Part of working on your business as a solopreneur is being your own marketer, as well as your own salesperson. It’s a lot for a single person to do, given the day has a limited amount of hours.
Now, you should know that everything you do, from writing an email to going to a networking event, is marketing. However, not every creative wants to spend time talking about what they do. It might be you want to spend as much time as possible creating, so it’s important to find ways that market your creative business while you’re busy producing new work.
I personally believe the easiest way to market a creative business is by getting into the habit of creating out loud. What I mean by that is you need to find ways to leave digital breadcrumbs all over the internet to lead people to your website and email address so they can easily get in touch with you.
Not everyone feels comfortable using social media, and many seem insecure about how they should be using it to market their work. The best way to market your work is by sharing it on platforms that are relevant to your business. As a visual creative, it might be Instagram, Behance, Pinterest, Shutterstock, EyeEm, or another stock database if you want to build a passive income stream along the way. If your business is built around your opinion, you might want to share on Youtube, Twitter, or bookmark your articles on Contently. Finding the platform you feel most comfortable with is important. It’s unnecessary to be everywhere. However, the more breadcrumbs you leave, the more people will find you.
While some platforms are more suitable to share your progress, such as Instagram or Twitter, other platforms are great to help you market your finished work, such as Behance, Contently, or let’s say Creative Market if you produce something that multiple people find useful.
Having a website as a freelancer is a must, but you also need to share your work on platforms where people search for specific content. When you share your work, you, of course, need to make it discoverable too. You can either display your style amongst others or use appropriate hashtags that will lead people to your creations.
Some of your digital breadcrumbs will help you market your business, while other breadcrumbs can become products you can monetize. When interviewing Maaike Boot, a Dutch surface pattern designer for My Creative (Side) Business, I was incredibly impressed when she told me she uploads all the surplus work clients don’t buy from her to Shutterstock and makes extra pocket money from that. She basically monetizes her online portfolio! What a smart chick!
To give you some other examples for you to see how this might work out for you:
The way I found Ewelina Dymek, the illustrator of my first book, This Year Will Be Different, was by searching “portrait” on Behance. Given she hashtagged her drawings, it helped me find her amongst other illustrators whose style didn’t meet my taste as much as hers. Sara, the illustrator of My Creative (Side) Business, my second book, on the other hand, was asked to commission her illustrations because she participated in #The100DayProject and shared her illustrations with her community on Instagram. Someone liked the designs she produced and asked if they could use them for their own products. And Maaike gets client requests regularly because people find her work on Shutterstock and like her style, but want something unique for their brand.
When you think about where to market your work, think about where other people in your branch showcase it because that’s where potential clients will look. If other illustrators, designers, or writers you associate with use certain hashtags, use them too. If you have a personal style, then it’s your style that will make for the final decision.
Personally, I take a lot of pictures with my phone throughout the day. Some I share on Instagram, but there are many pictures I take that aren’t too personal to me that might be just what someone else is looking for. In 2014, I started uploading pictures to EyeEm and gave my approval for them to sell them as stock. I take these pictures anyway, so why not monetize them?
Think about how to be resourceful with your creative output. Of course, you can buy hard drives and hide your work, or you can just upload it somewhere where it can become an extra income stream. If you have a unique personal style, it will be a portfolio that will make you money on top of everything else.
Monika Kanokova is a Viennese freelance community and content strategist. She works with global clients to help them build local communities. She’s currently kickstarting her third guide for freelancers: http://kck.st/2jh1dSP