by Camille Johnson
Trying to make a living as a creator feels like an impossible dream for many people. Getting your product out into the world is a challenge, especially by yourself; mid-pandemic figures show that self-employment in Canada is at its lowest point in fifteen years. Knowing how to find and interact with your audience is invaluable to turning your passion into a career.
Finding Your Audience
If you feel you have a marketable creative skill, your first step should be engaging in communities centered around your medium. Painters can share their portfolios with professionals or online communities to gauge interest among their audience. Sculptors and woodworkers can bring their creations to trade shows and markets. Writers who submit to publishers that accept unsolicited works can end up with their short stories featured on their websites or in their publications.
Be sure to challenge yourself creatively even once you've found your audience. Establishing variety in your portfolio and showing your demographic something new will bring repeat customers and fresh clients. It's important to never stop improving at your craft if you wish to keep people coming back for more.
As helpful as trade shows, public markets, and word of mouth can be at first, an established artist will want to grow their customer base. Establishing a social media presence is a great way to attract more eyes to your work while giving them a taste of your personal style. Using your platform to showcase not only your talents, but your values, can wrangle the ideal clientele for your creations.
Pivoting to Meet Demand
An early adjustment you'll need to make in this endeavor is the realization that your raw passionate output may not be entirely marketable. Consider current market trends when deciding what works to offer. You may need to sacrifice some freedom of expression for the sake of profitability.
Listen to your audience and make the necessary changes to retain them. When you're self-employed, your customers are the closest thing you have to a boss, and without their commissions, you have no livelihood. While this doesn't mean they're the final arbiter on what you're allowed to consider "good," their demand should still dictate your supply to an extent. As the saying goes: "The customer is always right."
Selling Your Creations and Yourself
Not everyone can rely on the clout and connections of a publisher or parent company. When your local audience is tapped and your social media presence seems to have found the extent of its reach, traditional advertising might be your next logical step. Be sure that your advertisements reflect the passion and personality you put into the creations. You're selling the concept of your personality as well as your product.
Taking early profits or some seed capital and setting it aside exclusively for marketing will increase your area of influence and hopefully your customer base. Advertising comes in a variety of forms and prices, so to keep spending on ads in check, a marketing budget calculator can help. This will help you assess which forms of marketing are worth the investment, and some will even suggest ad strategies you hadn't considered.
If profiting off your passion was easy, everyone would do it. Having confidence in your abilities and responding well to criticism will ensure you have the best chance and turning your creative outlet into a living.