In part 1 we looked at what art you create. In part 2, we identified your superpower and origin story. In the last part of this branding 101 for artists, we’re going to identify your ideal buyer, and pull everything together to create your artist bio.
Consider who has purchased from you before, and who your fans are. When you go to shows or display your work, who gravitates toward it? Start to identify this buyer and picture them as an actual person. Are they generally male, female, what age range are they in, where do they shop and what magazines do they buy? Are they likely to hang around on Facebook arguing on a Friday night, or are you more likely to see them scrolling through inspirational quotes on Instagram? The more you can create a person in your mind, the easier it is to identify where you should post and what you should say – just imagine yourself talking to them directly.
Who are you?
Not to get all existentialist here, but what about you as an artist attracts your ideal buyer to your work? While they love your individual pieces, chances are that they also love your backstory, the fact you commonly paint landscapes, or that you only work with natural materials. Perhaps the fact your pieces are constantly dealing with the theme of rejection might pull at dark places in their heart that need some light shone on them. To remove yourself completely from the equation is to ignore the connection your ideal buyers already feel with you.
Create a consistent brand
This is more than just making a logo to represent your business when displaying your art. You want one consistent impression across all the social media platforms and places where your ideal buyer might find references to you or your art. A logo helps, but so does one bio that can be used in various places, one core mission that is driving you, and one place where all posts and mentions of you will take a reader. Ideally, that should be your website, so you have control over what people see and read about you, but it could be a Facebook page or Instagram account, an Etsy shop or a Google My Business listing. If you want to create a coherent bio, download my Artist Bio Work Sheet. Use it to write your own, and if it works for you, let me know, I’d love to hear about it!
If you want me to polish up your first draft, I offer a discounted fee for editing a bio based on this worksheet – that costs $100. And if, after using the worksheet you still can’t get to the essence of what you want to say, I also write bios from scratch. Reach out to me directly either for the editing service or a bespoke bio, and we can work out the details so you have your bio ready to go in no time!
Welcome to part 2 of Branding 101 for Artists. In part 1 we focused on the art you create, how you do it, and what themes you explore. In this part, we are going to look in more detail at your origin story as an artist.
This is where it can get a little squirmy for some people, especially if they don’t like talking about themselves, but never fear. We’re going to practice without anyone else seeing. The goal here, as I mentioned in part 1, is to be practiced enough so that when a potential buyer asks about you, you don’t stumble over your words and come out with something that you cringe about after. Get the cringing out the way now, build your ideal elevator pitch, and you’ll never be lost for what to say again. And I’ve included some tips at the end to help you move the conversation on if you do get asked that question. You’ll have a polished answer, and a way to move the focus off you and onto how you can find out more about the person you’re talking with.
You are a superhero! Why your origin story matters.
When you think of a superhero’s powers, they usually involve strength, speed and abilities that help them save the planet. As an artist, you don’t jump buildings or run down bad guys (unless you take parkour classes, in which case more power to you) but you do have super abilities that the general public don’t.
You probably shrug when someone tells you they love your work or that it makes them feel a certain way; maybe you think everyone can do this. The truth is, they can’t. You have an ability to create art which is a conduit for others to feel (and sometimes process) their emotions. It is frequently acknowledged that creatives feel emotions more intensely, but the opposite of that is that the general public often have a hard time tapping into those wells. When we connect those emotion-inducing tools of art with our themes – what we love to explore, we find a way to connect to our audience, and move them in ways that they don’t normally experience on a daily basis.
When you were working through what kind of art you make in part 1, how did you do that? Journaling? Talking it out? Recording yourself word vomit? Whichever one worked for you, do that again with the next exercise! Work through these questions to identify your origin story and why you do what you do:
What kind of art did you make or enjoy as a kid? Was it the same as now or different? If it was different, what has changed?
Did you stop creating art for a while? When and why? What encouraged you to start again?
Do you have any formal art education? Why did you choose to do that? What did you think you’d get out of it? Did you? What else did you find out about yourself and your art during that time?
If you are a self-taught artist, how have you learned? Have you done any classes, or worked with other artists?
When was your a-ha moment, when you realized you wanted to ‘be’ an artist, and not just create art as a hobby. What else was happening in your life at the time? Why was this the point when you made the decision and not earlier or later?
Since you became an artist, what have you done differently in your life to make this a career/job and not just a hobby?
Prepare your elevator pitch
Now that you’ve got that all out, let’s turn it into an elevator pitch. Fill in the blanks, if it helps, or write your own sentence (or 2, max) that describe you as an artist.
I am a [kind of art] artist who loves to work [with materials/using this process]. I learned [include formal education/by [what did you do when you were self-taught] and while I have always created art, I discovered [when/how did you realize you wanted to be an artist] and now I [what about your life shows your commitment to being an artist and not just creating art as a hobby].
Now you’ve found a formula, you need to practice saying it out loud! If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea, then practice in front of the mirror or record yourself on your phone. Once you’ve tried that, go find your supporter, who you talked about your art with in Part 1, and try it out on them. Find a few cheerleaders, who know you and your art, and check in with them that this feels true to who you are as an artist. The more you say this out loud, the more comfortable you will become when you have to say it to a stranger or potential art buyer.
The next time you’re going to be at an event where it’s likely someone will ask about your art or what you do, write down your elevator pitch and put it in your pocket or purse. You can check it in the restrooms if you get nervous, but even the act of writing it and keeping it with you will help.
If you find someone asking you the question ‘what do you do?’ or ‘what kind of art do you make?’, then you should be ready to confidently answer them, with less umms and ahhs.
And if you’ve given them your pitch, and you still feel uncomfortable, what next?
The easiest thing is to ask them a question back and get them talking about themselves. Ask them what kind of art they create (if they are an artist) or what kind of art they enjoy (if they aren’t). Listening to people talking about what they like about art and how it makes them feel to create it or experience it is a great way to understand more about why people enjoy art and why people become buyers. And all that ‘market research’ will be incredibly useful in Part 3 where we identify your ideal buyer and then you can craft your artist bio!
Artists often shy away from the business side of things – and as a creative type myself, I understand why. It’s hard to find your flow and create beautiful things when you’re worrying about marketing and what you might say on a Facebook Live (if you even knew how to set one up).
But the truth is, just like with companies, buyers identify with you as an artist as much because of who you are as because of what you create.
They want to know your backstory, what common themes show up in your work and why. If you can tap into how someone feels when they own your art – what causes are they aligning with, what kind of person do they think has this kind of piece on their wall, then marketing yourself will become much easier.
We want to be part of a bigger group, we want to identify with others because we all share certain ideals, values, beliefs, desires. If your art helps someone do that, then it is worth your while identifying what group they see themselves as part of, and what ideals, values, beliefs and desires they connect to your art. Social media is a giant ocean of people looking for content to consume, yes, but also looking for a way to find their group, and share their values and desires. If you can pinpoint where ‘your’ people hang out on social media, you can spend less time on it, and just focus on the areas where you are likely to connect with your ideal buyer. And that will allow you to get back to the studio and create art more.
So, how do you do that? Welcome to Branding 101 for Artists!
In part 1, we’re going to work through what kind of art you create. In part 2, we’re going to look at your origin story as an artist (because artists can be superheroes too, right?!) and in part 3, we’re going to focus on your ideal buyer, who they are and where you’ll find them.
Ready? Let’s dig in!
Talk about your art
You probably feel a bit uncomfortable when someone asks you about what you create, or what kind of artist you are. But the truth is, once you start trying to sell your art, people are going to be asking these questions all the time. And they are legitimate ones to ask – before someone will buy from you, they need to be able to feel a connection to you and your art. So let’s get practicing – because the more you try this out in the comfort of your own home or studio, the easier it will be when you’re asked it out in the real world.
Talk it out
I’m very into journaling as a way to find your way to what you want to say. Block out an hour just after a creative session to think about this. Find yourself a cozy space where you won’t be interrupted, bring your favorite drinks and snacks and a notebook or computer, set the timer on your phone for an hour (and silence it so you don’t get distracted) and jot down everything you feel and think about your art. At first it might sound stilted and formal – that’s okay. The chances are, you won’t hit your stride with this until at least 20 minutes in – the trick is to power through this first bit until your brain realizes nothing scare is about to happen and you can settle in to being truthful.
If you’re struggling – just jot down words and phrases that come to mind when you think about your art and the process of creating. Remember that your first thought is often your best thought, don’t think too much, just note down what you’re feeling and what words are coming to mind.
The goal here is to break the artificial barrier we create between our thoughts and the act of expressing them – for me, journaling does this perfectly, but if you’re not a writer and can’t get through that barrier even after making notes for a while, then consider having a conversation with your best friend who gets your art – or even just talk out loud and use the memo function on your phone to record it. How can you honestly vocalize how you think and feel about your art and your creative process, so that your thinking brain doesn’t get in your way?
Feel free to make whatever notes and points come to mind, but if you need some prompts to get you started, you could use these:
What recurring themes do you find in your art? Are they intentional? If not (and even if so), why do you explore these and keep coming back to them?
How do you feel as you create – does it give you energy, leave you feeling depleted? Does it bring emotions or old memories to the surface? Does it inspire you for the future?
What materials are you drawn to using and why? What about their speed of use, immediacy, permanency, color, impression, do they create that you like? What other materials have you tried that you didn’t like, and why do you avoid them?
How do you know when a piece is finished? Is it an internal feeling? Does something about the piece show you it’s done? Do you come back and add to it over time or is it completed in one sitting?
Hopefully spending a bit of time thinking about what and how you create has allowed you to gain some clarity about your art. We’ll use this to create a stronger brand and artist bio for you in part 3, but for now, use this sentence to help you create a one-liner you can use if someone asks you what kind of art you create. If this mad-lib style sentence doesn’t work for you (hey, we’re creatives, we don’t like to fit into a box) then the brainstorming session should at least allow you to make up your own sentence.
I’m an artist who works with [materials] to create [type of art] that a) focuses on [common subject matter] or b) uses [process].
When you sit down to write your website, it’s all too easy to start with the home page. You probably imagine your ideal reader finding themselves there first. But is this really where they land? And even if it is, writing this page first is the worse idea. Let me explain why.
Your home page might not be where your reader first lands on your site
Imagine how a reader lands on your site. If they are looking for you, and you specifically, they might well put your business name in a search engine. In which case they’ll find themselves at your home page in no time (fingers crossed!) But if they found you through social media where someone shared a blog post you wrote, or through a funnel for a sale you’re running, or maybe even by searching for a specific product or service, they could land on any number of different pages. As you set up these specific pages on your site, think about what you want a reader to do when they land there. They can use the menu at the top to navigate to different pages, and perhaps they will choose your home page next. But if you want to have more control over which button they click next, you need each page to be compelling in it’s own right, to be on brand, and to lead your reader to where you want them to go next.
Your home page is your storefront and greeter combined
Your home page should be a summary of all the things you say on your other pages. You want to give snippets of information about you, your services or products, how to contact you, your testimonials, all within easy scrolling distance. Your reader should be able to click through to find out more details about any of these items as they read them. And as I mentioned in point 1 above, there should always be a Call To Action to help guide your readers to where you want them to go next. The best way to provide a comprehensive but short teaser of a more detailed page is to write it after the comprehensive page has been drafted and finalized. Scan your final copy for the nuggets that shine, really displaying your goals for that page. Rambling copy that leads you to what you really want to say is for first drafts of pages. Pull out the best copy and summarize that for your home page.
If you must draft your home page first, use placeholders
I understand that sometimes the urge to get the home page down is so great you can’t resist – I’ve been there! Sometimes it helps to write the rambling summary first, and once you understand what you’re aiming for, work on making those points on your other pages where you have more room. If you must do this, please don’t see that summary as your final copy. Put it in square brackets, write DRAFT before you start, write it as bullet points rather than full sentences. Once you can see how your homepage flows and you’re in the mind of your ideal reader, you can go on to work on your other pages, but don’t forget to come back and delete those placeholders, and write fresh summaries for your home page.
Consider your CTAs – primary and secondary
More than any other page on your website, you want to be crystal clear on what you want your reader to do next, and you want to have that Call To Action button prominent and above the fold. Top right of the screen is the most common place to add your main CTA, although if you go with limited words and a large visual, the center of the screen above the fold works well too. Do you want them to call you, set up an automated appointment, buy something? There will be one overarching goal for your site, something you want your ideal customer to do before they click away and are caught by some other competing interest. What is it?
If readers drop in on your home page and aren’t ready to commit to that big picture CTA, however, you need to offer them incentives to stay on your site. The way to do that is by using secondary CTAs, that move them around your site learning more and/or gets them to sign up to your email list so that you can continue to nurture them as a lead. Think about where during the process of scrolling through your site you want to place your secondary CTAs. If you are summarizing your services or products, it can be useful to allow readers to click through to those dedicated pages and learn more. If you add a testimonial, you might want to add a ‘sign up for my newsletter’ CTA after. It’s always important to have a final CTA at the very bottom of your page, on the off chance your reader has made it that far.
When you’re ready to sit down and write your website copy, consider keeping your home page until last. And if you’re finding the thought of writing all these goals, CTAs and summary copy overwhelming, contact me to find out how I can help! I offer a Done With You package starting at $499, where I provide you with a template to complete all these sections, and I take it from draft to done, guaranteeing you website copy that wows just 2 weeks later!
Are you ready to spend your holiday relaxing? Let me work on a copy audit while you do so, and by the time you return to work (rested, and possibly having eaten too much turkey), you will have some actionable goals to polish up your website copy so it wows your customers for the rest of the year, allowing you to leap into 2020 with your calendar already filling up! Get in touch between now and December 1st to unlock the $250 special, and start the last month of the year right!
Writing your own website copy can be hard! If you want to get started first, think about your website goals. These can range from:
persuading customers to load items into their cart and checkout
contact you using an automated booking service
educate ideal customers who are still early in the funnel, and obtain their email address
Knowing what your goals are will make it so much easier to decide what content you need on your home page, completing your buttons with Calls To Action, choosing images and videos, and deciding how long any page needs to be.
It’s not uncommon to have more than one goal, especially if Ideal Customers from different parts of your sales funnel might visit your website. Identify the most likely Ideal Customer to visit any page, focus on them as your bullseye (you’re most likely to hit the target if you aim for the center) and write toward the goal you have for that Ideal Customer. Make sure different pages cater to your Ideal Customer in different parts of their journey, so that everyone can gain something from your site. To decide which Ideal Customer to use – think about how each will land on your page. From an internet search page? From a link on social media? From your business card? Knowing where people land on your site, where they are on the buyer’s journey, and what you want them to do once they land on that page are keys that will make the words flow much, much easier!