I have to rant a bit here.
You know what all those gurus don’t mention when telling people how to market themselves as artists, photographers, writers, programmers, etc.? That no matter how wonderful you are at creating/doing, you have to create or do something that the other person wants before money will flow your way. That’s why the guys and gals who pick up trash or clean houses don’t get told to spend 40+ hours a week on InstaGram — the desire/demand for what they do is already there, and the maker/creator/workerbee doesn’t have to try to create a demand out of nothing.
Most of those “here’s how to market” articles, videos, courses, Facebook groups, and so on, have two premises: first, that you need to *manufacture* desire and demand by “branding” yourself (a pretty name for spending money on things that don’t have an obvious ROI) and then naming your version of the product/service (which is exactly the same as everyone else in your market’s product/service except it has you) something fancy. And second, that there’s a massive demand for whatever it is you do (even though there are zero statistics to back it up) but the reason you aren’t seeing it is you’re not using the special blend of herbs and spices needed to reach those people on social media. The gurus always have stories about someone who went from 1 follower to 5,000 followers they use as an example of why you need to do this, but I have yet to see a single one of those “social media famous” peeps who followed the guru’s teachings driving a mercedes they bought with the profit from selling their actual skills. The guru, however, probably has one, and it was purchased with the profit from selling you classes and stuff…you wanted the fantasy they were selling, and you paid them.
If you don’t have something people want to buy — a novel they want to read, a service they’re willing to pay for, a piece of art they actually want to put on their wall — then all the branding, fancy product names, cool book covers, fancy websites/logos, and IG posting in the world won’t get you paying clients.
Create a kick-ass product or service first, people, then sell it. Stop following the gurus who say you need to build a following for your novel before you write it, or who insist your actual paying clients will care how many followers you have. Unless you’re selling yourself as a marketing guru or selling your ability to post on IG (like some bloggers do with sponsored posts) then your focus should be on making something that’s so awesome it sells itself. Spend that stereotypical 1000-10,000 hours on improving your photos or sketching skills so you have something people want to spend money on, instead of spending your time creating a market for a product/service that won’t be any different or any better than what the guy next door is selling.
And at the end of the day, if there are already 50 people in your market offering the same thing you plan to offer *and* your product or service isn’t 100 times better (not just marketed better) then why are you throwing all that money and time away? Sure, it’s more fun and better for your ego to say you’re a professional whatever than to say it’s your hobby. But you’ll never get all those hours back that you spent trying to create the perfect Instagram following for a product/service that is identical to all the ones that went out of business in your area last year. But those same hours spent on that hobby or interest will not only bring you the joy of time spent practicing and creating, it might just propel you into the rarefied category of an expert.
Keep in mind that if the making/creating is truly your passion, you’ll find a way to write your novel on your lunch hour while working a boring job that pays your bills. If you live for photography or creating art, then you’ll find a way to spend your weekends doing what you love while still managing to survive a soul-sucking job. But be honest with yourself — if the whole reason you *love* photography or desire to be a writer is you hate your job (as opposed to an overwhelming need to write, draw, bake, make, photograph, etc.) then the problem really REALLY isn’t that you don’t have enough IG followers or the right logo.
Be a maker first. Create. Get better at what you do. Spend hours slaving over your ability to make the product or perform the service, rather than over your branding colors. Give it away for YEARS if you need to. Create and do for the purpose of creating and doing, and not just because you can post about it on social media.
Rant over. Back to our regularly unscheduled program.