As I research Pamela Colman-Smith, I’m made aware of the tough financial time that most creatives have.
Pamela struggled financially for much of her adult life, despite her prolific output of illustrations, and artwork. She wrote a fair few letters trying to sell her artwork, many heart wrenching and slightly embarrassing in her pointed comments about money and the financial struggle.
She put herself out there. She was also an ace Jamaican folk tale writer and storyteller, enjoying salons with eminent people who thoroughly enjoyed them; newspapers published articles about her, yet the money still wasn’t forthcoming.
Additionally, she poured a great deal of time and effort into the Rider Waite (RWS) Smith tarot cards, now the universal most popular deck, for which she still received very little actual hard cash.
Creating and selling…
Upshot: many writers and artists are not sales people. They are reticent about marketing their work, are self-effacing. When they do try it, they often get it wrong. It’s useful to use a professional if you can. When Pamela tried it, it smacked of desperation, not sales. There is a knack to it.
So, when people say: “but you’re so good at it”, maybe it’s time to agree with them, so long as you have an answer to the follow-up which is usually asking you to do something for them, using your time and expertise, free of charge. There is a maxim that you don’t give away stuff for free when it has a value, one I am only slowly learning.
The other key issue is developing your brand. In Bude, my brand is Bude & Beyond. People actually call me that in supermarkets: “So YOU”RE Bude & Beyond…” My Bude & Beyond brand is: locally focused, loyal, trustworthy, forward thinking, generous, refreshing, driven, energetic, serious and reliable. It is also community-minded and free to the user.
Would I want those same descriptors for my paid writing ‘brand’? No. Now I am researching hard and working on a book which is detail-particular, organised, quality, creative and serious, which will have a cost.
Branding gives you a name and an image. When I first set up my website, it was called Aurora. Ditching that to use my name has led to greater readership and FB likes. Why is that? I read of something similar happening on this blog. In brief, it seems:
- People like dealing with a human (especially for a creative business).
- Even big brands use personalities to promote their pitch.
- Work can come (and has) via LinkedIn which is person-based.
- We like to see a person, rather than use an automated system. Why? It feels like we matter.
So, that’s a start. Writing, marketing, art, are all crafts anyone can learn. I’m only at the start of marketing and have signed up for some (free) courses; also one for fiction writing which I am (currently) poor at. As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.