Archives for February 2014

What Can Chocolate Cake and Donuts Teach You About Selling More?

chocolate cake & persuasive copy

Image by Max Straeten

One of the most important pieces of advice I can ever share with you about writing compelling copy that persuades people to buy your creative products and services is to tap into the power of emotion in your copy.

Buying decisions are emotional decisions.  People buy based on emotion and justify purchases based on logic. Yes, you’ve probably heard that little bon mot dozens of times, but what does it mean in practice?

Think about chocolate cake.  Or Krispy Kreme donuts.  (Mmmm, donuts . . . as Homer Simpson would say.)

If people acted rationally they wouldn’t buy these things – sugar is bad for you, it’s not nutritious, and it makes you fat – it’s nothing but empty, unhealthy calories. 

But cake and donuts are both multi-million dollar industries because they make you feel good.

So when writing your web copy, you want to make an emotional connection with your ideal clients that makes them feel good, or excited, happy, inspired, relieved, encouraged, understood, relaxed, or any one of dozens of other emotions, depending on the product or service you offer.

Worth-repeating-until-eternity step number one is always, always, ALWAYS knowing who your ideal client is and what they need/desire – everything flows from this. 

You really want to get inside their heads and figure out the deeper emotional benefit they’re seeking as a result of buying your product or service.  What is the core desire you’re tapping into with what you sell?

If you make one-of-a-kind jewelry, it could be your customer’s desire to feel unique and special, and therefore validated as the quirky individual she is. If you sell knitwear for infants, it could be that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from your customer knowing how safe and warm her baby is in the wintry weather, all while looking too adorable for words.

So, how do you figure out the deeper emotional benefit you want to tap into with your copy?

One way to go beyond the surface benefits your product/service offers to get to the core emotional benefits your customers want is through the use of what’s called the “so what?” technique.  Ask “so what?” until you feel like you’ve gotten to the real benefit your thing provides.

Here’s an example from some work I did with a professional organizer to help her figure out the core emotional benefit of her email opt-in offer:

These tools will help you get more organized. (surface benefit)

So what?

Your home will be less cluttered and look nicer. (surface benefit)

So what?

You’ll feel less frazzled and actually be able to really relax and enjoy your family when you’re at home, because everything is tidy and in its right place. (deeper benefit)

So what?

You’ll enjoy high quality family time the way it was meant to be enjoyed, because there won’t be petty annoyances and frustrations from nagging the kids or the husband to keep things neat or put things away, etc. Time at home will be spent watching a movie, or playing a game, or cooking a meal together and other fun and satisfying family activities.  (even deeper benefit)

So what?

You’ve created this wonderful oasis that your family loves spending time in together and you’re all bonding and getting along so well – wow, you really care about your family, you’re an amazing wife and Mom.  (Bingo! Core emotional benefit.)  

The emotional benefit the professional organizer’s audience – busy Moms with young kids and an active family life – wants to achieve is a calm environment that benefits the whole family and creates stress-free family time. With this in mind, one idea I pitched for the name of her opt-in offer was a handy organizing guide called:

From Chaos to Calm: 9 Easy-to-Use, Inexpensive Tools to Get Your Home and Family Organized, Eliminate Overwhelm, and (Finally!) Create a Stress-Free Oasis Your Family Can’t Wait to Come Home To

So the bottom line is, you want to convey how your creative goods or services enhance your customers’ lives by demonstrating the emotional benefits of owning/experiencing them, like we did here with the professional organizer’s opt-in offer. 

And that’s what chocolate cake and donuts can teach you about selling more: tap into what makes your ideal audience feel good.

Your turn: what’s the name of your business and the core emotional benefit it provides?  Let me know in the comments section!

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10 Inspiring Business & Marketing Resources for Creative Business Builders

One thing I’ve noticed since I switched my business focus from writing solely for corporate clients to adding independent creatives and small creative businesses to the mix is the number of people who email me saying there aren’t enough business, marketing and other resources online specifically geared to creative entrepreneurs.

And while I can’t know the entire Internet (even though I do spend over 10 hours every day swimming in it – ha!), I agree that when it comes to creatives who want to promote and market authentically, there seem to be fewer resources available than for other kinds of business builders.

So I compiled a list of go-to resources I know about, either through positive word-of-mouth, or because I visit them regularly myself for information, advice, and inspiration.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination, only a few places to get you started, so if you know of others not listed here, please drop ‘em in the comments at the end of the post!

The Abundant Artist: Dispelling the Starving Artist Myth

All kinds of artists will find this site useful. While there is plenty of content geared toward helping visual and fine artists market their work, the advice and tips here would work well for most any kind of creative trying to market authentically and create a robust presence online. As Cory, site owner, says about the site, “This is a web site not only about selling art, but about dispelling the starving artist myth.”

The articles, videos and podcasts on the site cover a multitude of topics, including how to build a better artist website, how to sell your art online, how to market effectively with social media, and other business-building topics geared toward artists.

Sample blog articles: How I Made $50,000 Selling Art on Facebook; Newsletters: So Easy, An Artist Can Do It; Personal Branding for Artists; The Artist Website Checklist; How to Create an Art Blog That Makes Art Collectors Swoon; How to Create Raving Fans by Telling the Story of Your Art, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for Cory’s email list and receive a 10 week email course called “Learn to Sell More Art Now,” as well as other useful content to help you grow your business.

Other notes: I love Cory’s tone, voice, and sense of humor. You’ll be entertained, and learn tons about art marketing at the same time.

Artsy Shark: Inspiring Artists to Build Better Businesses

The articles on this site cover how to launch and grow a successful art or craft business. Specific topics include the business of art, marketing, selling your work, inspiration, art licensing and art publishing, and more.

Run by Carolyn Edlund, Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, Artsy Shark publishes articles on featured artists, giving them publicity and linking to the artist’s website, which allows artists to make sales of their work. Artists are chosen several times a year through a competitive juried submission process. 

Sample blog articles: Artist Website Strategies: Improve Your Home Page; Crafting Potent Press Releases That Get You Ink; How to Create an Artist Email Newsletter That Works; 8 Ways to Improve Your Online Portfolio; Effective Art Marketing is Not About You, etc.

Red Lemon Club: refreshing insights into building influence, for creatives

Red Lemon Club features articles and other resources for helping creatives build their influence and land quality clients. The site is a place to “get inspired, absorb, learn and share insight on being influential, standing out, and building an engaged audience to your creative work.”

Sample blog articles: 7 Simple Acts of Daily Self-Discipline That Will Make You a Better Artist/Ninja; 50 Self-Promotion Tips for Creatives; 21 Ways to Add Magic to Your Brand and Stand Out; What Problems Are You Solving? How Great Artists Think Like Entrepreneurs; 11 Things Most Other People Never Do That You Can Do to Win Amazing Clients, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the Red Lemon email list and receive the e-book, 9 Things You Absolutely Must Do to Land Quality Clients, plus weekly tips you won’t find on the blog.

Skinny Artist: Create, Connect, Inspire, & Live Your Art!

The Skinny Artist site delves into “the unique opportunities and challenges we face as creative artists in this brave new world of blogs, social media, and marketing our creative work online to a worldwide audience.” Specific topics include marketing myths, online marketing, inspiration, featured artists, artist life, and creative productivity.

 Sample blog articles: 5 Ways to Market Your Art in Your Community; 5 Fears That Can Destroy an Artist; Is Etsy Dying?; The Great Artist Statement Hoax; How to Take Charge of Your Creative Goals; Stare, Share, Steal, and be Willing to Look Stupid, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the email list and receive the Skinny School series, “How the @#$&! do I Get More Traffic to my Website?!” plus how-to tutorials, artist marketing tips, and other resources.

Other notes: I absolutely love this site’s irreverent and funny tone.

Fresh Rag: The No BS, Straight Talk Approach to Earning More From Your Creative Pursuits

Fresh Rag is for artists, designers, crafters and other independent, creative entrepreneurs who want to  build their business and make more sales.

Sample blog articles: Calling Yourself Out on Your Own Bullshit; How to Eliminate the Starving Artist Syndrome from the Ground Up; Your Excuses About Etsy’s Changes Are Holding You Back; The 100%, Sure-Fire Way to Sound Like a Self-Absorbed Artist ; I Serve Those That Serve Creativity, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the email list and receive free updates with tools, tips and tricks for taking your creative career to the next level. Topics include converting lookers into buyers, building a loyal following, and making more money without killing yourself.

Living a Creative Life with Melissa Dinwiddie

The aim of this site is to offer insights and inspiration to help you live a fully creative life. The goal: “to get you sparked, stoked and creating!” As Melissa says, she wants to see everyone on the planet using their creative gifts.

Sample blog articles: Failure, Progress & the Great Experiments of 2013; Secrets of Living a Big, Bold Creative Life; What to Do When You’re Caught in a Shame Spiral; Case Study: Dealing with Criticism; My Big Secret for Getting Creating (Almost) Every Day, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the newsletter and receive a printable poster, 10 Keys to Creative Flow, plus regular email inspiration, first dibs and special offers when Melissa has new stuff to share.

Other notes: I love Melissa’s warm, friendly and encouraging tone. Oh, and there’s the stark honesty about her successes and her failures, which is refreshing. She’s a creative who gets creatives – get ready to feel understood and supported as a creative soul.

Creative Freelancer Blog

Geared to creative freelance professionals – freelance designers, illustrators, writers, photographers and other creatives – Creative Freelancer Blog provides business and marketing advice and inspiration.  

I’ll be honest, even though I visit this site regularly, it kind of drives me crazy because there’s so much going on and it doesn’t seem that well-organized. When you land on the blog it’s a giant mish-mash with a long scrolling list of articles, with no apparent topic categories. Maddening. That said, there’s a wealth of fantastic information for creative freelancers, and the content is well worth reading if you have the time and the patience to dig through the seeming randomness.

Sample blog articles: The Photographer’s Guide to Photo Contests; Work, Life, and You: Are You Staying Sane?; Top 3 Social Media Platforms for Designers & Creative Pros; When They Ask You to Work for Free, Say This; Turn More Prospects into Paying Clients; 12 Stark Differences Between Freelancing and 9-5; Why You Should Say “No” to Clients and Become a Specialist; Retainers Get You Off the Rollercoaster, etc.

Free resources available: Signing up for the email list will allow you to download job-search strategies, interview techniques, and portfolio and résumé tips to help you land the right creative position.

The Unmistakable Creative Podcast: Candid Conversations with Creative Entrepreneurs and Insanely Interesting People

This is hands-down one of my favorite places to visit online for creative inspiration. There are over 400 inspiring interviews here with every kind of creative entrepreneur you can imagine, spanning every kind of background. As the graphic on the site’s About page says, podcast guests include best-selling authors, world-famous cartoonists, ex-cons, graffiti artists, happiness researchers, peak performance psychologists, and more. This is not your usual business podcast, in a good way. A very good way.

Sample podcasts: How to Escape a Life of Mediocrity with Melissa Leon; Idea Execution and the Creative Process with Jocelyn Glei; Creating a Profitable Expression of Your Art with Alex Franzen; Unleash Your Creative Genius with Erik Wahl; How to Master the Craft of Writing with Dani Shapiro; The Importance of Developing Your Own Belief Systems; Redefining Ambition with Amber Rae, etc.

Free resources available: Sign up for the email list and receive notice of the latest podcasts, plus (as of this writing), a weekly email delivered on Sunday designed to make you think about your creative path. Inspiring, thoughtful and honest, this is of my favorite Sunday reads.

Scoutie Girl: Creative Life with Character

Scoutie Girl is a daily digital lifestyle magazine that features stories, philosophies, and innovative ideas about creative living & becoming a more creative individual; offers creative visual inspiration and motivation to the handmade community. Written by a team of creative thinkers and designers, the site seeks to help you become inspired and informed.

This is a site I have to admit I haven’t spent a ton of time on, but others I know have recommended it. There’s a nice resource page on the site with a pretty robust list of other sites that will help the creative person “live a creative, fulfilled life” as well.

Sample blog articles: Tap into Creativity by Letting Go; Just Do the Work; Never Too Late to Bloom; Why Planning Isn’t Always the Answer; Oh, That Inner Critic; Chasing the Light: The Search for Creative Balance, etc.

99u: Insights on Making Ideas Happen

I visit this site at least once or twice a week to see what’s new. 99U’s mission is “to share pragmatic insights on how to push bold ideas forward . . . and ‘demystify the creative process.’” The philosophy here is that creatives often focus more on idea generation than idea execution, and the action-oriented insights found on this site – in the form of interviews, articles, videos, and blog posts – aim to change that. You’ll find loads of actionable tips here for getting the ideas out of your moleskin and into reality.

Sample blog articles: 10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal; The 5 Most Dangerous Creativity Killers; The Case Against “Do What You Love”; How Your Friends Affect Your Creative Work; Talent is Persistence: What It Takes to Be an Independent Creative; Beat Procrastination by Adding Rewards to Your Day; Don’t Get Screwed: The Contract Provisions Every Creative Needs to Know; 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People, etc.,

And there you have it, a short list of online resources for creative inspiration, education, and biz & marketing advice.

If you know of other practical and effective resources for creatives not listed here, please drop ‘em in the comments below, you’ll be helping us all out! : )

[Sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]