I'll admit it, business is SLOW.
I'm trying not to be too anxious about it, and I still try to keep it cheerful on social media, but I'm worried too, just so you know. :)
This pandemic has hit all businesses, big and small, and we're all trying to adapt to it the best we can. It's nothing to be ashamed of, so please know that business being slow right now is not a reflection of your worth as an artist.
If you're in the same boat as me, I thought I would put together a list of 5 things you could do in the meantime that will contribute to your business in the long-run!
1. Update your Website
A lot of people ask me how I get gigs with "big" brands like Franck Muller or Keds. The things is - and this is the honest truth - I don't reach out to any of them, they find me on Google! And having a clear, informative website on Google goes a long way.
I'm not saying your website needs to be fancy or expertly designed. Even a minimalist website would work fine, as long as you offer great information! The information I find most important to share (besides your artwork, of course, that's a given) is:
A) Who you are
A photo and an 'About me' page is crucial in my opinion - it allows your client to get to know you and see if you'll be a good fit for their campaign.
I know some people might be shy, and say that your work should speak for itself, but sharing a photo of yourself allows people to put a face to your business. Think about it, isn't it easier to approach someone when you can visualize their face, versus a faceless email address? Would you be more inclined to attend a workshop when you've already seen the instructor's smiling face on his/her website?
B) Services you can offer
Whether you prefer teaching workshops or if you're open to brand activations (e.g. live demonstrations in stores), having a brief list of services accompanied with lots of photos allows clients to have a good idea of what they can ask from you.
If you haven't had photos from past events, you could do your own little mock set-up (e.g. of you working behind a table demonstrating flower techniques, or you interacting with students/ clients), visuals are so important in this day and age, never underestimate good visuals.
C) Contact Page
Make sure you're easily contactable! I can't tell you how many clients have told me that some businesses they've tried to reach out to just won't get back to them, and that never leaves a good impression. I have a contact form on my website that goes straight to my email, otherwise sharing your business email will do (I check mine every day, except for some weekends).
Some businesses offer up their personal phone numbers, or encourage FB/ Instagram messaging, and I have nothing against that, but I prefer emails all the way. It keeps everything organized, and it's easier to keep track of discussions, or sending documents like invoices or purchase orders. I also do feel it makes everything more professional, and establishes yourself as a formal business.
And remember, keep your website updated! It doesn't have to be updated every week, but don't leave it unchanged for years... people want to know that you're still alive and kicking!!
2. Work on your Portfolio
I know that these days, Instagram is the default portfolio for most brands. Yet, for professional gigs, I find that having dedicated online Portfolios or "Decks" in PDF formats with more detailed information can come in handy. These are for potential customers, who after visiting my website/ instagram, inquire for more specifics, and so I'll email them these files via a Dropbox link.
I organize the files so that there's one document catered for Corporate Clients (e.g. if they want to engage me for a workshop, or a live demo) and one document targeted for Private Orders. I include a more detailed breakdown of prices as well as more visual samples of what I can offer.
(P.S. You might wonder why I don't just post all these info up on my website. I like to keep my site "clean", so no price tables or wordy paragraphs. The details only come in when I've established an email relationship with the client, that way I can explain things like my pricing system in depth).
Having these online decks ensures I keep all the info I disseminate consistent, and using Dropbox (vs emailing the files) ensures I don't take up too much memory space in the recipient's email server.
Here are some sample pages from my online decks (lots of smiling faces never hurt!):
3. Amp up your Social Media
Whether it's Facebook or Instagram, we can't deny how powerful social media is in giving your work exposure, and more eyes means more potential customers! That's why I devote a chunk of time to it. I post on Instagram at least every 2 days, and having a consistent flow of content helps me to grow organically, even if its bit by bit.
Some people might believe there must be a one-click solution to growing followers, but in my experience, it takes time and effort and consistency. That's right, if you're Instagram, you'll naturally reward accounts who keep people on the app for a longer time! It could be posting a photo or story every 3 or 4 days, just don't disappear for a whole month and expect your following to grow. Being consistent is a way of telling Instagram, "Hey, I love your app, please love me back!"
In that same train of thought, making videos also boost your position on Instagram, because people spend more time on YOUR account watching your video. You don't have to post long IGTVs and give away all your secrets, it could be a simple video demonstrating one technique, or a glimpse inside your studio, or a self-introduction, anything to connect with your audience!
Videos (including InstaStories) add DIMENSION to your brand, and we all love artists that we can relate to and learn from and be inspired by, don't we!
(I also post my videos from IGTV on Youtube. You can see I don't have too many views, which is okay, because its just an alternative way for me to connect to people! Not everyone has an Instagram account, and Youtube is one more platform for people to find me on! Youtube is a search engine too after all)
4. Take on new Artistic Challenges
Remember that pin you saved on Pinterest that you've wanted to try but never got the chance to? Here's your time! Having free time is such a luxury, its a great opportunity to take on challenges and expand your skills or portfolio. That might bring about failures too, but hey, since you're not on a tight schedule, you'll have plenty of time to try again!
(Moths and Bees were something I only worked on when I was in between projects, they turned out to be one of my proudest creations! They weren't for any commission, but they sure did help boost my exposure on social media!)
It doesn't even have to be directly related to your main craft. I dabbled in Macrame for a while and it was bliss - having another creative outlet and a break from flowers left me refreshed and re-energized. Your creativity shouldn't be restricted by only one art form.
5. Start a Blog
Lastly, if you're fond of writing, a blog is a great way to keep a record of things, share personal thoughts (therefore making yourself more relatable to your audience), or just sort through your emotions through these crazy times.
When the pandemic just started, I was down in the dumps, and my friend encouraged journalling, which really helped me find relief. Even this post made me feel better - being able to share about my own anxieties was kind of therapeutic. Recording these 5 tips is also a comforting reminder to MYSELF that I can be productive and contribute to building my business even if the orders aren't coming in.
So I hope these 5 things will be helpful for you! It turned out longer than I expected haha but I do hope at least it brings you comfort that you're not alone... Hang in there, and keep blooming!