Internetting, Freelancing, Confidence and Humility. What does it have to do with my brand?
Marketing yourself is such a curious thing. It takes a certain amount of vanity, in my opinion, but also requires a delicate balance of humility. You need to be self-aware enough to know your strengths as well as your weaknesses. But it also requires the ability to communicate well. If you Google "marketing yourself," you're likely to find articles that are geared toward marketing yourself in the job world or interviews, and tips on how to present yourself so a prospective employer can easily evaluate you as a candidate for a position of employment. You'll learn about creating your own personal brand and how to be your own biggest cheerleader. All of this is great. Because, yes, it's super important to be able to sell yourself. According to management expert and author Tom Peters, "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer of a brand called You." But how does that translate to getting your name out as a business owner? You have the drive to get things done, you have the passion to work your tushy off, but in this social-media-driven world we live in, business owners have a lot more hurdles to jump than even just 10 years ago. No longer can you survive on word-of-mouth and a few ads run in the local newspaper. (Maybe this is a simplified way to look at it, but I grew up in a small town, so it's what I know.) Not only is it necessary to have a website, but small business owners need to understand SEO, what that means for their traffic, how to use Twitter to their advantage without wasting too much time, and then there is the challenge of finding clients. Now, to narrow the conversation more: how do you market yourself as an artist? How do you become a successful professional in a field that feels incredibly over saturated? You decided to do this because you love it and you have a good eye. The trick is getting your name out there. Getting your name out there takes time. And a lot of work. And probably a fairly steep learning curve with some aspects of it. But you love every minute of it, hopefully. If not, you're probably in the wrong industry. So keep on keepin' on. And always look to be learning more. Build a site so you have an online presence. Connect it to your Twitter, to your LinkedIn, your Facebook page. Create new content. Blog. Tweet. And talk about your work. If you don't, no one else will! Here is a great article which highlights advice from six successful freelancers on how to freelance and not lose it. A piece of advice that you will hear a lot, and not just from this article, is not to undervalue yourself. Yes, you may be new to the business end of things, but you are not worth less because of it. Look around, see what the market averages are where you live for the kind of work you do. And have confidence when you talk to new clients. You are the expert here. You know what you're doing. You know how long it will take, what resources will be needed, and, ultimately, what your time is worth. Something I came across in my internetting that got me thinking was the suggestion of finding out how others see you. What strengths do they see in you? They probably see a fairly different picture than how you view yourself. Hopefully you know what you're good at and what you could be better at. But do others know that about you? If they don't, that is a great opportunity for you to market yourself. Show the world this really crazy awesome thing you can do really well! The other way to look at this suggestion is to find out what strengths others see in you that you may not recognize. For years I doodled and scribbled, collected pens that were specific to different kinds of drawings, but never did I ever think of myself as an illustrator. And then someone asked if I would illustrate a children's book if they were to write one. Another person asked me to draw an idea he had for a t-shirt. And it kept happening. Finally, I started referring to myself as an illustrator. So don't sell yourself short. You are an artist. Or maybe you rock at making furniture or handmade soaps. Or possibly a dancer. Either way, don't diminish that by not owning it. Looking back at a previous blog I wrote about being an artist and being able to see it as a real job; if you work in the arts, don't talk about it like it's a hobby. You are a professional. I'm an artist. I'm an illustrator. I'm a graphic artist. I am a professional.