When an artist – almost any artist, actually – wants to freelance to bring in some money, one mistake they may make is to create a website about themselves. It seems pretty obvious to do that, doesn’t it? After all, they figure people will want to know right away what schools they studied at, where their art has appeared or been performed, and how good they are at it.
But here’s the thing: there’s a difference between selling your art and selling your services, and the two require different marketing approaches.
This is where the difference is between marketing yourself as an artist, dancer, writer, musician, photographer, etc. and marketing yourself as a graphics designer, dance instructor, corporate writer, music teacher, wedding photographer, etc. If you’re marketing your art, you focus on you and your art. If you’re marketing your service, you focus on your service. Sometimes you may have a hard time differentiating between the two, but that’s generally how it works. Why?
It’s about how audiences interact with you. As an artist, they want to know more about you, what drives your art, what inspires you, and, of course, your art. In other words, they’re generally trying to find a match between your personality and expression and theirs.
If you want to freelance, you’ve now become a service provider. This type of clientele needs a different focus. These people want to know what you’ve accomplished for other clients so they can judge if you’ll be able to accomplish the same for them.
Do I have hard, fast data on my hypothesis? No. This is based on what I’ve observed as a copywriter for the arts and technology. (Sorry, some shameless self-promotion there.)
Let me illustrate from my perspective:
As a writer who’s breaking into fiction, I took freelance editor Kristen Lamb’s workshops, Branding for Authors and Blogging for Authors. Her argument is that readers want to get to know me because they’ll assume that my fiction will somehow match my personality. For example, anyone who reads my blog won’t be expecting slasher horror novels anytime soon. But a short piece of creative non-fiction about an ancestor? More likely.
But as a copywriter, it’s not about me: it’s about my client. Yes, my website needs to reflect who I am, and yes, I firmly believe it needs a bio page. However, the majority of the site has to focus on what I can do for potential clients. They obviously don’t want to work with a self-aggrandizing idiot, but at the outset, at least, they’re more concerned about what I’ve accomplished, because it’ll show to them if I can handle what they want me to do.
In the end, you’re important, no matter what, and your website should reflect you. So whether you’re selling your art or your services, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re human, and that people ultimately want to interact with a human. Just remember that your website, depending in its purpose, will need the right emphasis.