I just want to do what I do best-create!

Does it sometimes feel as if marketing is taking over your life?
Would you rather be creating than marketing?

Authors and artists today have to channel two different personalities: one of being creative and another of being an entrepreneur. This is as true for those with agents and publishers/galleries as it is for those who self-publish or act as their own sales staff.

  • You need a platform, an online presence that is current an engaging.
  • You need to do the work to remain in the public eye, remind people who you are and what your products are about.
  • You have to develop a marketing plan and then act on it each year so you can afford to keep creating.

I’m afraid there’s no way to make these M&Ms as delectable as those colorful tidbits filled with chocolate, but there are ways to sort them into  colors and indulge in the reds, greens, oranges, etc., one color at a time.

Creatives, I’m passing on la crème de la crème that I have gleaned from my experience and that of others in a monthly series called M&Ms for Creatives. I hope that these ideas inspire your own.

M&Ms for CREATIVES, Article 1
(Making & Marketing)

Logo-2inchSummer 2015. A fellow author and I were bemoaning the frustration of finding time, effort, and places to market our books. We decided to stop whining and share the burden by putting together a dual event at the coffee shop where we both do a lot of writing. At home my husband challenged me: “You’re thinking too small. Isn’t this true for artists as well, all creatives for that matter? If you’re going to take the time to plan an event, let’s plan one for all of you.”

PopUpShopAnd the seed was planted and gave birth to Artists & Authors on the Square, a Pop-Up Holiday Shop in Pella, Iowa during the Tourist Bureau’s Tour of Homes. Painters, up-scalers, authors of multiple genres, fiber artists, jewelers, and more held a 3-day sale in a downtown store during a local event this draws many tourists to town. My husband and I organized, found a storefront, communicated, shared money and tax info, and developed posters, mailers, social media, radio, newspaper articles, ads… Participants also pitched in according to their skill sets and also shared the information to all of their contacts.

Although we originally planned to measure the success of this event by the financial benefits and exposure, we also found another treasure—community. We all wanted to continue working together this way, supporting each other toward a common goal.


We are now in a 26-day countdown to our next communal event: a boutique-style store open 6 days a week during the month surrounding Pella’s Tulip Time Festival, an annual event that brings 150,000+ tourists to town in 3 days. The downtown area is also humming with activity for the weeks before and after Tulip Time, and we will be situated in the heart of it all.

The set-up is a little different and easier for us creatives, much like a consignment shop:

  • We have a full-time store manager who handles the cash register and mans the store.
  • Creative participants share the cost of the rental and pay a 20% commission on each item sold (plus the state sales tax).
  • Every item will be tagged by participant #, cost, and inventory # (optional). Tags will be taken at purchase and sorted. Report and tags will be given weekly/monthly.
  • Each creative participant will also put in 14 hours of volunteer work during the month in the store.
  • My part of the store will be a bookstore, which will keep the cost for each author at a minimum and I will volunteer the 14 hours. This means authors don’t have to be present for all of the hours of the event, but only come if they want to do a book signing event within the store.
  • The organizational group is doing marketing and planning. Participants doing set-up boutique style and act as re-stockers as items are sold during their volunteer hours.
  • We were joined by a few business-minded people who thrive on the details that make many of us creatives run the other way screaming.

We took the plunge with our first event, analyzed and tweaked ideas based on results, and planned our next event accordingly. Will we continue as a pop-up-shop during local events? Could this become a more permanent situation that includes a space for art classes, book clubs, and other creative endeavors? Time will tell.

What is overwhelming for one or two becomes manageable in community.


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