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5 Steps for Effectively Telling Your Story

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5 Steps for Effectively Telling Your Story

You are the only ______ (fill in the blank: freelancer, artist, designer, singer...) in the world who does exactly what you do in your unique way.

So how do you let your potential clients know who you are and what you do in a way that feels powerful and genuine? How do you recount your professional history, products and services in a compelling way when your work isn’t there to visually speak for you?

HERE ARE FIVE TIPS FOR TELLING YOUR UNIQUE STORY:

1. CARVE OUT THE TIME TO GET IT RIGHT

You need to set aside time for yourself to craft your unique story. Take a look at your schedule and determine when you most like to write and feel self-reflective. Over morning coffee? At night after a day’s work? On the weekend?

Make it count! Schedule a few hours in your calendar and show up. This is a very important meeting you have with yourself.

2. REFLECT ON WHY YOU ARE AWESOME

It doesn’t matter if you hate writing, despise thinking about yourself, loathe self-promotion, and would rather crawl in a hole. Now is the time to pat yourself on the back a bit, reflect on all of the amazing things you have been doing and think about why you are so awesome.

Let’s get started. Answer the questions below honestly and with as many descriptive words as possible in a free-form style. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or coherent thoughts, just write and avoid jargon. Be yourself. No one is reading this except for you.

  • What do you do? What does your work look like? (If you make visual or physical products, get down into the nitty-gritty and describe one of your most successful projects or pieces in great detail. If you offer services, write out the exact steps you take on a project from beginning to end with an ideal client.)
  • How do you do it? (List the cold, hard facts about how you do what you do. Take nothing for granted. For the makers: how much time does it take, what kind of materials do you use, what does it look like in space? And if you offer services: how much time does it take, what is your approach and attitude, where do you do it? What are the results that people get from you?)
  • How did you arrive at this kind of work? (What is your applicable personal and professional history that has led you down this unique path? What inspired you to start doing this? Go back in time and think about the days before freelancing, or that amazing project that launched you.)
  • Who are you as a creative professional and how do you want to be defined? (As a creative, you might wear many hats, but only state the thing that you want to be known for by your ideal clients.)

OK, you’re done! Save your writing and get ready to move on with your day.

But first, schedule a time tomorrow to review this. It should only take about 30-45 minutes. Do it. Show up. Don’t wait until next week!

3. WHAT NICE THINGS HAVE OTHER PEOPLE SAID ABOUT YOU?

So you currently have a giant document full of information about your work that applies only to you. These notes provide the actual words that reflect your very own personal and professional history that drive your creativity and passion for what you create.

Next, you need to remember the nice and amazing things that clients have said about you and your work.

Write from memory, and if you have some great testimonials kicking around then copy them into this doc.

4. SHOW WHY YOU CARE

You’re more than just your work.

Your career path and personality make you unique, so just describing yourself as a “designer” won’t help you get new clients. Tell us exactly what you design, why, what it means to you, and how you got there. Give your clients something to care about and remember.

With that frame in mind, review your notes and take the first stab at writing your unique story as if you were telling the story to someone who loves what you do. Don’t bore them, engage them.

Set your timer for one hour.

First, clearly state what you do and the services you offer. Tell us why your services are unique and how and why you do them. Next, reflect on any interesting tidbits of your professional path or applicable personal details that make you stand out from others in your field. And finally, what are the amazing results that clients get from working with you?

Sleep on this first draft, take a day or two, and better yet, engage the help of a friend and schedule in your next meeting to whittle this beast down to a manageable statement that you can use on your website and other marketing materials. It will also translate beautifully to how you talk about what you do.

You’re close. We know you can see the light.

5. KEEP REFINING

The goal for the next sixty minutes is to finish editing your draft down into a manageable professional story that is engaging, genuine, and all you. The goal is to have one to two concise and powerful paragraphs that are malleable enough to share on your website, use in your marketing efforts and feel proud of.

Spoiler alert: this step really isn’t the last, since your unique story will be ever-evolving and changing as you do. Roll with it and come back to these questions often when you feel a shift in your work or when you know that you have something wonderful to add.

How do you tell your story? Let us know!

© 2018 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

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Overcoming fear.

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Overcoming fear.

Every once in a while, we all encounter a sense of fear in our practices.

Fear of what? Of taking the next step in your career, of trying something new in the studio, of talking to a stranger at an opening, of reaching out to your idol, of putting your work out into the world? And why are we fearful of that? Because of failure. It boils down to the fact that we're all afraid of failing. But what does that mean, exactly? For each of the examples mentioned above, the stakes are of course a bit different. Do any of your fears make you stop in your tracks and feel unable to move forward?

Luckily for all of us, failure is part of the process. And sometimes failure is the best thing that can happen, because it allows you to reassess your situation, your point of view, and your approach. It often leads to new ideas, new ways of working, and new relationships. It is why great things happen, which is why you have to at least try. Nothing happens without trying, and that's the stasis we want to avoid! 

Here are three things to think about when you feel fear creeping in and preventing you from taking a next step:

1) What exactly is it that is making your fearful? Get specific and identify what aspect of the task is preventing you from moving forward. 

2) Talk or write it out. Find someone to confide in, or write it out in your journal. Chances are, once you've listed your specific fears, they will no longer seem so scary or daunting. 

3) If you are feeling fear, switch over to feeling gratitude instead. For example, if you are at an opening and afraid to introduce yourself to someone, instead take a fresh look at the situation and feel grateful to be able to be in the position to make this connection/be part of this artist community/to have seen the great show this person has curated. Chances are, it will change your attitude and point of view, and you'll no longer be afraid to say hi.  

Let us know what fears are holding you back. We want to start a conversation and help you move forward! 

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3 Ways To Overcome Writer's Block

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3 Ways To Overcome Writer's Block

As a visual person, writing may not be your forte. But it's an exercise that can greatly help your practice once you get into the right mindset. Here are three ways to get the words flowing:

1. Lists, lists, lists.
Whether you're writing an artist statement or some product descriptions for your online shop, you don't want to sound generic. Start by making lists that visually describe what you are looking at. Answer the questions: What does my work look like? How do I make my work? What materials do I use? Be specific and bust out that thesaurus. Or better yet, dive into our online course: Crafting a Powerful Artist Statement: A Step-by-Step Course

2. Listen to others. 
Some of the most insightful cues about your work can come from friends, clients, strangers and colleagues. If you are showing your work, make sure to take notes (or have someone else do it for you) and write down key words from how people describe what it is you do. This will definitely give you a jumping-off point. 

Working on something new? Share images with trusted friends or colleagues and ask them to spend five minutes writing a list for you that describes what they see. You can always return the favor someday.

3. Create daily habits.
Writing needs to take place every day in order to make progress. As makers and artists you may not be a writer by trade or necessity, but keeping a daily journal will help you gather and collect the language you need to sit down and write about your work in a clear, engaging and powerful way. 

All of these brainstorming ideas can help you identify in writing why your work is unique and how you can stand out from others working in your field.

Good luck!

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Your new best friend: the editorial calendar

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Your new best friend: the editorial calendar

The editorial calendar is your vehicle for staying organized, maximizing your time and maintaining a clear communication plan.

As an artist you are a small business owner. You are responsible for making the work, the business side and the marketing side. We understand that it is really overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be.

Our philosophy: once you develop your unique story verbally and in writing, create beautiful documentation of your work, the rest of the marketing stuff falls into place with good design and a clear plan, and some minimal maintenance along the way.

I have heard content management/managers before. What is it? What do they do?

A content manager is you, or someone who will make sure that your work is updated on your website, documented and shared in a consistent, clear and compelling way online to achieve results.

What exactly is an editorial calendar?

It's simply an organized personal calendar that outlines your content for sharing online in different formats. This can be everything from establishing monthly content themes, determining what products/services you are sharing over the course of a year or month, updating your website or blog, sharing events, and planning all of the online content (social media, newsletters, press) that you will share to tell your ideal audience your unique story, so that they will know you, love you and buy what you do. The editorial calendar is your vehicle for staying organized, maximizing your time and maintaining a clear marketing plan.

The key is that you need to figure out the big goals first before you can get your editorial content active and working for you. Let's review the big stuff that you need to consider before you develop your editorial calendar:

1) Do I have a firm grasp on my unique story verbally and in writing? Can I write and speak clearly about what I do that feels natural and is memorable? This is fundamentally the most important part of telling the world about what you do. It's also one of the hardest things to do.

2) Am I aware of my ideal audience? Your audience should never be "everyone." It's important to define who they are. Once you narrow this down you will know who you are creating content for and it will be much easier to speak to them directly about what you do specifically. Your ideal audience might only be 50 people to start. That is ok.

3) What are my goals? Why am I sharing my work? Are you looking to get people to hire you, create awareness around your practice, or sell a specific product? Before you start dreaming up amazing content to share, you should be aware of what you want it to accomplish. Of course, you don't want to sound salesy or pushy, no real people do. But you won't achieve your goals without sharing your work in an effective, clear way. Operate under the premise that there is no one waiting to discover you in hiding.

No matter what your end goals are, we believe that online content management can develop two very important things around an artistic or creative practice:

  • It creates a community around your work. By engaging on social media, sending newsletters, writing guest articles, or simply sharing your work, you are creating conversations, building an audience and rallying support. People care!
  • It is the opportunity to create a personal online archive of your work, interests, passions and life as a professional. When you look back through a Twitter feed or Instagram account, for instance, you can see exactly what you have shared that builds a story about who you are and what influences your work. Your ideal audience will be very interested in this.

That is the big picture assessment of why it's extremely important to have a firm footing in your goals and unique story before launching into the development of your editorial calendar.

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Writing an artist statement doesn’t have to be so hard.

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Writing an artist statement doesn’t have to be so hard.

Without fail, most artists dislike writing about themselves and their work. Writing is difficult. So we figured out a way to teach artists how to craft an effective artist statement about their work over and over again.

It doesn’t have to be so hard. Actually, it can enlighten your practice, clarify what you’re working on and give you tons of confidence.

Crafting a Powerful Artist Statement: a step-by-step guide, is an online, self-paced course that you can start at any time. It will guide you through the questions to ask yourself so that your thoughts are genuine and specific to your work. We won’t put words in your mouth; we just give you the tools so that you can concentrate on making your work.

Here are some key things to remember about writing a statement:

  • Like it or not, you often need one for applications and exhibitions.
  • The goal of your artist statement is to give your viewers insight into who you are as an artist, your motivation and your process. In other words, it’s an amazing way to highlight how you are unique and what you’re thinking about.

  • It will remind you what is most important to you when making your work.

In addition to the class, you can also have your statement professionally edited by us before you put it out in the world, but you have to complete the class first.

We promise that if you see this course through completely, you will have a better understanding of what to write about and how to accomplish writing an artist statement.

Why wait?
Access Crafting a Powerful Artist Statement: a step-by-step guide here.

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Writing to win opportunities

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Writing to win opportunities

Writing about one’s art work falls into the nonurgent crucial category on our To Do List. Meaning, it’s an incredibly important but difficult task, so it’s often put off until the last minute. We advocate for adding writing to your daily or weekly practice so that it can illuminate your practice but not weigh you down.

How to write project proposals/statements for residencies and other opportunities is a difficult task – especially if you haven’t experienced the opportunity in person or it could be months or years away We’ve all been there. It’s a tough one, but we are going to run down some productive ways to think about this conundrum below.

First, make sure that the opportunity you are applying to is a good fit for your work and your practice. If you don’t fit the criteria, then applying will be a big waste of time.

Do you know anyone who has gotten this opportunity in the past? Ask them about it.

Next, get into the mindset of what the reviewers are looking for. Yes, you want this opportunity and everything it has to offer but what can you offer them? Every opportunity has it’s specific story and requirements so be sure to pay attention and tailor your application to it. They are looking for artists who will make the best of their opportunity and need it.

You’ll need an artist statement and beautifully documented work. A lot weighs on these documents, so don’t put off writing your statement to the last minute! Sometimes we want to apply to a residency, for instance, to further work-in-progress. Despite the work being in progress, you can still formulate a cohesive statement, knowing that it will most likely change someday.

Your project statement or proposal is different from your artist statement. For a project statement, the jurors want to know how you would make the most of the opportunity and what it has to offer. You should write about what you would work on and how you would spend your time. This is something only you know. Are you interested in taking advantage of their specific location, resources, or technology? Is there an educational or community component that would benefit your work? Is there a private, isolated experience you are needing to get some work done? Set some goals and let them know what you want to get done in the context of what you are applying for. A proposal is just that: an idea; a way to share your process, practice and why one specific opportunity is calling your name.

Good luck!

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Reading for artists & artist statements

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Reading for artists & artist statements

It’s no secret that reading helps you write—especially when you’re trying to write about your work. You might find words and phrases that lead to titles, or inspire you in how you are thinking about your visual work. Reading about other artists, philosophy, or subjects relevant to your subject matter will impact your work by giving it context and relevance While it might still be taking shape.

 

Here are a few of our favorite books that inspire us to start writing:

Bird by Bird: Some instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott  (here's an article about it in Brain Pickings.)

Speaking of Brain Pickings, there is this phenomenal list of books on writing by famous writers, with advice and insight into process, inspiration, and just sitting down to the task.

Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler (great book about the artist Robert Irwin, with wonderful descriptions of both the person and his work.)

Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit (a testimony to process, research, and taking time to observe what's around you.)

Speak, Memory by Vladamir Nabakov (an autobiographical memoir that is stunning for its visual descriptions.)

PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST IN THE COMMENTS! Share what you're reading and why.

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The Artist Statement Blueprint

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The Artist Statement Blueprint

Writing an artist statement is usually the last task on your list. It’s a necessary evil for your practice: you need one for all of your professional endeavors, but it seems like your work should speak for itself. We think your work is the most important part of all, too. So why are we advocating for the artist statement?

Because the act of writing about your work helps you not only achieve a well-written statement that serves practical purposes, it helps you clarify your goals, identify actual words that can help you communicate your practice, and these words will help you represent yourself and your work in the most professional, genuine way. In other words, writing helps you have your shit together. Writing will help you be articulate about your work, and you’ll have a much easier time speaking about what you do.

Artist statements need not be overly wordy or too academic. They simply need to give your reader some insight into who you are and why you make the work. It can serve as a powerful tool to allow someone to connect with your work on a deeper level.

The artist statement also should not: be longer than 2-3 paragraphs, tell someone how to feel, overly explain things, or use phrases like “I hope, My work aspires to, My goal is, or The Viewer will.” We'll show you how to distill your thoughts in the Artist Statement Blueprint.

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Inspiring and simple ways to incorporate writing in your practice

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Inspiring and simple ways to incorporate writing in your practice

We want to take a moment and recognize that writing may be very difficult for many of you. You turn to a visual, performative or sonic medium to articulate your ideas. Perhaps English isn't your primary language. Maybe you are creating a product that sells itself it's so beautiful. Or maybe you are really good at talking through issues and problems and when you sit down to write, it falls short from what is in your head. You could struggle with dyslexia. We have encountered all of these obstacles with our clients and we still hold firm: writing is essential to your practice. But we are going to find the BEST way to fit it into your practice.

What kind of writing exercises can work for you?

  • Dictate and transcribe later. For those of you who struggle to sit down and actually write, try recording your voice and transcribing your thoughts later. This has worked really well for dyslexic artists and those who simply struggle with writing. It's a very freeing exercise.
  • Journal on paper or online, and always have it with you. Keep a sacred place where you can jot down thoughts as they arise and always have it with you. If not handwritten, then on your phone. Keep lists, dream up titles, write down goals, questions you have about your work, etc.

  • Read and take notes. Sometimes we can feel tongue-tied and stuck when trying to conjure words that support our work. Try reading anything – fiction, non-fiction, essays about people you admire – that can inspire you and find language there that speaks to you that you can translate into your own thoughts.

  • Write upon waking. Can you spare ten minutes in the morning to clear your head for the day and write your goals? Is this a time where you feel content and inspired? Use it to your advantage and write upon waking.

  • 30-second habit. As soon as you finish a conversation, stop listening to music, podcast, or lecture, write down your thoughts and reaction within the first thirty seconds before distraction sets in.

  • Daily habits and a recap. Setting aside time to write can be tedious, but we suggest it happens daily, even if it’s a few notes. Writers don’t always want to write, often time they do not, but it’s about getting into a habit, even if it’s painful at first. Maybe you are spending five minutes at the end of each day thinking and prepping for tomorrow’s goals—write them down, cross them off, repeat. It’s very satisfying.

If you've worked with us in the past or have read through our blog posts, we tend to tactfully nag all of our people a lot on this subject: writing is the most crucial start to opening up doors of opportunity.  Remember, no one is reading these exercises, they are solely for you. It is a way to create an archive of words, thoughts and concepts that will not flee from your brain. Don't hold back and start in on a new habit today. One of our clients recently wrote us: " Thank you so much for the structure you have given me to gracefully work through a wonderful creative life." And a lot of this structure is based in writing. Get in touch to see if we can help!

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Why writing is crucial for your practice, even for visual people

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Why writing is crucial for your practice, even for visual people

We often refer to your “unique story" as an artist or creative entrepreneur and you may be thinking, I know I am unique but it's really hard for me to articulate why.

Your unique story is a description of who you are, what you do, and why you do it, with a sprinkling of how you got there. This story gives you a framework to share your work and put yourself out there. It’s a tool to help you get the opportunities you want, and it translates into the written, verbal and visual presentation of you and your work.

The most important part of effectively figuring out your story is to find ways to incorporate writing into your practice and your daily life. Hands-down, writing is the answer most of our clients give when we ask them what they struggle with the most. Yet writing is the most effective tool in articulating your unique story so that you can eventually talk about it with ease. Even our clients who are writers, not just visual artists, have trouble writing about themselves, because it can be hard to see yourself from an outside perspective. It happens to us all.

The act of writing consistently helps with:

  • Working out problems: jotting notes down about your work gives language to ideas that could be abstract at the moment.

  • Being prepared for opportunities: having the right written tools on hand will help prepare you for an artist talk, applying to opportunities, and more.

  • Getting the things you want: words on paper make it easier to actually talk about what you do, being able to write effective emails and notes to strangers and colleagues is also an important skill. Being clear, thoughtful and articulate starts with putting words down on paper, and it can help you open doors of opportunity.

What can you do to add writing into your schedule to help work out ideas?

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10 Subjects to Cover in Your Next Newsletter

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10 Subjects to Cover in Your Next Newsletter

Sending out a newsletter is a great way to inform and connect with your audience. Don't let them forget about you!  People often ask us what they should include in their newsletter and how often they should sent it. Answers below.

First, send your newsletter consistently. If you're super busy with your creative practice, send a newsletter once a month to let people know about your events ahead of time. If you're super busy with your life and can't be bothered to send a newsletter every month, that is ok. But be sure to one out every few months with ample time before important events you want people to attend and when there is something exciting to share. Trust us, you have wonderful news to share all the time, it's all about how you package it.

Here is a list of ten topics you can cover:

1. Your recent work. Share images of your work, or perhaps you've updated your website recently? Share it!

2. Upcoming events. Plan ahead and invite people! If they're interested they will save the date and join you. Don't forget to remind people. We're all busy.

3. Views inside your workplace or studio. Is your workspace unique and amazing? A peek behind the scenes with gorgeous imagery can add wonderful insight into how you work.

4. A great project from your archive. Is any of your past work relevant to current events or a current project happening in your life? Re-share it with your audience.

5. Work from friends. Share projects from your friends and colleagues, and vice versa. It's a great way to reach a new audience and support your community.

6. A call to action. Do you need your community to sign a petition, watch a specific video or do you want to share information about something relevant to your work? This is a great platform for it.

7. Links to sell your stuff. Do you have an online shop or an upcoming sale of any sort? Spread the word!

8. Posts from your blog. Visual or written, a blog can be a really interesting introduction to your work. If there are any posts that are particularly strong or relevant, be sure to share them.

9. Your work on view. Has your work been shown somewhere recently or shared online? Give your audience a link and offer a description.

10. Highlights from social media. Do you have some great images from Instagram, Pinterest boards or other highlights from social media that are relevant to your work? Let people know that you are active and alive online, they might want to follow you there, too!

Good luck! Remember that services like Mailchimp and MadMimi are wonderful resources to send out professional newsletters and please make sure your images are strong and you link to your website and other relevant sources. 

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