Tag Archives | content marketing

How to Use Holidays to Promote Your Creative Business

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If you’re like a good many creatives, the bulk of your art sales comes at the end of the year, during that magical and often profitable holiday shopping season. Then at the beginning of the year sales dwindle down into your usual pace. In some cases, that may just be a mere trickle that barely keeps your business alive. Or your sales may be mostly fine throughout the year, but there’s always a seasonal slow patch where sales just won’t budge no matter what you do.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just even things out for a change?

One way to even out your sales throughout the rest of the year is to take advantage of the other events and holidays that happen throughout the year. Holidays and events that can help you promote your creative business and keep you in front of past and future customers. Here’s how you can harness the power of holidays and events in your promotions.

Think Beyond Christmas and Hanukkah

Start by thinking past the year end holiday shopping season. What other traditional holidays could you use to promote your work? Valentine’s Day? Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Grandparents Day? How can you adapt what you do to fit one of these days? If you make pet accessories, could you make themed items for Valentine’s Day? If you make jewelry, how can you adapt your line for Father’s Day? Look for ways to add or adapt your product lines to capture interest during these holidays.

How about non gift-giving holidays and events? Are there ways to tie your work to holidays that aren’t traditionally about gift giving like St. Patrick’s Day, Tax Day, or 4th of July? How about cultural holidays like Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, or Cinco de Mayo? Or national observances like National Pet Week, National Nurses Day, and Employee Appreciation Day? Consider seasonal events for promotions like “Back to School”, graduation, or the 1st Day of Summer or Spring.

There’s a distinct advantage to creating a promotion around a holiday like National Library Worker’s Day. For one thing, it’s less crowded and noisy. Pretty much everyone is promoting their work around Christmas. There’s fewer people promoting their work during National Tartan Day. Plus you can use unusual holidays to make your promotions more creative and make them fun.

You can pick observances and holidays that closely fit the personality of your business and the interests of your customers. You got a lot of sci-fi fans as customers? How about creating a promotion on Star Wars Day (May 4th) or on Isaac Asimov’s birthday (January 2nd)? If you need some more ideas on some of the more obscure or unusual holidays, there are several websites you can visit. You can literally find a different holiday or observance every day of the year if you wanted.

Don’t forget to consider dates that are important to your business, like your business anniversary, the date of a significant event in your business, or even your own birthday. Celebrating days like these with your customers can make you and your business seem more real. Heck, you can even create your own holiday if you want. Create it, hash tag it, and promote it. Why not? And FYI there is a “Make Up Your Own Holiday” Day (March 26th).

Pick your events

Now that you’re thinking about other holidays, take some time to brainstorm. Think of all the events, observances and holidays that would be a good match for your creative business. Do simply think of promotions. Holidays and observances can also make for great blog and social media content, both of which can also bring more attention to your work. Sometimes publishing a well written blog post that ties your work with a special holiday is really all you need to do instead of a huge sale.

Once you have a list of potential ideas, refine it. Take out a calendar and go through your list. Decide which ones really match your goals, your work and are a good fit for your customers. Take a look at your past sales history. Is there a slow period that your business encounters on a regular basis that could be boosted with a good promotion? Do you have busy periods where you should avoid scheduling a promotion?

Don’t overload your promotional calendar with too many sales and special offers. Remember that you will need preparation time for each promotion, plus you want to take care that you don’t burn out your customer good will with offering a promotion every other week. Look at what you already have on your calendar and make sure that you have the time and budget to carry out your plan. Decide on a maximum number of promotions you’re going to do during the year. You may not need more than one promotion per quarter. Or you may decide to schedule a promotion a month. It all depends on your customers and your goals.

Plan your promotions

Now that you have a good idea of which holidays and observances you want to target, you need to create a plan for your each of your promotions.

Every holiday promotion starts with a good offer. Why is your promotion special and why should your current and potential customers care?While a promotion can be as simple as a offering a time-limited discount code, take the opportunity to be creative. Try not to get into the rut of simply offering a discount. Here’s a few ideas to consider:

  • Introduce a limited edition item
  • Introduce a time limited service (personalization, customization, etc)
  • Hold a flash sale on specific items
  • Sponsor a charity drive
  • Hold a giveaway or contest
  • Co-sponsor a giveaway or contest with another artist
  • Donating a portion of sales to a related charity
  • Offer holiday themed items for a limited time
  • Offer holiday bundles or gift baskets for a limited time
  • Offer special or personalized packaging
  • Offer a special gift with purchase
  • Create a gift guide

Once you come up with your promotion offer, you need to think about how you’re going to get the word out about it. Are you using social media? Writing blog posts? Sending an email to your list? Advertising? Postcards? Sponsorships? Write down all of your ideas on how you’re going to advertise your offer.

Some of your promotions may require you to spend a bit of money, especially if you’re going to be doing some advertising or have to order special materials. Create a promotion budget by listing what you may need to spend money on and how much. Writing a budget during the beginning of planning process will help you keep costs down and keep your promotion from costing more than you earn from it.

Now you’ve decided on what your promotion is, how you’re going to get the word out, and what your budget is, schedule your promotion on your calendar and write out your task list. Remember that some promotions are going to require more lead time than others, especially if you’re doing a group promotion or you’re trying to get sponsorships or advertising, so schedule your time and tasks accordingly.

Holiday_Promotion_Planner_CoverOne tool that I use to help me with my promotion planning is my Holiday Promotion Planner. The planner includes a list of common and uncommon holidays that you can build your marketing and promotion strategy around and a handy worksheet that you can use to build your holiday marketing plans. Subscribers can find it for free in the Creative Business Toolbox. If you’re not a subscriber to the Crafted Webmaster you can sign up for free here.

Holidays and observations beyond the traditional shopping season can be a great inspiration for your next promotion. The key is finding the right holidays and planning. If you would like, please share your holiday promotion stories. What worked for you? What didn’t work? And what plans to you have for the rest of the year? Please share your insights in the comments below.

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10 Things to Email Your Subscribers When You Don’t Know What to Write

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It’s probably already been drilled into your head at some point that building an email list for your creative business is extremely important. What some creatives forget that it’s even more important to nurture that list by sending emails and building engagement with the people on your list. You don’t want your subscribers to simply glance at your email in their inbox and toss it in the trash. You also want them to take some kind of action when they see your message. In order to accomplish that, it’s key to have content in your emails that pique the interest of your subscribers.

But what kind of content? Sending an email is usually one of the first things that crosses your mind when you want to announce your latest sale or offer a discount or promote new items on your Etsy store. And that’s fine in limited doses. If that’s all you’re sending out, it gets old rather quickly. You only have to open your own email inbox to see how tiresome constant sales messages disguised as email can get.

So what, then, will pique the interest of your subscribers? If you’re stumped for interesting, non-sales email content or you just want to mix things up from your usual offerings, here are a few ideas:

1. Your latest blog post– Do you blog? Then you have ready access to content to that your subscribers would most likely be interested in. There’s no guarantee that your subscribers keep up with your blog, and in some cases they may not even know you have one. So basing some emails around your blog content can be a good way to send more traffic to your blog and it can make for an great email.

Go through your most recent or your most popular posts to see which ones would make good candidates for your email. You can either send excerpts to individual blogs or you can create a list of posts based around a common theme. Or you can use an existing blog post as a springboard into a related article exclusively for your email subscribers.

2. Works in progress– People join your list because they’re interested in what you do. Think about sending an email with photos and a brief story about what you’re working on right now. You’re not necessarily trying to sell your work in this type of email. Rather you’re inviting them into your studio and giving them a peek at what may be coming before the rest of the public gets to see it.

3. A useful link, article, video, podcast, or other resource you’ve found– Sharing content from other sources, like that interesting podcast you just listened to, an entertaining article you just read, or a link to a useful resource can help make your emails a source that your subscribers want to open and read. Artist and author Austin Kleon does a great job of this.

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4. A recent success– Have you just won an award? Were you just featured in a magazine or invited to speak at an event? Or teach a course? Share these events with your subscribers. Tell the story of how this particular piece of good fortune came to you and how they can share it with you.

5. A recent failure– Setbacks and failures are part of what makes you a real person to your subscribers. You don’t have to share financial setbacks or issues of a sensitive nature. But relaying some stories of creative difficulties or problem solving can help you pull back the curtain on the realities of being an artist, which is something that many people find fascinating.

6. About an upcoming show or event– Sending an announcement about upcoming events like open studios, exhibitions, or an art fair you’re participating in is a great way to keep your subscribers in the loop and to keep your work in their minds. Incidentally, you can also include news about other related art events of interest your community as well. Not all announcements have to be related directly to something to your participating in.

7. A survey– Take the opportunity to learn more about your subscribers by sending a short survey. You can use the answers to help you create a detailed profile of your subscribers. The Creative Business Toolbox has a video on how to create a customer profile and a handy worksheet of questions to include on your survey.

8. A fun quiz– Quizzes and polls can be a fun way to engage your subscribers and perhaps learn a bit more about them as well. If you’ve never created a quiz before, here are some tips to help you get started.

9. An invitation to follow you on social media– Send an email to invite your subscribers to follow you on social media. List the channels you’re currently active on, tell your subscribers what kind of content you share on those channels and ask them to follow you. It’s also useful to link following you to some kind of incentive. For example, you can also ask them to share which channels they’re on so you can follow them back in return. Marmalead is using their photo contest as a way to encourage social media follows. Their email announcement clearly highlights all of their social media outlets to make it easy for subscribers to take action.

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10. An answer to a frequently asked question– Is there a question (or questions) about your work that seems to be a frequent topic of interest among your customers? An email, or a series of emails addressing the most frequently asked questions about your work is excellent content for both new subscribers and the subscribers that’s been with you for a while. You can also invite your subscribers to submit questions for future emails.

Hopefully these ideas will help you kick start some more creative emails. Your email subscribers will appreciate it, plus it’s a lot more fun to send useful content instead of constant sales messages.

30_Minute_Email_CoverIf you want more ideas on what to send your email subscribers, plus a template you can use for your emails, sign up for the Creative Business Toolbox. There you will find a library of free resources that you can use for your creative business, including the 30-Minute Email Template, where you will find over 20 more ideas for your emails, and a handy template you can use to prepare and send your email in 30 minutes.
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Using Quizzes to Market Your Creative Business

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If you’ve been on Facebook for any amount of time it would seem that in addition to vacation photos, memes, and cute animal videos, there’s also an awful lot of quizzes as well. Like “Which Disney Princess Are You?” or “What’s Your Oscar Movie IQ?“. Why? Because quizzes are fun…and they’re a quick form of entertainment for a lot of Facebook users.

What’s so great about quizzes?

There’s also another reason why quizzes and polls are so popular…because a lot of businesses, both big and small, find them extremely useful for a number of reasons:

1. They’re a sneaky way to learn more about their customers– Companies and businesses use quizzes to get more information about their customers…their likes, dislikes, preferences. Companies can also get a lot of demographic information and information about their online behavior through quizzes as well. Those Facebook quizzes? in many cases Facebook shares your information to other companies through those quizzes. That’s a lot of data to gather simply by posting a quiz.

2. They’re a way to bring more visitors to their websites– Quizzes can be a great traffic builder for websites. Quizzes are one way that Buzzfeed attracts more visitors to their website. It’s a lot more fun to take a quiz than to respond an ad and in many cases, a lot more effective as well.

3.They’re a way to build their email list– If you’re looking to add more people to your email list, a quiz can be a non-threatening way to do so. Story Bistro, a company that teaches businesses how use storytelling in their marketing, created a quiz to figure out a company’s “Story Type”. After answering a series of questions, the quiz will then email the quiz results and recommendations to the quiz takers address. The quiz taker gets some interesting information and Story Bistro gets a new subscriber to their list.

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4. They’re a non threatening way to introduce customers to their products– Collectables seller, Sideside Collectables used a “Which Star Wars Bounty Hunter Are You?” quiz as a way to introduce potential customers to their Star Wars products.

5. They’re a fun way to connect with their audience– Quizzes are a great way to connect and interact with your audience. Knowledge quizzes…the type that test your knowledge on a certain topic, seem to do well for encouraging interaction and for reinforcing a feeling of belonging within a community. Classic FM’s quiz, “How Well Can You Read Music?” is a good example.

Any of those are a good reason for adding quizzes to your marketing and content toolbox. A couple months ago I experimented with quizzes by creating one called “What’s Your Art Marketing Style?” for my 12 Days of Goodies giveaway. The purpose of this quiz is to predict what kind of marketing tactics would best suit your business and personality. Feel free to give it a try below.

Creating the quiz was a lot of fun and it helped me learn a bit more about the folks that read my blog. It’s something that I’m certainly planning to use more in the future. If you’re thinking about experimenting with quizzes, here’s are some tips to help you get started:

What’s your goal?

One way to have a big mess on your hands is to start building it before you have any idea of why you’re doing so. The thing that makes quizzes fun for quiz takers is that they get to learn a little something about themselves, whether it’s they’re most like Jasmine from Aladdin or that they know the capitals of all fifty states. The thing that make quizzes useful for you is by building it with a concrete benefit in mind…whether it’s more visitors to your website, more subscribers for your mailing list, or some excitement for your community.

So before you start looking for quiz service providers (I’ll include links to some at the end of the post), take a moment to decide what you want to get out of the quiz.

What kind of topics would most appeal to my customers?

If you want to create a quiz that your customers or website visitors will love, you need to know what will interest them. What kind of topics interest your audience? What kind of information are they dying to learn more about? What are their concerns? What issues are timely for them? Are there seasonal topics you can tap into? Are there newsworthy events that you can use in a quiz? How about evergreen topics that a popular year-round and year after year? Are there questions that your customers are always asking you? Can you take that question and turn it into an informative quiz? What issues seem to be a hot button topic?

I choose marketing for the quiz I did for my giveaway because I knew that it was a common concern and topic for readers of my blog. If you’re a jeweler a topic of interest for your customers might be how to match your jewelry with their wardrobe. If you sell handmade soaps or personal care products, an evergreen topic might be what products are good for dry skin. Check emails from your audience for questions or comments that you can use for a quiz. If you have a blog, comb through past blog posts and comments for quiz ideas.

Quizzes can be a fun way to market your creative business Click To Tweet

Brainstorm some quiz ideas

After you’ve decided on some goals and created a list of topic ideas it’s time to start brainstorming quiz ideas. What idea would be the most appealing to your audience? What kind of quiz would most likely help you achieve your goal? If traffic to your website is a goal, then your quiz should be something that your customers would be eager to pass along. If the goal of your quiz is to learn more about current and future customers, then the quiz should encourage them to share information about themselves.

Want to use your quiz to help build your list? What kind of information or result would your quiz takers exchange their email address for? A personalized report? Personalized tips? A special offer? Are you using quiz to introduce your work to potential customers, what hot topics will help you do that?

Think about the format of your quiz

Give some thought about the format of your quiz. How many questions will it be? Will it be true or false? Multiple choice? Choose all that apply? A mixture of question types? Will it be a graded quiz with right and wrong answers? Will it be a personality type quiz where the outcome depends on how the quiz taker answers?

Remember that quizzes are supposed to be fun. They stop being fun when there’s too many questions (the average Buzzfeed quiz is about 10 questions), when the questions are too long, or when there are too many answers to choose from. They also stop being fun when the questions and answers are too complex, so try to keep it simple. And don’t be afraid to inject some personality with the wording and type of questions and the copy you use in your quiz.

Some quiz management systems allow you to do some pretty cool things with quizzes like adding images and video which can make the quiz a lot more appealing which encourages more completions and shares. The more exciting and appealing the quiz is, the more likely the quiz taker will complete and share it. So have a thought about what kind of media you may need to pull together for your quiz.

Remember that you do have to follow copyright law when using images and/or video in your quiz, so don’t grab images from Google and call it good. Create your own images or use royalty-free images from places like Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay.

That said, you may want to keep the extra bells and whistles to a minimum for your first quiz. Get the hang of things before you get fancy.

Where are you going to distribute your quiz?

Most quiz creator services give you the ability to share your quiz on your website, blog, or on social media. Sharing your quiz on social media is a good choice if your goal is to get traffic to your website, if you’re looking to build your email list, or want attract potential new customers. If your community is on social media places like your Facebook page would be a good place to share your quiz. If your goal is to talk to existing customers or your current audience, consider mainly sharing your quiz on your website.

Answers first

When you’re building your quiz, start with your outcomes before you write your questions. If your quiz is a graded knowledge-type quiz, decide on the grading scale before you outline the questions and answers. The outcomes will dictate which questions you’ll ask and how you calculate the answers for your outcome.

Most quiz creation software will allow you to “weight” answers, so that one answer can count more towards a certain outcome than others. You can also choose to assign a neutral weight to certain answers if you don’t want the answer to influence the outcome of the quiz.

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Test it out

Once you build your quiz test it before you launch it. Check for typos, how your questions and answers are worded, and how the quiz flows in general. You also want to make sure that the outcomes correctly corresponds with the answers. Send the quiz to family, friends, or a small group of customers and get feedback from them.

A few resources

When I created my first quiz I tested out several services:

  • ProProfs QuizMaker
    This service allows you to create both personality and scored quizzes. They have a free version and several paid plans ranging from $9 to $199 per month. The free version is quite bare bones, it doesn’t even provide reports of your quiz results. These are only available in the paid plans.
  • Online Quiz Creator
    Has both a free plan and paid plans ranging from $20 to $99 per month. The free plan limits your quiz to 15 questions per quiz and up to 100 quiz plays per month. It allows you to use multiple choice, free text, and fill in the blank answers. The cool thing about this service is each quiz includes a leaderboard so that quiz takers can track the rankings of everyone participating in the quiz, which is a great feature if your using your quiz as a community builder.
  • Sit the Test
    This service focuses on the graded type quiz, so can create graded “tests” for your audience. This service is currently in beta, so you can create graded tests for free.
  • Qzzr
    I ended up using Qzzr’s free plan to create “What’s Your Art Marketing Style?”. Qzzr’s free plan allows you to create an unlimited amount of quizzes and allows an unlimited amount of quiz plays. Qzzr will also allow you to include images, embed Youtube and Vimeo videos, Vines, and clips from Soundcloud into your quiz. You’re allowed to view the results of your quiz but you can’t export them. All free quizzes will have the Qzzr branding in the quiz. There is also Pro plan for $299 per year (comes to about $25 per month) that allows you to export your quiz results, gather the email addresses of quiz takers, and present special offers at the end of the quiz.

Conclusion

So now that you know a little bit about quizzes…why do you try one for your website or social media? If you’ve experimented with quizzes or you’ve recently built one, share it in the comments below!

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Content Marketing Tools for Creative Entrepreneurs

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Have you gotten your 12 Days of Goodies yet? Don’t know that is? Here’s a quick summary. It’s my holiday giveaway where you’ll get, for free, a template, video, worksheet, or guide for your creative business, straight to your inbox every single day for 12 days.

Okay, so what kind of templates and worksheets am I talking about? How will they help you in your business? As creatives we wear more than just the “artist” hat. We’re also a business manager, marketer, accountant, and content developer. If you write a blog, send email out to your customers, or participate on social media, “content marketer” is a hat that’s always on your head.

Lucky for you, there’s a number of goodies in the 12 Days giveaway that will help you create a steady flow of great content so you can market and stay in touch with your customers. Here are few examples:

30-Minute Email Template

30_Minute_Email_CoverIf there’s any time of year that emphasizes how important it is to have a thriving active email list, it’s the holidays…because that can help make or break your sales. And part of making sure your email list is healthy is to, you know, actually send useful, engaging emails on the regular. So why is it hard to do? Usually it’s one of two things…or both; 1) you feel like you don’t have time to send an email; 2) you don’t know what to send.

Well, you’ll get the solution to both of those problems with the 30-Minute Email Template. This handy guide and template will not only help you decide what kind of email to write to your subscribers (there’s a list of 31 ideas in there), but it will also walk you through a simple template starting with what to write starting with a great subject line all the way down to a great closing. All within 30 minutes! Cool huh?

Blog Idea Template

Blog_Idea_TemplateIf you’ve been blogging for any amount of time…you’ll eventually realize something. Blogging is hard. Coming up with creative ideas every week…every month for the long haul can be a difficult task. And no matter how much you love your blog or the topic you’re blogging about…there will be times where you’re at a loss as to what to write about. Or you’ll start writing about the same thing as everyone else. What to do?

Here’s what to do. Pull out the Blog Idea Template you’ll get as part of your 12 Days of Goodies. This template will walk you through some exercises that will help you find some blog post ideas based on your influences, your likes, your dislikes…what you’re passionate about. Whenever you’re stuck, you’ll be able to brainstorm engaging blog posts that sounds uniquely like you.

Instagram Content Prompts

December_Instagram_Prompts_CoverWe all know that Instagram is awesome. Instagram is a great place to show off your work and to give customers a peek into your creative brand. But it can be a bit of a struggle to constantly come up with beautiful and creative photos that gathers tons likes and comments. If you find yourself scrolling through Instagram and envying the folks that always seem to come up with something beautiful and clever and has about a bajillion likes and comments, then Instagram Content Prompts are just the thing for you.

It’s a set of ideas, themes, and photo prompts for every day from December through February. For example, the prompt for December 10th is “Decorated: Share your favorite holiday decorations”

Or how about December 19th? It’s “Ugly sweater day: Share your ugliest sweaters”

Or January 22nd? That day’s prompt is “Nice save: Share a project that went really wrong that you managed to save”

And you get one of these for every day between December and February. You won’t have to be at a loss for what to post.

Don’t forget the weekly drawing!

In addition the 30-Minute email template, Instagram content prompts, Blog Idea Template and the 9 other nifty worksheets and tools you’ll be getting, you’ll also entered into weekly drawing for one of these awesome business books every week until December 30th.

We’ve already had two winners!

The first winner was Kelly K who won Austin Kleon’s “The Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs“. Here’s a little bit about Kelly. She runs Our Secret Treehouse, where science and whimsy collide! Based on original, hand-drawn cartoons we create buttons, magnets, notebooks & more using as many eco-friendly components as possible. From bunnies and brontosaurus to robots and rexes, Our Secret Treehouse is your source for scientifically accurate art, wearables, and miscellanea of the cartoon sort! Check out her website at http://www.oursecrettreehouse.com

The second winner was Donese M. who was the lucky winner of Lisa Jacobs’ “Your Best Year 2016: Productivity Workbook and Creative Business Planner“.

FYI: This week’s drawing will be for Lisa Condon’s Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist.

What’s the catch?

No catch…no cost…none…zero…zippo…seriously. Just sign up below to get your 12 goodies and your entry into our weekly drawing from now until December 30th. Simple as that.

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