Blog Topic: Marketing Strategy

Documenting Your Design Process For Promotion

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Barbara Burns

My Story

I fell into it accidentally. I thought documenting my process would be a good idea. Maybe I heard or read that it was a good thing to do, I really don’t remember. I’ve been saving my old tapestry cartoons and everything that went into the design process since my first tapestry. I have a file drawer full of manilla envelopes stuffed with all manner of papers from each design. Even the ones I decided not to weave. You never know.

Last year I took a class in making and editing videos. Then I bought a new camera that takes great photos and especially great videos. I had a good time recording the process of designing,  dyeing and weaving for my corset project. I made three videos, each documenting different aspects of the process along with lots of photos. The natural next step was to post each video as I made them onto my website. Now that I’m almost finished with the corset I have created a page with my collection of documentation.

Documenting your process is different from documenting your work. Many of us do that already. We have photos of each of our tapestries which we use to enter into shows and put on our websites for example. Documenting your process is recording the steps you go through to create a design and a tapestry. It is a chronicle of the raw materials that leads to your finished work.

I’ve learned that documenting your process has several benefits. It can help you reflect on your process and think objectively about what you’ve created. It allows you to contemplate the direction you’re headed in and to assess the implications of current, as well as future work. Documenting your process is a great way to stay in touch with your commitment and inspirations for wanting to be an artist, and with what art-making ultimately means to you.

On a larger scale your work will be more likely to be taken seriously by museums, galleries and collectors if that’s the direction you’re striving to go in. It’s also important for someone doing research about an artist to have a wealth of documentation to draw upon. Like I said, you never know.

Documentation is also great for use in social media. My weaving can be so slow and intermittent that for me, it’s ridiculous, if not impossible to post my daily or weekly progress, not to mention a bit boring. Think about what you like to look at, that’s likely what people who follow you want to see. I love to see how another artist/weaver’s process develops. It also gives more meaning to a work when you can see the development of an idea and sometimes sparks an idea in me to work on.

There are many ways to document your process. It can be as simple as a series of photographs with your phone or camera and put it in a folder, be it digital or manila. If you want to be a little more high tech the iPhone 8 has a time lapse app that captures lots of photos over a period of time, and then assembles them together to create seamless video footage that appears sped up. It’s the opposite of slow motion videos where time appears to be moving more slowly.  You can take short videos and upload them directly to Facebook,  Instagram or Vimeo for instance and link them to your webpage if you have one. Or start your own blog and use it as an art journal that you share with others. All this helps to develop a following of people interested in what you are doing and perhaps buying your work if that’s what you want to do. It also builds community.

When you’re ready to begin the documentation process, be sure to consider the viewer. Don’t get bogged down in personal details. You can make this process a daily or weekly habit when you set a time to document your process. Here is an example of how I have used documentation on my website. Here are two sites that can help you on your way:  Documentation for Artists  and Suggestions For Explaining Your Art to Viewers

If you’re already documenting or just starting please share it with us in the comments section.

THE BLOG TOUR

January 22nd: Molly Elkind: Collage as research

January 23rd: Ellen Bruxvoort – Vlog on Instagram about her design process

January 24th: Tommye Scanlin: Literature as inspiration

January 25th: Debbie Herd: Digital design tools

January 26th: Barbara Burns: Documenting your design for promotion

WIN ONE OF 26 PRIZES!

Follow all the stops on the blog tour to increase your chance to win one of the following

prizes: $50 towards a Mirrix Loom, a Hokett loom kit, a Hokett Tiny Turned Beater, a project

bag from Halcyon Yarn containing rosewood bobbins and a voucher for their online shop, a

voucher for Weaversbazaar’s online shop, a free entry into ATA’s 12th international,

unjuried, small format exhibition and a free one-year membership to ATA.

Here’s how to enter to win. Comment on this blog post then go here to let ATA know that you

commented. The more blog posts you comment on the more chances you have to win so be

sure to follow along. Ellen Bruxvoort is doing an Instagram video for the tour and if you

respond with a photo or video on social media describing how you design tapestry you get

five extra entries in the giveaway. Let the sharing begin!

To win another 5 entries into the giveaway ​enter to exhibit in The Biggest Little Tapestries

in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition, and then let us know

that you entered by going here by Sunday January 28th. For this exhibition all entries get

accepted to exhibit as long as your tapestry fits within the size requirements!

The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format

exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more traditional definitions of

tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the medium as they

explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The Biggest Little

Tapestries in the World! will hang July 2018 at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325

Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry,

and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. ​Find more details here

ABOUT AMERICAN TAPESTRY ALLIANCE

The American Tapestry Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for

tapestry weavers around the world, including exhibitions (like Tapestry Unlimited), both

juried and unjuried, in museums, art centres and online, along with exhibition catalogues.

They offer workshops, lectures, one-on-one mentoring and online educational articles as

well as awards, including scholarships, membership grants, an international student award,

and the Award of Excellence. They also put out a quarterly newsletter, monthly eNews &

eKudos, an annual digest. Members benefit from personalized artists pages on the ATA

website, online exhibitions, educational articles, access to scholarships and more.

You’re invited to exhibit! The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international,

unjuried small format exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more

traditional definitions of tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the

medium as they explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The

Biggest Little Tapestries in the World! will hang at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325

Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry,

and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. ​Find more details here

An Interview With Michael Rohde

Friday, January 12th, 2018

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Rohde. He is on the Board of Directors of the American Tapestry Alliance and has been weaving since the 1970’s.  In this interview Michael speaks about his experience with marketing beginning in the ’70’s up to today. He shares how things have changed since he began promoting his work including what has worked for him and what has not. Michael talks about his experience with galleries, shares some tips he received from people like Jane Sauer and a marketing expert he hired to help him.

This is an audio interview. While you’re listening  you can scroll below and look at some of Michael’s weavings.

 

From My House to Your Homeland (2003), hand-dyed wool and silk tapestry, 54″ x 98″

 

Danse (2002), block weave rug with inlay: hand-dyed wool on linen warp, 82″ x 54″

Contemplation (2013), tapestry: wool, natural dyes, 41″ x 32”

Reparations (2004), tapestry: wool, silk, linen, natural dyes, 58″ x 48”

Medicine Buddha, tapestry: wool, silk; natural dyes, 38″ x 31½”

 

Nobility (2003), block weave rug with inlay: hand-dyed wool and silk on linen warp, 47½” x 36½”

Reality (2016), tapestry: wool, alpaca, silk, llama, natural dyes, 43½” x 32½”

Huli (2012), tapestry: wool, natural dyes, 45″ x 32″

Dream (2014), tapestry: un-dyed alpaca, 43½” x 31½”

 

Bosporus (2000), block weave rug with inlay: hand-dyed wool on linen warp, 62” x 37½”

Content Marketing

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Create, Share & Spread the Word: Content Marketing for Tapestry Weavers and Teachers

A guest post by Elena Zuyok

 

What is Content Marketing?

Whether you’re a tapestry weaver looking to sell your work or a weaving teacher searching for students, content marketing is a modern marketing concept that’s useful to understand and implement as part of your promotional efforts.

Not long ago, most marketing campaigns fell under what marketers now call outbound marketing. In an outbound marketing campaign a marketer would send out information to a group of people and hope that some of those people would become interested in the product. Let’s say I sell cars. I might send out brochures to people in the area showing them what I have for sale, or maybe I’d take out an advertisement in the local newspaper or on television telling people what great cars I have and why they should buy from me rather than my competitors. Some of the people who were exposed to these marketing efforts might be looking for a car and would stop in to see what I have to offer.

This method has one main problem: people don’t like being advertised to, especially those who aren’t the target audience of an advertisement. People who aren’t looking for a car don’t care that your cars are cheaper or more fuel efficient than the competition and you’re likely wasting your advertising dollars putting your message in front of them. People have also become more savvy at ignoring sales messages. We fast-forward through television ads, throw away junk mail and install ad-blockers on our browsers.

The idea of content, or inbound marketing, is the opposite of this traditional technique. Instead of sending out information about your business and hoping you connect with the right people, you attract the right people to you by creating content that is useful and interesting to your prospective audience. With content marketing, you bring your customers to you not by shouting that your price is lower or your product is better, but by giving them something they want or need for free.

 Content marketing has two parts.

The first is creating quality content to get people to pay attention to you and your business. This could be informative ebooks or blog posts or simply content that tells an interesting and entertaining story.

The second is to give that information away in order to establish trust and increase your business’ perceived value. An increase in perceived value typically results in a bump in sales and/or a general rise in visibility.

Why does giving away your content help you? Partly it is because of the psychological principle of reciprocity. This says that when someone receives something from someone for free, they have a tendency to want to give something back in return.

When you give something away and don’t ask for anything in return, potential customers will begin to develop loyalty, which will encourage them to make a purchase or become more involved with you/your business in another way, like by following you on social media, sharing content or images of yours or simply signing up for your newsletter.

Content marketing may be a strategy you’re already implementing. If you’ve written a blog post teaching people about a tapestry technique or have shared images of your work on social media, you’re well on your way to understanding how best to connect with your audience, build trust and sell your wares.

Creating & Implementing a Content Marketing Plan

When deciding what content to give away, first think about who your target audience is. This audience isn’t just your customers, it’s also people who can give you exposure. There may be a lot of people out there who love to see pictures of your work and to learn about how you made it but who could never afford to buy a piece from you or aren’t interested in taking a class. Those people are still important to you and worth making loyal followers because they may share content you have created (blog posts, images on social media, ebooks etc.) and that could be exactly what gets you customers. Word of mouth will always be important to any artist or business.

It can be helpful to come up with personas when trying to understand your audience. These are basically caricatures of your audience that help to remind you of whom you are targeting. Let’s go back to my car salesman analogy. Let’s say my dealership just sells hybrid and electric cars. I know my customers fall into three groups. There’s Family Fran. She’s looking for a fuel-efficient car for her family that will save her money on gas. Then there’s Cool Carl. He wants an electric car because it’s en vogue. There’s also Environmental Ellie. She wants to do everything she can to help save the planet, including buying the right car.  Imagining these personas can help me target my content to the right people. They can also help me further break down my marketing. If I can identify that John Smith is a “Cool Carl”, I can try to make sure he’s getting the right content shown to him.

Once you’ve determined who your audience is, it’s time to craft your content. You want to craft a story with your marketing content to begin to build an emotional connection with your audience. Begin to fashion your social presence. Join social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram and start a blog. Share pictures of your work, your process and techniques. Good images are important. So are how-tos, especially if you are a teacher.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re a tapestry teacher looking for students. You decide to make a video of yourself teaching a technique. It may seem counter-intuitive to give away that information, information that you’d normally teach in a class that you’d get paid for, but in the long run it’s building an audience and creating an environment where reciprocity is effortless. Few students will decide not to take a class from you simply because you’ve given them a taste of your teaching. Instead, they’ll be more likely to take a class after sampling what you can do.

Here are a few ideas of content you can give away as a tapestry weaver or teacher:

-Project or technique how-tos in the form of videos, ebooks or blog posts.

-High-quality images of your work.

-Project ideas for aspiring weavers.

-Stories about your work, your inspiration and/or your classes. People love to feel like they know you and to peek inside your life.

Always remember: You don’t want your content to look like advertising. You are looking to give away information that is genuinely helpful to your audience. It needs to be valuable to them for this to work.

Once you’ve figured out who your audience is and what types of content you will create, you want to come up with a plan to decide where and how often you create and share your content. It’s helpful to make a spreadsheet to help keep you on track. Start with something reasonable: maybe one blog post a week, an Instagram post a day, an ebook a month. And then: persist. Content marketing takes time to work. Be consistent and don’t get discouraged.

 

Content Marketing as a Creator

Content marketing is all about creativity, which makes it a great strategy for artists. Think of it simply as creating, not as selling, and let your personality shine through so you can best connect with your audience. Take your skills as an artist and put them to work crafting your online presence and the content you will use to attract the right customers. Your job as an inbound marketer is to make yourself visible, likable and interesting. This will help you grow a loyal audience who want to consume, and share, the content you are creating.

Elena Zuyok co-runs Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms. She lives in Seattle, WA and has a BA in Communication from the University of New Hampshire and an MA in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. While she works at Mirrix full-time, she is passionate about mentoring artists on the subject of marketing. Feel free to email her at elena@mirrixlooms.com. You can visit the Mirrix Looms website at www.mirrixlooms.com and see posts by Elena on the Mirrix blog http://blog.mirrixlooms.com/blog

 

 

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