Some of us are naturally good with people, and some of us are not. It depends on so many factors, the ability to read emotions and to communicate with confidence are the first two that spring to mind. We all stand somewhere on the scale of people ability. Artists tend to feel more, and have more conscious awareness for perceived subtle energies in social situations. This can make it harder to know what best to say, where as others see a straight path to success some might see a complex cobweb of eggshells and possible faux pas. Someone told me once that we have to pick up our own eggshells because its not for other people to avoid certain areas. Its passive aggressive to have eggshells or be easily offended. For an artist this may be shocking to hear, but its true. It's also passive aggressive to deliberately go for the eggshells. We have to accept we are human and that means beautifully flawed.
Here are some key skills artistic people really need if they want to be socially cohesive to superhero levels.
Know what you do but also do more. That's right, have a key area but don't let that stop you exploring something else. That's especially true if the money is right or if the opportunity fits right in with what you already do. Sometimes drawing red lines in our expertise can hinder us when it comes to evolving into something even more successful and long-lived that we were before. Imagine if Moby said he'd never write a ballad because he makes party music. He sold considerably more records when he adapted his sound to fit more people's ideas. Don't be a failed pop-star because you were too focused on one particular edge. Opportunity knocks on a daily basis, are you prepared to take it?
Naturally, be a skills sponge. It's okay to be tired of learning, brain-busted, full to the brim. Don't over-do it but really try to learn one or two new skills in depth every year. If it's just something simple like brushwork or calligraphy then that's exactly what you need. So if you want to learn computer programming, it might take half a decade and that's okay too. You know what's best. Always be on the lookout for genuine courses that teach valuable skills. You're already in the Alternative Fruit skills resource, check out the front page.
You need to be online and active. It possibly goes without saying but there are some people out there who think that they can still go to the local library or some other indoors venue and be noticed. They might be noticed but unless your project is centred around retro ethics and the internet is against the rules then use it. It will look bad if you don't, people will think about getting in touch with you and then they won't because they can't find you online. People want to interact with their artists these days, even if it's just to like a picture on their page. Social media skills are really worthwhile learning.
Don't lose yourself. You'll want to work on lots of projects involving many clients and some of them will be paying you. This doesn't mean that you must stop doing what you want to as well. Of course, to get far we need other people so always consider working with others first and be prepared to work for free if it's on par with your general career. Experience and contact lists count for a lot more than a page of likes! Always make time to work on your own projects just for you. That way you'll be less tempted to insert a bit of ego or vanity into someone else's pet project.
Be a student, be a teacher. Pass on what you know in a way that makes sense to you. Go over what you know, put it in simplistic terms so that anyone can understand it, then it'll become subconscious. Once we begin to think without trying we can spend more energy on doing what we love without worrying if it works.
Learn sales. You and your work are a product at the end of the day. Your time and talent is for sale and you want to get the best price possible. This means you need to learn how to sell that product properly, fairly, and in a way that respects you and the customer. It's a new skill or an update to a skill that you have to get to know. Once we learn the basics of marketing ourselves to the right people, we can learn the ropes with each client. It's something we have to dip in to and then learn to swim in.
Find a good network. We are a product of our surroundings, and what we consume. Our media is as important as our diet for our mental health. Our network of people are influential beyond media. A human presence to an idea makes it even more adhesive. If we like that person, then it's practically glued to us. So be careful who you mix with and remember that we don't want to be king of the roost. If we're surrounded by people who look up to us it will give us a biassed view of reality and prevent us from learning new things. We each have our own unique talents and skills, find a blend of people who nurture and validate at the same time.
Talking talking talking. Get used to it. It's nervous business when talking to strangers but we have to do it or we'll not get anywhere. We could wait around for people to talk to us, and if we're in particular demand that might be okay but for most people, we have to instigate conversations. Learning communication skills is paramount to establishing that healthy network mentioned earlier.
Find that thing that's simply you. We can parrot from others at first when finding our feet but a true original merely hints at the masters that came before. Learning how to hone a unique and identifiable style is what will make people want you the most. When your signature says something more than the name, when you represent some kind of feeling or atmosphere, you have found your niche. Ride it.
Mentioned previously, Alternative Fruit reported on some of the health benefits of reading a few months ago. This time, we're looking at a handful of influences that might just nudge you in the right direction. Reading is enjoyable, and although requires concentration and time, it is an open door into a new world of experience. The printed word has many abilities, conveying ideas from one mind to another can take all kinds of roads. A good book works as an excellent tool for applying thought and allowing others to make use of the same ideas. Either simply for our pleasure or for real-life skills, fiction and fact alike provide us with endless resource.
A good book will inspire a reader. By transferring the fundamentals of an idea from one mind to another, readers can find themselves instantly able to look at life in new and helpful ways. It doesn't matter if it's a fictional character or an instruction manual, inspiration can come from any well written example. Once we are inspired, an empowering effect takes hold of us and gives us the energy to make plans and see them through. All adventures begin with an idea. Books are full of both of those.
Yes, it takes a bit of brainpower to read but less than most things. It's something many of us take for granted. People who struggle with concentration may find it less relaxing than others, however, generally reading is a great way to rest. By allowing the mind to focus on one given train of thought, we can let go of so much more while the words provide us with their experience. By sitting down and reading, our bodies and minds are put at ease while the words work their magic. Great for de-stressing or winding down after a hard day, a book can be a really helpful relaxation tool.
Unlike the musical instrument you may turn to or the stereo with loud music on, a book is much more portable and socially acceptable. Unless you're a particularly hot shot on your instrument, it's probable that society won't want you to turn to it on the bus or in the street. A book, though, it doesn't affect anyone but the reader. We know that loud music in society is frowned upon, we go to places where its tolerated like clubs and bars or we leave it at home. Books are the silent option that no-one can complain about. We can read anywhere, it's a really versatile way of passing time or giving ourselves something to do.
It's impossible to say there's nothing out there for you. Seriously, the number of books on sale increases by thousands if not millions a year. A quick search will uncover all kinds of books. Try using words that describe your most readable book, good publishers use descriptive keywords when listing their items. There are so many books to choose from out there, and their information and ideas are only a glance away. This really makes it so easy to find enjoyment in words, there will be something written with you in mind.
Our imagination often needs a little prompting. We can live fairly routine lives where our days seem to run one after the other with little change. A book will allow us to tap into a unique part of our mind that can visualise and explore places and concepts which are on paper. Once we start using our imagination, we're actually more able to be creative problem solvers. Innovative ideas come from well fuelled imaginations, and books, blogs, and magazines are the best places to get this.
Books bring the world to our fingertips. We don't need to go to a far-away place to learn about it. We don't have to go and sit in a lecture room at an expensive university to get the information. Books bring it all to us. Sometimes we do need help to understand or get to grips with particular concepts, it can't be understated how helpful it is to have another person there, but a good book that's written well takes into account the fact that readers may not know what the author considers basic points. The more technical and higher up the book is aiming, the less time and space it will dedicate to the building block information that makes the book readable. We might have to start lower down! However once we get started, there's nothing standing in our way from learning a great deal about the world and its people.
Our Thoughts Can Get In The Way
Naturally, we are creative people. Then our cognitive process filters out everything that doesn't fit. We have to be able to know when our filter is too strong and when our assumptions and guesswork are actually inhibiting creative problem solving. For all people, we need to make the most of our situation. Being able to think creatively then work to adapt and make the best use of where we are is how we achieve the most progress in life. The problem is, many of us have unhelpful mental filters which stunt our ability to think creatively. It can be stifling to our own happiness when we're forced to think and act in ways that don't match what we know to be better. Knowing when we're standing in our own way is an important part of change.
Leave The Comfort Zone
Innovation is always going to contain an element of risk. A general uncertainty will pervade all efforts to do something new. This can't be allowed to stand in the way. Some business models rely on known facts, they follow the tried and tested. They rely totally on data and match what the graphs say will get the best result. They stop being creative. It might have been a sure bet in the 20th century, but in today's fast evolving marketplace then new methods and ways are being produced all the time. Manageable risk is not a problem, in fact it's the opposite. Only by taking a risk can we become a leader in our field, and therefore command respect from our peers.
Treat All Factors With Equal Attention
Getting hung up on one factor while juggling all the others will not end up with a balanced solution. Sometimes one piece of information can stick out in our minds, perhaps an event caused it to be more emotionally relevant. However, all factors must be treated equally in creative projects. I'm sure we've all been in the position where we work really hard on something and neglect many others. This can happen when solving the major problems in our lives if we allow it to.
Make Use Of Your Team And Network
The boss isn't always the best person to ask, they're just employed to manage you. Try to not give extra credit to the opinions of those above you on the pay-roll. People's ideas need to be treated fairly and equally, and valued on their own merits. That includes your own! And don't accept facts without proof, even if they come from the top. Always ask to see evidence and contextual examples so you can understand how to best implement the facts. It's not that people lie, it's just they can be unknowingly misled. Again, you included.
Take Feedback Seriously
Sometimes, the bitter truth is that our idea was wrong. If what we did doesn't work in the way we wanted it to, then it doesn't matter how loudly we talk about it, it didn't work out. Reality doesn't lie, so avoid telling stories about how it would be better if this or that was done. Knowing when to make a direction change is really important. Accept the losses and move on, before you bank everything on a flop.
The Bandwagon Isn't Always Going The Right Way
Just because a lot of other people have taken to doing something, it doesn't mean it's working out for them. We can only guess how someone's bank sheet looks and even if they appear to be highly successful, it could just be an illusion. No-one really talks about how much they earn. So jumping on the bandwagon in order to keep up with the others is not always going to be productive. Creative people use tools and systems in ways that suit them. If you want to start doing something new in order to keep up with others, think about how you can do it differently. Think about how it results in your long term goals.
Keep The Dream Away From The Task At Hand
Keep it real, folks. Sometimes we get told we're brilliant, genius, amazing, and in reality none of those things put food in the cupboards. Only results do that, sales, contracts, what ever it is you need in life. Sitting back and taking all the praise of the people for being in charge of your life is not how we get on with being in charge of our life. In fact, it's those around you who are pulling the strings by validating what they like about you. Use this input for progress not for back patting. Listen and learn!
Don't Lose The Drive To Win
There are clear benefits to results, it feels great to know that our efforts are paying off. But it doesn't end there, as we know, if people are walking up a mountain then there are more paths than one. That initial energy of testing and offering various services and products, that drive that kept you hungry in the early days is what got you here. That creative flare needs to be nurtured even when you seem to be successful. Don't stop at the top until you've tested and tested that it really is the top.
Accept The Data
When we're given cold hard truth, we must learn to accept it. Trying to twist it or spin doctor it into fitting our previous convictions will just fail to get the point in. Only when we understand the point can we be accurate with our projects. This goes both ways, too. Sometimes we have to be able to give out painful truths even when we know it will go against someone's ideas. We do emotionally invest in our beliefs and ideas and it will be difficult to find out that we were mistaken. And finally, avoid being polite to the point where we mislead others. It doesn't help in the end.
If you were born between 1980 and 1996, you are in the Millennial Generation. This means you have always been around home computing and remember life before it became common-place. Being brought up with digital technology has led us all to embrace the new ways of doing things that modern technology allows. We're not apprehensive of software, and we love to play with gadgets. Some of us even know how to program or build the stuff we all use. Social Media has completely changed the world.
The free gifts of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and all the others has moved the whole world towards openness, fairness, and equality. We have become empowered, with audiences reaching into the billions, our message has become louder than ever before. So, how does this change the way we interact and see each other? Part of the phenomenon of text based communication is the lack of body language, lack of social connection, and lack of knowing. We perhaps envisage the people being themselves while talking, we assume what they must be feeling, and the emotional background to their words. We inflect for people, project our own perceptions onto their script and look for validation. It's only normal, don't worry.
We do need to take all this into account though when working on social media. An extremely powerful tool that helps people find employment, friends, and opportunity will quickly become your worst enemy if you don't treat it properly. Needless to say, Alternative Fruit readers are well natured and mannered individuals. But let's be honest, it's not always possible to know exactly what we look like to others, even when we do everything to control it. We must learn to avoid certain types of behaviour that could be interpreted as negative. People won't want your services or products if they interpret you badly. These tips can help minimise this.
De-clutter your feed! It's nice to share people's posts and it's cool to show everyone your family picture, but keep it tidy! An unrelated post doesn't help your career, so always think before pressing submit. Does this matter to me, does it matter to my followers? Only if it's a double yes can you be totally sure of a non-messy post. Imagine scrolling a feed of a famous newspaper and every few items is something random, or a pile of unrelated things just left without explanation. It's unprofessional right? You think to yourself, why did they post this? To be taken seriously, we have to be able to appear as professional as the professionals. Don't feel bad about deleting posts from before, especially if they don't have relevance to your goal. Tip: Deleting other people's posts is not advisable because it can upset them. Complaints and real issues must be left alone or you face a serious backlash. Cyber bullying, name calling, and unfair remarks can of course be sent to the void. A real complaint is polite.
Be bold, come alive. Silent observers don't get any attention. If you don't come out of your shell and begin interacting, demonstrating your work, and making friends with people in your trade, then you'll lose the entire point of networking. Keeping a secret list of great artists or brilliant writers but never interacting with them makes you a fan, not a colleague. Sure, it's a bit scary when someone who is as good as you are comes along and produces content but we're all adults, this isn't a sports competition. Just be nice,
That's another thing. Be nice, always. We don't like being subjected to negativity, self-doubt, reasons why we won't want to pay you for service. Like you, if I'm going to buy someone's service then I want to find a person who is rewarding to be around - Someone who it is a pleasure to do business with. Negative people, moaning people, unconfident and undermining people, manipulative and pushy people, none of these are welcome in a professional workplace. Before you post something, ask if it advertises you or does the opposite. Avoid getting emotional, political, and religious. These things often lack rational thought in favour of hunches and societal grooming. We won't do ourselves any favours by insisting on matters of faith or social conscience. We're all different.
Always be aware of what it is you are for. I know you're a human and there's more to you than what you do for others, but this is a career move. Always be aware of what it is you are offering, why you are offering it, and what you want in return. Keep to these principles and always come back to them when you're drawn off the line. You may have a great page with people interacting with you all day long, but does it make you money? Is it related to making money, ie. Advertising. If it isn't then why are you posting it? We chose this as our job, not a lilly-pad to swat flies from.
That's just the point, we can't eat likes. Likes and interactions help the software to know that it's worth sharing the content again. The likes directly feed into the system and increase the chances of your post being put on someone else's newsfeed. They provide social proof to your validity but they don't equate into pounds and pence. Only sales and contracts do that. So, please stop rating yourself by how many likes you have. They are a means to an end and unless we are reaching that end, then they really don't count for anything. A successful ad can have zero likes and shares but hundreds or thousands of link clicks, each one a visitor to your site.
Quality not quantity. We want followers and connections that matter. OK so we don't get to choose who follows or adds us up, but we can choose who we are writing for, who we are aiming to attract. When we advertise our brand, target the people that like the sort of thing you do. Maybe try a few tangents, ballet fans might like horse-riding for example, it's always worth a shot but always be aware of who you are targeting and try to avoid collecting people who really are not going to be interested. A funny meme about something in the news can be really successful, but are these same people the ones who will love your work? Probably not. Remember that most people are looking for their own opportunity, so avoid becoming just another fish. It's always a two way street. We have to give and take. Just giving or just taking will not get you very far.
You need to have something people can visit outside of social media. In 2020, one of my pages was censored. All the posts and links were removed. Luckily, it was just a Facebook page and not my actual website. I did lose a lotof great contacts, though. Now imagine if I had decided to build the whole thing on Facebook? It would have all been taken away. Dig deep and build roots that go way beyond the social profile. Then keep copies on your drive too, because if your site goes down for some reason, all is not lost.
There is nothing wrong with taking a few days off. People won't forget about you if you have a break. It is better to hold off for six months and post something brilliant than post some random stuff everyday then not have the energy to do the brilliant thing. A lot of people feel compelled to show up and do their best even when they're not up to the job. We're not contracted to show up and post stuff, it is always because we have a direct purpose. So stop treating it like a prison sentence!
So social media sites are an infinite well of continual distraction. We can use it for networking, research, and building up our fan-base, but we can also become a consumer very quickly. It's alright to consume, nothing bad about it, but we're meant to be at work here. This is our job, directly related to our holiday abroad, our food bill, and our car tax. So although watching the cute animals is rewarding, it's also something you'd get fired for. If you could get fired for the way you use social media, you're not using it properly.
Finally, always know what it is you are offering and why. Mentioned before and mentioned again now, it's imperative that your audience knows what to expect from you and why they would visit your page. It has to be relevant, considerate of the audience, two sided and full of interaction. Your page is designed to advertise your professional services or simply your likeable personality so make sure that you know what that is exactly, and what your method of promoting yourself is going to be based on. People want to have a consistent experience or they won't choose you next time. Consistently random is not bad, provided it is consistent and random for a reason. Writing cues or quirky art images for example can be as random as you like, as long as they fit the theme.
So that's it, social media marketing is something we all do naturally. Of course we want people to view us in the best light. With these tips we can just do a bit more the ensure that we only give off the right impression. What do you dislike seeing on people's feeds? Anything you disagree with in this list? Let us know in the comments, we'd love to hear from you.
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