I promoted my business the wrong way for a long time.
Just like many designers and artists, I focused on building my portfolio, posting my work around the web, and waiting for feedback.
I quickly realized this approach wouldn’t take me very far. Why?
Because that’s what everyone else does. And you’re assuming people who aren’t design experts will recognize your creative work as superior.
Most people naturally want to buy from people they know and like. So, how do you display your work while making it easy for prospective clients to learn about who you are?
The conclusion is simple: content marketing.
How to use content marketing to sell your creative work
When I looked around, I saw that many well-known designers run popular blogs, and they teach, speak, and publish books — people like Jeffrey Zeldman, Cameron Moll, Vitaly Friedman, Luke Wroblewski, and Mark Boulton.
How could I improve my authority in the design community using the skills I already had? How could I become recognized as a remarkable designer?
That’s when I started learning about content marketing and how powerful it can be for all artistic and creative professionals: designers, photographers, illustrators, musicians — you name it.
The demand for experts who teach specific skills and share unique content in the creative and artistic space is huge.
The more you create and share, the better results you get. When you become an authority in your niche, more people follow your work, and you get more (often higher-paying) clients.
And if you sell your own products, it also opens up new opportunities for passive income.
I’ve put together the following short guide for all the creative people who understand content marketing’s potential, but have no idea how to get started.
At the end of this post, I’ll share my own results, which I hope will inspire you to start creating content and building your own community.
Two easy types of writing projects: project case studies and tutorials
I know many people consider writing a boring task. For others, it’s difficult to make a commitment to write regularly. No matter what your excuse is today, you have to break the ice and start writing. It’s a key element in any strong content marketing strategy.
You don’t have to be the greatest writer to write a project case study or tutorial — simply focus on communicating value.
I’m not a writer, and English isn’t even my first language. But that didn’t stop me from writing on my blog, writing for Copyblogger, and even self-publishing an ebook.
Because you have a set of specific skills that you want to teach others, your writing should be “how-to” content with clear and easy-to-understand language.
Project case studies may be the most effective content you publish on your blog. And they’re easy to tackle when you’re just getting started.
People love reading about how you create actual projects. If you include a detailed description of your work process, others can learn from the tools you used, the decisions you made, and the results you brought to your client.
Project case studies are also helpful for your potential customers. They can look behind the curtain and see how professional you are and what it’s like to work with you.
Some of my first “the making of …” posts on my blog are my most popular and bring a lot of traffic to my website.
Tutorials are another smart type of content. I’m sure you know plenty of tips and shortcuts. Share your knowledge with others in a straightforward, simple way that speaks to beginners.
Content is more than just writing
Here’s the best part of content marketing … you don’t have to limit yourself to just writing. If you’re a designer, illustrator, or photographer, you’re capable of creating your own shareable content that is different from just text.
You can make graphic quotes, stock photos, design templates, and so many other resources that others will find useful. It’s all content, too.
Some of the most popular posts on Copyblogger are infographics: 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs, The Amazingly Simple Anatomy of a Meaningful Marketing Story, The ABCs of Landing Pages that Work.
Images are a powerful form of content. It’s all about a visual representation of your main ideas.
Are you an illustrator? People love hand-drawn images!
They can help make your blog unique and even help establish your own recognizable style. You can draw your own blog post images or try hand-lettering to create sharable graphics with inspirational quotes.
I draw small, square images for all my blog posts. It usually takes me less than 15 minutes, and I have a lot of fun making them.
Build a community
Once you start writing and sharing quality content, it’s time to connect with the people who follow you and like your content.
Of course, you want to build your email list, and I would also suggest taking it one step further: Create a membership area on your site.
Offer exclusive content only available to your site members. It can be a short ebook, an online course, a set of tips, or even video tutorials. It will help you attract more people to your email list since it will give them access to a special place on your website full of valuable content.
Adding a membership area to your website is easier than you think. If you run your website on WordPress, there are many plugins available. Or you can use the membership site features that are built into the Rainmaker Platform.
When I moved my website to the Rainmaker Platform, I created a Designers Area and placed all my design resources in there. It’s free to join by signing up for my email newsletter.
Brian Gardner added a membership area to his No Sidebar website where he offers some beautiful free Genesis child themes. WordPress themes are a great type of content, too.
Does it really work?
My content targets web designers and people who are interested in improving their websites.
With just six blog posts, my email list grew from 800 to more than 5,300 subscribers between June 2014 and February 2015.
I achieved this mainly from the free availability of my design resources and the Designers Area. Of course this number would be much higher if I wrote regularly and more often. (I should listen to my own advice!)
Before June 2014, I had all my design resources available to download for free by just clicking a button. Offering the resources helped me earn tons of links to my website and drive a lot of traffic, but when I added my sign-up form, traffic began to convert into email subscribers.
Another milestone that occurred after I moved my website to the Rainmaker Platform was the launch of my first paid product, an ebook, in January 2015.
I had a solid list of more than 4,000 email subscribers prior to the ebook launch, and those subscribers helped turned my product launch into a success — and also helped attract new email subscribers since the launch.
Take advantage of your unique position
Designers, photographers, illustrators, musicians, and all other creative people: Start working on your own content today.
Share everything you know as you create original content and teach your audience.
You’re in a unique position to make content marketing work for you.
Want to continue the conversation?
Share your thoughts about the benefits of content marketing for creative professional over on LinkedIn …
Editor’s note: If you found this post useful, be sure to check out Kelly Kingman’s article, Solve Your Blank-Page Problem With This Visual, 3-Step Content Creation System.
Image via Startup Stock Photos.