Year One: Part Nine - But it makes me feel dirty…

Welcome to the ninth installment of Year One – you can access the previous entries right here!

Marketing that is.

As a creative, marketing is the part most of us hate more than anything in the world.

We want to just create. We don’t want to have to push our products on people, we want them to come to it.

The problem is, there is so much product out there, unless you are someone like Stephen King or have a million friends, just announcing a new product is not going to make people buy it or be interested.

Tapping the friends and family route only goes so far.

Here’s where I want to make it very clear – I am not marketing expert, I wouldn’t even say I’m very good at it.

For creative properties, you could make it a full-time job to simply market your products. You could hire someone to help, you could hire a whole staff, it still might not get you where you want to be.

If you want to be successful and do it on your own, marketing will take up more of your time than actually creating.

It’s hard. Period. I know it sounds whiny, but it’s true.

Over the last year plus of marketing Shady Place and The Couch, I’ve run ads, done promos, held contests, run giveaways, attended events, basically anything I could think of.

As far as I can tell, unless you have a ton of money to throw at marketing, there is no easy way to get your work in front of people.

There is, however, an inexpensive long game.

We all love the overnight success story, but the fact is, most of those overnight successes were not overnight. Just because someone hits it big or becomes very popular in what seems like an out of the blue fashion, many toiled away for years before ever getting a second glance.

A big thing I’ve learned about marketing in my relatively short journey is that your products market each other.

You can create loss leaders (giving something away or deeply discounting it) to promote the next thing. People like free stuff, so if you have a book series, give them a big chunk of or the whole first book for free, then when they like it they’ll buy the second one, and third one, and so on.

You’re swimming upstream against a lot of other content and noise.

Making great stuff isn’t enough. You have to tell people about it, but be steady; get on all the social media outlets, get a website, get a newsletter, put your product everywhere you can feasibly do so, get a good cover, make the content good, put it out there.

These may sound like no duh type concepts, but there are creators who make things and then just expect people to come to them when their product is nowhere to be found, “But I announced it on Facebook…” Neat, how’d that work out for you? Oh, you got 15 likes? Slow claps all around.

I don’t have the answers, I’ve read and been told it takes years of consistently being there for people to even begin to notice you. I can see a year in that people are starting to take notice, not a lot, but they like what I’m doing and I’m going to keep doing it.

I’ve stopped throwing money at book promos and social media ads.

Instead? I tell people what I’m doing. I post pictures of the shows I attend. I post pictures of new artwork. I (hopefully) give people a reason to like me and what I do. This article? My blog? My website? The newsletter I send out weekly? Those are all part of marketing.

My reach isn’t that great, yet, but as I said above, it’s a long game. Growing an audience organically and marketing directly to those people who already like you may take time, but that’s ok, this is a commitment to a long career, not one-time thing.

I rambled a bit in this entry, but I think the point gets across. Marketing is in everything you do when you’re a creative. You can throw money at it, but unless you find a magic formula to make the return outweigh the cost, it’s not going to be worth it. Build a portfolio of great work, share it with the world, make connections, strong connections, give some things away, and be prepared for the long haul.

Next time I’m going to try to wrap up all this Year One rambling into a conclusion.

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