blogs on Facebook, along with a short message. I’ve had an awful of people find my work through Facebook. An awful lot.
Just remember, it’s a social-network, not a marketing-channel.