Tag Archives: art

Work as a Creative? Make Sure to Use Your Timer

We creatives really don’t like clocks. They often cause stress and make us feel like we are not accomplishing anything when we have actually done bucketloads of work.

So, why is this creative writer and marketer telling other creatives to use a timer at their work?

Why You Should Use Your Timer

This is specifically for people who work as creatives. If you are taking an evening to paint for yourself, ditch any semblance of a time-tracker before heading to the studio. But, when we work, we always need to mix up the fun stuff, the creativity and the engagement of our emotions with the mundane.

If I never send invoices, I don’t get paid.

That emotion is worse than any clock.

Seriously. Because we would rather be writing, creating a world in our favorite digital sandbox, or modeling real clay on a wheel, we need to use timers to ensure that we have full creative license for a period of time.

For this article, I am writing it in 15 minutes.

Why?

Partly because of the challenge the clock gives me. But, the bigger reason is I am tutoring a student on SAT prep in one hour. I have to finish discussions with a potential client, and attempt to do several other creative things in the meantime.

Do Everything, So You Can Stop Everything But

If we do not give ourselves breaks and PAT time (look it up if you want a study in classroom management), then we either never create (tolling the death knell for a creative) or never get clients to pay us (a death knell for anyone).

So, whether you write for yourself or for someone else, get comfortable with creating the time for you to create. And if that really stresses you out, make certain you take time during the day to stop everything but ….

If you love reading, get your work done for the day and then stop everything but reading.

If you are a game designer or tester, get your work done for the day, take some time to engage with physical people, and then… stop everything but the game you have been wanting to play.

During your required work, give yourself time for creative tasks by using a timer. Look up the urgent/important quadrant for a good idea of what is required if you work for yourself.

I had 15 minutes to write this blog, and did it in 12. Now I will edit, publish, and have a 3 minute celebration that I beat the clock!

Now, go write, paint, draw, create something.

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Improv in Marketing #1: Listen and Act

Here is a quick update on learning improvisation in The Art of Marketing. Enjoy.

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4 Things This Content Marketer Loves That Average People Do Not

Are you an average reader/writer? The following list are areas that I think only a true aficionado of the written word will understand and get joy from.

This is me when I got my polo shirt from Blogmutt after selling more than 100 blog posts on their platform:

 

Me Happy to Be Writing

Do you think you have what it takes to be a constant content creator cultivating common communication with curious consumers? Also, alliterations are actually an art all alone. Consonance too.

  1. I love reading script written nearly 400 years ago and translating it into modern English. Like seriously love it. My wife was working on research for a Master’s Degree writing project and I kept on getting distracted from playing with my new Samsung Galaxy J7 because trying to read that handwriting is that fun! My sims were dying, but there were funky s’s, dropped words, and archaic phrases to discover.

So if you will stay up till 1 AM when you know your children will get you up before 7 just because you love your spouse, you are slightly above average. If you and your spouse both are glued to a handwritten document requesting “the courte” rethink their sentence of the death penalty because you love the ancient turn of phrase and the fact that “y” can mean so many different things, then you are a true logophile.

2. I love writing/reading fast. When I am really into a series of blogs or a good book, I shut my mind off and stop thinking about anything but the words and the meaning behind them until I am done. Hours will pass by without looking up from what I am reading or writing and I find it highly therapeutic.

Another weirdo in reading is my sister Rachel McCarron (Yes, I married a Rachel and I have a sister named Rachel, OK?). The first all-nighter she pulled off was as a mom of several kids when the last Harry Potter book came out: because a Bachelor’s Degree is nice and all but the real test of a reader is clearing over 700 pages while taking care of multiple children: all nighters are a must for the avid reader if there is no time in the day.

If you love to read a good book a month or less, you are average. If you write blogs at the exclusion of all other activities or put down your favorite book and go through culture shock because you thought you were actually there, you are a nerd like me!

3. I don’t believe the hype about online videos will last. GASP! There, I said what I always think when I read articles and blogs about how video is the end of the written word online.

They may be right.

But, I don’t care, because I am an old-timer: I like my words written. I may go the way of the dinosaur, but, by George, I will not go gentle into that good night!

Seriously, if you click through to a site that has only video and no transcript and bounce away for greener reading pastures, you may be a cultured creator of confabulation, like me! (And no, I did not know what that word meant before I discovered it today)

4. I like researching something I know nothing about. Case-in-point: my favorite rejection from a client at Blogmutt was when I tried writing a post to women (I’m not one), about thigh-highs (wait, what?) in the book 50 Shades of Grey (I think I saw that in a bookstore once. The only reason I took the article was because I wanted the challenge of trying to research something I knew next to nothing about for a target market who I do not identify as.

Here it is in all its glory:

Let’s try again. Please consider doing some research on plot summary of the book (even wikipedia is a good start). I think there are some fundamental parallels that we can be made about a young woman (debutante, almost) who gains self-empowerment through eroticism. Lingerie/thigh highs were often mentioned in the book. Let’s take it from there.

Wikipedia was a good place to start, but apparently not a good place to end, because that was my only practical source on the book. Needless to say, I have never attempted a women’s lingerie post since this, but I still challenge myself to learn more about my clients and there industries.

I worked through textbooks on logistics, shipping and warehouse management so I could write better blogs on it.

I read blogs, join Facebook groups, and sign up for email newsletters regarding Drones so I can write better for Go Unmanned. And I love it!

Do you love research? You are above average. Will you try to learn something completely outside your skill set for no other reason than it will give you something to research? You are a nerd like me.

So, how do you stack up? Are you average, above average, or a logophile, cultured word-nerd?

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Staying in Business Through the First 4 Years: How the Art of Marketing Keeps You in Business

Have you heard the oft-quoted meme that 90% of businesses fail within the first 3 years? Or 5 years? Or 2?

Have you heard that 75% of statistics are made up on the spot? (Get the joke?) Yeah, business failure is one of those statistics, but according to a blog I found reading other blogs yesterday, the real number  is 33% of small businesses will close due to failure in the first 6 years.

In a similar manner, the NY Times tells us that there are 10 reasons small businesses fail, including the math doesn’t add up (too small a market, etc.), poor management (lack of focus and vision), and being in a declining market.

Whether it is 90% of businesses who fail or 33% of businesses, starting a small business is hard. One of the hardest things  you could possibly do. To make it easier, I am going to show in this post how marketing helps your business survive.

Defining Marketing

This paragraph definition for marketing is one of many I found at Heidi Cohen’s site.

The one idea I want to take from this definition is in the middle of the post:

“However, since the emergence of digital media, … [marketing] has increasingly  become more about companies building deeper, more meaningful, and lasting relationships with the people that they want to buy their products and services.”

Marketing is about relationships.

This is what has inspired me to look at marketing as an art form, as a collaborative creative process. If you have ever played in a symphony, you realize that certain types of art require a collaborative creative process. Marketing is one of these arts.

Good marketing involves input from customers, from the public, from your business alliance partners, and more.

The Back of My Head, Making Music

So, an original definition of The Art of Marketing:

The art of marketing is a collaborative process using the best of design, content, and analytics tools to create a beautiful process where customers are served by a business.

The art of marketing uses the best design, content, and analytics to beautifully serve your customers. Tweet: The art of marketing uses the best design, content, and analytics to beautifully serve your customers. https://ctt.ec/9XxtU+

Now, there are two types of great artists: those who work from their art, and those who work for their art.

Johann Sebastian Bach worked from his art; as a worship leader and performer, he was constantly creating music for his patrons in order to earn an income. He did not become popular until long after he died, when his art was discovered by Felix Mendelssohn.

Vincent Van Gogh worked for his art. He painted because his image of the world demanded an outlet. His first successful art exhibit of 71 paintings was in 1901, 11 years after his death.

Neither of these great artists are the ideal we want in a wealth consumption world, but when it comes to keeping your business alive through the first 6 years, they are both inspirational.

Surviving Business

Surviving the first 6 years requires a dedication to your business that many other people will not understand. “I am going to be rich.” is not a statement that will keep you going. A marketing minded mission gives you the strength to continue working when customers cancel, when your emails get ignored, when no one visits your website for weeks.

All of these things may happen to you, and what will you do to keep going when they do? The marketing mindset helps get through mortal wounds of a profit-motive business.

  • “I cannot get clients.” – Consistent content creation is key to getting new clients. A marketing artist creates for the joy of creation and failure to acquire new clients is motive to find other solutions while continuing to work on your business. In the 10 years I have been learning marketing, I have worked at over 10 different jobs and business ideas, including giving maternity shots to over 7000 cows. If I can do that while practicing my art, what can you do to provide while your business grows?
  • “My clients don’t pay enough.” – Art understands different levels of involvement. Some people want to enjoy art, some people want to participate. Some patrons need a single small item, others want consistent new content. Combining art and business understands that diversity in customer levels is key to practice.
  • “I don’t have enough  products or services.” – Marketing is about finding the product mix that your customers need. Art is about creating for the joy of it. When you combine art and marketing, you will create out of habit and this problem will be reversed.
  • “I don’t know who my ideal client is.” – This is understandable if you are just starting out. As an artist, remember that your first client is yourself. I have heard many marketers say that you are not your own ideal client, and I disagree. Your first client is yourself, because if you do not enjoy what you do, why do you expect anyone else to?
  • “I don’t have ANY clients.” – Find something else to do. Seriously, if you have no clients, find some work to do and find a place where you can get paid to do your work. Online, I have found work at Freelancer, Thumbtack, Wyzant, and Blogmutt. Offline I have found work from my coworking spot, my church, family, and local music stores who needed teachers. Keep looking for a client until you find one, and you might learn something about your own aesthetic along the way.

The First 3 Years

Getting through the first 3 years of a business is going to be the hardest part. But, treating your marketing as an artist will help in all aspects of your business.  As such, here are the final 5 areas the art of marketing will help you grow your business through the first 3 years and beyond.

Plan to Fail

I once heard of an author who bought all the copies of his first book because he thought it was not fit to publish. I have seen master potters throw 3 to 5 pots, breaking them down each time, until they find one they like. It took me 4 years to realize I was a poor violinist, and another 4 to actually sound good.

Artists fail all the time.

In business, do not plan all your success on one product. This does not honor your target market, does not help you plan for a product lifecycle, and does not give you opportunities to succeed when you do fail.

If you plan at least 3 product lines (currently mine are writing, consulting, affiliate sales, full-service marketing, tutoring, and violin teaching), you can succeed financially even if you have a 66% failure rate.

Give Yourself Time

Do not start a business when you need income yesterday. Two of my business failures were because I tried relying on them to provide for my family too early. Here are some things you can do to give yourself time to start a business:

  • Get part time work – Many part time jobs are easy enough that you can think through your business while doing repetitive tasks.
  • Drastically cut costs – What can family, friends, and customers do to help you out? This is the point where bartering makes sense, and if you have to spend time living in your parent’s house or your brother’s spare room, that’s ok.
  • Learn to DIY – You don’t know how long it will take to find something that clicks. During that time, you might have to do a lot of menial tasks because you cannot afford to do otherwise.

Learning an art takes time, and you need to give yourself that time in your business. Make certain that you are actually making enough money to pay for your four walls (food, housing, transportation, clothes) before you cut the cord to your part or full-time job.

Test, Change, Test, Change

In marketing speak they call this split-testing (try out two variations of a marketing theme and keep the better one), in music it’s called woodshedding.

Again, you don’t know what will make your business successful, so practice many things and keep what works.

Build Collaborative Relationships

The vision of the solitary artist is as romantic as it is false.

Vincent Van Gogh would still be a moody artistic failure if it wasn’t for his sister-in-law’s belief in him, even after he died.

Handel’s Messiah never would have been performed without  the support of nearly one hundred other musicians: violinists, trumpeters, flutists, choral singers, operatic stars, and more.

The more your business grows, the more you will need collaborative relationships.

Focus on Your Art

Starting a business is not for everyone. Mike Rowe tried to work with his hands many times before he built a business empire in show business about people working with their hands. There are still many successful business people who work within other businesses, and there is no shame in that.

If you want to start a business, it has to be larger than your desire for financial or schedule freedom. Starting a business, growing a business, and keeping a business is a passion, you need passion to drive it.

For me, my marketing is my art, for a counselor it is the finished product of healthy children. For an inventory handling business, your art is happy clients enjoying your product.

The art of marketing is a great tool to ensure that your business continues now and in the future. If you do not have the time or energy to do your own marketing, why don’t you send me an email and see if I can help you with your business?

 

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7 Tips for Planning Content Creation

If marketing is an art like conducting, content creation and promotion is the ability to count. In something this basic to your online business, content creation is a tremendous part of your marketing process.  These content creation tips will ensure that you are ready and able to go when life throws you a marketing cue.

The Art of Content Creation - Business Tips

Marketing focuses on your target market, understands them and their needs and delivers products and services to them in the best possible way. In the information and social environment we now live, content is the key delivery platform for getting your product or service in front of your target market.

That said, creating content that is meaningful, engaging, and speaks to your potential and current customers is difficult.

No worries, here are some tips on finding ways to reach your audience with the right content.

1. Repurpose Content. 

Simpy put, repurposed content takes one piece of content and publishes it on another platform or a different location. A blog on principles in business can be a good video, a video on opening a drone can be a great blog.

For example, I am not the best visual artist in the world, or even in my house. I would say my 4 year old just surpassed me in many visual arts. That said, visual art is an important and integral part of content marketing. We need images in blogs so that they share on Facebook, linked images get more engagement on Twitter, etc. As I was writing the beginning line to this blog, I thought, “That would make a good meme.”

Five minutes later on Canva and Voila! I have a meme and a photo for this blog: that is repurposed content.

2. Understand Your Why

I am reading EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey, and he talks about how customers buy from brands because of the brands why: what makes you want to be in business. For me, my business is about helping small businesses who are struggling with getting their identity in front of their customers.

This is my passion and a very big why.

I also have embraced the creative lifestyle required to become an excellent marketer.

What is your why? What are you doing for your customers that makes you get out of bed in the morning?

Understand that and you will have an easy time planning content.

3. Use a Calendar

I could write in detail on this, but why not just tell you to do it and send you to an excellent post by Sarah Arrow.

4. Write Often

I stopped writing at The Writer’s Cue for several months; I was busy with other clients and I did not know where I wanted to go with it. I was writing for solopreneurs and home-based business people, but was landing clients who were more on the small business side of things.

Now that I understand a little more about my client and my art, I am kicking off my marketing campaign with a one-month blogging challenge: a blog a day. After I successfully achieve that goal, I will back it down to probably 2 blogs a week.

Does it take that much writing to get the hang of content? Yes, yes it does.

5. Learn Grammar and Vocabulary Rules

Listen, you can have an informal voice and even drop swear words here and there. But, if your writing cannot be understood, you will not be able to interact with your customers.

The sentence, you which our reading, might could be ignorant to there understanding when your reaching out too ur customers

If that sentence looks normal, you need to take some writing tutoring before you try to manage your own content plan. Also, why are you reading a post on content creation tips? Go find a good book, read that. Then find another. Read it, too.

6. Use the Right Software

Ever heard of Grammarly? It is a great tool for managing grammar and vocabulary. Workflowy is a great tool for taking notes. Research some other software options for calendars, grammar, note taking, reading text back to you, and more.

7. Do, Be, Do, Be, Do

A comical quote from the 60’s is a good way to end this list and remind you that practice makes perfect. But, you need to do your writing, take time to watch how people interact with it, find out what pain points it answers, which ones it doesn’t and then do another practice round.

DO be DO be DO

What are some important content creation tips you use in your business writing?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

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7 Attributes It Takes to Succeed in the Art of Marketing

Art is more than just a skill; it is a commitment to creative habits, to learning and crafting an aesthetic. I remember still towards the middle of my high school experience when I had to face the choice of whether I wanted to become a professional artist on the violin.

I had played violin since I was four and was one of the best student violinists in 100 miles, but I knew that I would have to be much better if I wanted to develop that into my lifelong profession.

I decided to keep it a hobby.

Qualities of an Artist

Although I did not commit then, I knew what it takes to succeed as a professional artist, as an innovative creator. Fast forward an indeterminate number of years later, I am committed to a different art.

This art includes design and composition, writing and performing. It also includes leadership, relational intelligence, mathematics, and writing skills.

But, the skills necessary for an artist are not as important as the character traits it takes to survive and thrive as an artist; hence the reason I did not succeed as a professional violinist (I still play and teach), I did not have a fundamental artist’s trait: passion.

So, here are 7 character attributes you will need to succeed as a marketer.

Passion for the People, Product and Process

When you are marketing, passion for the product does not cut it. There is such a tremendous learning curve for each marketing system, you get to learn about ideal customers (people), business partners (people), the process by which you get a product or service to the market (process and product). And without passion, why would you learn all that!?

Faith

As a Christian, I understand faith in something larger than myself, but even if you are not a theist, you still need to have faith that the world is not coming to an end tomorrow and that the universe is generally in your favor if you do the right activities. Also, you will need tremendous faith and trust in fellow humans, because marketing is all about understanding both your ideal customer (target market) and your co laborers in the marketing project.

Extroversion of Some Degree

Introverts can be marketers, but they will have to break out of their comfort zone substantially. Why? Because marketing is about getting the right products, services and brands in front of the right people at the right time so that they can enter into a relationship with that brand.

Marketing is about people. Yes we get to play with technical things in the dark of our living rooms, alone, after the kids have fallen asleep, but without people to look at our work, we will never be able to earn a living.

Resting

Rest. Another one of the attributes that I attribute to my Christianity, but there are many good reasons beyond religious ones to incorporate an attitude of rest into an artistic marketing mindset.

Did you hear when the CEO of Yahoo missed a major meeting with advertisers because she slept in? She is well known for saying that people who need 8 hours of sleep a night are wasting time.

This is silly. From an artistic mindset, rest helps you recover from work, get a new viewpoint on your creative process, helps your brain restart, and helps you incorporate diverse strands into the creation you are making.

An unrested artist creates factory products; this marketing, be different and rest.

A Learning/Teacher Heart

If you want to truly learn something, teach it to someone else. This truism is essential to marketing, because you will be constantly learning and teaching others. Marketing and sales are designed to creatively bring customers into relationships with a brand where commercial transactions take place. You cannot do that without understanding basic principles of teaching.

A Diligent Heart

I did not commit to violin because I knew that I would have to practice at least an hour a day and max out at 5. Every day except rest days. I did not want to commit to that, but it was necessary.

In the same way, I do commit to work on learning and practicing marketing an hour a day. When I am busy writing for clients, I still need to spend at least an hour learning and practicing.

Creative Habits

Like all arts, marketing and sales require persistent commitment to habits of creativity. Twyla Tharp, a dancer, has a great book called The Creative Habit. Look it up.

Is the Art of Marketing for Me?

If you are reading through these attributes and think, that sounds hard, it is.

The art of marketing is a commitment that takes significant amounts out of you, but if your passion for what you are marketing, who you are marketing, and why it is important is great enough, you will put up with any amount of labor to practice your art.

I still play violin, but I do not really practice. I also still sing, but I do not practice that either.

I do practice marketing

What art do you practice in your day? How do these attributes reflect on what you are passionate about you are doing? Please leave a comment!

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