I invite all of my email friends (subscribers always feels like an uncomfortable word to me) to tell me about their art and their business. I love reading these. Sometimes they’re super-short and to-the-point and give me good information on what my audience is going through. But other times they’re long and verbose and just ooze the personality of the artist – and those are the ones that light me up. You can fill one out by signing up over here. I’d love to hear more about your art and your personality and what’s happening in your business.
I got an anonymous one in just a few days ago. And I knew right away it was going to be great because this artist jumped right in. In just two paragraphs, I was able to learn that this artist (let’s call him/her Sam) couldn’t figure out why she was blogging or what she should be blogging about. Sam felt compelled to blog and completely sure that it was important to “keep them (the readers) interested in coming back to my blog over time”.
And because it was anonymous, I want to answer Sam’s questions here in a blog post. I find blogging about blogging highly amusing (I’d call it ironic, but my husband would lecture me again about the definition of ironic) and really fortunate since now everyone gets to benefit from this advice!
Enough chit chat. Let me get to the good stuff!
As I have told many clients before, you don’t need to blog. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t blog, but that blogging is a choice you can make as part of your marketing strategy. It’s not a necessity or a requirement. It’s just one of many strategies.
So I want to tell Sam (and you too if you’re feeling like Sam) that she needs to decide first if she even enjoys blogging. If not, toss it out the window because in the end it will only make things more difficult without reaping much reward.
If Sam likes blogging, great! Now we need to figure out if the things Sam likes to blog about (personal style, process, photo editing, photography gear) match with what her customers like to read about. Here’s where a myth comes in. A lot of people think that artists don’t buy other people’s art. But that’s not true. Many artists don’t purchase art, but many other artists have robust art collections. Sometimes, artists will be more interested in your work than anyone else – primarily if it’s particularly skillful or particularly cutting-edge.
So Sam’s first problem is not knowing who her customers are. I’ve talked about deciphering your target market before. I think it’s one of the hardest parts of business but it’s also the most important step, by far. Sam could start tackling the target market beast by writing a long list of descriptive words for her photographs (she already started without knowing it! She used “deadly elegance” and “resilient beauty” and “film-noir” among several other things in her email to me.
That list can be used to potentially match a personality type to her art. People who are interested in “deadly elegance” aren’t the same people who live for Hello Kitty. And then with a personality type identified, gross generalizations and stereotypes can be used unabashedly to pin down some demographic information. And that gives Sam a starting point. It doesn’t nail her target market, but it gives her somewhere to start that’s close enough for now. Her concept of her customers will refine over time and she makes more sales and talks to more of her target market.
Once Sam has a general concept of her target market, she can ask some people who fit that description if they would enjoy reading about personal style, process, photo editing, and photography gear. If not, then her blog is more of a personal affair. She can continue it if she enjoys it and feels it’s worth her time. Or she can choose to let it go since it’s not really helping her business. I wouldn’t recommend that Sam blog things she doesn’t enjoy blogging about. This can quickly lead to burnout, stress, and an abandoned, half-hearted blog no one wants to read.
If these people do enjoy reading about this stuff then Sam can keep writing about what she loves to write about without worrying anymore that her customers might not be interested!
A good dose of research was the key to helping Sam solve her blogging problem. And even if you don’t have blogging issues, any issues related to your target market can be solved with some research. Talk to people you think might be in your target market. Show them some photographs of your work and see if they like it. Ask them questions about your work, their personalities, their demographics…. just don’t ask for a sale. Gather as much information as you can without being salesy and people will be more than happy to help you. And they often later turn into customers!
More to come on this topic next week! Stay tuned.