Promote Yourself… or No One Else Will
Guest blog writer Nitara Lee Osbourne writes on ideas and actions to accomplish one of the most difficult subjects for artists — promoting themselves
Posted December 10, 2017
As an entrepreneurial artist and a full time writer, I’m often asked questions on what are the best practices for artists to promote themselves. Art itself, just like the best way for the artist to “self- promote,” can be rather subjective. A lot of the success that people experience comes from trial and error; in other words, artists try certain methods, fail miserably several times, and then they find what works for them.
I know. That might not sound encouraging. I’m sure it sounds time-consuming. You have to remember that genuine success is a process. Success doesn’t have to take a “long time,” but you do have to allow the process to unfold naturally as you spearhead your career with specific actions. That process simply takes the time that it takes to materialize.
I’m hoping that you find the silver lining within this point-of- view. There isn’t one way to be successful at promoting yourself, or for being “successful” for that matter. This opens up the opportunity for you to discover new possibilities that you never considered before. This is a great thing because this allows you to find your unique gifts, and therefore, use them to your advantage to find what works best for you.
Many writers that I talk to can’t stand social media because they feel it’s time that they can use writing something that they really want to write.
Through interviewing and connecting with several artists over the years, I have found that many artists do a great job with self-promotion, but many fall to the way-side because they are simply too overwhelmed by what actually needs to be done. For example, the musician who may have a day job, creates his music in the wee hours of the morning, only to be told that if he wants to truly be successful, he has to figure out a way to “get himself out there.” What does that even mean? Not only is that advice ambiguous, but it’s also giving the artist an extra task to do in an already-busy work and creative schedule.
The truth is, without direction, without guidance, many artists feel lost and torn between the reality of their own points-of- view of self-promotion and between what they see others doing and what they hear others dictating what they should be doing.
While you are making those discoveries and creating those new possibilities that I mentioned before, I would like to provide you with three basic actions that you can begin taking immediately. These actions will create a foundation for you to build upon as you’re executing new and improved actions to take.
THREE BASIC ACTIONS TO PROMOTE YOURSELF
Create Social Media Accounts and Use Them Consistently. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the term “social media.” It is an inexpensive and proven way to reach people globally. Those of you who happen not to know what social media is, it consists of a variety of platforms that allow individuals to connect in an online environment.
Many writers that I talk to can’t stand social media because they feel it’s time that they can use writing something that they really want to write. If they look at this from a different point-of- view, they will discover that it compliments what they are already doing. A writer writes no matter what.
Social media is obviously not just helpful for writers, but for all artists. This includes culinary experts, fine artists, musicians, comedians, interior designers, graphic designers, fashion designers, sculptors, animators, filmmakers… you name it. If you use social media to your advantage, it can prove to be a very powerful tool in letting people know more about you and your artistic work. It’s a spectacular form of self-promotion.
Regardless of the type of artist you are, you may want to consider setting up accounts for a Facebook business page, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and/or Twitter. As a writer, I experience the majority of my success from how I promote myself on LinkedIn, but I still continue to consistently post on Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook business page.
I’m inviting you to take on a new perspective. The purpose of consistently and actively using social media to promote yourself is to connect with more people outside of your immediate social circle.
Depending on what type of artist you are, some social media platforms are more effective than others. For example, if you’re a filmmaker, chances are YouTube will be your most valued tool because you can upload your short films or trailers to your feature films on there. You would still want to use the other social media sites to continue to reach even more people to let them know more about you and your work, but definitely play into the platform that works the best for you. If you own your own catering business or interior design business, Instagram may be the perfect place for you to showcase your latest culinary masterpiece or beautifully designed home.
Furthermore, take the point-of- view that social media is about you connecting with others on a global scale. Your profile pictures, color schemes, and any branding should be consistent across all platforms, including your business website. Brand recognition makes connecting in an online environment that much easier. As a matter-of- fact, I have to find a way to resize my profile picture so that it will fit effectively within the space provided on Instagram to match my other platform sites, but outside of that, I’m very consistent with how I present myself.
Your Facebook business page, Instagram, and LinkedIn allow you to track how many people your post has actually “reached.” How many people you reach may not seem to be as important in your mind if the number of “likes” on a post are low. This is only one perspective. I’m inviting you to take on a new perspective. The purpose of consistently and actively using social media to promote yourself is to connect with more people outside of your immediate social circle. You want to remain in front of people by posting about your work, any recent accomplishments about your work, and what you’re creating at the moment. Provide an image on your post and/or some sort of call-to- action so that your audience will want to learn even more about you, want to follow you, and/or buy from you if you’re providing a product or service.
If you’re reaching several hundred or several thousand people with your posts, even though you might have only received five “likes” on the post, you now learn new information that helps you to better market yourself. The higher the “reach,” the more likely the content, images, or call-to- action from a particular post resonated with your audience. A lower reach doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong; you may just need to alter your approach on a particular platform. Give your audience more of what they want.
Attend Networking Mixers. Many artists tend to be introverted, so I understand that placing yourself in a social situation intentionally may sound crazy. However, connecting with people face-to- face is equally important as working the social media circuit. Attending networking mixers within your industry is important because you can learn different points-of- view on the same subject. Attending general business networking meetings is also a great way to learn different approaches to a variety of business practices just through conversations. Not only are networking mixers spectacular learning experiences, they provide you with the opportunity to share what you do with a captive audience. This is a wonderful opportunity to self-promote without feeling like a “salesman.” The environment of a networking mixer is created for you to self-promote. You’re reaching fewer people at once, but you’re also building face-to- face and genuine business relationships that can prove to be invaluable.
Be Consistent. Whatever strategy that you employ to promote yourself, do it consistently for a specific period of time to determine if it is effective or not. Determine a realistic time-frame that works for you, and follow through on yourself and for yourself. You can’t do something half- heartedly, and expect results. After speaking with many artists, one of the obstacles that I’ve realized artists create for themselves is that many of them start a task or strategy to market themselves, and they quit when their efforts aren’t met with immediate and favorable results. Lack of results can be frustrating, but it shouldn’t stop you from continuing to take action. Be committed and consistent in your actions when marketing yourself. In time, you will see that your efforts are paying off.
Nitara Lee Osbourne is a full-time award-winning writer. Her blog, The UnCloseted Professor, has reached nearly a half a million people to date, and continues to speak to the entrepreneurial artists who seek applicable advice within their careers. She is also a journalist with Hollywood Weekly magazine, while still finding time to work with producers, advertising and marketing agencies, and private clients to serve their writing needs. She resides in San Diego, California.