Not that kind.
Last time, I wrote about how my impatience to increase awareness of my brand led to my discovery that high quality freebies are one of the best ways to actually increase sales. I don’t know if this strategy works for everyone in every business, but I think the big picture ideas here are worth considering:
If your free offering is of the highest quality, customers will logically assume that your paid offering is equally good. Confidence in your brand grows.
This removes one of the greatest barriers to sales: uncertainty around value.
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I was an art major. I never studied business, so everything I was learning about sales strategies, marketing, and the rest was accidental, through real-time experience, or pure dumb luck. But there was one thing I want to humbly commend myself for doing throughout those early days in building the KyleBrush brand: noticing what worked and repeating it. This is something I’ll return to frequently in this newsletter. So much of what I did was experimental, but whenever I hit upon something that moved the enterprise further along in the right direction, I definitely snapped to attention and studied it and then added it to my sales tricks quiver.
And I think this is a superpower all creative people have– it’s a superpower YOU have, most likely, if you are reading this newsletter – creative people pay closer attention. Creative people notice details, they find patterns, and they see what others miss; thanks to this superpower, they find ways to help others see the world the way they see it, through their work. But they usually confine this talent to the creation of their paintings, their music, their dance, their poetry. The key is to start applying it to other aspects of life; step outside of yourself, observe from a greater distance, notice what’s working, and strive to repeat it (or strive to set up the conditions that brought about the thing that worked). This could lead to big changes.
Returning to the title of this week’s edition: Free Love. What’s that all about? Well, to follow up on one of the benefits of the brush freebies that I covered last week, I learned that giving away high quality free stuff made people really happy. Not just happy, grateful. And when people are grateful, they want to give in return. The result? All this LOVE and gratitude meant that hundreds and hundreds of people began posting on social about how much they loved the free brushes, not just because they genuinely felt the products were good, but because it was a simple way to say, ‘Thank you.’
Free brushes = free love = free promotion all over the internet.
Best of all, this free promotion was actually targeted directly to the people I was trying to approach in the first place: other digital artists. Think about the people you follow on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. I bet more than half of them are passionate about, or work in, the same field as you. No Twitter or Facebook ad campaign could ever target my ideal customers better than my actual customers, themselves. You could even argue that giving away free brushes meant that I was saving money on marketing costs to the tune of thousands of dollars.
So, now I ask you: is there something you have created that is an excellent representation of your skill or talent that you could release out into the world for free? Perhaps not the whole enchilada … just a healthy bite? Something that pulls people into your world and shows them what you are capable of, leaving them impressed, intrigued, enchanted … and wanting more?
Think about it, and please use the comments section below to discuss. Also, don't forget to scroll down for a list of resources for you. I include new ones every week.
You can always ask me anything - let’s keep the conversation going. And remember, if you like what I’m writing, please tell a friend. Sharing is caring.
Next time: a bit of a detour with some frank writing about how my entrepreneurial spirit has sometimes been the enemy of my health and wellbeing. Perhaps some of you can relate?
Resources and Goodies for You
I’m currently doing a brush fundraiser to support earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria. $1 for $12 brushes - proceeds go to UNICEF.
Adam Ming read last week’s Accidental Expert about freebies and has decided to give all you aspiring picture book artists a free treat with some great advice about building your portfolio.
Steven Zapata’s brilliant (spoken) essay on the ethics of A.I. generated art. It’s long, so make yourself a cup of something warm and settle in. Well worth a listen.
If you have ever suffered from repetitive stress injuries or other aches and pains that come from drawing, sitting at a computer, etc., check out Kriota Willberg’s book of exercises and practices to help you stay healthy.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, remember to be kind, and I’ll say, ciao for now.
After reading your last newsletter I decided to give it a try myself giving away my most useful post for free. It was a long article about how I think about an artist portfolio, sharing all the things that have worked really well for me. It has doubled the number of daily subscribers as well as gotten some fans over the line to become paid subscribers so definitely a useful trade off. Also It doesn’t feel great to have your ‘best work’ behind a paywall
In the YouTube space, a lot of people complain about slow subscriber growth (I may be guilty of that myself but I'd never admit that, here), but subscribers are not just numbers. They represent real people and I think that's true of all interaction online. It's no use having 10,000 followers on a given platform if they're not interested or invested in what you do as a creative. Better to have 1,000 engaged followers than 10x that amount of strangers.
Maybe the biggest issue is expectation. If I release a comic, a video, a drawing for free then I should expect the world to acknowledge and appreciate that. But I think the reality is that you'll have to release hundreds, if not thousands, of free stuff in order to eventually receive acknowledgement from others. Luck and talent can speed that process up, but I think for the majority, we're definitely the tortoise in this race. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.