How to Sell Your Soul
An Artist's Guide to Self-Promotionby Erin Bagwell
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]R[/dropcap]ecently I started putting together a new website for myself to accumulate all the articles and press that I have gotten over the last year as a result of launching Dream, Girl. And I was scrolling through the websites we have been featured on I was in a bit of shock: “Holy mother, we have gotten A LOT OF PRESS for a movie that hasn’t been made yet.” Every time a new press piece goes live it’s amazing, but to see it all on one page was bonkers. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought the initial stepping stones that got us here would be beneficial to other creatives, artists, and women who might have trouble selling themselves.
[divider type="short" spacing="5"](Skip this if your know my story) So a little background about how we started out. Dream, Girl (the company and film I run with my co-founder Komal Minhas) launched on Kickstarter in the summer of 2014. During that time we raised $100K in 30 days and I probably did around 30 or so press pieces to get our name out there: Upworthy, ELLE, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and I made my first TV appearance on FOX Business. Since then we have continued to get amazing press momentum with such brands as Clinique, TED, Forbes, Vogue, Levo League, NY Mag and more.
So how did all this press happen and what can you do to leverage your idea? There is no perfect formula, but I am sharing my best tips with you to help you reach your audience and take the leap to get on that self promotion unicorn that will elevate your brand. If any tips resonate with you or not feel free to let me know @erinebagwell on twitter! Happy promoting![divider type="dashed" spacing="5"]
I feel like first of all, let’s pop some champagne. I don’t know what you are promoting, selling, or how you are changing the world but kudos to you for getting it in motion. Committing to a life altering idea is a terrifying destiny, and I feel like as the ambition-zombies we are we never think what we have is enough. So let’s pause and celebrate. Good for you for launching your [insert your thing here]. I am proud of you! Take a moment to breath that in. There is power in recognizing your own risk-taking-amazingness.[divider type="thick" spacing="10"]
2. What's your story?
You are in the midst of selling or promoting your product or brand. Congrats! Now we need to focus on your “why.” As humans we are drawn to the “why”- why are you making this? why does it inspire you? why have you dedicated so much for your time or personal resources to doing this. To find your “why” just answer this question:
This project has changed my life because __________.
Empowerment, inspiration, and positive buzz words are all wonderful reasons to do things but let’s go deeper? What is your personal story or experience, and how does it reflect in your work. Now sell THAT. Don’t sell the inspiration, or empowerment sell your story. Your story is what makes us feel connected or invested. What are the big plot points of your life. We need someone we can root for. Share that information!
For example- Dream, Girl has changed my life because __________
I was depressed from being verbally harassed by my old boss at my 9 to 5 and at the same time I started hanging out with women who were their own boss. I started to see myself differently. I started to think perhaps instead of being depressed I should own my life and follow my own dreams (because I saw other women around me doing the same).
If I would have wrote check out “Dream, Girl because it’s a film about female entrepreneurs” it doesn’t quite have that emotional tug. Being honest and open about your own journey is super inspiring and powerful.
When you open yourself up to following your dreams and claiming your story, you give others permission to do the same. And that’s all good art should be right? Allow other people to feel and be emotionally affected by it. Use your story to own your art.
Also, when you identify your “why” you also identify your audience. Once I started to claim and my own story, all of a sudden my inbox was filled with women who experienced the same thing in their lives. You connect in an authentic way with your audience and thus find “your people."[divider type="thick" spacing="10"]
3. THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU.
*THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP*
I am going to quote Suzanne West, the oil & energy spirit goddess of Calgary Canada here because she really crushes this thought perfectly (quote via Dream, Girl):
“The way past fear for me is to just love yourself enough to honour that this is what you were supposed to be doing. Just go do it. Just go do it, because if you don't you literally aren't honoring yourself, you're not honoring the gift that you've been giving, you're not honoring the fact that we were all put here to make contributions so if you're being fearful and not doing it, you're actually robbing all these people that are going to be affected by you and your contributions and all the amazing gifts that you have to give.”
So you know your “why” and who this mission or product is going to serve. When you aren’t promoting your work, you are literally hoarding your art for yourself. Your creative is like a mirror and without a viewer it doesn’t carry energy or have an impact. So every time you feel like you are scared, or feeling unworthy of something take yourself out of the equation. This isn’t about you anymore, it’s about the people you want to serve to make this world better. And the best part of this step is once you do that, and once you share it you start to get that authentic momentum that lifts your spirit and gets you going in a really powerful way. You don’t get press or an audience by keeping your gift to yourself. You need to chuck that seed everywhere to make an impact.[divider type="thick" spacing="10"]
4. What do you really want? Make yourself a vision board!
Sure there are lots of great blogs, shows and outlets to share your soul but what do you actually want for your product, piece, or brand? You need to constantly evaluate and explore that. And if your focus is on monetization you need to not be scared to ask for money or do the work to figure out what sells. I like to make a vision board to be able to see how to feels in my body to have those things in a physically space, but do what works for you. Just make sure you come back to it often. You don’t want to waste energy chasing things that aren’t meaningful to you.
When pitching Dream, Girl I made a list of all the people who would be interested in my “why”- then everyday I would focus on that group of people to get funding for our kickstarter: college feminists, mom’s, life coaches, business owners. You know who spent the most money on our campaign? Life coaches. So then I went and googled the top 30 life coaches online and pitched all of them. That’s how we stumbled upon our fairy goddess mother Marie Forleo for support, and were lucky enough to get rocked and funded by her amazing community. But you have to zero in on who makes you money, and who works for your brand.[divider type="thick" spacing="10"]
5. Get out of your house.
You need to leave your Facebook feed behind. Promoting to your network is great, but if you want to be an [insert dream situation here] you have build your tribe outside of your network to really grow. You need to go out and take coffee dates and meet people you don’t know and ask them to introduce you to other people you don’t know. Building your network and finding “your people” is crucial to building momentum and getting into circles who can have more impact than you. So throw your hair up and get out there! This will also help you hone and polish your story so that when bigger and bigger fish come downstream you are prepared and ready to share your story and promote your message.[divider type="thick" spacing="10"]
6. Get a f*cking awesome headshot.
*THIS TIP IS TOTALLY OPTIONAL (BUT EFFECTIVE)*
Pay a real photographer and a makeup artist and get a real headshot. Which person would you interview or “think” is farther along in her career? “Instagram Erin” or” I'm Going to Take Over the World Look at this High Resolution Erin”?
This tip is really your call, but I can’t tell you how confidence building it is send out a real photo across the web to promote your brand. Your fraud feelings will wash away as bask in the glory of not showering while working away in your pajamas. You’re a boss, why not look like one?[divider type="thick" spacing="10"]
7. Dream BIGGER.
When we were doing our Kickstarter campaign I remember having a conversation with my friend Marc about all the press I wanted to get. I was like “I want Upworthy, Huffington Post...”- and he said they aren’t going to put you on there you have to work with smaller blogs first to build momentum. And I said “They have to put someone up on those big blogs!” And guess what! They did! Everyone needs content and stories to share so why not yours- someone has to go on Jimmy Fallon, be on the cover of Vanity Fair, be a guest on MarieTV, WHY NOT YOU! Leaving the space for potential makes a world of difference with the energy you put out into getting press. Next time instead of feeling unworthy or that they are out of your league, just shrug and say “they have to put someone up there” - and it could be you![divider type="dashed" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]hose are all my thoughts on ways to “Sell Your Soul.” Tweet me at @erinebagwell to let me know what you think or what your story is. Also let me know if I missed anything ;-)
Happy Feminist Wednesday!
Erin Bagwell is the founder of Feminist Wednesday and the producer/director of Dream, Girl premiering in the spring of 2016. To learn more about Dream, Girl visit dreamgirlfilm.com