Week 4: Sharing Your Work
It's our final week of the Calligraphy Portfolio Challenge! Do you feel like you've made some progress?
For this week's challenge, which is all about sharing your work, we'll assume you don't have a website yet, but that you do have an Instagram account and possibly a Facebook page. We'll also assume that your goal, of course, is to get clients! ;-) When used correctly, social media is a fantastic way to market your products and services. So let's get started!
Step 1: Create a dedicated Instagram account.
First things first: if you're serious about your calligraphy or lettering business, you should create an Instagram account dedicated solely to it. Always think of your potential client: will they really care to see photos of your kids (cute as they may be), your pets, your travels...?
They want to know what you can do for them. And an Instagram account that's chock-full of great photos of your representative work is so much more professional than the account that has some random lettering projects amongst the snapshots from your personal life.
(Exception: once you have a more established brand, you can creatively tie in snippets of your personal life. In fact, all of our Modern Calligraphy Summit instructors do this really well.)
So just do it - go set up a separate business account, if you haven't already. :)
Step 2: Set up your Instagram account correctly.
Instagram has two profile options: personal and business profiles. If someone has a business profile, a gray description of their business type will appear under their username (i.e., "Artist," "Local Business," etc.)
While they're not for everybody, Instagram business profiles are beneficial for someone looking to attract clients. If you switch your profile to a business account, you'll have access to Instagram Insights (all of the statistics on your followers and their engagement), plus you'll get a contact button at the top of your profile, which you can use to have someone email you, call you, or get directions. Of course, you can put this information (especially your email address) in your profile description, but that takes up valuable real estate, and it's much easier for that potential client to just tap the "Email" button and get in touch with you quickly.
The caveat to using an Instagram business profile is that you need to link it to a Facebook page. If you already have one for your business, that's great. If you don't, they're pretty easy to set up -- Hootsuite has a good article on doing it the right way.
(Keep in mind when you're setting up your Facebook page, that the gray text description under your Instagram username gets pulled directly from your Facebook page type -- "Artist," "Local Business," etc.)
Step 3. Create a great bio.
Your Instagram username and description are important: in just a few short words, they tell your customers exactly what you do.
You'll ideally want to use your business name as your Instagram handle, though that may not be possible (and if it's already taken, you might consider using a different business name, for trademark reasons, but that's a whole other topic).
Use your description to say exactly what you do or what you create. You can also mention your location. Although it's easy these days to work with clients around the world, especially for lightweight calligraphy and stationery products, many brides and potential customers will still want to work with someone locally, even if they never meet you in person. If you don't want to limit yourself, you could say something like "Serving Northern California + Worldwide."
The last part of your bio is your website -- if you have one, pop the address in there. But if you don't at this point, that's totally fine too.
Step 4: Develop a cohesive feed.
Have you ever noticed how nice it is to look at someone's Instagram feed and feel that it just kind of "flows" together? Their lighting is consistently good, there's a variety of angles and compositions to their photographs, and overall, it just feels cohesive and well-planned. This takes some time to develop, of course, but you can do it too. Here are some tricks:
a.) Batch your photo shoots: we talked about this last week, but you can see now how nice it would be to have a ton of photos sitting in your "queue," ready to be shared, that have consistent lighting and multiple angles of the same products.
b.) Speaking of multiple angles, use them! One day, you can share the entire "flat lay" scene, showing all the different pieces in your invitation suite, for example. After posting a few photos from other projects, you can then post a close-up of your hand-painted envelope liner from that invitation suite. And then a few days later, share a detail shot of your envelope calligraphy. The key is to mix things up visually but maintain some consistency overall. So assuming you post once per day, your week might look something like this:
- Day 1: Project A flat lay shot
- Day 2: Project B detail shot
- Day 3: Behind-the-scenes shot
- Day 4: Project A detail shot
- Day 5: Project B flat lay shot
- Day 6: Work-in-progress shot
- Day 7: Project A second detail shot
c.) Practice, practice, practice: the more you do this, the more you'll start to develop your own lettering style and photography style. You'll learn what people like and respond to, and you'll learn what you like, and you'll grow from there. (Want more help on developing your calligraphy style? Fozzy and Katherine have great lessons on this exact topic in both Modern Calligraphy Summits.)
Step 5: Help others find you.
It isn't enough to just have a pretty portfolio on Instagram. People need to find you! That's where hashtags come in. Common ones include #calligraphy, #moderncalligraphy, #brushlettering, #handlettering, #pointedpen, #watercolor... you get the idea. You can also get much more specific, depending on what you're posting.
Spend some time exploring Instagram while putting yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. And remember, this is "social" media -- act authentically, comment nicely, and don't obsess over your analytics or followers. No amount of followers matter if they're not turning into customers.
Another way to reach potential customers is to go beyond Instagram. It's easy to repost your Instagram photos to your Facebook page, but you can take it one step further and pin your photos to your Pinterest account. The beauty of Pinterest is that it's also searchable, and the more people like your photo, the higher it shows up in search results.
Let's wrap up...
I hope you've enjoyed this month-long challenge, and the weekly prompts to tackle a portion of your portfolio one step at a time. I've enjoyed seeing your progress - keep tagging @moderncalligraphysummit and #mcscpc so we can share more examples of your lovely work!
And most importantly, don't compare yourself to others. It's so easy to do on social media, but as Laura Hooper said in this insightful video interview about the beginnings of her incredible business, her favorite quote is "don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." Wise words!
Thanks again for coming along on this journey, and talk soon!