Showing up is so important. Do you know that quote by a famous film director (whose name I won’t mention) about how 80% of success in life is just showing up? It’s so true. I’ve seen it over and over again. Someone got an opportunity not because they were the best but because they were there. Someone proved their worth by enduring an event they really didn’t want to be at. And the examples go on.
My husband I have taught that lesson to our kids their entire lives. When you show up, even if you don’t want to take that test or go to camp with that annoying kid or babysit your sister, you send a message that you care, that you’re willing to try, that you’re able to suffer through the painful parts of life.
In some ways, I can’t think of a more important lesson in life. Kindness, persistence, honesty. Those are all important too. But showing up bonds you to others in good times and bad. It shows serious character.
Showing up as an Introvert Artist
So as artists, how do we show up? The first way of course is to show up to our desk, our easel, our counter, whatever, and create art. But afterward, when we’ve made the art, what do we do?
Well, we can show up to performances or gatherings or meetings. And showing up socially often goes against our introverted instincts. Artists tend to be shy. Not always, but often. A lot of artists are artists because we enjoy solitude, right? Because interacting with people makes us nervous or self-conscious or plain exhausted. We like to live inside the imagination, not necessarily in harsh or dull reality.
But in today’s internet-connected world, we have an advantage. We can show up online. Join groups, discuss ideas via social media or post about what excites us via a blog or website. We don’t have to shower and dress well and put on our more patient, happy public face. We can share ideas and inspiration from the comfort of a couch. Not a bad compromise.
What Venue Is Right For You?
In terms of social media, I’ve always been partial to Twitter. I like it for two reasons: a) I learn stuff and b) I laugh. There’s information on there that educates me and witty or sarcastic commentary. Also, I have attracted real-life friends on Twitter. Those friendships have blossomed based on shared interests, not some sense of us being friends because we once worked or went to school together (though that has a worthy bond too), but because we share a passion or interest.
This is why Facebook and Instagram don’t charge my battery like Twitter. Those platforms are more about social causes, random memes, and personal photos. My husband calls it a glorified address book — which is fine, that can be useful too. Instagram, of course, is the glam version of Facebook, with an expected polished presentation of users’ kids, vacations, sunsets, and milestones. Shrug. I don’t have the energy to constantly present my most glossy perfect self.
Also, the company that owns those two platforms has refused to curb false political propaganda. Twitter is at least making an attempt. So while I still use those last two platforms, they don’t spark joy for me at all.
What If You’re Not Into Social Media?
What if, like many authors I know, you aren’t interested in posting about your life or sharing content? Well, this brings me to what I think is the most important way to show up as an artist: on your website.
When you create an online home base, you’re opening yourself professionally to the world. People know where to find you. You’re offering up your art and perhaps the inspiration behind that art. If visitors like it, great, if not, they can click away. But I think a website, and more potently, blogging, brings about connection. It brings the artist and those who like the art closer. It’s virtually showing up for whoever would like to engage.
The Seth Godin Philosophy
Marketing guru Seth Godin talk a lot about this. He thinks the most important thing an artist can do to promote their work is to “show up with generosity and intent.” In other words, he says, if you’re an artist, don’t just show up online shouting about your book or movie, show up as a real person and give us a glimpse of who you are.
Even more importantly, be prepared to be generous, intentional. How can you help others? Why are you there? Know what your mission online is about. If you do, I believe you’ll find at least some like-minds who will be interested in your work.
If You Have Ideas About This Blog, Let Me Know!
And so, for me, I’ll be blogging more often. I’ll be showing up. If you don’t want to show up, you can always unsubscribe from my blog, I won’t be hurt. But for those who are interested, or even want to have a conversation, I’ll be showing up at this website almost every day, on my couch, ready to help those in whatever way I can.
With that in mind, if you have ideas about what I should write about, please let me know in the comments!! My areas of expertise and passion are writing, books, gardening, plants, inspiration, France and Europe, music, motherhood, and the environment. I’ll be writing about those unless I hear otherwise from you! Cheers.
Photo by Arnal Hasanovic.
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I’ve been thinking a lot about creating author brands lately and how lost I felt a couple of years ago when I didn’t have one. I believe an author brand is important for writers to communicate to readers who you are, what you value, and what your books or writings are about.
It’s an unfortunate word because it implies we authors are commercial businesses rather than people, but then again, we do want to sell books, don’t we? So yes, we are people rather than businesses but in order to share our books with the world, we need to show potential readers quickly what they’ll get if they journey with us via buying and reading our books. And because we can’t meet each reader and have a two-hour long chat, we need to show them quickly through a few brief sentences, colors, symbols, images, etc., in short, all the things that make up a brand.
Where to Start
But what is your brand? Do you have any idea? I didn’t. I knew I’d always done two things over the course of my life again and again: wrote and gardened. But that didn’t translate into a look, a feel, revealing info about me or my life. They were simply two interests.
I’ve talked on this blog before about an incredibly useful book I found called Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps by Nancy Blanton. I truly discovered my brand with this book. It has excellent questions and exercises for authors struggling to figure out why they write and why they write the kinds of books they do. It’s simple and short. I recommend it highly.
Pinterest Magically Knows
Another tool I used after reading Blanton’s book was Pinterest. Why? Because I needed to nail down in even more detail what I was about. The visual representations in particular. The great thing about Pinterest is as you use it, you don’t even realize you’re figuring out yourself. Their algorithms for one’s personal taste are crazy, even diabolically, sophisticated.
So I set up an account and started surfing. Because I’ve always written and always gardened, I started by creating a Gardening board. This led to a feed of pretty gardens and as you can guess, I clicked on the ones that drew me in. That led to ancillary photos of gates, birdbaths, etc. As I clicked through those, I learned I was interested only in antique iron gates that had ornate patterns, birdbaths that were traditional, and gardens with flowers of purple, blue, magenta, and orange. Colors that mostly blended harmoniously together. I was a more romantic gardener. Though I always knew that, I now saw what exact images reflected that taste and discovered words that I could attach to me: antique, traditional, romantic, harmonious.
Brand Colors and Fonts Discovery
Because I clicked on flowers, Pinterest fed me bouquets. I was drawn to bouquets that looked like old paintings of still lifes. Because I saved those, Pinterest slotted more into my feed and I discovered I loved how the flowers’ bright colors and green stems popped against dark, even black, backgrounds. And so, on my website, you can see I chose the brand colors of black, green, and assorted purples and magentas. (What’s so cool too is Dionne, our Magnolia Press designer, included all of those in my book cover.)
In addition to gardening and flowers, photos of home interiors featuring flowers started appearing. I clicked on rooms that featured old furniture, bookcases, cut flowers, and antiques — similar to the things in my real life home. But as I clicked on more of those photos, I realized I loved the old and romantic but also the clean and tidy. I liked the modern feel of a sparse room but the warmth of an antique lamp or velvety sofa. So two new words entered into my brand vocabulary: clean, modern. And believe it or not, through this work I found the fonts for my website: Cinzel, Lustria and Montserrat, a combo of traditional and modern lettering.
Not a Web Designer, Just an Author
Now, a trained, educated marketing person will think this is pretty basic stuff. In fact, it may seem amateurish, but it’s what I found that works for me. I don’t have time or money to get a thorough marketing education, but I have read some good marketing books. And I learned that if an author doesn’t know where to start in building a website, Pinterest can easily help you discover the distinct tastes that make you you. Plus, you’ll have a fun time doing it!
To see more of my Pinterest boards, including Paris, my Seattle garden, favorite book covers, dark forests, and other things I dream about, click here.