A peek inside the process of Pittsburgh-based canvas bag manufacturer Moop.

Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.

It’s a fantastic time to be an artist. Just a few years ago, aspiring creative entrepreneurs had to take their work on the road, building their careers one art festival or gallery show at a time. Now, however, it is possible to share your work with customers from around the world, all without leaving the comfort of your studio. 

But with this abundance of opportunity comes an increase in competition. For many makers, this global audience brings up a tricky question: In a sea of creative businesses, how do you stand out? By sharing your story.

In researching our new guide for arts entrepreneurs, Designed to Sell: The Unconventional Guide to Creative Freedom, we spoke with dozens of independent creators who all had one thing in common: a penchant for transparency and including the customer in their creative journey.

Artisan goods are special because of the creative individuals who make them. Customers are more likely to purchase something from people they know and trust. When selling online, however, establishing that personal connection is more difficult. While you can’t personally speak to every customer one-on-one, sharing your story helps the world learn who you are, what you make, and why it’s special. In addition to helping the customer understand you on a creative level, a compelling maker’s story also increases the perceived value of your work and boosts customer confidence.

Unfortunately, many artists stop short of sharing the details that make their stories truly memorable. But, when you look at examples of successful creative entrepreneurs, the formula for sharing a captivating story is simple. What’s better is that you already have all the components you need. You simply have to show them off.

1. Your Background 

Screen Capture from  thesearethings.com

Screen Capture from thesearethings.com

Walk your visitors through your artistic journey, showing who you are and how you became the creative person that you are today. Sharing these details in a genuine, authentic way will help customers feel more connected to you and your work.

Throughout the process of building our business, These Are Things, we’ve experienced the benefits of this openness firsthand. Our about page features an illustrated retelling of our journey, including details about why we started making maps. By letting our personalities shine, we’ve made meaningful connections with thousands of customers in over 40 countries. Each week, we receive emails from people who share their own travel stories and show how they’re using our maps to commemorate their own adventures. These authentic interactions turn prospective customers into happy, repeat buyers.

2. Your Work

Artisan-made goods are all about the details: the carefully crafted design, the subtle texture of premium printmaking paper, the artist’s signature. These are the details that make your product unique, so make sure to show off what makes your work special. 

Jeff Sheldon, founder of minimalist apparel brand Ugmonk, uses text and images to build his brand and tell his maker’s story. Structured as a scrolling timeline, Ugmonk’s about page takes visitors on a visual journey from his first t-shirt design all the way through his most recent releases. An inspiring short film (above) further reinforces the inspiration and personality behind the brand, all while providing a healthy dose of eye candy.

3. Your Inspiration

Sharing your inspiration helps visitors understand the philosophy behind your work and the incredible amount of thought and care that go into its creation.

Iconic pocket notebook brand Field Notes regularly adds a new chapter to their story, creating a series of videos (like the one above) that capture the inspiration behind each new release. These short films showcase the essence of Field Notes’ utilitarian, rural, and vintage aesthetic. The creative filmmaking techniques make the pieces naturally shareable, encouraging fans to spread the word about Field Notes products based on the novelty of the videos alone. 

4. Your Studio

Image via moop.com

Image via moop.com

Whether you set up shop in a 2,000 square foot warehouse or a tiny corner of your apartment, inviting your customers into your workspace will help them get to know the people and process behind your products.

The about page of Pittsburgh-based canvas bag manufacturer Moop introduces the philosophy and people behind the brand. Another page opens with stunning photos of the Moop workshop and a description of their handcrafted production process. This helps customers understand the time and effort that goes into each piece, making the purchasing process much more frictionless.

5. Your Process

Image via mamas-sauce.com

Image via mamas-sauce.com

This is the perfect place to get creative, sharing a peek inside your sketchbook or a snapshot of in-progress pieces. 

While these things may seem commonplace to you, not everyone is an artist. What you do is downright magical to your customers and they would love to see a behind the scenes look at your creative process. Demonstrating your expertise proves just how much time you’ve invested in your craft, giving customers a new appreciation for your skill and increasing the perceived value of your work.

Nick Sambrato, founder of the Orlando, Florida letterpress studio Mama’s Sauce, credits his studio’s rise to fame with a video that showcases a day in the life of a printmaker. When the piece was highlighted as a Vimeo Staff Pick, Mama’s Sauce was instantly recognized as an industry leader, setting the company on a path to becoming recognized as one of the premier letterpress printers in the nation. 

 

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By focusing on these five elements, you’ll create an authentic maker’s story that builds your personality and increases the value of your work. The result is a story that showcases your unique vision and builds strong customer relationships— key ingredients in any successful creative business.

How about you?

Have you seen a compelling maker’s story lately? Share your favorite examples below.

More insights on: Self-Marketing

Jen Adrion and Omar Noory

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Jen Adrion and Omar Noory are the illustration duo behind These Are Things. Together, they craft a collection of modern maps, illustrate for clients, and write about the business of art at MakingIt.co. Their new e-book, Designed To Sell: The Unconventional Guide to Creative Freedom, provides a proven step-by-step plan for building your own successful creative business.
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