Shoot 25 – Galactic Trooper Stock Photography

Aliens watch out!! We’re very excited to debut our BRAND NEW Galactic Trooper set, starring Pippa

We custom-built this sci-fi costume from the ground up – and the heavily armoured concept is inspired by the Colonial Marines (Aliens), and Starship Troopers. Film quality!!

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Pippa H Galactic Trooper Sci-Fi - Stock Photography I

Valiantly Stepping

NeoStock - Pippa H Galactic Trooper Sci-Fi - Stock Photography II

Sullen

NeoStock - Pippa H Galactic Trooper Sci-Fi - Stock Photography III

Awaiting Instructions

NeoStock - Pippa H Galactic Trooper Sci-Fi - Stock Photography IV

Trooper at Rest

NeoStock - Pippa H Galactic Trooper Sci-Fi - Stock Photography

Running into Battle

View the full gallery for this set at:

Pippa H Galactic Trooper Stock Photography Gallery

Coming up next: LOTS of horror!! We have some very exciting concepts rolling in soon, including ZOMBIE HORDE, 80s SLASHER, and FINAL GIRL… More info landing soon 😉

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 025 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Pippa H. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 25 – Steampunk Victorian Stock Photography

We received a LOT of community requests for a female Steampunk concept – so we’re very pleased to debut our brand new Steampunk Victorian set, starring Polina!!

‘Hair up’ style allows for headswaps where necessary, and there’s a whole smorgasbord of props and poses for you to play with. 350 images in this gallery!!

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Polina Victorian I - Stock Photography

Wandering with Lantern

NeoStock - Polina Victorian II - Stock Photography

Suspicious Minds

NeoStock - Polina Victorian III - Stock Photography

Demure at the Station

NeoStock - Polina Victorian IV - Stock Photography

Following the Clues

NeoStock - Polina Victorian V - Stock Photography

Dual Pistols

View the full gallery for this set at:

Polina Steampunk Victorian Stock Photography Gallery

Coming up next: An EPIC female (armoured) Galactic Trooper concept. More info landing soon 😉

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 025 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Polina. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

 

Shoot 24 – Hunter Punk Stock Photography

For this set we went for a high-octane  goth / punk concept, so you now have the ultimate alternative leading lady for your cover projects!! 😀

As ever, TONNES of poses and very wide range of props included…

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Megan Hunter Punk V - Stock Photography

Tough Decisions

NeoStock - Megan Hunter Punk IV - Stock Photography

Goth Magick

NeoStock - Megan Hunter Punk III - Stock Photography

Guns n’ Ammo

NeoStock - Megan Hunter Punk II - Stock Photography

The Rockstar

NeoStock - Megan Hunter Punk I - Stock Photography

Superhero Pose!!

View the full gallery for this set at:

Megan Hunter Punk Stock Photography Gallery

Coming up next: More ladies!! We have two incredibly exciting genre concepts landing for you very soon, Steampunk Victorian AND Galactic Trooper – sci-fi and Fantasy respectively 🙂

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 024 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Model (& styling): Megan Biffin. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 24 – Apocalypse Raider Stock Photography

We’re super-hyped to debut our BRAND NEW Apocalypse Raider set inspired by Mad Max!! Need a battle-hardened female warrior from the dystopian wastelands? We now have you covered 😉

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Megan Apocalypse Raider V - Stock Photography

Before the Battle

NeoStock - Megan Apocalypse Raider IV - Stock Photography

Dystopian Chic

NeoStock - Megan Apocalypse Raider III - Stock Photography

Warrior at Rest

NeoStock - Megan Apocalypse Raider II - Stock Photography

Stepping into the Wastelands

NeoStock - Megan Apocalypse Raider I - Stock Photography

Dramatic rear shot

View the full gallery for this set at:

Megan Apocalypse Raider Stock Photography Gallery

Stay tuned, as we have another great set with this model: Hunter Punk!! It’s an alternative / high attitude concept that really packs a punch 😉

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 024 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Model (& styling): Megan Biffin. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 23 – Action Thriller Stock Photography

Our new model Marc dials up the smoulder to 11 with this brand new ‘Action Thriller’ set, exclusive to NeoStock!! A classic look with 231 poses to choose from – the ideal leading man for a wide range of projects.

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Marc Action Hero V - Stock Photography

Patrol

NeoStock - Marc Action Hero IV - Stock Photography

Guns Blazin’

NeoStock - Marc Action Hero III - Stock Photography

Summoning

NeoStock - Marc Action Hero II - Stock Photography

Pondering Tactics

NeoStock - Marc Action Hero I - Stock Photography

Dramatic From Behind

View the full gallery for this set at:

Marc Action Thriller Stock Photography Gallery

At the end of this month, we’ll be shooting FOUR concepts with two brand new female models… Keep your eyes peeled for our incoming Galactic Marine, Steampunk, Punk Rocker, and Apocalypse Raider sets!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 023 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Marc Mullen Browne. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 23 – Classic Detective Stock Photography

We’re super stoked to debut our brand new ‘Classic Detective’ set, starring Marc!! A hard-drinking sleuth, with a chequered past – will he have what it takes to crack the case of a lifetime??

With 360 poses to choose from, and an epic range of props – this is the ultimate detective collection for your projects

Here’s a look at some of the images  from the set:

NeoStock - Marc Classic Detective V - Stock Photography

Cracking the Case

NeoStock - Marc Classic Detective IV - Stock Photography

Constantine Pose

NeoStock - Marc Classic Detective III - Stock Photography

Breaching the Room

NeoStock - Marc Classic Detective II - Stock Photography

Striding Victorious

NeoStock - Marc Classic Detective I - Stock Photography

Caught Off Guard

View the full gallery for this set at:

Marc Classic Detective Stock Photography Gallery

The second concept for this shoot is ‘Action Hero’, and we have plenty more thriller-themed stock photos landing, starring leading man Marc.

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 023 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Marc Mullen Browne. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 22 – Contemporary Dress Stock Photography

We’re proud to debut our brand new ‘Contemporary Dress’ set, starring NeoStock’s Liepa!!

This is an elegant style that would suit a wide range of concepts. As ever we’ve included a MASSIVE range of props and angles, there’s 325 poses to choose from

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Liepa Contemporary Dress I - Stock Photography

A quiet moment

NeoStock - Liepa Contemporary Dress II - Stock Photography

Twirling

NeoStock - Liepa Contemporary Dress III - Stock Photography

Demure & Innocent

NeoStock - Liepa Contemporary Dress IV - Stock Photography

Deep in Thought

NeoStock - Liepa Contemporary Dress V - Stock Photography

The start of an adventure

View the full gallery for this set at:

Liepa Contemporary Dress Stock Photography Gallery

Our next shoot rolling in, is a high octane ‘Action’ themed collection – Classic Detective & Action Thriller. We’ve got a great new model for these concepts, watch this space!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 022 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Liepa Maknaviciute. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 22 – Dark Witch Stock Photography

Fan favourite Liepa is BACK, this time with a gloriously gothic ‘Dark Witch’ concept!! This set is ideal for cover projects that need a high attitude femme fatale

There’s 325 poses in this set – PLENTY of options for your projects!!

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Liepa Dark Witch I - Stock Photography

Dual Swords

NeoStock - Liepa Dark Witch II - Stock Photography

Who is the Fairest of them all?

NeoStock - Liepa Dark Witch III - Stock Photography

Step into the Forest

NeoStock - Liepa Dark Witch IV - Stock Photography

Battle Ready

NeoStock - Liepa Dark Witch V - Stock Photography

The Enchantress

View the full gallery for this set at:

Liepa Dark Witch Stock Photography Gallery

Our second concept for this shoot is ‘Contemporary Dress’ – a vastly different style from this collection!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 022 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Liepa Maknaviciute. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Top 5 Tips for Becoming a Book Cover Artist

I often get asked by digital and natural media artists what it takes to break into book cover design – so I thought I’d put together my advice for you guys in the form of this ‘Top 5 Listicle’…

Are you becoming a big shot on DeviantArt or Instagram? Are your friends and family saying you’re getting pretty good at this art malarkey? Are you looking for a way to supplement your day-job income, or replace it completely by doing art fulltime?

In this guide I share my top 5 tips for breaking into the incredible world of publishing – and create a part time or fulltime income producing cover art for authors and publishers.

Ready to break some eggs? Read on for the skinny…

1. Learn Typography & Layout

In Indie Publishing (where you’ll most likely start), most cover artists (90 – 95 %) are expected to offer an ‘all-in-one’ package that provides the illustration / typography / full wrap layout. Think of the service as a one stop shop where the client can get everything they need from a single professional handling the cover art job.

Further up the chain (Big 5 Publishers / Larger Indies), a cover art project may be handled by a team – Art Director, Illustrator, Designer (for layout and typography). If you’re able to jump in at this higher tier and work with a production team (and focus purely on art) – then more power to you!!

9 times out of 10 though, you’ll have to fight your way through the ranks – by offering an all-in cover art service that includes layout and typography.

I used to be a big player on DeviantArt in the photomanipulation galleries (the artist formerly known as ‘Conzpiracy’) and I’ve seen many photomanipulators transition from the social art world to that of professional commissions / publishing.

The NUMBER ONE sticking point for the majority of artists coming over to publishing has always been TYPOGRAPHY AND LAYOUT. Typography / Layout is the arrangement of visual and typographic elements to communicate a message and create a pleasing package that lures readers to the ‘blurb’ of a story.

Typography. The secret-sauce of high impact cover design.

These skillsets are fiercely under-estimated by many of the talented artists who make the jump to cover art – and it’s a shame, because a lack in this skillset reduces the value of the work DRAMATICALLY. Your illustrative work could be world-class, but if the type and layout is sloppy – you could be relegated to the little leagues ($100 – $200 USD commissions).

Typography and Layout is an art in itself and requires just as much practice / energy (if not more) as you dedicate to your artwork. There’s really no way of winging it – any discerning viewer can tell immediately if a composition is unbalanced / illegible.

I was lucky when it came to learning the basics of design, as I produced very type-heavy work from the age 14, up until my mid 20s: event flyers, gig posters, record sleeves, fight posters etc. Typography really didn’t come naturally to me though – it took dedicated focus and determination to sharpen up these integral skillsets!!

So how do you learn the mysterious and dark arts of Typography and Layout? Here’s a look at some of the things you can immediately do to sharpen your design game:

1. Practice Like a BEAST

Yup, it’s the un-glamorous / practical answer right here, the number one thing that will yield the greatest results. Produce mock up covers on a weekly basis, and put the covers out into the world for your peers / audience to judge. You’ll soon learn what hits the right chords, and what doesn’t. This daily repetition will sharpen your skillset like nothing else.

2. Read LOTS of Design Books

Another common-sense strategy, but an action that will quickly bring you up to scratch on the most important design conventions. It’s essential that you become fully competent in playing by ‘the rules’, before mixing things up a bit and becoming more daring with your layout ideas.

This step has the potential to be expensive when buying hard-copies, but the investment will yield massive results down the line – allowing you to charge a much higher premium for your flawless design work.

3. Take a Course or Two

Another super-fast way to elevate your skillset, is to invest in a course or two that can elevate your design skillset… or even just binge watch relevant YouTube tutorials (of which there are PLENTY). To succeed in a fiercely competitive marketplace you’ve got to bring your A-game; and these are the investments you’ll need to make in order to stand a chance!!

By having an excellent mastery of Typography and Layout, you’ll be able to increase the rate you charge. Doing so will dramatically improve your chances for earning a liveable part time or full time income from cover art.

2. Drop the Ego / Learn to be Flexible

When you produce commercial art – the project focus isn’t about you, it’s about selling your client’s product. We’re no longer in the ‘Kool Art’ business, we’re now in the book selling business. So what does this mean exactly?

When you’re doing personal art you can focus on the motifs / themes / styles that YOU’RE good at – the crowd-pleasers that generate all those glorious ‘Likes’ and comments… When you’re working on professional commissions however, the game changes A LOT.

Your clients are going to be making all kinds of weird and wonderful requests, many of which will take you out of your comfort zone!!

“Oh sweet baby jebus… I’m really out of my depth with this one…”

This is one of the most difficult aspects of transitioning from personal art to commercial. Undertaking LOTS of commission work is pretty much the only way to learn how to accomodate client requests. The stuff they get you to do might not play to your natural strengths, and the resulting work may be a lot less impactful than you usually do – this is one of those mental barriers that all of us have to overcome.

Of course, you can pitch your services to clients who are a good match for your style – but you’ll still encounter those situations where you’re asked to produce concepts that you’re not even sure you can do – it happened to me, a LOT!!

Play to your strengths where you can, but keep pushing yourself with increasingly elaborate commissions. Ultimately client satisfaction trumps your own happiness with the work – so if the client is happy, then it’s a job well done!! Learning to disengage emotionally is a skillset that will be essential in your cover art career.

3. Sell to Your Market, Not to Your Peers

This faux pas isn’t limited to visual artists, I see this happen in many sectors of the creative industry…

When marketing / promoting your work – you want to focus on channels where your ‘market’ spends their time or congregates. Again, this could take you way out of your comfort zone. This could be Facebook Groups, Forum Communities, LinkedIn, or Twitter etc. It’s all well and good getting ‘Likes’ or comments from your usual networks for your awesome work, but if these marketing activities don’t result in sales or commissions then it’s pretty much wasted energy.

To sell effectively in the world of publishing, you have to become a KNOWN ENTITY. This means interacting, befriending authors / editors / cover artists / publishers, participating in Groups or Forums, and developing a GENUINE interest in publishing and all its machinations.

The artists who successfully ingratiate themselves into the world of publishing and become genuine contributors have a massive headstart on those who don’t. As a personal brand and service provider, interpersonal skills will play an integral role in your career as a cover artist.

The Publishing Community. Not a bad bunch at all!!

FORTUNATELY, the publishing world is populated with wonderful clients!! The vast majority of players are thoroughly decent and are a joy to work with 🙂 Of course, there’s one or two maniacs amongst them – but that’s just par for the course!!

Marketing and Branding are two HUGE aspects of the cover art game – so integral in fact, that we wrote TWO behemoth guides. Be sure to check them out after you’ve read this post:

• The Marketing Masterclass for Creatives

• The Branding Masterclass for Creatives

4. Learn the Laws / Create Your Systems

As a professional service provider, you’re going to have to learn (in full) the legalities involved when producing commercial art. Of utmost importance is understanding the basics of intellectual property (IP) and licensed properties.

For instance, if you’re a photomanipulator – you can’t just grab any image you want off the internet willy-nilly, you need to license commercial stock photography from providers such as Adobe Stock, NeoStock etc., or at a push certain free stock providers (NOT ideal). Failure to adhere to these strict guidelines could be catastrophic for you and your client if a lawsuit gets thrown your way by Disney or a disgruntled photographer. INSTANT RUIN.

As it’s so critically important to understand this aspect of the game, we put together a full guide for you. Essential reading, be sure to check it out:

• The Indie Authors Guide to Stock Photography

“Help!! Disney sued me!! Now I need to borrow $250,000…”

When we refer to ‘Creating Systems’, these are the protocols you implement for your entire design process – from the initial consultation, right through to getting paid (project completion).

Every artist has their own way of doing things – but if you’re an absolute newbie / beginner with commercial art, you may want to check out the guide we wrote that outlines the cover art process:

• The Indie Authors Guide to Hiring a Cover Artist

When your conscientous of the law, and offer your client a streamlined design process – you increase your professionalism, and in turn the premium you can charge for your services. Getting these aspects of your game down early is absolutely essential for success in publishing.

5. Understand That Art will Become ‘Work’

It’s a shame that our wonderful guide has to end on a sour note, but this is a MAHOOSIVE point that needs to be made…

Your relationship with art will change when your rent money depends on it.

When you invest your most powerful / productive hours of the day into art for your clients, it doesn’t leave much ‘creative juice’ for your own projects. It’s pretty difficult to crank out the Wacom after doing 8 – 10 solid hours of illustrative work for other people. All you’ll want to do after your work day is detach for a while, and take in some ‘life’.

This can have a powerful impact on your own creative voice, and is a sacrifice that many of us make when we pursue commercial art.

Your own ideas, stories, and narratives will take a back seat whilst you focus on producing work for others – it’s the nature of the beast. After a while your overall desire to produce (anything) may be dampened, and could even be perceived as a chore. They sing from the rooftops “Do what you love for a living!!” – but the realities of doing so isn’t always peaches and cream.

“Lord, why have you forsaken me?”

I really don’t want to scare you off with this notion… This is just a gentle warning from one friend to another, that there’s a possibility you could ‘lose a little something’ when you work commercially (especially fulltime).

Closing Notes

Plenty to think about right there!! I hope this guide has given you enough fodder to consider, when it comes to pursuing a career in book cover design. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop by our Focus Group, and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction 🙂

All the best with your creative adventures!!

Dean

 

About the Author:

Dean Samed is a professional cover artist, and Photoshop instructor.

He now dedicates his fulltime attention to producing ‘the best goddamn stock photography on the planet!!

 

You May Also Enjoy:

• The Branding Masterclass for Creatives

• The Indie Authors Guide to Hiring a Cover Artist

• Earn With Your Art – An Insiders Guide Part 1

The Marketing Masterclass for Creatives

For many in the creative sphere, the dreaded ‘M’ word can be the source of all kinds of anguish…

Some of you may glide through marketing pursuits like a duck to water – whereas some of you may view the pursuit as a necessary evil; that annoying ‘thing’ that really should be tackled (at some point, but maybe not today).

Producing the work is the easy part. Convincing the world of your value in a fiercely crowded / global marketplace? Now that’s a different kettle of fish altogether!! It’s the frequently overlooked secret-sauce that WILL make or break your venture. Get the marketing right, and you can explode your income, profile, and success EXPONENTIALLY.

In this Masterclass, we’ll the examine the various marketing strategies that will enable you to reach a greater audience, connect with more clients, and sell more creative products. We’ll be focusing on free or low-cost channels, including social media, your website, and blogging – all things you can do right away, with very little technical expertise. Unlike most technical guides, we’ll also spend some time examining the ‘whys’ behind the marketing activities we roll out.

Ready to get the gears moving to take a slice of the action? Read on for the skinny…

The People Game

Whether you’re a photographer, author, cover-artist, retoucher, or artisan, you’ll find the principles of marketing / selling your wares are pretty much universal.

Marketing ISN’T about SEO tricks, algorithms, or the number of followers you have on Instagram – it’s about broadcasting value, creating desire, building relationships, and gaining the trust of your customers. At its core, it’s a ‘people’ game, with the ultimate aim of selling your product or venture.

“But I’m not a ‘People Person’ – people suck!!”

If that’s your current outlook, it’s probably be wise to consider an attitude re-adjustment. Perceive the act of marketing / selling as a joy. Be grateful to have the opportunity to connect and engage with your customers. Be grateful that it’s YOU who can help solve their problems. By following those actions, your attitude will re-align, and your reality will change.

You can STILL do phenomenally well, EVEN IF you are a cantankerous miserable git!! It’s just a case of leveraging that schtick, and maybe deriving some humour from your unique outlook. There’s plenty of fun to be had in that respect.

You Cannot Outsource Marketing

(at the beginning)

I’ve heard MANY creators state the following:

“I think I’ll just outsource this stuff, I don’t have the time for marketing…”

This is a gargantuan error, especially in the early years of your venture. Noone else on the planet will know (as well as you) the problems faced by your clients or customers, and how you’re uniquely positioned to help them. At the start, YOU must be the driving force of your marketing efforts. This is absolutely essential.

“Why is that?” they cry…

First off, you need to learn firsthand what’s working, and what isn’t. By pulling your sleeves up, and getting your hands dirty – you’ll gain a powerful understanding of what strategies are effective, what your market responds to, and the pros / cons of each platform.

We don’t need your services quite yet, Brand Manager Maisey…

This learning process is CRITICALLY invaluable – it can’t be gained via a training course, or passed onto you as secondhand knowledge. You need try things, iterate / improve, and change strategy when needed. Only you can go through these initial trials and tribulations, and learn from your experiences.

Once you’ve figured out effective marketing activities – THEN you may draft in outside help, to assist with daily and repetitive tasks, but not before then.

If you skip this step, you could potentially flush thousands of dollars down the toilet – by hiring marketing e-workers to handle your most important business operation (marketing). How will you know if they’re doing a good job? How will you know if your budget is being spent effectively? How will you know they’re charging a fair price for what they’re delivering?

From your time in the trenches you’ll have half a clue on many different aspects of the game. This will be incredibly valuable when you decide to hire marketing professionals later down the line.

If you seek success, you cannot avoid marketing.

Connecting With Your Tribe

That thing you do? That thing you sell? There’s a tribe out there, eager to be a part of it. Your tribe will be there to support and buy, regardless of how niche or obscure your venture may be. (Shoutout to the Seth Godin school of marketing, clever guy – look him up!!)

Of course some niches will be bigger than others. Your goat apparel brand may have a much smaller market than say, a boutique jewellery store… HOWEVER, if you can absolutely dominate this obscure niche, then there’s great potential to create a very lucrative venture.

You just need to find and connect with the people who like to dress up goats. THAT is marketing.

(Arguably the most obscure sentence I’ve written in my life…)

vêtements pour chèvres. Collection 2018.

We’re incredibly fortunate to be part of the digital revolution, because our audience is now GLOBAL as opposed to regional. With a sound marketing strategy you can connect with the (tens of thousands) of people out there who share your vision, or desperately need what you’re offering.

The Hard Sell

Believe it or not, you don’t have to be ‘salesy’ like a used-car salesman to roll out effective marketing. This is the fear that most people have, when faced with ‘selling’. If anything, a hyper-aggressive pitch is often the worst thing you can do.

Screeching out the following (from every platform imaginable) IS NOT marketing, it’s ugly and annoying noise that will make people hate you:

“BUY MY BOOK!! ONLY $1 ON AMAZON!! HERE’S A LINK!! LOL!!”

Indiscriminately throwing promotional messages (like the above) into the ether WILL NOT get you very far. The same goes for constantly hawking 10% off promotions. Every single day, we’re bombarded with a bajillion promotional messages – and as humans we’re evolving to filter out / ignore advertising messages. It’s a recognised phenomena known as ‘ad-blindness (or banner blindness)‘ – look it up!!

Our collective bullshit detectors are dialled up to ’11’, and we’re all experts in filtering out (unuseful) digital noise. So how do we break through all this detritus, to share our genuinely useful products or services?

First off, you need to become a LOT more sophisticated than: “BUY MY SH*T” or “MY SH*T COSTS ‘X’, YOU CAN BUY IT HERE”.

ugh

If you’re selling a very basic commodity, like an ice cream on a hot day – then the above will pretty much do the business for you. You have a captive audience who want’s an ice cream (there and then), it’s just a case of your customer finding out whether it’s affordable or not.

Unfortunately – for more complex products or services, the game changes A LOT.

As modern consumers, we have a staggering range of ‘choice’ at our disposal when it comes to choosing any kind of product or service. A three second Google search can present us with more purchasing options than we could ever process – we’re truly spoiled for choice. This factor alone makes selling in the digital marketplace extremely difficult.

So how do we reach our audience, without the hyper-aggressive sales pitch?

Educate & Entertain

Throwing out dry / salesy promotional posts isn’t the only way to approach marketing. Think about how you could educate or entertain with your content. Educating or Entertaining brings VALUE to your prospects in some way. It builds rapport and trust – it’s a delicate slow-dance that brings interested parties into your world (without the hard sell).

Here’s some examples:

Suzy has an Etsy store, selling hand-made props and costume elements. As opposed to just throwing out a post that says “Cyberpunk Goggles, $10 OFF Today” (BORING) – she could create a post that contains a ‘How it Was Done’ guide, with pictures and a write up showing the process she uses for creating the goggles. Which post will get the most ‘Likes’ and comments (AND sales)? The ‘How it Was Done’  guide by a country mile!! It’s educational, it’s informative, and we get to learn a bit about Suzy’s story and her creative process.

People love to peek behind the curtain, to learn the magic behind an awesome product.

Wilf Mackerel has a new sea monster book out. Like most other authors, he could spam a couple of groups with a two sentence blurb and an Amazon link – OR he could do the following… Wilf could write a heart-felt Facebook or Blog post, about the time he encountered a basking shark when he was swimming as a teenager. Even though the creature is benign (unbeknown to young Wilf), he was struck with a primordial terror and the memory was scorched into his psyche. THIS was his inspiration, for writing the book. By sharing a genuine life experience, Wilf has entertained his followers – and piqued their interest in his story. No hard-selling involved.

Genuine personal stories and anecdotes can go a LONG way when it comes to promoting a personal brand.

Wilf’s personal story. A lot more engaging than an Amazon link!!

Mike is getting pretty good at beauty retouching, and would like to drum up some business in the field. His first idea is to hit a load of prospects with cold emails, linking to his website – HOWEVER, he could also do the following… Mike could create an awesome time-lapse video series showing his creative process from beginning to end. With a big enough following, prospective clients will seek HIM out, as opposed to the other way round. Mike is both educating and informing with his content, whilst building authority within the field of retouching.

Demonstrations of your technical ability / prowess shows the world what you’re capable of – and builds niche authority in the process.

CONTENT IS KING. There’s literally a thousand and one ways to educate or inform with your content, it doesn’t always have to be about the hard-sell, or being ‘salesy’. Of course you can throw out more straightforward sales posts – but they SHOULDN’T be the backbone of your strategy!!

“Well DAMN… that seems like a lot more work than I want to do!!”

It’s a viper-pit out there, and the folks who CAN be bothered to go that extra mile – well THEY’RE getting your customers (even if they have an inferior product) Weave a narrative, tell a story!!

You see, it’s not about your product, it’s about the market’s PERCEPTION of your product. That’s why there’s a lot of ‘sub-standard’ stuff selling like gangbusters – the creators have found a way to effectively sell their wares.

The Fundamentals of Social Posting

Putting out content is an ART in itself… Here’s a list of some marketing fundamentals – many of these strategies actually go right back to the birth of print media and developed over the years for different media platforms.

Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals of social posting:

1. Consistency

Whatever you do, be CONSISTENT. If you’re going to share artwork across social media platforms, do it on a consistent basis. Same goes for video content, blog posts, or tweets.

The more predictable you are with your posting schedule, the greater success you’ll have with building a following and increasing engagement (‘Likes’, comments, subscriptions, sign-ups etc.)

It’s a devastatingly simple premise, but carries MUCH more clout than any other ‘trick’ or strategy. Even if your posting volume isn’t particularly high, your audience will be conditioned to anticipate your content.

Facebook Pages are being largely written-off, because engagement has dipped so low across the board. This is particularly true for brand new pages, where it can seem IMPOSSIBLE to gain any traction. A consistent posting schedule will increase your follower count faster than any other approach.

2. Respond to ALL Comments

What’s the number one thing you can do, that will instantly increase engagement with your content?

Again, another criminally simple strategy: simply respond to EVERY social comment as fast as you can. That’s literally it, no rocket-science involved for this one!! This is especially important when you’re new, and building trust / authority for your brand.

As you grow, it will become increasingly difficult to keep up with this – as social media comments can grow exponentially with your success… but DO endeavour to answer any questions or enquiries within a maximum of 24 hours.

Yes, it’s hard work – but noone said this was going to be easy 😉

It’s not rocket science…

3. Call to Action

After you’ve educated or informed with your awesome content, you need to ASK for some kind of action from your prospect – marketing professionals call this the ‘Call to Action’, and is absolutely essential when you do any kind of marketing online. If you don’t ask for the sale, you’re pretty much pissing in the wind!!

Here’s a look at a few examples:

Suzy selling Cyberpunk goggles: “I hope you enjoyed this walkthrough guys, if you’d like to score a pair of these goggles for yourself – head on over to X. Only 4 left – so don’t miss out :)”

(Suzy also employed a ‘scarcity’ tactic here, we’ll look into that in a later article)

Wilf selling his sea monster book: “Well that was my tale of woe, me hearties!! My story which was inspired by this fiasco can be found at X, where it’s available for FREE download via Kindle Unlimited. Have a read, and tell me what you think!!”

(Wilf came in with a double-whammy with his Call to Action – not only asking for the sale, but a review too!!)

Mike selling retouching services: “For more beauty retouch timelapses, be sure to hit ‘Subscribe’ to be notified of new uploads. Need some work done? You can reach me via my website, link in the comments!! Thanks for tuning in, see you at the next video.”

(Mikes video outro Call to Action asks for a subscription, and also gives interested clients an easy way to get in touch)

Beware the Vanity Metrics

Now before we move onto the next chunk of this Masterclass, I want to give you a heads up on ‘Vanity Metrics’. Vanity Metrics are intangibles such as ‘Likes’, page views / website visits, Instagram followers etc. – things that make you look good, but aren’t necessarily a marker of success.

“Look at me!! I have 30K followers on Instagram!! *ahem* Could you lend me $5 till tuesday?”

What matters is SALES or COMMISSIONS… and even though Trudy the IG model has 25K followers – that traffic may not be converting into an income. I see it very often, with talented artisans and creatives – HUGE social followings, poorly monetised.

(“But Dean, not everything is about money!!” Of course not, but this guide written for those with the goal of quitting the day job or earning more from their creative business.)

Having beefy social stats can be good for social proof / building authority, but if you’re not properly monetising or marketing that traffic – then you’re pretty much just spinning your wheels.

A highly engaged community of 1000 who will buy absolutely anything that you put out, is much more powerful than 35,000 non-buying followers. Of course, it’s much more preferable to have 35K followers on any platform, but ensuring that traffic is leveraged / monetised properly is paramount.

Do not be fooled by Vanity Metrics. Social media ‘success’, and net income are two very different things. Exercise a level head, and don’t fall for your own hype.

Benefits VS Features

Now this is another age-old marketing tenet that’s as true today as it ever was…

When writing any kind of copy about your product / service / widget – try not to get bogged down by excessively listing all the features. This is dry. This is ‘salesy’. By nature we’re all incredibly selfish beings – and the What’s in it for me?‘ factor is EVERYTHING when it comes to selling.

We’re not buying a hammer (product) – we’re buying a nail in the wall (benefit / result). Always keep this in mind when promoting anything. This is massive.

As opposed to listing features, discuss how your product will improve or benefit your customer’s life. As humans we have many needs – and a basic understanding of desire and motivation can be a supremely powerful tool in your marketing endeavours.

‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ gives a very quick and decent overview of our basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Getting a bit too technical here? Let’s simplify, and take a look at some real world examples:

Jim wants to sell book cover art to authors and publishers. Instead of just posting up his artwork and dropping a link to his website – he may do a post talking about how a cover re-brand for a prior project increased his client’s sales 10 fold (this happens a LOT.) A massive benefit of using his services!! What do authors want? Prestige amongst their peers, to entertain their readers, to be perceived as professional and capable, and to sell LOTS of books. Tap into these desires as opposed to talking about yourself and magic will happen.

Marie wants to sell quirky gothic hand-made jewellery. As opposed just posting a BUY NOW link with a crummy 10% discount, Marie could post a customer submitted photo (with a small testimonial) – showing the jewellery being worn by a (real-life) beautiful person, really enjoying the product. Social proof in action. We want to be desired, we want to be liked. People aren’t buying Marie’s jewellery, they’re buying compliments from their friends, family, and admiration from strangers.

Nadja wants to sell her portrait photography services. Instead of linking to her Instagram profile and saying ‘I’m available for hire’ (BORING) – Nadja could write a case study (with accompanying images) about how a prior client’s image portrait  helped them to gain a modelling contract or movie role. The benefits are totally there without any need for the hard-sell: book in a shoot with Nadja, her photography gets people noticed!!

You’ll notice that all these examples are highly customer focused, and don’t whine on about all the features of your product or service. Always keep the ‘benefits’ in mind when you’re selling, and you’ll go far!!

Social Proof & Word of Mouth

Social Proof and Word of Mouth. The two POWER titans of sales and marketing – it would be a grave error to miss these badboys out from our Masterclass…

We’re pretty much sheep at the end of the day, no getting around that. We want to know if widget ‘X’ has worked for the other guy, and if it will work for us too. Why do you think Amazon Reviews are so powerful? We can find out from Joe Shmoe if the revolutionary new spatula design really does live up to the hype. Joe Shmoe’s review / testimonial will be infinitely more powerful than any marketing message we ever put out.

Champion your customer’s achievements and share their stories. When posting, leverage customer reviews, testimonials, submitted images etc. wherever possible. In a marketing sense, this is TWICE as valuable… Not only are you celebrating your customers, but you’re also proving to new prospects that what you offer is solving other people’s problems and making them happy. As herd mentality dictates, the new guys will also want a piece of the action.

“All my wildest dreams have come true!! Thankyou anusol!!”

Future sales are determined by the actions of past customers.

I don’t recall where I read that, but it’s a great piece of advice. The most beautiful place you can be, is where your product / service / widget sells purely on the recommendation of existing satisfied customers. This is the promised land, it really can’t be beat.

Your customers will put a lot more faith in what their colleagues / family / friends opinions, than whatever you (Mr Random Internet Marketing Man / Lady) ever has to say. If you think about it, a solid recommendation from someone you trust actually saves YOU a lot of hard work, shopping around and going through all the options.

“Well, my good buddy Joe Shmoe is a smart guy – and he rates this spatula. I think I’m gonna get the same one too.”

I’m very much into outdoorsy / bushcraft stuff, and watch a lot of videos on Youtube. A lot of the gear I buy is recommended by the presenters in the videos. I respect their opinions, and I’ve seen the gear in action. Off to Amazon I go to squander more of my cash!!

There’s literally no BETTER marketing than that ladies and gentleman.

Where’s the Technical Stuff?

“But Dean, you’ve not mentioned social media posting times, the latest Facebook updates, or Google algorithms??”

Listen… everyone and their nan harps on about the latest and greatest events in tech and social media – but these changes are ephemeral and fleeting. Not that important. The fundamentals listed in this guide are truly timeless, and are applicable to a wide range of channels. Every other day the tech giants will change the rules and trip you up in some way (anyway).

Don’t just rely on your social media profiles. You could be destroyed in an instant. Same goes for your Google position.

For whatever reason, your major social media channels could be annihillated overnight. It could be something as trivial as a breach of terms, or a technical glitch in the cloud. It is imperative that you also market via your own branded website AND a mailling list too. These platforms are entirely independent from your social media profiles, and Zuckerberg cannot get his hands on them!!

If you’re fully reliant on Social Media to generate your sales, then you have a problem. This needs rectified immediately. At the very least, beef up your mailling list to give you a solid independent sales channel.

Closing Notes

I sincerely hope the above helps you to sell your creative wares. At the very least it would be great if this post inspires you to learn more about marketing, and continue your studies even further.

There’s some brilliant books out there, that will explain these core concepts better than I ever could.

All the best with your creative adventures!!

Dean

 

About the Author:

Dean Samed is a professional cover artist, and Photoshop instructor.

He now dedicates his fulltime attention to producing ‘the best goddamn stock photography on the planet!!

 

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• The Branding Masterclass for Creatives

• The Indie Authors Guide to Hiring a Cover Artist

• Earn With Your Art – An Insiders Guide Part 1