Showcase Your Art: Self-Promotion for Creatives | Lisa Griffin | Skillshare

Showcase Your Art: Self-Promotion for Creatives

Lisa Griffin, Illustrator

Showcase Your Art: Self-Promotion for Creatives

Lisa Griffin, Illustrator

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9 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. Where to Begin

    • 3. Social Media

    • 4. Your Circle

    • 5. Research

    • 6. Networking

    • 7. Pitching

    • 8. Promotions

    • 9. Class Project

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About This Class


Join me in this class where we learn about self-promotion techniques that creatives can use to shine a light on their work.

For many creatives, the thought of promoting their work can feel overwhelming. But without it, how will people find out about you and what you have to offer? Let’s face it, being able to promote your work is part of the process, so let’s make it easier for you.

In this class, we’ll go over what you need in place before you start promoting, how to research and discover contacts, and how to pitch your work. Plus, I will share how I use seasonal planning to help me create timely promotions.


  • Techniques for better self-promotion 
  • Why social media is important if you use it wisely
  • My process for researching companies + finding contacts 
  • The difference between active/passive networking
  • How to pitch companies in the best way

Also part of this class is a PDF checklist & planner to help you prepare and organize for your next promotional effort.

Whether you are at the beginning of your creative career or simply looking for some new ideas, this class shares a variety of tips that you can easily adapt to your own creative endeavors.

Let's save you some time and avoid any more overwhelm… 

… in less than an hour, you could be feeling more encouraged and prepared to launch your next promotion. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Lisa Griffin



I’m Lisa a freelance illustrator, mom, and all-around creative achiever.

With over 20 years of illustration and design experience to draw from (yes, pun intended), I want to share my knowledge with YOU! Because while I love being a freelancer, there is a lot that goes into it.

The best part? Being able to collaborate with companies and publishers to make beautiful illustrations that people can enjoy. It's incredibly rewarding and honestly, so much fun.

On the flip side, being a creative professional is tricky. There are many different skills and roles that come into play, like working on the "business-stuff" not just the "art stuff". I get it!  That's why I like to teach both, art and business. T... See full profile

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1. Welcome: Hi, I'm Lisa and I'm an illustrator and licensing artist. In this class, I want to share with you how you can promote yourself as a creative. In this class, you'll learn techniques for better self-promotion, why social media is important? My process for researching companies and finding contacts and how to pitch companies in the best way, whether you are at the beginning of your creative career or simply looking for new ideas. This class shares a variety of tips that you can easily adapt. So let's save you some time and avoid any more frustration and overwhelm. And less than an hour, you could be feeling more encouraged and prepared to launch your next promotion. 2. Where to Begin: Where do you begin? In self promotion can be overwhelming. I'm here to help you break it into smaller, manageable chunks. And your first chunk is having a home base. You need to have a name and a website for your business so that you can start to establish this hub, this creative hub, as well as a brand. So things you wanna think about as you're designing a website, especially one that's going to feature artwork, is how to show it off in the best way. That's what people are, therefore, that's the draw. So you wanna make sure that you're really showcasing your art and then make sure it's clean, easy to navigate, that it's simple to find your contact information. Easy to find your portfolio or client listing, whatever you want to include. I went with Squarespace as my provider and I made that decision for a few reasons, but chief among them, it has such a great variety of templates and I found it very intuitive to lay out my website because I am not a Web designer, so I needed something I could understand and that was simple. And for me that was Squarespace, whatever provider that you go with, just make sure it checks the boxes in terms of budget and capability. The other item I want to direct you to is to set up a Google Analytics account. I don't do a deep dive on Google Analytics and I'm certainly not an SEO expert. I do know the importance of understanding your customers when you are trying to promote your work. Another SEO tip that I want to talk about is the possibility of setting up a blog. This doesn't have to be time-consuming. You can blog a couple times a month if you so choose doing so will really help you rank with search engines in SEO. And it'll do this because of keywords as well as links. And it seeing your website is being active because it's being refreshed with these blog posts, whether their weekly or bimonthly, its activity on the blog and this activity, each blog post is seen as a new webpage and it can link to other items in your website. So these different links and the use of keywords will really help in the rankings. So what are keywords? Keywords are topics that define what your content is about. It's what people type in the search bar to find something that they're looking for. And Google Analytics also has a great feature on it to help you with keywords. Now if you're not quite sure how to come up with keywords, it's really not difficult and you can do some trial and error. But in essence, if you were to think about your business or the type of art you produce, or the industry that you want to work in. Those definitions, though, adjectives are your keywords and that's what you can use and kind of sprinkled all around your website. They end up being these lovely little breadcrumbs that attract the search engines and help bring more traffic to you. If you were to head over to Google right now and type in your name, where would you appear in the search results? We would love to be on the first page. That's what obviously gets the most attention. And the more you can utilize the keywords and knowing a little bit about SEO, it will help you land on that first page. It does take time and effort. I'm not gonna lie about that, but it's where you want to be. It's how you'd get discovered faster. And I don't know how many people actually go beyond page two in Google search results. 3. Social Media: In this lesson, I want to share how creators can make an impact on Social Media. My first tip is whatever platform you choose to be on, the active and engaging on that platform, start with being authentic and honest. It's okay to share where you're at if you're a beginner or in the middle of your journey. Share your ads so that people can connect with you and learn more about what you do. Respond to comments. If someone takes the time to leave a comment, it's thoughtful and Just Darn right, nice to comment back. Say thank you, build those relationships. And of course always makes sure, especially as a professional, that your bio is filled out properly. And the things not to do, don't sell or promote on every post you make. Instead of being very salesy, Think of the 80-20 rule, which is 80% of the time put for things that are motivational or inspiring, put forth tutorials, things you can share. Other people can learn from what you do. You helpful content, inspiring content, even just pretty, pretty content's good. Two things that'll make people laugh or smile. And 20% of the time you can promote or sell things that are important to you if you have a new class coming out or new items in your shop. And lastly, don't spread yourself too thin. Choose a few platforms and be active on those. So to highlight one social media platform, The one I feel is one interval for creatives and it's my happy place is Instagram. Not only because it's a highly visual place to be, I just feel there's a lot of engagement and mostly positive engagement that happens there. You can share videos and behind the scenes of what you're working on. You can host an IG live where you can interview a friend or a mentor. You can share tutorials. It's just in my opinion, a great place to be and it's okay to recycle your content. I know that was taboo or some people thought that was taboo. I even hesitated to do it, but it said that only 10% of your followers actually see what you're posting in your feed. And my top tip for Instagram is that hosting consistently does matter. So that doesn't mean it has to be seven days a week. It's just a consistent schedule that you can maintain. And that supposedly keeps that Instagram algorithm. Very happy if you can work out a schedule that fits with your day and you can stick to it. You're probably going to see your engagement increasing and followers increasing as well. If you're on Instagram, make sure that your profile image is clean, that it showcases you either an image or a logo is fine. Make use of your keywords. Have your title in there, put it in an engaging bio that tells a little bit about yourself. And check this box right here. That similar accounts suggestions, very helpful. It means you're going to pop up when someone follows another person that Instagram thinks is similar to you. So it's another great way to be seen a little bit more. And the other item I use as link tree, there's a paid and a free version. I use the free version, but what is nice about it is you can add additional links, right from your Instagram profile so that your audience can go to different spots that you might want them to visit. And lastly, Instagram stories. If you haven't tried this out yet, they're so much fun and it's a great way to engage with your audience. You can show off quick snippets of works in progress tutorials. You can have an Ask Me Anything session. They have great stickers and fun little tools inside stories. So if you haven't tried that yet, check it out. Another favorite of mine is Pinterest. And I think if this is a social media hybrid and let me explain why, like Instagram, it's a very highly visual platform, so I think that makes it perfect for creatives to showcase their work. But it's a search engine that brings another great dynamic to the table. So using keywords, you can add them to Pinterest as well, in the same places, profiles, pin titles, descriptions, you can add hashtags here as well. So it's just another opportunity, a free opportunity. Let me point out to have your work, your brand showcase. So besides Pinterest being an amazing opportunity because of its search engine capabilities, hens on Pinterest also have a much longer shelf life than other social media platforms. So Instagram, as much as I love it, post, live and die there within a day. I mean, if it's very rare that I'm still getting activity on a post three days later, and that is not the same on Pinterest. Let me quickly walk you through how a profile looks on Pinterest. It showcases your art, but you can actually change what you want in here from an image to a video. And here are the instructions again, same profile image, same title, using those keywords is very important. And then if you go under settings, you could actually see where you can make the changes to the profile yourself. Whether it's your image or your display name. All about your profile again using keywords. And then I want you to go up to this claim section. And right here is where you can actually claim or link your website to Pinterest and then you can claim other accounts if you have. So I have Instagram, but you can go and do Instagram at sea, YouTube or Shopify. So just a brief little glimpse at how this works in case you're interested, which I really think you should. It's a great tool for promoting. And that leads me to what I think is a match made in heaven. Instagram and Pinterest working together. Think of Pinterest and Instagram as BSTs because they complement one another. Pinterest is great. You know, it's the search platform and that's really how I see it. I don't think of it as social media. I know it technically is, but I really don't use a social aspect on Pinterest. I use it to promote my work, my blog, and others that I admire to drive traffic to my website and shop. And traffic to my website has increased from using Pinterest more effectively. And as far as Instagram goes, that's where I really build that community and engage with people and get, get the social aspect really going. And another great thing about Pinterest are the boards. You can use it as a wonderful bookmarking tool for ideas, color palette, and even for recipes. So it's not our business. I do have some fine on Pinterest too. 4. Your Circle: In this lesson, I want to talk about connections. I think that's probably one of the biggest fears that people starting out path. So I want to encourage you to start with who you know and define that circle, those people in your life. I'm talking your family and friends, employers, past employers and co-workers, people in your community. So local vendors and small businesses, and you don't need to be salesy. It's starting conversation. It's mentioning what you do and how you could help. So I want to tell you a story to explain why. I do believe in the power of the circle of folks that you have around you to begin with, my daughter went to preschool here in town and I volunteered there, you know, maybe a couple times a month. And during that time, I got to know some of the parents and the teachers and one of the moms. And I really clicked. And I think it was probably the third or fourth time that I met her. She just stopped and said, I want to do I don't even know what you do. And I said, oh, actually, I'm a creative designer and illustrator. I worked from home. She said, really come to find out she owned her own marketing and PR firm. And those things happen, you know, they those lovely little happy coincidences happen in life and they're fabulous. But just as easily I could have started that conversation with her and said, hey, Paul, what do you do? Having those conversations can lead to wonderful opportunities. Pointing case this individual, she had connections through her business. I started taking on freelance gigs for her, making new connections with vendors and other businesses in town. And my circle began to grow and widen. And the same thing can happen for you. And then decided to move to the West Coast. While I was thrilled for her and her family, obviously, I was going to miss that relationship with my friend. She ended up getting this amazing opportunity, this amazing job with a company out there. And within a month of her being situated out there, she was calling me up and then I was taking on assignments and projects for her out on the West Coast. And again, that circle began to grow. One person has brought in thousands and thousands of dollars for me over the years and grown my circle. That's all it takes. It takes a moment occur ridge, don't feel it's salesy. Have a conversation with the people around you, let them know what you do when you love what you do, that passion comes out when you're talking about it. And people really to that kind of excitement, it's contagious, right? So don't be afraid to speak up and say, hey, did you know I take portraits, I'm actually a photographer. It can be that easy and that simple and you never know what wonderful relationships having that moment of courage to speak up and say This is what I do can lead to. 5. Research: In this lesson, we are gonna talk about how you can research and discover clients. I'm going to turn you into a client sleuth. Begin by asking yourself some questions. Who do you want to work for? What type of clients do you want to have? So I wanna talk about a few places that you can actually go once you know the type of companies and clients you'd like to work for. Here are my suggestions on ways you can find clients. You can look into professional organizations, for example, as CB wi, which is the Society of children's book writers and illustrators. When you join, you're given a book. It's pretty sure it's called the book, and it's filled with contacts in a variety of industries and publishing. It has listings for both authors and illustrators, and it's just a wonderful resource. Social Media, trade magazines, even retail stores. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a shop and flipped over a greeting card or a plate to make note of the company who made it. Because if it has a similar aesthetic to what I do, that's probably a place I would like to send a promotion to. As you all know, I like Instagram. I want to show you how you can do a little bit of research using Instagram. So right up at the top, you just wanna go to the search bar and you're going to type in a hashtag that describes your industry. So I'm using one that is relevant to children's publishing. This cover looks fun. And now I'm seeing, I'm scrolling through the post and I can get information on the author and the illustrator. And this post actually lists the publisher. So I click on that. I can find out more about the publisher here. And I can also see who they follow. Another great tool for professionals and creatives is LinkedIn. It's wonderful for connections and finding actual names and contact info for companies that you're interested to work with. So heading over to LinkedIn, same thing. We're going to use the search bar right up at the top. Using the search bar, you can type in the company, I've done this before. As you can see, I can go right to their website or I can scroll on their LinkedIn page and see what information I can find here. There's a great overview about the company. If you're not familiar with it. Their address is listed. Sometimes you can find job listings on their webpage. Here under the People tab is all the individuals associated with this company. So by clicking on this, you can scroll down and you can find the actual editors are directors that are at Penguin Publishing. And I also want to peek over this is SC BWI, finding professional organizations to follow on LinkedIn is really helpful because often, well, number one, again, they'll post jobs. You can meet new people, but they'll also post events coming up, conferences that they're hosting. And now I'm just going to hop back over to my profile and show you one other thing. There's an icon you can put on your profile picture that immediately lets people know if you're open for work, which I think is another great resource. And this is where you can find it, how to change it. So I put it on because they felt it was a good way to indicate as a frequent heads illustrator that I am open to project requests for commissions and collaborations. So by understanding the market you want to be in and the companies that you want to work for, you really can begin to tailor that contact list. In fact, you can have separate contact lists. So as an illustrator, I have one that is reserved just for the publishing community, and I have another that's reserved for art licensing. 6. Networking: This lesson is about networking and making connections. It can be really difficult to take the first step and I feel the best way to combat this is to be prepared to take the first step. Let's talk about active networking and passive networking. With active networking, you're in control, you're taking command and being active. A good visual for this would be the active participant is the driver in the passive participant is the passenger. Instead of sitting at home and waiting for a client to call your actually making the call. And the best suggestion I have for you is if you are going to spin event or a trade show or a conference, even a virtual one. Take that moment of courage and just try one thing. Start one conversation and see where it leads of conversations. I do have some tips for conversations starters, when meeting people, I say, number one, just be yourself. My other suggestion is to prepare a few conversation topics. By preparing an even rehearsing a few questions, you will be more at ease in a situation that ordinarily might make you feel awkward. So for example, if you were at a conference or an event, you could simply ask, Is this your first time attending easier to remember? Simple, Great conversation starter. Another way to feel more at ease when you're meeting new people is to utilize the buddy system. If you have a friend who can attend with you or who's part of the same organization. Attending with a friend is always more enjoyable and it'll probably put you at ease and make approaching other people a lot simpler. If you're not comfortable carrying on a conversation, be an active listener, be engaged in the conversation. Pink eye contact, show they are interested. Don't pull out your phone and start scrolling through social media. Really be present and in the moment with that individual. 7. Pitching: This lesson is all about pitching. You've done your homework and your research. You have a contact list ready to go. Now it's time to start submitting your work. When pitching your work, remember these three things. Be polite, be humble, and be professional. In this lesson when talking about pitching or submitting your work, I'm going to focus on submitting either via mail or email. Personally. I'm not a big fan of cold calling. I feel it can be awkward and I don't like the idea of putting somebody on the spot that isn't familiar with me or my work. So my advice for pitching is research. The company first, a lot of companies will have their guidelines on submissions right on their website. If those guidelines say they don't want attachments in their emails, they prefer to have a direct link to your website. Do that. Before you press send on that, make sure you've proved it. I like to read my emails out loud before I send them. That might sound funny, but by reading it out loud, I'm actually hearing a hit. So if something sounds odd and even if I've misspelled something, it seems to pop out at me when I'm saying it aloud. Do a spell check as well, makes sure you've spelt the individual's name correctly and the company name correctly. I don't tend to follow up on a pitch. The only time I might is if I've mailed them a package that has samples in it and I don't hear back then I might follow up with an email just to confirm that they did receive it. And now I want to walk you through just a few email templates that you can use as a jumping off point. This first template is perfect for someone who's breaking into the industry. It's okay to let people know if you're new to the industry, mentioned a product or a book, something about their company that you admire and why you feel you'd be a good match for their aesthetic. You can mention here, if you've attached a sample to your email, I recommend a low-res JPEG is fine or a PDF. If you've done a sample sheet, always make sure that you have a link to your website. Because if they do like what they see, it's nice that they can just directly click and shoot right over to your website and get a little more information about you as a person and see more of your work. Here's another example of a very short professional email. It's still leaves room to personalize. So you can enter the individual's name you're reaching out to, as well as tell them a little bit about why you're interested in their company. This one doesn't mention that you've attached any samples. It just gives a direct link to the portfolio. Remember, always be polite and do your research before pitching anyone. Keep your email short and sweet and don't email them weekly. These are busy individuals trying to do their job. Yes, they want to find great new artwork, but they are getting a lot of submissions. The play ones, the ones that really show an interest in the company. Those are the ones that are going to stand out. If you're just starting out, it might be easy to get discouraged. But I think what you have to keep in mind is there will be plenty of nodes. You will hear more no's than you will hear yeses. And sometimes you won't hear anything. It's just a choir of crickets and that's okay. Just remember to submit on a consistent basis. Keep making beautiful art and putting it out in the world and the right people will eventually find you. Yeah. 8. Promotions: This lesson is all about promotions. This is the fun part. It's where we can think creatively and come up with some wonderful ideas to send out to show off our work. And I want to share with you how I do this using a seasonal promotion plan. Planning seasonal promotions keeps you on a very easy schedule. It means you send out promotions on a quarterly basis with the seasons are usually alternate between a traditional mailing and a digital promotion. Once a year, I send more of a, a special item in the past that's been small original illustrations and even in art calendar, putting an effort into each item usage and whether that's a traditional or a digital promotion can make all the difference. Simply decorating the outside of the envelope or adding something special inside the packaging is just enough to make it stand out above the rest. And a fun way to approach seasonal promotions is to have a theme around it. Themes could feature seasonal sport or holiday celebrations. It could be more about your color palette or something fun and quirky, like utilizing Groundhog Day or spring cleaning. You can be creative without breaking the bank. I am big on budgeting my promotions, which is why the special promotions are traditionally handmade if you have a favorite ON pine vendor sign-up for their email list. So you will be in the know when a coupon comes out or a great sale is about to land. There are other ways you can promote your work. You could attend art exhibits or art fairs. You could create a fun product like stickers and pins, magnets, look books, even reusable totes. You can collaborate with other creatives to invest in social media ad or to do some art challenges or contests. You could send out a monthly newsletter. Another plus of promotions and a happy occurrence is when other people share your work. I find this so gratifying when my artwork has resonated with someone so much that they give it a shout out or they want to share it. And certainly if you're seeing aren't out there that you love, you can reciprocate, you can share, you can give a shout out, you can talk up that person's artwork to others. And one final thought I'd love to leave you with. Promoting your work is a continuous process. Just like being a creative is a lifelong pursuit. I once was in a workshop with a very talented illustrator and she was explaining how she was working on an illustration and she was having a hard time finishing it. And she said the reason she was having a hard time finishing was because she really wanted to incorporate this tiny little dog. But the closer she got to finishing it, the more she didn't like the dog being in it, she didn't feel that character was effective in the piece. And finally, she just sat back and was like, you know what, it doesn't make sense to have the dog in this picture, I need to take out the dog. And once she did that, the art just saying in her opinion, it just as soon as she lost the dog, the piece worked. And her moral of the story was, don't be afraid to lose the dog. You might have one great idea and Azure sketching it out and working on it, it seems to work well on paper then is you're flushing it out and you're adding color and you're getting close to the end. It may not be what you anticipated it being. Don't be afraid to lose the dog and move on to I received a job once where the editor had called me and she was describing the postcard that she had kept and it was over two years old. It was. So It's amazing to me. I think it just goes to prove we, you just never know where your artworks gonna land and when that phone is going to ring or that email is going to show up in your inbox. So just keep creating, keep making good work. 9. Class Project: Well, we've reached the end of class, and now it's time to discuss the class project. It's time to shine a light on your art. We've walked through the steps to get you ready. You've done the research, you've compiled a contact list. All that's left is for you to try out some different promotional ideas and remember to have fun with it. Over the course of many years freelancing, I've tried a variety of methods to promote my work. And really It's about where you're at in the moment and the type of art you want to showcase, put forth your best work out into the world. Really nice pushing down and targeting the client you want to work with and that you know, you'll be a good fit for. And the more you do that, the more you practice sending out your work, the easier it becomes. For the class project. I want you to share a promotional piece with the class. I'll give you two choices. You can choose to upload a rough idea or a sketch if you'd like some feedback on it, or upload a final promotion and let us know how you will be sending it out in the world. My hope is that I've left you feeling more confident, motivated, cited to start putting your work out into the world? Or if you've done that already, I hope I've given you some new ideas or maybe changed your perspective so you can try something new. I am so happy I took this class and I cannot wait to see what you share.