What no one tells you about marketing + creative business

This post is inspired by seeing so many crazy-talented creatives struggle to fill online classes or sell their work, and by where I’m currently at in my business.

April, May + June of this year I was in a self-imposed creative cocoon. I was re-visioning and re-creating my Creative Dream Circle.? I cut back on blogging and social media to give more energy and attention to the Circle.

It’s July and I am coming out of that cocoon.? The new Circle is done, and it’s even more amazing than I’d hoped.

Normally this is where I?d take a week or two off to let my creative juices marinate and then dive back in and create my next thing.? I?m not doing that this time.

Instead, I’m going to spend the next 3 months using my creative energy to market + promote my work as my main Creative Project.

But not in the way you think.

NOT by screaming “buy! buy! buy!” to anyone with ears, NOT by putting ads everywhere and NOT by using any of the sales techniques I’ve learned in the last 3 years of taking business classes.

I’m going to do something totally different.

If you know anything about what I teach, then you know that you have to get to know the Heart and Soul of your Dream before you can even begin to understand how to bring it to life, and how the path to your dream is almost never what you think it will be.

You have to let go of ego-logic-thinky stuff and embrace the creative-intuitive-spiritual-feely stuff.

So it should come as no surprise that when I was sorting out what to do next with my business, I spoke to:

  • the Heart + Soul of the Creative Dream Circle
  • the Heart + Soul of my Business
  • the?Heart + Soul of my Dream for What Happens Next In My Business

… and they all say the same thing.? Be in the magic and enchantment of your work and share the amazing-ness of it all: openly, brightly and honestly.? This is your work now.

In the last three years, I’ve been taking a LOT of online business classes.? I know all of the tips and strategies.? But whenever I move towards that kind of approach I step out of the magic and the enchantment.? And it stops feeling right.

The Internet Marketing People Are Right About Some Things Though:

  1. People are not paying attention when they’re surfing online. So you need to put your offer out there CLEARLY and OFTEN.? Much more OFTEN than us sensitive creative types find comfortable.? So you have to learn how to stretch your comfort zone around promoting yourself (more on that soon).
  2. Most people in your audience, even people who really super totally love you and your work, are NOT going to buy from you.? This is not about you, this is just how the internet is.? Think about how many people you know online that you like – do you buy stuff from ALL of them?? A low conversion rate is not a sign of failure.? It means to go back to #1 and put it out there CLEARLY and MORE OFTEN.

Really – most of us sensitive creative types put our work out with kind of a whisper (I know it FEELS like you’re screaming it from the rooftops because self-promotion is so heart-breakingly uncomfortable, but trust me – you’re whispering) and then feel like failures when that doesn’t work.

This is painful and it’s no wonder marketing, promotions and sales get a bad rap in the creative community.? But really – marketing, promotions and sales are not the problem, it’s just the approach that is the problem.

The #1 Thing That Internet Marketing People Are Wrong About:

You don’t need to push so much – pushing the pain buttons to trigger a sale, pushing your people into high pressure situations, testing which colour pushes people to hit that BUY NOW button… yes these things can generate MORE sales, FASTER.? And for almost everyone – building a solid foundation, step-by-step is worth more in the long run than making as many sales as possible, right now.

There is always a way to make some cash without being a sleazeball.? <click to tweet!>

Pushing gets quick sales but it’s short-sighted.? Do you want a classroom full of people who were coerced into being there, or people who are excited to be there?? Or a bunch of clients who aren’t in it 110%?? Or customers who don’t appreciate or understand the beauty and magic of what you have to offer?

I remember, years ago, sitting in a coffee shop with a friend “I don’t want to be a sleazeball!” I said, almost in tears.? He laughed and said I’m not a sleazeball so why would I worry about it?

I had been leading creativity workshops, healing + meditation circles and doing spiritual counseling/coaching part-time for 3 years.? I was just starting out online.? I was 100% committed to growing my business and turning it into a full-time thing.

I thought to make that happen I had to get better at marketing and do these sleazeball things that seem to work for other people.

And this is the #1 thing that no one talks about when it comes to creatives and business:

Because you’re creative – you actually have an advantage over any and all sleazeball tactics.

You can promote yourself and your work in ways that are as elegant and inspiring as your art is.

When you bring your creative genius into how you approach your promotion, sales and marketing – magic happens.

And I mean bring as much of your creative genius into your promotion, sales and marketing as you bring into the creation of your work.

All that love and attention you give to every detail of your work – give it to every detail of how you promote your work.

All that TIME you give to your work – give equal time to promoting and selling it.? Or maybe even MORE – because you’ve probably got a lot of time to make up for.

THAT is when you’ll see results.

If you have no clue what to, like, DO to market, promote and sell – read some business books, take some business classes.? Start with this one.? You’ll thank me later.

Think of how long it took you to perfect your art, how hard you worked, and how much you sucked when you started.? Know that getting good at selling your art is a similar journey.

You need to learn about the basics and then PLAY with them.? CREATE with them.?? Explore and discover how to do them YOUR way (yes this part gets mighty awkward at times).

You need to not give up just because it’s hard.? Of course it’s hard.? Everything is hard when you’re still learning your way with it.

I know this is the last thing you want to do.? I know you hate marketing and self-promotion makes you itchy.

You’re going to have to get over that if you want to succeed.

It will be easier to get over it if you turn it into a Creative Project – something you can PLAY with.? Make it fun and interesting for you and your right people will feel your vibe and be happy to come play with you.

Yes. Make marketing + promotion a facet of your creative work.

I think of it as CREATIVE OUTREACH.

So, here I am, taking my own advice.

I’m really very good at putting transformational programs together.? I love doing it, I’m confident, I’m in my groove.? In fact, for the last three years I have been constantly creating new programs.? I want to keep doing that.

Instead, I’m taking ALL of my Creative Genius and I’m applying it to marketing and promotion.? I’m committed to spending the next three months doing this, and finding ways to enjoy it.

(Honestly – I’ve already found a lot of ways to enjoy it, it’s really not anywhere near as miserable as it seems.)

This is the work of supporting your work, your vision, your creativity and your purpose.? This is also the work of supporting yourself, and your family.? This is the work of inviting in more flow and ease to all parts of your life.

This is important work.

Bring your best stuff to it (your Creative Genius).

And give it the time, attention and energy it deserves.

If you focus all your time, energy and Creative Genius on making your thing, and none of it on marketing, promoting and selling – you’re selling yourself, and your work, short.

Other people, people with crazy big audiences who sell crazy tons of stuff – got there because they worked, hard, at this part.

There is a fantasy in the creative community that someone will come along and do it for you.? That you’ll be discovered.? That if you get good enough at your art – it will sell itself.

While I clung pretty tightly to that fantasy in my years as a starving artist, I have NEVER heard of that actually happening for anyone.? Counting on it happening for you is the same as KILLING your DREAM.

There is a space between full-on sleazy pushy sales and full-in hiding in your studio and painting all day.

It’s actually a big, beautiful, supportive, expansive, wide open space.? There is room to play.? There is room for you to be YOU.? There is support for you to take charge.? There is possibility and abundance and flow.

Stepping into this space is EMPOWERING.

How I’m Doing It

Monday I wrote about how a session with my Creative Journal transformed my Plans into a Treasure Map.

Now I’m working on the Treasure Map:

 

Creative Journal Treasure Map

I’m using my Create A Map That Leads To Your Dream kit to make the map.

And I’ll build the path as I go, as a part of my morning creative/meditation practice.

Today the map told me that I have to trust the path before I can see it.

Well, ahhh, yes, of course.?? I’m sitting with that today.? Letting trust kind of spill all over everything and see what it does… it’s probably easier to turn trust-stained Plans into a Treasure Map than not-trust-stained Plans.

Tomorrow I’ll come back to the map and explore what the next step on the path looks like.

I feel really vulnerable sharing this.

I don’t know where this is going, which is why it feels so vulnerable.?? But I’m also feeling really clear that sharing this process publicly as I work through it is important.

Want to help?

If you enjoyed reading this and want to help me with my mission, I would totally appreciate if you would:

  1. Use the buttons below to share on Facebook, Google +, Pinterest and/or Twitter (If you’re reading this in your email, click here to do that)
  2. Follow my process over the next three months in whatever way works for you:? Facebook | Twitter | RSS. (This is different from my email list, if you join my email list you get my free Creative Dream Starter Kit and a regular weekly video for several months.)
  3. If you know someone who may be interested, or who is learning more about selling their art, please email them this post!

 

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on marketing, selling and promoting your work. Where do you slip up?? Where are you thriving?

Creating ways to successfully share your gifts with the world is an epic, epic journey, I think this is the most important work we do.

This past was part 1 in a series as I was treasure-mapping my way to growing my business, and sharing the honest actual story, AS IT HAPPENS, as I fumble along this path with creativity, heart and soul.

If you want to follow the rest of the adventure:
1. What no one tells you about marketing + creative business

2. Be open to the adventure of being where you are

3. The Path to creative business success.

4.? A plan emerges from the treasure map

5. Why I?ve been stuck, plus exploring EASE and JOY

6. How Ease is the ticket and what that means

7. The End of the Treasure Map

Your Next Steps: A journaling + meditation class to help you be more CLEAR and SURE of your next steps