Marketing for creatives – Five things to consider in developing a marketing strategy for your creative work

marketing-grab-bag

So this thing called ‘marketing’.

It’s a bit of a dirty word for many creatives.

After all, you just want to create…so why should you have to sell?! Won’t your fabulous work just sell itself?

If you want to create for a living, the bad news is, marketing is critical. Whether it’s selling physical creative work, or just your ideas, you won’t be able to keep creating if you can’t sell.

And marketing and selling don’t need to be ‘dirty’ or annoying if you do the right thinking early on. It means you’ll be more likely to attract and retain ‘customers’ interested in what you’re selling. Which is really what good marketing is all about.

There are so many different ways and means of marketing – so many things in a marketer’s bag of tricks – and if you’re marketing a novel, versus a piece of fine art, versus teaching a creative skill, your ‘marketing tactics’ will be quite different.

But before you get to tactics, there are some strategic marketing considerations that will be common to any creative work you’re selling. So here are some questions to try and answer to help with marketing for creatives.

1. Who is your (target) market?

That is, who are you hoping will buy your work? What are they looking for? What ‘problem’ are you hoping to solve for them? What do they like? What is their capacity to spend? And are they a market you can actually target and reach?

2. Is your market big enough – or your creative offering unique enough?

This is really addressing whether there is enough people willing to buy what you’re hoping to sell. If there is only five potential customers for what you’re selling, there’s little chance of having an ongoing creative viable business.

Similarly, if what you’re selling is exactly like what others are selling – is there really the chance you’ll cut through? Can you make your offering different – remarkable – in some way.

3. How will you price it?

Cheapest isn’t the only way to go, but it’s what people tend to think matters. It doesn’t, unless what you’re selling is a commodity or exactly like someone else. You will need to be able to justify your pricing too though.

4. Is there a story behind what you’re selling?

And can you communicate it well? Can you summarise it in an ‘elevator pitch‘? Will it translate well to the sort of marketing tactics you think you’ll be using? Can this story entice people, or get them excited in some way? Is it engaging? Basically: Will anyone care?

5. How will you distribute it?

If it’s a physical product, will you be selling online? Through retailers? Via agents? Or if it’s a service, is it just you delivering it? Can you productise it in some way? Do you need to ‘be there’ to deliver the service?

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, you’ll find you have the basis of a solid marketing strategy – or at least know you’ll have to head back to drawing board to keep refining what you’re hoping to sell.

Review- Hannah Kent and Lior talk books and music for the Wheeler Centre

We braved a grey cold Melbourne and left the house on Saturday to hear Lior and Hannah Kent talk about their inspiration. I’m a fan of both of these creatives- I love Lior’s music in its many varied forms and Hannah Kent’s debut novel Burial Rites deserves all the accolades it receives.

Rather than a straight-forward ‘who inspires you?’ conversation, Lior (musician and singer) spoke about books that influenced his music; Hannah about music that informed her writing. The session was hosted by Genevieve Lacey for the Wheeler Centre, herself a musician and artistic director.

Genevieve opened with the key observation of the night- the similarities in theme that both Lior and Hannah shared in their work. Compassion and empathy were qualities that both artists choose to explore, and both are clearly evident in their material by the stories they choose to tell.

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Lior – photo from his website

So what writing has influenced Lior’s music?

Given Genevieve’s observation it was no surprise that Lior spoke about his piece Compassion - a series of traditional Hebrew and Arabic melodies set to a classical backdrop that he arranged in collaboration with Nigel Westlake. The story of how this collaboration came together was fascinating (I wouldn’t do it justice in the retelling), but essentially when faced with this direction for his music, Lior arrived at a quandary.

Lior is an Israeli-Australian musician, and as he elaborated, a Jewish heritage meant access to melodies and music full of the richness of that culture. It was here that the idea for Compassion was seeded. But here also lay the dilemma- Lior explained he is not religious. So how do you record an album of religious songs and make it about something other than religion?

From there entered the his first book choice, Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists. In what may seem like irony Lior’s predicament was answered. From here, he and Nigel Westlake embraced music from across Arabic and Hebrew cultures, and Compassion was born. Not an ode to one particular religion, but a reflection and appreciation of compassion and empathy that lives at the heart of these cultures.

His second book was also based around philosophy, When Nietzsche Wept, by Irvin D. Yalom. The premise of this book was based around a fictional conversation between Nietzsche and the famous psychologist Dr Breuer (the two never met in real life). Nietzsche sits on Dr Breuer’s couch as a patient, but as the conversation progresses, it becomes less clear who is the patient and who is the doctor. Through sharing experiences and empathy, the two men begin to heal each other. It was this evolution of two strangers into confidantes that Lior took as inspiration for his music.

Kent, Hannah (c) Nicholas Purcell.jpg

Hannah Kent – photo credit Nicholas Purcell

What music inspired Hannah Kent?

We’ve written a bit on this blog about music and creativity, so it was interesting to hear Hannah’s take on it. She tried initially to write in silence because it was the ‘done thing’, she thought. As she progressed through her novel though she realised that listening to music while she worked helped her to access her subconscious better- to ‘get out of her own way’ and just write.

The first piece she picked was a Laura Marling song- which had a line that spoke deeply to Hannah: ‘I used to be so kind.’ It’s a pretty powerful sentiment, and really forms the basis for why Hannah’s protagonist is so compelling. It’s not about the person she is at the end, it’s about what shaped her. It was a great choice of music, Laura Marling has that haunting folky melancholy that fit so well with Burial Rites, I could almost see Hannah busily typing under the song, growing Agnes Magnessdottir on the page.

Back to the idea of listening to music while you write – both Genevieve and Lior echoed questions for Hannah around listening to lyrics and how they influenced her own words. Hannah’s take was that she needed to know a song well enough that she no longer heard the lyrics, but instead the rhythm and mood was what carried through into her writing. Often, she said, she would put a song on repeat until the lyrics faded away before listening to it while she worked. Or she would listen to music sung in a language other than English.

So following that comment, her second music choice was from Icelandic band Sigur Rós. As she put it, this band captures the Icelandic landscape so completely she assured us that if we hadn’t been to Iceland, this would paint the picture for us. It is beautiful sweeping music with an electronica edge and a poignant sadness that only a country stuck in cold dark winters can produce. It was a perfect soundtrack to the Iceland that Hannah paints.

Lastly…

The event was held at the Substation in Newport, which I hadn’t been to before but was a fantastic space- great high ceilings, and little red tables nestled amongst our chairs for beverages. As a closing gift, Lior sang a song from his new album, while we all sat back and bathed in the humming of possibility left by his and Hannah’s inspiration.

Links

Is it possible to be original? Here’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

can-you-be-orginal

I saw this quote kicking around social media and I’m sure I’m not the only one that can relate to it. Or that often you bail out around #3 or #4 on the list!

There’s a lot of pressure on you where you’re developing ideas. Often it’s pressure you put on yourself. Is your idea good enough? Has it been done before? Is it original…or ‘original enough’?

Whilst these are all important questions – and important in evaluating your ideas -the challenge with this line of thinking is that it can paralyze you, and you end up doing nothing – starting nothing, finishing nothing.

So when I find myself facing this challenge, I try to remember one of the best pieces I’ve advice I’ve ever been given:

Everything has been done before. But it hasn’t been done by you.

It was from a photography teacher, as I bemoaned how hard it was to take original images, come up with unique ideas for a photo-essay project.

This advice easily translates to other fields – art, writing, business.

Because we each have our own perspective on the world. We bring to our creativity, our idea generation process, our own life and work experiences. And these are unique to us. So it is likely that we have the capacity to create something original, even if it isn’t ‘ground breaking’. (Although we could do that too.) Whether it be from our own head, from ideas outside your field, from collaboration with others. Great ideas – original ideas – are possible.

Another consideration is the ‘bleeding-edge’ vs ‘leading-edge’ issue. Back when I was working in the early dot-com era, there was a lot of debate about whether you REALLY wanted to be the very first to market, take the risk of the true first-mover. Because often, the first (and sometimes second) business to try something failed…and everyone else had the opportunity to learn from that failure. A fairly recent example is MySpace vs the far more successful Facebook. This is not to say you should never be first – just that actually being first, being unique, isn’t always the best course of action.

So next time you’re caught up in self-doubt, to the level that it stops you even beginning a project, remember this advice.

Everything has been done before. But it hasn’t been done by you.

Remember your capacity for creating something new, something special, something that is uniquely you.

You may also like this post on how to evaluate ideas or this post on creativity tools.

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Image source: BeHappy.Me

How to… install and use google webmaster tools on WordPress.com to better understand your blog audience. (People find us using search terms we’d never have imagined)

A creative outlet (or marketing tool) for millions of people is blogging on WordPress. Whether you’re blogging to showcase your writing, build an audience for your business or simply to share ideas or progress on your latest creative efforts, you probably want to know how people are finding you. Because you don’t really write a blog unless you want someone to read it.

At DailyInkling.com we blog via WordPress.com at the moment, which means we can’t install the Google Analytics tracking code and get access to the insights from Google Analytics. WordPress gives you some basic stats and insight, but doesn’t provide much in-depth information or give much insight into search terms.

Enter (free) Google Webmaster Tools. This will allow you to see how often you’re showing up in Google search, what search terms you’re appearing for and what terms people are clicking on.

Why does this matter? Because in Australia – and most other English speaking nations – Google is by far the dominant search engine. And it’s likely it’s going to be a key way you find new readers. So it’s good to know how readers are finding you – and if you’re being found for the sort of search terms you’d like to be ‘found’ for.

We’ve previously blogged about using the Google AdWords Keyword tool to look for ideas. Today I’m going to show you how to install Webmaster Tools on your WordPress.com blog and show you the sort of information you’ll see once it’s installed.

How to install Google Webmaster Tools on WordPress.com.  (It’s pretty easy!)

Free tutorial follows with screenshots.

Step 1. Get a Google account (they’re free and you’ll already have one if you’ve ever had a gmail account).

Step 2. Log in to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ with your Google account details.

Step 3. Click the red button ‘Add a Site’ at the top right of the page.

Step 4. Enter your blog address without the http:// or https:// into the box. Then hit continue.

add a site webmaster

Step 5. The option you want is “HTML Tag” under ‘Alternate Methods’. You’ll see a line of HTML code. Copy the entire code inside the quotation marks.

verification
Step 6. Leave the verification page open and open/log into you blog dashboard in a new tab.

Step 7. Open the menu item ‘Tools’ then ‘Available Tools’ page and paste the code into the Google Webmaster Tools field under the Website Verification Services header.

adding google webmaster

Step 8. Click on ‘save changes’ at the bottom of the page.

Step 9. Go back to the Verification Google tab and click the red ‘Verify’ button.

That’s it, your done! Now you just need to wait for some data to be collected so that you can get your insights.

So what will you see in Google Webmaster Tools after a few weeks?

Below you’ll see a couple of examples from our blog. Google Webmaster tools will only give you the past three months of data, so it’s a good idea to check in every couple of weeks and see what’s going on.

The graph shows how many times we’re appearing in Google search queries and how many times we’re being “clicked” on.

The list below shows just the start of the sort of search terms people are using that our blog is appearing for (there’s 641 search terms in total for the past three months).

You’ll see we show up for a WIDE variety of terms, largely because we blog about such a wide range of topics on ideas and creativity. (As a blogging strategy, that isn’t necessarily a smart one for getting traffic via Google, but we think it’s better for us and our readers.)

Knowing the search terms you’re appearing for allows you to decide if you want to TRY to get more traffic from that, by blogging more about those topics. It also gives you some idea of whether you’re appearing for keywords you’d want to. In an ideal world, we’d appear in search results for terms like ‘daily creative ideas’, which we do, but nowhere near as often as we do for ‘placemat template’! Why? Google has decided we’re more of an authority right now on placemats than the more generic daily creative ideas, due to a combination of factors – detail in posts, number of posts, amount of traffic on those posts (from Google but also other sources), etc.

So hopefully you can see how the information from Google Webmaster Tools can give you some insight into how your blog is performing and if you’re getting the sort of traffic you’d hope to – and get some ideas on how to change your posts if you want to change the traffic you’re getting.

 

search queries

search terms

 

Friday colour – books and artichoke

I’m sitting in the library trying to write, so here is a book-inspired colour palette for today.

Colour-Palette_PORTRAIT-books

Good growing soil, russet, leather journal, forgotten pink, dirty cream, foggy beach sky, blue dress.

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And here are some more book-inspired palettes: with red, with pink, and with navy blue.