Episode 98 - How to sell a want: Building your creative business with Sean Low
Learn how to reframe your mindset about your creative business to help it thrive artistically and financially.
Paper flowers are not a need.
Yes, they create a great amount of joy, but at the end of the day, no one needs to buy them. That’s why you have to entice clients to want them.
In our latest episode of Paper Talk we chatted with Sean Low of The Business of Being Creative. He specializes in helping creative businesses thrive by recognizing that an artistic business has very different needs and circumstances than other services, like an accounting firm.
Here’s how Sean put it:
“When somebody wants to hire you…they want to feel something about themselves. That’s why they’re coming to you. Whether they want to give it as a gift or they want to do it for themselves, they want that feeling.”
So how do you make them want your work—something they could live without? Sean had so much great advice in the episode about reframing your mindset around your creative business to do just that. You’ll want to listen to all of it to glean information that will definitely help your business.
In the meantime, here are three ideas we discussed on the podcast that will help you build your client’s desire for your art.
Listen to our conversation to hear:
► What makes creative businesses unique.
► How to help clients want your art and ultimately invest in you.
► How to draw boundaries with clients.
► If you should consider selling wholesale.
► How to best educate clients to prevent problems.
On the podcast, Quynh shared about a business that embroiders portraits of pets—but only ten a year. This artist lets people know the day she’ll take orders, and once those ten spots are gone, that’s it. And they fill up immediately!
As Sean pointed out, if that artist offered one hundred spots, the desirability of her work would most likely diminish. You can create the same demand by making your work more scarce.
Now, you’re probably worried about limiting your work. You’ve got bills to pay. Sean also explained his philosophy on pricing, including planning how much work to take on in advance. Listen to the episode to hear his in-depth explanation, as it beautifully encompasses his views on art and business, as well.
“Creative business is about creating something that hasn’t existed before. Even if you’ve done something similar over and over and over again—it’s the thousandth time of you doing paper flowers for a client—for that client it’s brand new.”
Show Your Process
We’ve talked about the importance of client education a lot on this podcast. There’s a good reason why. In order for potential customers to want your work, they have to understand the value of what you do.
Sharing a behind-the-scenes look at your paper flower process is a fantastic way to do this. Give your followers a peek at the many steps you take to create something. Show how you plan for a project and include how many hours that alone took. Let them see the piles of petals you had to cut for a big installation. Share what’s inspiring you right now.
As Sean put it on the podcast,
“People spend their money on what they care about. You’re showing them what they ought to care about when you’re showing them how you do your work.”
Explain Your Why
With a creative business, there has to be a why. Art isn’t something we do solely to make money. There’s a soul to your business, and your clients need to connect to it. Once they make that emotional connection, they’ll want your work more because it will give them that feeling that Sean mentioned earlier.
This means that you need to understand your why. “I like making paper flowers” isn’t a powerful why. But as Sean shared, your why also doesn’t have to be “I want to change the world with paper flowers!” Listen to the episode to hear his helpful guidance on how to find your authentic why—it can be difficult to articulate!
Once you know your why, share it. This doesn’t have to be anything huge. Short snippets here and there are enough to make that connection with potential customers.
“Art is not a need, it’s a want. You’re the artist tasked with creating something magical, and you’re entitled to get what you need to do that.”
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