Before we get into this, if you’re listening or reading in real time, or anytime before May 4, 2020, I invite you to head over to ExpandOnlineSummit.com and sign up for the Expand Online Summit. It’s another completely free way for you to learn more about expanding your business online. The summit is going to be live from May 4 – May 8 and features over 20 artists, musicians, actors and coaches who work with artists, musicians, performers, singers and actors! The goal of the summit is simple: to help more creatives like you stop wishing and dreaming about doing something online and take action!
It’s a great compliment to what we do on a weekly basis here on the podcast. You’ll have the opportunity to watch 4 or 5 sessions each day and a vibrant community of artists to interact with on Facebook. Sessions run from 30 – 50 minutes and I’ll be providing you with the exact run times and topics inside the Expand Online Summit Playbook which is a workbook and guide book at the same time. The mission of the summit is to provide you with insight, strategy and support to turn your In-Person Art Career into an Online Scalable Business.
When you started your Instagram account and when you started your Facebook page, we were in a different time. You were thinking about showcasing your business to attract and motivate and inspire in your local community. You wanted to be top of mind when people were looking to learn a new skill, improve their art or craft and take their artistry to the next level. And, if you’re anything like most of my clients (and frankly me!) you didn’t really know how to inspire and captivate anyone on either platform.
But now, you’ve got a steady following and people are interacting with your posts… just in time for a big shake up!
One thing to keep in mind is that we’re talking about expanding your business online, not replacing your business with a new online business. You do not need to completely scrap what you’ve already got going on and you certainly do not need to create new profiles or pages. What a huge weight off our collective shoulders on that one.
That being said, there might need to be a few tweaks you’ll want to make to the profile and page info, and let’s get started there.
On Instagram, your bio is only 150 characters, so if you currently list your city and a couple of surrounding cities, I recommend cleaning it up so that people everywhere can relate.
Here’s an example:
Ceramics teacher in Redmond, WA. Serving Kirkland, Bellevue, Sammamish and beyond in our cottage ceramics studio. Class info at link below.
Change it to:
Ceramic teacher based in Redmond, WA. Serving local artists and beyond from our cottage ceramics studio and through our website. Click link for more.
Or another example:
Classically trained violinist teaching kids and adults in our studio or your home within the greater Seattle region (up to 40 miles). Contact via DM.
Change it to:
Classically trained violinist teaching kids and adults, in home (Seattle +/- 40miles), in studio and online. Contact via DM.
On Facebook, you have a similar number of characters for your Page Description. It’s 155 characters. I recommend keeping the Instagram bio and Facebook Page Description the same — just makes it easier on you and keeps your brand consistent across platforms.
If you are not using your picture as your profile photo on these platforms, it’s time to do so… people need to see your face and connect with you everywhere! Even if you aren’t branded under your name, your picture speaks volumes.
And on Facebook this is particularly useful if you ever accidentally reply to a comment with your personal profile instead of as your page (whoops, I just did that recently but because my images for both my page and my profile are from the same photo shoot, it was pretty obvious that I was one in the same.)
Content — this is really what you’re here for, right?
Your images are designed to “stop the scroll”, your captions or descriptions are designed to draw people in and your micro call to action is designed to have them invest a little bit of themselves into your content.
So, let’s talk about the type of content that you’ve been creating to this point and how that might need to change or be refined going forward.
There are so many formulas to what type of content to put on social media, in general we can use these buckets — informational, inspirational, anecdotal, promotional and miscellaneous.
Under informational, you’ll be sharing the type of work you create and help your students create.
For inspirational, you’ll be sharing student success stories, insights into how to do whatever it is that you teach even better and showcase pieces that your going to help your students re-create.
When it comes to anecdotal posts, this is where you’ve been sharing student or personal transformations, perseverance and overcoming obstacles or barriers. And in this type of post, you generally also call out the silver lining to the story.
Promotional posts are those that are inviting people to sign up for your programs, stopy by your studio, purchase your or students’ work and otherwise promote some kind of financial transaction.
And our miscellaneous posts are those that don’t fall into any of the other categories but that help to create a well rounded profile or page.
Now that you’re shifting your messaging to be less location specific, and feel just, well, different.
Informational posts need to extend beyond location and might swap out location specific terms like the name of your local mall or neighborhood park for more abstract terms like nature walks and big box stores (because those are found nationally/internationally)
Inspirational posts can reach across time and space, they can draw upon a weather or cultural event in another place. If it’s Cherry Blossom season in Washington D.C. but you’re in Minnesota and you’re still in the depths of winter, an inspirational post could draw upon the contrasts and how your style of art instruction helps people no matter what the season is outside create beautiful spring scenes. Just because you don’t have spring yet, doesn’t mean you can’t draw upon the springtime inspiration. That type of post wouldn’t work if you were just looking to reach people in Minnesota most of the time!
Anecdotal posts are super fun when you are able to draw upon online experiences as well as in person experiences. There are subtle and obvious differences between the two forms of interaction. And sometimes the best results come from the most unusual circumstances. When you’re just getting started shifting online, you might not have any distance teaching anecdotes but as you build your business these are going to come!
Promotional posts are actually the type of post that are going to change up the most, as you probably expected… These posts need to call out the reason why now is the best time for your new and returning students to jump into whatever it is that you’re offering. If you have always offered weekend workshops or evening classes, and now you’re offering that programming in a non-time dependent manner, then suddenly you can call out the fact that your new program can fit into any schedule without worrying about traffic, meals and carpools. If you are retaining a live component call out the fact that there is a live component which has all the benefits of in person workshops and classes but with the convenience of attending from anywhere.
A few other things to keep in mind as you’re expanding online…
Your biggest asset that puts you miles ahead of other aspiring online business owners is that you have an established customer base. The people who have been working with you locally are poised to be your first set of online students. Keeping them top of mind and understanding what’s going to motivate them to continue working with you on your new platform. So, when it comes to posting on social media, make sure that you address their fears and hopes.
And, just because you’re going online doesn’t mean that you are abandoning your local community — make sure that your Instagram profile and Facebook page retain your local appeal. While we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time of this recording, at some point in the future you will be able to go back to the studio and work with your students in person if you choose to do so.
So, to quickly recap, when you start setting your profiles up as you’re getting ready to expand online, you’ll want to tweak your bio, make sure that you have a good profile image and add depth to your content by keeping your local and loyal clients at the forefront of your messaging but make it accessible and available to a larger audience.
And with that, let’s call this episode a wrap. Again, sign up for the Expand Online Summit by clicking here. If you’re listening or reading this after May 10th, 2020 go there anyway, I’ll have something on that page to make sure that you have the tools you need to expand your art education business online!