A Different Look at Creativity IV: Home Depot & Getting Started

The last parts of this series looked at the needs of creatives and tried to match those needs with the tools available. The goal of all of this was to  set out a basic palette of available choices to provide a little background. Everyone does this whether they know it or not when they encounter something new much like a person who wants to build something does to understand how to join two or more parts together….they know there are tools out there to put things together but they don’t know what does what. Imagine knowing you want to join two pieces of wood but you have never seen a hammer or even worse a nail. A visit to Home Depot could be very confusing without the basic knowledge of tools.

This article is a transition from describing the tools and how they meet a need to learning how this knowledge alone is not enough to walk into Home Depot with. Unless you know you need a drill or a hammer just walking into Home Depot and buying whatever strikes your fancy will not help you build a house unless you know that

  1. you want to build a house and
  2. you know or at least have some idea as to what kind

But even this won’t help you until you know more details like

  • What does it look like
  • how big does it need to be
  • how many rooms
  • where is it to be located…

The list can and should go on until you have a clear idea of what it is you want to build. Once you have clarity and focus you can then go into Home Depot and KNOW pretty much what you need to buy, both in materials and tools. Basically, you need to have a goal then broad strategies for meeting that goal then ground level tactics for implementing strategies that will get you to your goal.

So what does this have to do with this series? Well, knowing that Twitter is cool doesn’t help you if connecting many different people in a collaborative way is not something you need. The same goes for Facebook or for that matter a blog, if your goal/s do not depend on what the tool does best then fooling around with it because it is cool will be a huge time suck. So for the purposes of this series I am just going assume you are all small businesses that are based on creating, making or producing art and you have a limited knowledge of capabilities of the internternet and also know that you need to connect better with your buyers.

I am skipping the entire branding process and developing a marketing plan for brevity. What follows is basic strategic information to give you a starting point for your journey.

First things First

The very first thing you can do is to start listening, both in person and on-line. In person talk to your buyers, find out what is important to them, what makes them tick, why they come to art shows or buy art. Find out what problems they are facing what makes them happy what they look forward to, how they live. Then you will be in a position to say to them ” You know I think you might like this doll, if you hang it over your desk it can help you stay focused and centered” or ” you might really like this pot, it is designed to make serving soup easy and drip free”.

While you are engaging your buyers in person spend some time on-line. Find blogs written by artists or other creatives and also read other genres, use that “google thing” and search for subjects that interest you or might interest your buyers. Next go to Twitter.com and search around subjects like, art, visual art, or whatever might be related to your medium, better yet open a twitter account (it’s free) start following some of the people you find interesting. Take note of what they have to say keep in mind …there is no right way here you are trying to find out information and get your feet wet.

Introducing….

Let’s meet Sarah. She is a self described ” luddite”  who until recently has seen little benefit in marketing and in many cases felt that it was cheapening her art. She has avoided the internet for a variety of reasons most of which have to do with not knowing how it can help her. Recently she has realized that she indeed was in business and if she didn’t make a living from her art her ability to share it with others would decline. Last we talked I suggested that she begin “listening” to the web in  a number of ways.

“So..Sarah how are you doing? Have you started ‘listening’ as I suggested last time we talked?”

“Ya” she said, “I had my doubts at first, but then I found some amazing artists who shared their ideas and their work on their blogs and…they didn’t seem to spend hours trying to write the perfect article! I am not sure I can do that. I also found  the more I poked around the more ideas I got…which I wasn’t expecting at all. But now I am even more confused and slightly overwhelmed…where do I begin? I feel like I have way to much to learn and not enough time to learn it.”

“Well” I said,”the best way to get over that sense of confusion and being overwhelmed is to first stop judging yourself and second take little steps towards your goal and be ready to change course if need be. So with that said let’s get going. When we first met you said you wanted to connect with your buyers more  on a personal level…you wanted to make a human connection that brought them into your life… within limits I know! You also wanted a way to keep them abreast of what shows you were going to be in and what you were making.”

“That’s right” she said, ” So how do I get started, what should I do first? What is going to be the best use of my time? And the easiest and quickest”!

“Well, you are in luck because now the easiest and quickest way to begin is through a blog.”

“Why is that? I thought I needed a web site…how will a blog do what I need?” She  said.

“That’s why I said you’re in luck! You see, web sites are static, the content on them seldom changes and when you need to change it, you need a tech person unless you know web design. The other problem with web sites is they don’t get indexed often by search engines since most search engine’s criteria is how often the content changes. So… now the business community from Microsoft to your neighborhood cafe have begun blogging.”

“But if I use a blog won’t I have to write something everyday? I don’t have time to do that…and I don’t know what I’d write about. I get writer’s block even thinking of it! And how will that help me do what I want to do…get closer to my buyers?” Sarah said in frustration.

“First you only need to write when you have something to say which can be everyday or once a week. And you don’t have to write a novel each time you sit down at your computer. When I started my first blog as a photographer I only posted when I had photographs and when I had something to say about an event or a shoot. My blog was a place for potential clients to not only see my work but also my process and approach by reading about the session or event or whatever I had shot. The beauty was that clients could comment on what they saw and read giving me the chance to have a conversation with them. You see a blog is the first step to laying the foundation of a potential two way conversation.

A blog gives you the opportunity to continually show how valuable you are to your readers/buyers. By opening up and being transparent to your potential buyers you open the door for them to get to know you and most importantly know whether they have anything in common with you. It is the first step in separating out your best buyers.”

” Ahhh!!” she said, “the fog is beginning to lift. I think there may be some possibilities here. So how do I get started with a blog? Like, where do I go to set one up? Do I need to know code or are there  simple ways for a Luddite like me to get started?”

“At this point I would strongly recommend the simplest way possible. You have a few choices depending on budget etc. You can go free using services like Blogger or Typepad but free has some limitations which we can cover later. Another free option is to use WordPress and host your own blog but this might require some help from a tech person. Our time is running out now so here are a couple of resources for you and an assignment. For next time spend some time looking through blogger and blogspot sites, check out what they provide given your needs. Also go here to see how simple it all can be…

Become a blogger and watch the free videos,

 

To begin learning about social media  check Chris Brogen out.

Coming next: More converstions with Sarah and possibly a couple of her friends. We’ll be talking in more detail about blogs and some basic social media strategies.

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