I’m happy to be part of the Creative Inc. blog tour organized by Chronicle Books and would like to welcome both authors to decor8 today! Co-written by Joy Cho and Meg Mateo Ilasco, Creative Inc. is a helpful, supportive and compact guide (great to carry around!) for those who are looking to either go freelance or who have recently jumped into a freelance career in a creative field. It’s also helpful for the seasoned pros out there who think they know it all – surprise – I’m sure you’ll find many helpful tips in Creative Inc. that had not crossed your mind before!
Today, these lovely ladies want to share 8 tips for promoting your work and networking. The plan was for them to talk about how bloggers and crafters can build community and be supportive but I’m ever happier to have them speak on this topic because it is one of THE most important parts of building, and maintaining, your freelance career. Plus, if you apply these tips you are building community and being supportive to others because that’s how the whole creative networking thing works — successful creatives learn early on that we’re all part of a great big (always expanding!) circle that gives and receives, so it’s somewhat impossible to successfully promote your work without helping others in the process.
Without further ado, let’s invite Joy and Meg on the stage to hear what they have to say…
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Hi decor8 readers! Thanks for having us. This is Joy Cho and Meg Ilasco, we’ve recently joined forces to write Creative, Inc. and we wanted to prepare a special post for decor8 readers that covered one of the most asked about topics by freelancers…how do I get my work out there? So today, we’re sharing with you our tips on that very topic.
We’re in a golden age of creativity–and largely because of the Internet, it’s made becoming a professional creative more accessible than ever. These days creative fields are cross-pollinating and blurring–it’s hard to be just one type of creative in a single medium. Many creatives, like us, are “slashies” (i.e., illustrator/designer, photographer/director/stylist), so we wanted to create a book that encompasses different kinds of creative freelancing. There is a lot of overlap across fields as well as differences you can learn from and apply to your own practice. Overall the book also discusses how to be a successful freelance creative and covers everything from creating a standout portfolio to working with clients to navigating the legal issues of starting a business.
8 TIPS FOR PROMOTING YOUR WORK & NETWORKING
1. Perfect your elevator pitch. While the “elevator pitch” may seem like a cheesy, old-fashioned term, it is an important way to tell people what you do. Can you paint a picture of the work you do (with words) in a few minutes? You never know who you’ll meet and if they or someone they know needs your creative skills. So think about and practice what you might say to complete strangers about your creative work.
2. Maintain an on-line portfolio. Your website will be your #1 marketing tool. It’s out there making connections with people near and far and working around the clock, even while you sleep. Use this work horse to it’s full potential by keeping it up-to-date with your recent projects.
3. Be proactive! Approach people and clients you’d love to work with. Especially in the beginning of a freelance career, clients won’t just come a-knockin’ at your door. In addition to telling your friends, family, and past co-workers that you’re pursuing freelance work, feel free to do the same with people and companies whose aesthetic matches yours. Simply email or mail them a short and genuine note about what you do and how you’d love to work with them in the future should they have the need for someone with your expertise. Be sure to include images of your work that best fits their aesthetic and the type of work you do.
4. Stay in touch with your mailing list. Create, maintain, and keep reaching out to your mailing list. If you don’t already have a link to a mailing list on your website, add one. It’s a great way for people to know what’s going on with you and projects you are working on. They may not need your products or services now, but if you keep updating them, they’re sure to remember you down the road when they are ready for your work. (Note: Do not add people to your mailing list unless they have signed up on their own or if you have asked their permission to be added.)
5. Reach out to press, both print and on-line. It’s not always about getting into every magazine or blog. You should really find one that best fits you. Do your research and get an idea of the things they post/write about and aesthetic they’re interested in. Create a list and start contacting them. In your correspondence, make sure you include good photographs or images of your work.
6. Keep a blog. A blog can be a great way to introduce people to your work and aesthetic, as well as give insight into your thought or creative process. It can be an effective way to get feedback on your work, attract fans, and keep people returning to you often (even daily). Whether you create a blog with original content to attracts readers or simply create one to keep track of your ideas or work–try to update your blog at least one a week, if not daily. Even if you update once a week on Wednesdays, readers will know that they can come back to find something new that day every week.
7. Engage in social networking. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are also other effective ways to stay in touch with your clients and admirers of your work. Use the tools that you enjoy most and can commit too. People always ask: what should I tweet about or post on my fan page? Think about what you like when you read other’s you follow. Do you like it when they mix in bits of their personal life? Do you like seeing little snippets they come across in their travels? Since these tools share bits of information and less content than a blog post, most people will follow you on Twitter or Facebook to get glimpses into your business, your life, and what you do in your spare time.
8. Make genuine connections with people. As a freelancer, the relationships you make can often determine how successful you become. Even though many opportunities happen through word of mouth and through the connections you make, it doesn’t mean you should approach everyone with a salesperson mentality. Focus on building real and genuine relationships with people. The best way to network and make friends, whether real or virtual, is to also take an interest in what they do.
Thank you for visiting Joy and Meg!
If anyone has questions for them on this topic, please feel free to ask them in the comments space below.
(Images: Creative Inc. book cover: Joy Cho, All others Holly Becker for decor8.)