Artisan Blog

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


Personal Branding: How to Rebrand Yourself and Your Career

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

 

We often hear the phrase “personal brand” being used-- but do each of us need one? And if we do, how do we go about getting one? We recently chatted with Nina who has rebranded herself in order to transition from the corporate world to the creative one and it got us thinking --what are the benefits and what should we be doing to foster our personal brand?

When thinking about your personal brand and how you want to present yourself, both online and offline you need to first think of a broad picture, and then narrow it down to the specifics.  As Nina discussed with us, you need to think about your vision, where do you want to be in the future?

“I took the time to do some deep exploration and to inquire into some important questions.  What made me happy?  What was I passionate about?  What was I good at?  When I was I most inspired in my career?  What was my purpose? What were the common themes, and patterns in the direction of my own career?  What was I known for?  How did I want to be known?  Who was my audience and where did I provide them value?”

Before you embark on your journey of personal branding, here are a few tips to get you started.

Vision

What are your goals and passions in life? What can you do as a brand do to build a future for you and your prospective employers, jobs or clients? If your niche is working for startups and your passion is tech, and you also love vegan food, build your brand around that. Add value for others who share the same passions. You need a hook that will make you memorable, so you can become the tech guy who works for startups and the go-to guy to ask about vegan food.

Marketing

What do you need to market a brand? A website, social pages, advertising, perhaps some copy are usually commonplace.  A personal website is a great way for people to get to know you, especially if you have a portfolio of work to show. How can your business cards stand out at a networking event? We work in the creative space, so it's all in the details.

Consistency is needed across your social media profiles. We suggest using the same profile photo on each platform to be easily distinguished.  Podcasts and blogs can be a fun and smart way to meet thought-leaders in your space as guests or interviewees. Your digital footprint is a hard one to erase so the content you are putting out into the world should be respectful, educational and entertaining. We love sites like Buffer and Feedly to assist with automating content.  

Audience

Who are your audience and what can you do for them? Ask questions, get to know them and invite them to share their thoughts on your niche subjects. This is the fun part of personal branding as you get to know your followers and make friends. Think about how to add value. What do they want to know? What are their interests?

How did you build your own personal brand? Do you think they are a necessity when job searching?

 

 

Artisan Spotlight: Amazing Talent - Nina

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“To thrive in 21st century business we need to be willing to shed our own skin, think more creatively and strategically, be collaborative and reinvent ourselves to change with the times.”

Artisan Spotlight is a new monthly feature dedicated to the amazing talent we work with. This is an opportunity for you, the talent, to share your career experiences and impart your knowledge and advice to others. Want to be featured here? Get in touch!

This month we spoke to Nina. We met Nina back in late 2013 at a networking event and have worked with her ever since. Nina works in Brand, Digital and Marketing Communications Strategy and specializes in strategically building brands to engage their audiences, start movements and increase their revenue and growth.

Why did you decide to shift from corporate to creative?

I started to observe and experience patterns in the corporate world, both when I was an employee and as a consultant. One being that all of the innovation, strategy and ideas, and creative thinking and design were being outsourced to creative firms and agencies and not coming from inside the organization (nor was it being asked of the internal teams).  There was also a pattern of downsizing the internal teams and those who were left were being tasked to function as project managers vs. strategic thinkers. 

I’m a visionary, strategist and creative thinker and while I was hired into companies for those talents, I found myself being pigeon-holed into being solely a project manager and becoming less valued for what I actually provided. I thrive in creative environments where I can invent and discover new and innovative ways to communicate and reach audiences. I found myself withering on the vine and becoming less engaged and enlivened by my career and utterly uninspired.

Some deep self-exploration had me start to identify these things and create a new vision for my career and the experience I was looking for.  Based on what I identified as important and my own personality and skill set; tech-start ups and creative agencies became the playground I was interested in playing in.  Their approach to business and creative problem solving is more aligned with mine.  I’ve discovered that I’m really a creative who knows business.

What were your biggest challenges during this time?

Shifting my own mindset

I had to stop thinking like a corporate person to create solutions and strategy and start thinking like someone in a small growing business and what their challenges might be and how they might approach creating a Brand/Marketing Communications strategy and execute it with smaller resources.  I also had to set aside what I “already thought I knew” to step into the unknown and be willing to relearn and upgrade my own operating system.   Disrupting one’s belief system and mindset takes something…and is probably the most important step in making a career change.

Saying No to what I didn’t want

The only work that was coming my way at first was corporate work and I knew that to truly make that shift, I had to close the door on my corporate life.  I started saying no to corporate opportunities. Which was very scary because that was the only income I had known and I was turning down work.  For a short time, no work was coming my way. 

Not giving up

I questioned my choices, particularly when I saw the drop in income…or at times no income.  But I knew that I had to follow my heart or I’d continue to live an uninspired life where my career was concerned.

How do the corporate and creative worlds differ?

The biggest difference that I see is that the creative world has the ability to be more agile and nimble.  There is a perspective of “let’s try this and maybe we’ll be wrong and fail, but let’s try and see what we learn, then we can reinvent.”  I’m also finding that in the creative and start-up worlds there is a 21st century approach to doing business that is collaborative, transparent and open to exploring partnership opportunities, even with companies and products that might be considered competitors.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move into creative?

Be willing to completely reinvent yourself

Start from within. Study, learn, set aside what you know for awhile to learn something new…step outside of your own box…you can then incorporate what you already know into what you are learning.  Learn as much as you can, network and meet as many people as you can in the area you want to move into.

Surrender your ego over to your vision

Be willing to take a lesser position, less income or take a career step back to move into a new direction. Be willing to learn something new and have a beginner’s mind, no matter how experienced you are.  I have a friend who did that in his own career.  He’s now the CEO of the company he “took a step back” to join.

Don’t get discouraged

Keep the faith. Believe in your self. Keep moving forward and you will get there.


What's next for you?

I’m interested in moving away from consulting and creating a full time opportunity with a start-up or creative firm located on the West side.  I’d really like to make the investment and work with one company that is in a growth mode and help them fulfill on their vision. 

"Believe in yourself, keep moving forward and close the door behind you and take consistent action towards you vision, you will get to where you are going."

 

 If you are interested in booking Nina for an assignment, get in touch.

 

Personal Branding Tips for Twitter

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whether you are an individual or a brand, social media puts many challenges in our path. If you are having a bad day, your personal voice can easily lean toward the negative. A company brand voice can do the same.

When you are thinking about your personal brand, though, you want to be presenting yourself as professionally and positively as possible.

Do the links that attract your attention today tend to talk about potential mistakes or potential successes? Are you posting articles about bad news stories or good ones? If you are drawn to the negative, it might be a good idea to take a break, take a walk, get a fresh perspective.

There can be a fine line between good branding and not-so-good and at times it can be hard to tell where that line falls. Here are some of our tips for walking the line:

  1. Universal truth--If that meme would make anyone with a heartbeat give you a high-five, you're good to go.
  2. Check the source--A great quote can still come from a controversial person. If you think your audience might object to the name at the bottom of the meme, you might want to find another one with a similar sentiment.
  3. Timeliness--If something negative is actually taking place locally (like a fire) or it is a trending topic and you don't mention it, you might sound out of touch. It is never out of place to wish a current event would work out as well as possible or express condolences.
  4. Watch out for cleverness--You are a writer and a clever turn of phrase is probably your bread-and-butter, but how many times have we seen communications pros get caught in a clever--but tasteless--tweet? Too many. Use a scheduler like HootSuite to give you time to look at that 140 characters before it gets published. Or run it past a trusted colleague if you think it is worthy, but may go out of bounds. 
  5. Know your audience--What are they interested in? What do you have in common? What do they like that may not be your cup of tea? Your audience is not you necessarily. Put yourself in their shoes and offer them content they will want to click through to.

Sometimes personal social media communication can get difficult. We are all out there hoping likeminded folks are listening. Body language is no help. Take a breath. Your follower might be having a bad day, too.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Competition

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It’s competition season all over: for actors and others in the entertainment industry, for Olympians across the globe, and even close to home as show choirs on the west coast have a contest almost every weekend for the next few months. With so many vying for honors, we have been struck with the different ways we can handle competition as creative entrepreneurs.

Oscar Style

“It’s an honor to be nominated.” But the nominees do a lot of branding and marketing to try to get more votes. The ones who sit back and let the chips fall where they may are more likely to go home emptyhanded unless their work is truly stellar.

On the other hand, they never say their competitors’ work is worse than theirs and they seem to generally get along on a personal level. After all, the actor you mocked could be across the table read from you in a month or two. And you hope he will because that means you’re working.

As creatives, we need to pay attention to personal branding and marketing and keep it positive, too. You never know whom your next client might--or might not--be.

High School Style

Teenagers can be mean, but I’m around literally hundreds of kids in active competition in the performing arts, and they surprise me all the time. They support and encourage each other. What they don’t like is injustice, for themselves or their competitors.

They’ll fight for points, but equally for the deserved points of others. They love to win but they cheer (almost) as loud for other groups. They know that the most important thing in a competition is to do their very best every single time and leave the rest of it to the judges.

We all live in a sometimes unjust world where the rules seem to change while the game is still being played. All we can do is our best work and keep our cool and hope things turn out well more often than not.

Olympic Style

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.” The Olympic Creed says it all. My favorite stories from the Olympics are not the Gold Medals, the perfect scores. My favorites are when the athletes stop and help each other. Wait for an injured athlete to catch up. Share water. The struggle is the same for everyone. Some will win, some will lose. Being human and struggling together is what makes competition a worthy endeavor.

As part of a team, and between teams, we can help each other over the finish line. Mentor, network, give advice. You might be the one who needs an arm around your shoulder next time.

Competition is exciting--it stirs the blood, motivates us and offers the potential for tangible rewards. If we rely on the quality of our own work, the energy and commitment we put into it and sometimes even the kindness of others, we can all succeed.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Job Jenny and Why You Should Be Rethinking Your Resume

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the first of a two-part blog, we speak with career expert Job Jenny and why we need to rethink our approach to resume writing and personal branding.

I was recently introduced to Job Jenny and her “ridiculously awesome resume service” by a candidate-turned-friend of mine who had used her services. It got me thinking about our approach to resume writing and personal branding. Resumes are essentially a marketing tool, right? So why is it that so many job seekers pay little attention to keywords, layouts and job search strategies? As recruiters we see all types; from carefully constructed portfolios to formulaic textbook resumes. I took some time to speak with Job Jenny to discuss resume writing and how job seekers should be marketing themselves to recruiters and potential employers.

At this point you may find yourself asking “Who is Job Jenny?” and wondering why she knows so much about resume writing and job seeking. Job Jenny worked for several years in marketing and communications at corporate level before moving into recruitment and starting her own agency. Job Jenny came into being in 2010 offering job seekers a support service which includes: resume writing, personal branding, LinkedIn makeovers and one-on-one consulting, job seeking and transitional strategies along with interview skills and e-books. She does it all!

If you’re faced with the daunting task of searching for a new job or if you’re applying online to multiple companies and getting nowhere, perhaps you need to rethink your resume. Are you having difficulty transitioning into a new career path? Are you wondering why you’re receiving little to no response when applying online? Take a look at these tips to get you started on the right foot:
  • Try to avoid approaching your resume as a list or a biography detailing every single responsibility and duty, but instead look at it as a marketing document that is a reflection of your personal brand.
  • Familiarize yourself with Applicant Tracking Systems if you are submitting your resume online. Does your resume contain industry-relevant keywords specific to the job you are applying for? Additionally, if your resume is over styled it could get in the way of the ATS and may not be received at all.
  • Pay attention to the job you are applying for. If you’re applying for an Account Manager position when you have a Project Management background, pay attention to the common deliverables of the job and detail your skill-set for the recruiter to see and make a connection. Do not expect them to deduce your experience from your resume without you making a connection.
  • Be consistent and focused with clear goals in mind – how do you want your resume to be conveyed? Be consistent with formatting and don’t forget: spellcheck!
  • If you’re looking at divergent roles, have a resume specifically tailored for each industry to showcase your work that’s most relevant to the decision maker. The easier you make it for HR to make a quick connection between what they need and what you do, the better the response
Your resume is your first (and often only) opportunity to sell yourself to recruiters and potential employers so investing time and effort into your personal brand is crucial. Your resume is a marketing document and a reflection on you (and often your recruiter.) Make it work! 

In the second part of our blog we’ll discuss LinkedIn strategies, social media branding and interview tips so stay tuned and if you have your own tips to share or would like to know more about resume writing, get in touch.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition for Artisan Creative

Announcing The Artisan Creative Weekly

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

We are publishing a newsletter

Artisan Creative invites you to subscribe to the Artisan Creative Weekly. We will be publishing links to stories about leadership, creativity, talent, job search, time management, design, marketing and entrepreneurship. Once a month, we will publish a newsletter on a particular theme. 

We are finding inspiration all over the internet and we want to share it all with you. We also welcome your feedback. Let us know what you think of the Artisan Creative Weekly and what you would like to see more (or less) of. 

At this time of new beginnings, we have one of our own. Hope you like it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Privacy and Facebook Graph Search

Thursday, August 01, 2013



Everyone is on social media and everyone needs to be. Whether you are on a job search, networking with others in your industry or region, or trying to become more influential in your field, no one can afford to be invisible.

But since we are also using social media as a way to stay connected in a more personal way, we often need to rethink how we are using these platforms--what information we are putting out there and who can access it.

Facebook Graph Search is being rolled out to more of us every day which means we are more searchable than ever before and by more people with whom we have no real-life connection. Here are some things to think about regarding Facebook and privacy:

Past Posts

Limiting the audience of your past posts is a good way to get a clean start with Facebook if you are starting a job search or establishing your personal brand. You can limit the audience for all of your past posts in one click in your Privacy Settings, but keep in mind that if you want to change them again, you will have to do them one at a time.

Future Posts

If you are using Facebook for marketing as well as personal reasons, use Custom privacy settings as your default. If you want a particular post to be more public, you can change it after posting without having to set up your Custom list again every time you post a blog or a baby picture.

Photos

We’ve all seen photos on Facebook that make us wince. Remember that other people can tag you in their photos but you have to give them permission. Be as thoughtful with others’ photos as you are with your own.

Likes

Facebook recently started asking me more about what I like--books, movies, TV shows. But there may be things we like that we don’t really want Facebook Graph Search to know we like. Don’t answer those questions from Facebook unless you have time to think them through, unless you’ve never picked up a book and regretted it later.

It’s a good idea to check your Facebook Privacy settings often. When Facebook adds a feature, they often opt everyone in without making an announcement. Privacy and Facebook don't go together automatically, but social media can be a great tool in our personal and professional lives. We always--always--have to think about the impression we are making and to whom we are making it. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Are You Missing a Personal Branding Opportunity?

Thursday, July 11, 2013



With more of us cutting the cord of our landline phones, freelancers are using their personal cell phones to take business calls, often from potential clients whose names won’t come up on the screen. Most of us were taught to answer the telephone with Hello?, but for those of us taking business calls on the same number as we take personal calls, it might be time to rethink our phone answering best practices.

What are your options?

Business name - Although it might confuse your friends for a while, they would get used to this option and your potential customers would be comfortable. A very professional choice, you will sound more like an office than a home office if you use your business name.

Your name - We hear it on TV all the time--first name or full name with no other greeting. It can feel a bit abrupt, but there is no mystery about who is speaking and that could put potential clients at ease where a more generic greeting leaves them wondering whether they’ve reached you, your assistant or your boss.

Stick with Hello - This is the most personal way to answer and arguably the warmest, but it doesn’t get your name or your business name to the front of your caller’s mind and might make them have to ask to whom they are speaking. Getting your caller comfortable quickly could be a major asset to your business.

Consistency is important if you want this level of nuance in your personal branding. If you are quick on your feet, answer one way when you know who the caller is and in a more businesslike way when you don’t or if your caller is a professional contact.. If you are more of a creature of habit, make a thoughtful choice and stick with it.

I’m going to go follow my own advice now and start answering my cell phone with “Hello, this is Wendy” and see how it goes! Let us know if you make a change and how you feel about it.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Top 10 Must Dos for Creative Freelancers

Thursday, June 27, 2013

 

As part of Artisan’s presentation at the recent SoCal UX Camp, we addressed the best ways Creative Freelancers should position themselves successfully in their field and how to best market their services to maintain a consistent pipeline of work.

  1. Design your Brand. Let your personal style guide the color palette, font treatments & images used to create your brand/logo. Utilize the same design, mission statement, service offerings & profile pictures across all print collateral & the web - including Business Cards, Portfolios, Social Media Platforms and Directory Listings/Ads.

  2. Perfect Your Portfolio. Be sure to keep work relevant & up to date, presenting your best pieces first. Work should also be well-organized with simple navigation and include a description of the project and your role.

  3. Be Specific. Focus your expertise on 1 – 2 areas only. These skills should be complimentary and stated clearing in both your resume and portfolio. Do not include irrelevant or outdated work.

  4. Become an Expert in your field. Join an online discussion, share articles, blogs or tweets, start your own blog or podcast, guest blog or write articles to industry publications – anything that will help establish your credibility and brand in your area of expertise.

  5. Fill the Downtime. Between projects is the perfect time to work on exploratory pieces for your portfolio, take a class, attend a conference, complete tutorials on new software or volunteer for an organization that can benefit from your services. All will help improve your portfolio/skillset and offer built in opportunities to network as well.

  6. Network – both in person and via social media. Create personal and/or business pages across social platforms, join social media groups and discussions, attend local business or industry events, take classes in your field and find co-working spaces

  7. Get Listed. Find Directories, Portfolio & Resume Portals as well as Local Organization Websites where you can list your work and advertise your services (often times for free!)

  8. Work with Recruiters. This expands your marketing efforts for free by enlisting teams of connected specialists who also benefit from you getting work. Recruiters also have access to opportunities that are not listed on job boards.

  9. Befriend Like-minded Creatives. By having counterparts who understand your industry, they can serve as your “team” when consultation is required, they can be partners for projects that require additional resources and be a great referrals to clients if have to say no to work.

  10. Never Stop Selling. Everyone you meet is a potential client (or knows someone who could be a client). Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Perfect your elevator pitch . And always be professional when conducting business in public places – because you never know who could be listening.

How is your business performing? Could you be doing something better? Do you do something in your business that we’ve forgotten on this list? Let us know!

And, if you missed our full presentation at SoCalUX Camp, check out our Top 10 recommended resources for keeping freelancers efficient, effective & excited about business.

Jessica Bedford, Marketing Manager

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