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

Iteration

Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.

Show off each phase of your creative process. Not only is it more fun, your customers will identify with your work and that — hopefully — leads to more sales.


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. 

 

***

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.

Jen Adrion and Omar Noory

Comments (14)
  • http://www.scoop.it/t/daily-clippings/p/4018331204/2014/03/25/sell-more-art-why-transparency-and-storytelling-win-fans Sell More Art: Why Transparency and Storytellin...

    […] Show off each phase of your creative process. Not only is it more fun, your customers will identify with your work and that — hopefully — leads to more sales.  […]

  • http://www.refmanuel.com/?p=62103 Sell More Art: Why Transparency and Storytelling Win Fans

    […] formula 1Sell More Art: Why Transparency and Storytelling Win Fans It’s a fantastic time to be an artist. Just a few years ago, aspiring creative entrepreneurs had […]

  • Nilé Livingston

    Nice! I appreciate the tips

  • http://workisart.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/sell-more-art-why-transparency-and-storytelling-win-fans/ Sell More Art: Why Transparency and Storytelling Win Fans | work is art

    […] Read the article here […]

  • Doaa younnes
  • http://chrissihernandez.prosite.com Chrissi Hernandez

    Great article, such a beautiful way to get your work out there. The art fuels more art. Love that.

  • http://nhwn.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/weekend-edition/ Weekend Edition – Speed bumps, identity crises, and shorts plus good reads and writing tips | Live to Write - Write to Live

    […] Sell More Art: Why Transparency and Storytelling Win Fans via @99u – Not just for artists … […]

  • http://15minutesuccess.com/home/index.php/top-weekend-reads-youre-not-as-busy-as-you-say-you-are/ Top Weekend Reads: You’re Not as Busy as You Say You Are | 15 Minute Success

    […] Want to Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First. […]

  • http://www.standingoutinaseaofsameness.com/ Dave Rothacker

    Two inspirations here. Way back in the 20th century, Napoleon Hill wrote about a woman who put together creative briefs for entrepreneurs in his book Think & Grow Rich. Essentially, she helped her clients with their personal brand, which helped them to get hired or to sell their products.

    A cool Maker job would be to do this with 21st century technology, using the exact steps outlined above, for other people, other Makers. I get that the economics involved for both sets of Makers is tough. One can’t afford it and the other has a hard time charging enough. There is a design challenge.

    Two, Makers don’t necessarily have to be graphic designers, writers, artists etc. They can be massage therapists, hair stylists and nail technicians. Seriously, follow along Jen & Omar’s most excellent prescript above and plug in a massage therapist. It doesn’t even tax one’s imagination to do so and to see how cool it would work.

  • http://www.vendgenie.com/static/communityguidelines.html?ping=http://99u.com/articles/24135/sell-more-art-why-transparency-and-storytelling-win-fans VendGenie - Your place to buy and sell things vintage, handmade, and supplies.

    […] £ GBP […]

  • http://www.scoop.it/t/aspiring-art-collector/p/4019070359/2014/04/06/want-to-sell-more-art-sell-yourself-first-99u Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First. - 9...

    […] 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.  […]

  • http://www.thewritingreader.com/blog/2014/04/06/carnival-of-creative-4614/ Carnival of Creative 4/6/14 | The Writing Reader

    […] Adrion and Omar Noory presents Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First.etitle posted at […]

  • http://www.scoop.it/t/making-love-and-making-personal-branding/p/4019121902/2014/04/07/want-to-sell-more-art-sell-yourself-first Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First. | M...

    […] Show off each phase of your creative process. Not only is it more fun, your customers will identify with your work and that — hopefully — leads to more sales.  […]

  • Wilm

    Great article and fantastic advice that I need to implement straight away.

  • http://jefmenguin.com/ Jef Menguin

    Great advice. I was inspired to rethink my profile on the web.

  • http://www.scoop.it/t/new-media-art-education-research/p/4019680907/2014/04/15/want-to-sell-more-art-sell-yourself-first Want To Sell More Art? Sell Yourself First. | [...

    […] Show off each phase of your creative process. Not only is it more fun, your customers will identify with your work and that — hopefully — leads to more sales.  […]

  • http://www.hellobrio.com/ Jennifer Coyle

    Really nice advice. I have on my to do list to re-do my about page on my blog, and this will help be a driving force for content!

  • MindiRaker

    This is just what I needed to read today. We all need to realize that our work doesn’t speak for itself. Thank You!

  • http://www.mattiaskall.se Mattias Käll

    Great article. Thanks!

  • saaction

    Best Advice, I am really inspired, thank you

  • Jill J.

    Thanks for a great post. It’s now so much more than just being an amazing creative. It’s a-commerce (artistic income generating business).

  • http://parseandparcel.com/ Parse & Parcel

    Really great post – so inspiring. It is not enough to have a good product, people want to connect with you as the brand and sharing your story in a personal, authentic and creative way compels people to do that.

  • Cr8tiveOne

    I find Christina Anton of BooandBooFactory on Etsy a very compelling story. Her jewelry pieces are so wonderful and magical. She truly has defined her own style of jewelry making.
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/BooandBooFactory/about

  • http://www.scoop.it/t/le-bonheur-comme-indicateur-d-epanouissement-social-et-economique/p/4020004729/2014/04/21/it-s-a-fantastic-time-to-be-an-artist-sell-yourself-first It’s a FANTASTIC time to be an artist ? ....

    […] 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. Show off each phase of your creative process. Not only is it more fun, your customers will identify with your work and that — hopefully — leads to more sales.  […]

  • Julie

    This is so helpful. Thank you for the concrete tips and examples. I am going to apply ASAP.

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