Hey You Crafty Pet Artist You
I am so glad you found your way here! After running a pet-exclusive creative agency and pet photography business for over 10 years in two states and two countries… mentoring hundreds of pet photographers at all stages of business, and after hiring my fair share of pet-related creatives over the last half-decade, I can tell you with confidence that I know my way around ‘the biz’.
For starters, I know that you probably got in the business of making dog art because you love animals, and you love creating beautiful things. I am pretty certain you did NOT get in the business to make yourself sick trying to figure out where your next client is coming from, to toil away over how to construct the right email response to a client who has crushed your spirit, or tearing your hair out because you’ve made less than you hoped for your hard work YET again.
Don’t get me started on the overwhelm of trying to keep up with the 100’s of messages flowing into in your inbox telling you what you SHOULD be doing, or FOMOing over curated instagram feeds reminding you how far your life and business are from FLAWLESS. No.
I’m here to help with all that nonsense.
On this page you’ll find some very quick tips and ideas you can implement right away to make marketing your pet portrait, design or dog art business feel a lot easier. This is what we’re all about at Working with Dog.
We believe that all petpreneurs deserve freedom – so we have created this space to help you find it in your pet business. If you want 24/7 access to more of this helpful dog marketing goodness, and a crazy supportive community of like-minded pet people, have a look at becoming a member.
In the meantime, take 10 minutes to read through this page and perhaps take a peek at some of our other free resources.
Try to pick just one thing you can start today.
If you’d like to connect with us – we love to hear your thoughts, questions, challenges and progress so please feel free to share your journey and inspiration with us in any or all of these places:
I absolutely LOVE chatting with petpreneurs and helping dig out their passion and unique genius. But this isn’t just a fun exercise in self-discovery… finding and tidying up your ‘why’, is the #1 place to start if you want to attract more clients to you and get them to fall in love-at-first-sight. This process can be murky and tough, so having a pro help lead you through the journey can be the difference between an epiphany and a meltdown! Luckily, not only do we offer hand-holding in our petpreneur consulting packages and live events, but you can share your story with us to enter to win a FREE ‘Pimp My Why’ session with Nic! This in-depth consulting session is a $1000 value and we’re offering it for FREE to petpreneurs who need us most…
You’ve Got the Edge… Use it!
As a pet-centric artist you have one very simple, very important advantage when it comes to finding new clients. Do you know what it is?
You’re a natural at creating beautiful content.
Most businesses pay paw-over-fist to get moving or still imagery, illustrations & graphics that will reach out and shake their audience out of their digital stupor. You, on the other hand, eat-sleep-and-breathe this stuff! It’s what you do! So, not only do you have a bank of shareable goodies to entice your future private clients with, but you also have a skill that other businesses need, so that’s a whole new revenue stream!
Your only task then, is to show up as that crazy-talented, desirable and sought-after artist you are, wherever your customers are searching for you:
- Referrals from friends, family & acquaintances
- Referrals from other businesses they trust
- Yelp [or other review sites]
- Shelter or Breeder from whom they adopted their dog
- Directory Sites [ex. Heart Speak]
- Marketplaces [ex. creative market]
- Local forums / networks
- Trade events
Or to pop up where they might not be searching but they might just notice you:
- Posters /flyers around town
- Dog events
- In other people’s homes / workplaces
- Local Media [magazine, newspaper, radio, TV]
- Out in the wild [seeing your work in action]
- Signage on your car
Sure, sounds great, but how?
To start with, you have two priorities:
- Be a credible expert [deliver sensational products /service]
- Look like a credible expert [build credibility as a trustworthy brand ]
I call pet companies who excel at both of these goals, ‘Million Dollar Dog Brands’.
Million Dollar Dog Brands aren’t necessarily focused on making a million dollars, they are focused on offering sensational products + services and building a sensational reputation. The oodles of cash [5k, 50k, 250k or that first or second million – depending on what you set your sights on] inevitably arrives, almost as a side effect of caring deeply about and creating a culture obsessed with these two priorities.
- Creating sensational products
- Building a sensational brand
Cash is drawn like a magnet to Million Dollar Dog Brands because people are drawn to Million Dollar Dog Brands. But that’s only the beginning… the small group of advocates and fans just ‘get it’ right away are not enough to sustain your business forever – you have to get familiar with and implement the 6 Stages of Marketing to ensure a steady flow of new customers.
Million Dollar Dog Art Brand Examples:
- Grace Chon – photographer
- Ron Burns – painter
- Ron Schmidt: Loose Leashes’ – photographer
- Sharon Montrose – photographer
- The Labs & Co. – photographer / illustrator / designer
- Lili Chin – illustrator
- Sasha Unisex – tattoo artist
- Rupert Fawcet – illustrator / cartoonist
I should mention, that another advantage you have as an artist – is that your brand can largely BE your product/service! You’ll see in the examples above – for most of these artists, their unique style is how they differentiate from others [rather than some complex brand identity]
In short, through their sensational products and/or sensational brands, Million Dollar Dog Brands create constant DEMAND.
[often, almost by accident.]
We believe that demand leads to profit. Profit leads to wealth. Wealth leads to choices. Choices lead to freedom. Financial freedom, freedom to spend your time the way you choose and even location independence if that’s what you want.
This is our reason we pour everything we’ve got into Working with Dog. We want to help you discover and build your Million Dollar Dog Brand and then help you move through the 6 Stages of Marketing [and also help you stay out of your own way which can sometimes be the hardest part!]
Sounds great but where do I start?
10 Quick Marketing Musts for Pet Artists
- If you’re a pet photographer, your business is a hyper-local, so you need to be clear on all your digital platforms WHERE you live / work / serve clients, so when people arrive in your digital world they know if you’re near them.
Example: Check all of these places right now to make sure you’ve got the name of your city, village or region that you serve [along with what country you’re in – remember online audiences are international!]
+ Your website + Blog: the about page, the products/services page, the contact page and it is a good idea to include in the footer on every page
+ Your most important Social Media platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedInEven if you’re not a location-based business, it’s still nice to say where you’re from so potential clients get an idea of shipping restrictions, time-zone implications, an in-person meet possibilities. Plus, you might just give them a reason to get in touch!
- Get friendly with Twitter. I know I know, I took a long time for me to understand how Twitter can help my business grow– but then when I embraced it [even though I still didn’t get it], I made $5k inside of 3 weeks as a direct result of a twitter message. Twitter is targeted and searchable, this is a wonderful place to find more people who might want to give you their money. Check out this article for tips to find new leads on twitter. Also, I love this book, mostly due to how easy it is to read and its serious sass factor… but there are some good tips in there for making twitter make sense.
- Grease up the Networking Wheels [don’t worry – no cold-calls required] If you’re interested in working with businesses [b2b] or media [magazines] make a list of the top 50 companies / brands you’d like to work with, spruce up that LinkedIn profile and start connecting with these people / brands. Be sure to do your research so you can show in your communication that you are familiar with and fond of the brand – use specific language – be brief, but explain what you have in common and why not only you and your services, but the ethos behind your brand, is a good partner to them.
- Start a habit of creating one piece of interesting content and sharing it on all your social platforms every week. Don’t panic, ‘content’ can be a photo, a live-stream video, a quote, a recipe, a sketch, an anecdote… whatever. It does not have to be epic, it DOES have to be consistent and it needs to show off YOU, relate to your BRAND, and interest the people who are likely to one-day pay you. I suggest this content lives on your blog, and when you share it, you share links back to your blog. MAKE SURE there is a CALL TO ACTION in the blog or in the side-bar – a link or something that will lead people to get in touch, to dig further into the site, or best of all, give you their email! Which leads me to #2
- Get the Digits. Err emails rather. Make sure that your content and web pages have
- Drop by more than once every 2 years. If you’re going to – if you follow my suggestion and do #1, you can simply email your audience the content you’re posting on your blog every week, plus a nice personal little message and maybe even an extra photo. You can’t just amass emails, hoard them like treasure, ignore them and then expect the people on the other side of them to be responsive when you email them a year later and they’ve forgotten who you are. Feed a value-adding connection between you and them. THEN when youhave something to actually SELL or PROMOTE it fits in along with all the pretty things
- Put some new shoes on and everything will be alright. Take a look at your portfolio. Ask yourself ‘Is this MY favourite work… or is it the work my clients are most likely to want to buy from me’ ‘Is there variety of subject but consistency of style?’ ‘Is there enough work for the client to see what they’re likely to get from me or are there only a few carefully-selected perfect images… Try to put yourself in your clients shoes… and think of this like online dating. When there’s only one photo you immediately wonder what that person is hiding beyond the crop! Think about what you sell the most of and make sure there is a lot of it in your portfolio. You can always add a gallery of ‘our favorites’ or ‘editors picks’ or ‘personal work’ if you want.
- Start Here. Oftentimes commissioning work from an artist feels like a HUGE leap of faith for people. It’s basically like buying something on Amazon except with a way higher price tag and no images of the exact final product! Be sensitive to your clients’ needs here and offer a few paths to assurance:
+ Consider adding a ‘start here’ page that explains how the whole process works, with ‘behind the scenes’ images of the process. Here it’s nice to add a ‘How it Works’ 1. 2. 3. Set of graphics so that people can see, at a glance, what is expected of them and what they’ll get for their trouble and hard-earned cash
+ Try to offer enough examples and angles of finished work for other clients to allow the potential client to decide if it is right for them
+ All of the above is not permission to clutter up your site with a novel about how you do what you do – make sure EVERYTHING is written to help your customer, not brag or explain stuff they don’t care about… Less text is always better – when it doubt, explain it with graphics or let your wonderful art do the talking.
- People Don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy Why you Do it: Get super duper crystal clear about WHY you do what you do. I don’t mean ‘I like dogs’ or ‘I love art’ – I mean why YOU get out of bed in the morning… What MOVES you… What are you CURIOUS about…What are your unique resources and skills? Check out this podcast episdoe for an exercise to help you do this [it’s a process but you’ve got to start somewhere and that somewhere is right here, right now!] Stuck on this one? Maybe I can help…
- Makin Love in the Elevator. You’ve heard of an ‘elevator pitch’ – but I like to think of your ‘brand statement’ as more of an ‘elevator seduction’ – you don’t want to pitch your client, you want to make them fall in love with you. Once you’re VERY clear on why you do what you do [See # 2] then you’ve got to have a succinct way to say it. ‘Oh hi, nice to meet you, what do you do?’ ‘I [insert best 25ish conversational, memorable words you’ve ever composed describing who you are, why you do what you do and how] – lovely to meet you’