In today’s digital world, being creative in any form can lead you down a rabbit hole of possibilities when it comes to trying to get your work in front of an audience. With artists like Austin Kleon telling us to ‘Show Your Work!’ and other successful creative types banging on about the importance of getting your stuff out there, regardless of whether or not it’s ‘perfect’ in your eyes it’s hard to know where to start? And how much do you need to show? And which tools do you use to do it? And what is it going to cost?
Just a simple search will give you a gazillion hits of people who want to ‘help’ you get your work in front of the right people…for a fee. It seems like everything you might want to try in order to get your work out there has also been commodified and monetised and turned into an online course, which gets you thinking that maybe you need to spend a bit more time in your room working on your thing before it’s good enough to pay someone else to put it out there. Result? Your work goes back in the drawer.
But, hear ye hear ye, it does not have to be this way. There are a lot of ‘free’ ways to show your work if you are willing to make the time for it. It just means you might have to learn a few new skills and add a couple of extra hats depending on how much time you are willing to spend on it. Having spent a fair bit of time around different creative types, I have observed that they tend to follow three distinct patterns: the Minimalist, the Delegator, and the Mad Hatter.
The Minimalist: if you are the type who hates marketing your work but also don’t want to pay someone else to do it for you, then this is your path. You only want to do the bare minimum. In your case, you need to find the platform where your audience lives. I know a number of writers who do all of their marketing on Twitter. They may occasionally add a ‘special offer’ campaign and do something special before the launch of a new book, but for the most part they use their preferred platform to connect with their audience directly and their audience reciprocates by, hopefully, buying all their new work (and some of the back catalogue too). Others add a blog into the mix and use both blog posts and one social media platform to promote their own and others’ work. Some might question whether or not a blog is still necessary, but given the millions of blogs that are still being created daily on platforms like WordPress and Blogger and Tumblr, they are still very much a valid tool. You just have to put in a little work to making sure people can find it 🙂
The Delegator: if you have some spare cash to put to marketing your work and getting it in front of people who might want to buy it, or at the very least share it with their own networks, then you might find this path interesting. You know which channels you want to use, but you don’t have the time to spend on crafting posts and tweets. You just want to get on with the work and have someone else do all the marketing. For you, it is important to make sure you know which channels will be best suited to your work and then find someone who can get the word out for you. Places like UpWork and Fiverr are your best bet for finding freelancers who offer competitive rates to do social media marketing for you and will even produce blog posts, design your brand, build a website, set up all the accounts, and maintain them. Heck, if you can sit down in front of a camera and give them some footage, they’ll even edit it and produce it in platform ready formats so that you can put your lovely face on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.
The Mad Hatter: this is the DIY type. The person who wants to do all the things all by themselves and they don’t mind that it’s going to take up all of their spare time. They love to learn new skills and consider every hour spent learning something new as a win. In addition to producing the work, they also do all of their own editing. They run a complete social media campaign. They film, edit and post videos to multiple platforms. They maintain a consistent weekly blog, and they stay in touch with their audience. However, it should also be noted that this is not the most sustainable model. It’s fine when you are starting out, but as the audience grows, these Mad Hatters often end up having to become Delegators to preserve some semblance of sanity. Hopefully, by this point, they’re also making enough money from their work to be able to pay others to take on some of the load. One thing you do not want to end up doing is working extra jobs in order to pay others to market your work.
So, which type are you?
Whichever path you choose, remember there is a ton of advice out there and hundreds of free tools to get you started. Drop a comment below if you’ve got a question or know of a great tool that others might benefit from.