23 September 2013

B2B Monday - Take a Scary Step

Happy Monday! This week's tip involves scaring yourself. I'm not talking about ghosts and goblins here, but getting out of your comfort zone and taking a step in your career that you've been putting off because it makes you nervous or scares you a bit.

I always tell my students that real growth, both personally and as an artist, occurs when you are trying or doing something outside of that zone where you feel comfortable, the zone where you know the outcomes before you start, and where boundaries aren't pushed very hard. By definition you will feel uncomfortable outside that zone. That's the stretching and growing you need to do as an artist in order to progress, to expand your skills, and to make the zone that much bigger.

So this week, take a scary step forward on your career - submit an article idea to a magazine if you never have before, enter a big show, attend a meeting of a new-to-you group of artists, approach a gallery about showing your work - do something that makes you feel a little nervous and a little uncomfortable (or even a whole lot uncomfortable), and take comfort in the fact that you're growing and stretching and moving your career forward!

Please report back after you've taken your scary step and let me know how it goes. Onward, peeps!

16 September 2013

B2B Mondays - Professional presence

Today's business tip for artists has to do with your professional presence. Your business cards (and postcards if you use them) are an excellent marketing and networking tool that you should carry with you at all times.

You have no idea where the next opportunity will come from and being prepared with a snazzy business card with all of your contact information printed on it means that you won't miss the opportunity and you won't be scrambling for a napkin on which to jot down your details.

Keep in mind that your business cards should be in alignment with your brand so tie them in to your blog or website design, colors, and fonts. Use the space on the card to highlight a photo of your work, even a thumbnail is great!

If you're low on business cards, or if you haven't printed any yet, take time this week to design and order some. Think about adding links or icons for social media so your contacts can connect with you on the platform of their choice.

My favorite online resource for business cards is Moo. The quality of their cards is outstanding and their customer service is amazing. I have ordered cards from them for years and have been more than impressed every time. If you'd like a 10% discount on your first order, click here. Disclaimer: I receive a credit to my account when you click that link, but I love Moo so much, that I'm just as happy if you visit their website directly and bypass the affiliate link (there's no discount if you do though, lol).

There are, of course, many other places to have business cards printed, both online and locally, so I encourage you to explore all of your options. Think carefully about using a "free" printing service if the catch is that they print their logo or web address on your card. This option appears much less professional because it gives the receiver of your card the impression that you aren't serious enough about your business to invest money in it.

Another great option is to design and print your own business cards. Most office supply stores carry business card blanks - sheets that you can print in your own inkjet or laser printer that snap apart easily and look clean and professional. I did this for years before discovering Moo (and still sometimes resort to this option when I've run out of cards before a new order arrives). One drawback I've found is that the paper isn't quite as thick and luxe as the paper used by a commercial printer.

If you design and print a new business card, please add a link in the comment section here so we can all see it!

09 September 2013

B2B Mondays - Connect your Social Media Accounts

Good Monday morning! Are you ready to start off the week with a tip to help you network and keep the door to opportunity wide open?

Now's the time to double check all of your social media outlets to make sure that you've taken the opportunity to connect them together and lead visitors back to your website so they can contact you.

For example, if you are on Facebook, you can edit your profile to include the web addresses of your page on every other social media site you belong to (and most importantly, to your website and blog addresses). Add the urls for your twitter account, your Pinterest boards, your Instagram feed, and more. On Pinterest, edit your profile to include your website address. Check your Instagram account to be certain that your profile lists your web or blog address. Add the addresses of a few ways to connect with you to your email signature so you won't need to type it each time.

And of absolute, primary importance, make sure that your website and blog both have contact information so visitors can reach you! Either a contact form or a link to an email address is perfect. I can't tell you how many times I've had a cool opportunity to offer an artist, visited a beautiful blog or website, and have poked around for way too many minutes trying in vain to find SOME way to contact the artist. I'm more persistent than others might be but I've given up many times without having finding contact info. If there's no way to get in touch with you, who knows what wonderful things you're missing out on? So go now to your blog or website and look at it with "outsider eyes" and see if there is an easy and obvious way to contact you. Check your social media sites to be certain that they either link to each other or link back to your blog or website or both.