Self-promotion of any kind is always a somewhat tricky and delicate topic to navigate.
That's because there is not only so much baggage that comes with self-promotion, but there are also so many different kinds of baggage that come from different perspectives, disciplines, and schools of thought.
In this way, it's always hard to recommend or even voice one singular opinion because it will never be a perfect fit for everyone. Still, I wanted to share something that has been on my mind for quite a while now as it pertains to getting yourself out there in the world.
If you're an artist, you need to take self-promotion seriously.
Chances are, if you're reading this newsletter, you probably engage in some kind of art already. Now, more than ever, we artists and creatives find ourselves in that awkward position of making things for ourselves but also being cuffed by the chains of also having to promote our work and establish ourselves as artists in the world.
If you take your art at least somewhat seriously, you undoubtedly would have struggled at some stage with the idea of putting yourself out there, getting social, or even "selling out". After all, if no one sees your work, there's absolutely zero chance you can make a living continuing to do it, and in this way, it's most certainly a necessary evil.
But a big problem I see most artists and creatives have is that they need to take their self-promotion seriously. They need to take their marketing seriously. They need to take their sales seriously.
"Why should I? I'm here to make art. Not to sell my soul to the devil for a few hundred likes and a few dozen comments from strangers on the internet or make a few quick bucks here and there", I hear you say.
And depending on your situation, you may be absolutely right. If your situation is such that you create your art on the side, as a hobby, and you care nothing about commercial success, then I would 100% agree with you.
However, if you have any intentions of doing more with your art, if you want to make some money from it, if you want to make a living doing it, if you want to make a name for yourself as an artist, then simply being an artist is only half the battle.
In 2023, now, more than ever, if we're in a situation where we want to do something more with our art, we must turn our art into a business. We don't live in an age where we can simply make good art and expect people to come to us or have patrons sponsor our work. We must put ourselves out there, into the world, into the thick of being surrounded by the competition of hundreds and thousands of other artists trying to make a living doing what they love. And you have to beat them.
So often, I see artists treat social media as an afterthought.
So often, I see artists sell themselves short with how much success they could have on platforms like Instagram.
So often, I see artists not understanding marketing, leaving thousands and thousands of dollars and a sustainable, long-lasting career on the table.
And it breaks my heart.
We live in an age where most art forms have been democratised to the point where every living being on this earth could be an artist. So often, I catch myself viewing someone's profile, commenting on how impressive their work is, and following them for a while, only to see them complain about how they can't take their work to the next level because they can't make a living doing it.
If that's you, please realise that I'm rooting for you. I want your success. And if you've already got the artistic talent, then all you need is to combine that with a few business or marketing books, give it some elbow grease, and you'll set yourself up for life.
That's all it takes. Just imagine spending a week diving deep into business and marketing to set yourself up with the skills to come out of that with the rest of your life sorted.
If you're in the position where you need that little nudge to take your art to the next level, this is it. I'll be here cheering for you, creative.
As a bonus, here are some of my favourite business and marketing books that I've enjoyed:
- This is marketing by Seth Godin
- Permission marketing by Seth Godin
- Contagious: Why things catch on by Jonah Berger
- Hooked by Nir Eyal
- The 22 immutable laws of Branding by Al Ries
- Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson
- Dotcom Secrets by Russell Brunson
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Hopefully, these help take you to the next level, creative.