Hello friends! March and April of 2020 have been two of the strangest months of my life. At first, I had a nervous breakdown when I was furloughed from my three gyms. Literally, the rug got pulled out from under me and I stumbled over. During the following weeks, I had my ups and downs (and still do). A lot of things didn’t go right in some areas of my life but in other areas it has flourished. The biggest thing that has happened is my focus on my art and marketing it. This is an area that I had neglected big time before the quarantine happened but I also work well under extreme pressure so the fact that I had to figure out how to make up my paychecks lit a huge fire under me. It’s also made me feel anxious and desperate to help my peers.
So many of my amazing friends are struggling right now and I just want to help. “PLEASE tell me how I can help you,” are some DMs that I send. A few have sent me some things but mostly I have received, “I don’t know” or no answer. Guys, this post is ESPECIALLY for you! Okay so here we gooooo! (insert Mario from Nintendo voice).
#1 Decide that you want to thrive
This one is a bit emotional and extremely personal but your mental state will really help drive you and your businesses forward. I know that everyone’s lives, circumstances and resources are different. We are all living through this together but every single one of us is experiencing this quarantine in a completely different way. That being said, like anything else you chose to do in life, decide with everything that you have that you are determined to get there (you set the destination).
I have come to realize one very important thing about myself. When I quit my very cushy marketing job at iHOMES COLORADO, I did it to pursue my art full-time. And I failed. You know why? Because I didn’t decide that I wanted to thrive. I was at home all day (very much like I am now) but I didn’t have fire or drive within me. Everyday I was just floating along. Now, I am home again all day but somehow the idea that my life is resuming back to what it was in about 2-3 weeks is giving me FIRE to change my story and pursue what really makes me FREAKING happy. That is to teach, share my knowledge and experiences, help people with my art, sell my work, make new art and save for a new camera!
I am sorry to say that if you do not decide to thrive with your business, goals, dreams, etc. then nothing I say from here on down will really change anything. But I love you and I support whatever you decide to do in your life because the journey is 100% yours and at some point something will ‘click’ within you.
#2 Write down how people can help you financially and non-financially (people appreciate a few options).
As you will soon read in the first blog of my marketing series, it is going to be really hard to market anything if you have no idea what you are marketing. Right now, help is not reserved for a select few that may be in a better or worse situation that you. Nope! Scratch that out of your head! People are home, companies are flooding them with ads, people are buying things online and most importantly your community WANTS to help you – you just need to tell them HOW. Right now, help is coming to those who ask for it. I am saying this to you because I asked for a helping hand last month and my skincare biz did the best it has since last November and my art biz did the best in any month for the past 3 years of selling prints. So help is available. You just need to figure out how people can help you and paid and free ways people can help. So here are some ideas for you:
- Direct people to a different item in your webstore every day (make sure you include a link on Facebook and clear instructions on how to get there if your post is on Instagram)
- Share one post about something you are selling for every three personal posts on your Facebook page or for every 3-4 non sale posts on your Instagram stories.
- Share that you are booking sessions for later this year with a deposit (it is your prerogative if you want to make it refundable or useable for a later date)
- Share all the services you offer. I highly recommend creating a “share” schedule because if you overwhelm people with everything you have to offer they won’t take action. Share one thing a day to allow the information you just posted to sink in.
- If you are an artist perhaps you also do commissioned work: brainstorm some commission options that are quarantine friendly. Perhaps if you paint, offer commissioned paintings of people’s pets or children if they can send you some photos to work from.
- Offer mentoring sessions for a fee. Perhaps NOW is the time your circles wanted to take a painting, photography, crafting class. Who better to teach them than you? Heck, we all have extra time at home so you may as well consider it 🙂
- Invite all of your friends to like your business page on Facebook or follow you on Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, etc. I would recommend sending out a personalized DM vs mass inviting just to get a higher return rate.
- Ask your friends to share your business, something from your webstore or a post
- I usually write this at the end of my social media posts: “Can’t purchase a print? Share this post with your friends <3
- Ask for business reviews
- Ask past clients to share one of the images you took of them along with their favorite memory of the session (if it was a portrait session) or their wedding day (for wedding photographers). Make sure they tag you or your Facebook business page!
#3 Set up your online store (even if it temporary)
I hesitated so hard when I opened up my Shopify. At $29 a month, I didn’t know if I would have sales to support that fee. For MONTHS I had zero sales and for MONTHS I wasn’t sharing that I had a webstore or sharing my products with enthusiasm. Anyone see a correlation? So even if it is temporary, set up a store online and sell what you can. Here are some ideas for you:
Gift cards for products or services:
Perhaps someone has a birthday/anniversary coming up? Or perhaps they will be moving to a new home and need something to decorate their walls with but don’t know what spacing will look like yet? A gift card towards your work or services may be the perfect gift.
You don’t have to be a travel photographer to have some amazing travel photos. Look through previous photoshoots for amazing location photos, vacation details or landscape images you took while there. I have been amazed at some of my images that have resonated with my community like this one and this one.
If you live somewhere with an incredible view go out and take photographs to list for sale or take a photo and paint/draw what you see. Then sell the original and limited edition reproductions.
Much like travel, see what you have in your archives. If you don’t have anything, start taking photos of your food. If you don’t have any ideas on how to take food photos, check out Andrew Scrivani’s classes on CreativeLive.
Much like travel photography, see what you have in your archives or start posing your pets super cute. I hosted a moving sale once and a woman saw two photos on my wall of my cats and asked me if they were for sale because she liked them. I realize now the missed opportunity but at that moment, I thought it was so weird that she wanted my photos of my cats haha. All that to say, you never know.
Limited Edition Reproductions:
If you create art outside of photography or digital art, perhaps now is the time to get a professional reproduction photo of your work that you can sell in limited editions. My lab Reed Art and Imaging does them. I highly encourage you to consider making your reproductions of higher quality than photo paper. Perhaps have the images printed as Giclée Prints on high quality paper, edition them and sign them. Once the editions sell out that is it for that image. This will allow you to sell your works at a higher value and provide your clients with a higher quality art reproduction piece to hang in their homes. I would not recommend adding editions once they sell out, set the editions from the beginning and that’s it. Of course you can sell the original works for even higher because they are a one of a kind piece.
#4 Check-in with your family, friends, contacts and current/past clients.
Everyone has pockets of time throughout the day. Use those 10-30 minutes to send direct messages, text or make calls to see how your network is doing. In a world where there are so many things pulling to get our attention, taking time to acknowledge someone else is huge. People want to feel like they matter and if you take a moment out of your day to check-in with someone else, that will have huge positive benefits that ripple throughout their day. Be genuine and send them love. Please note that these messages are NOT to ask for a sale. If you happen to talk about your business and the person expresses interest then move more into a sales conversation. However, if they don’t mention anything about your business let it be and do not make a sales pitch. Why is this important? Karma brownie points and you’re helping to make the world a kinder place.
#5 Interact with your friend’s social media pages.
Tired of seeing the same posts from the same 10 people everyday? Or maybe you haven’t seen anything from a specific friend in a while? Facebook and Instagram algorithms start tailoring themselves to who and what you interact with. Spice things up by showing some social love to your connections. Start going down your Facebook list in alphabetical order and like and comment on your friend’s posts. When you do this, they may get curious about what you are up to as well, come on your page and see that you’ve been doing newborn photography for the last 3 years (and heck! They are thinking about starting a family. Okay this may be the fairytale example but trust me people are watching what you do when Facebook shows them your posts).
Oftentimes, I will remember that I haven’t seen any posts from certain Instagram friends and I will go and like-bomb them (that’s when I go to their feed and like 5-10 of their most recent posts) so they start appearing again in my feed. I then follow up with a direct message (DM) that says something like this, “Sorry for the like-bomb but I just realized that Instagram (IG) was hiding your posts from me. I want to see what you are up to so I went on your profile and liked a bunch of your posts!” That always gets a laugh from my friends.
#6 Host virtual get-togethers.
Virtual get togethers, like in person events, are an awesome way to connect with your friends and make new friends. Right now, so many people are feeling isolated or may want a break from yet another day at home. Host a meeting, chat about specific topics or host a “Coffee/tea hour” together and chat about anything.
Bonus: If you’re on Zoom you can add a virtual background to your video. This may be a great way to subconsciously market your business or start a conversation about your backdrop 🙂
#7 Research galleries to apply to when everything opens back up and online call-for-entries or contests.
If you’ve been wondering what galleries to reach out to for potential representation or to show your work, now is a great time to do so. You have the time to research and learn about them, learn about the works they tend to display and perfect your reach-out language.
Allocate this time to find opportunities that you may not have previously had the time to research. Call For Entry is an AWESOME place to find calls for art.
#8. Ask for donations in exchange for a piece of art, photograph, sticker, poem, etc.
This may be a really fun way to get rid of excess inventory that you have at home or surprise someone with a piece of your work. Consider keeping it a mystery so people can be surprised when they receive your item. Perhaps a dollar donation gets someone a short letter from you, five dollars a sticker, button or short poem, ten dollars a 4×6 or 5×7 print, twenty dollars a short written essay, fifty dollars a larger print, one hundred a small original work, etc. This would allow your network to contribute what they can for your work in exchange for a creative surprise.
Right now is not a time to give up and throw in the towel. Right now is not the time to assume everyone is unemployed. And most importantly, right now is not the time to feel like you are not worthy as a creative. If you take a look at all your social media channels, companies have not stopped advertising their products or services. Your email is still flooded with newsletters about deals and discounts. Why? Because they, just like you, need to make it to the other side. Don’t be shy, make up your mind to thrive and move forward.