For creators who love to share their artistry and ideas with the world, the very thought of promoting their craft as mere product for purchase can take any and all creative excitement away. Does self-promoting make you feel a little uneasy? If so, you’re not alone.
“Selling is every creator’s worst nightmare,” says author Ksenia Anske.
Russian-born Anske has been in the U.S. for about 20 years and for the past eight, she has successfully grown her career as a writer, currently on her eighth thriller book. Now on Patreon, she teaches her patrons how to write a book in three months, and offers up solidarity about how hard it can be to sell what you worked so hard to create. “You would rather spend time creating more art, whatever it is — music, art, books. We all have this idea that selling is not something we like to do,” Anske says.
“It goes two ways: you try to sell something, maybe at a fair or to a friend, and you fail miserably. Or, you have this idea of a car salesman that took everything from you, ripped you off, and sold you a bad product,” she says.
While she witnessed how business was done in Russia, she realized that when she “cared about the person or showed them love, I could get anything.”
Framing the concept of selling her creative work as an opportunity to foster a loving relationship has helped her connect with her fans and grow that connection over time. Which? Has been leading to an increase in her income. “Selling is like dating. Usually you don’t cross the street, pick someone, skip the dating process and tell them to jump into bed with you. They will run away from you immediately. Selling takes time, selling is not easy,” she says.
If you’ve been wondering:
- How to stop feeling uneasy about promoting your product
- Why active listening is essential to gain new patrons
- How can you continue the conversation after the sale
- What tools you can use to make your patrons feel more special
Ready to get to work? Check out the video for a one-on-one workshop on selling with Anske, or scroll down for the 12 main takeaways about connecting with your patrons and selling with love.
1. Know that the first interaction will not close the sale. The first interaction is the first step in a hopefully long trusting relationship that you will build over time. It’s not about the sale, it’s about making room for the next conversation every time and getting a chance to continue build trust. “You don’t want to break up the conversation and forget where you left off,” says Anske.
“Thank them for their time and giving you chance to speak to them. We are not in the habit of thanking each other in today’s society. They’re spending time talking to you, that’s amazing! Use questions to help them open up, let go of fear, and feel your love,” she says.
2. Make it personal. Each patron that supports you is an individual with needs and interests. Anske suggests learning their name and more on who they are so when you address them via messages, they know that you care. She uses the term “creatures” as a term of endearment for her patrons and book fans.
Of course you can jump on Facebook and target 500 people for fast results. “But loving is slow, how do you do it? First you talk to the person, get to know each other, go on dates… Your point is not to sell, but to set up the next meeting. People are scared of losing their money so you have to ease into it,” she says.
3. Listen. Listen. Listen. Active listening is not easy. We get antsy while we listen to others speak and often filter out things and listen for keywords while zoning out. Anske explains that actively listen to someone, make sure to pause for 3-5 seconds before speaking as the person may be collecting their thoughts.
Once you do, restate and reflect what they said and on their feelings — acting like a mirror. Make them feel supported through the conversation and they will support you.
4. Ask questions. Often we’re so excited to talk about our projects, we forget to have a two-way conversation. If you continue this one-sided conversation, you will turn people away. “You will also add to the noise as there are other artists talking,” she says. “Don’t talk; it’s about them, not you.”
Focus on “Who, What, Where, When, Why, How” questions and avoid simple yes/no questions when asking about their interests and passions. Spending time getting to know them with more in-depth inquiries will build trust and show that you care about them. Think of this as 20 percent about you and 80 percent about them, she says.
First show that you care through love and then they will listen when you tell them what you do.
5. Don’t pressure them. Listen to what they have to say first and identify their true need. “This is about encouraging someone in their needs. Manipulating is bad sales. It takes a long, long time to find out what they really want and only after you know, you can offer them what you have,” says Anske.
6. Stay honest. Anske shares that if you go into this process with the sole purpose of making a sale, the potential patrons will sense it. It’s about being human and showing that you care and love, she says. “What comes out of your mouth is not the only thing they are registering. They’re registering your body language as well,” she says.
7. Let your patrons try your product. Going from free to premium is an option most artists need to make as they grow. How much are you willing to give away for free? It depends on your time, personal preference, and financial status.
Once you choose a path, make sure that it’s free of friction and allows potential patrons to easily try your product, see the value, and join one of your Patreon tiers. Offer a free trial class under one of the available tiers, for example. Then talk to them through their options to join the tier and take the time to guide them through the process.
8. Know your worth. “If you have a number you’re not sure of, double it,” she says. Anske says to budget on a per day basis and use this income goal as a guideline. This goal helps you stay “motivated to give people all the love you have because this is an investment in friendship and building a relationship with someone.”
9. Keep the feedback channels open. When you make a change or are thinking of making one, ask your audience what they think. For example, they may think longer videos will add greater value to your content. Anske suggests using newsletters to engage your patrons’ thoughts as well as polls. “Let them talk and you listen,” she says.
10. Take the time to address potential patrons. Feedback will not only come from current patrons, but also from potential patrons. Anske says that you need to take the time to answer questions from potential patrons and set up, if possible, one-on-one chats to make them more comfortable. “They will be stunned that you took the time,” she says. They may not all turn into sales, but it can help you spread the word of mouth over time.
A great tool that you can use is Bonjoro, an app that gives you new Patron names and you can make little personalized videos. Anske uses Discord to keep in touch with everyone. Anske saw a 50 percent increase in patrons moving from the lowest tier to her highest tier by using a one-on-one approach.
11. Continue the conversation after the sale. Keep talking about what’s important to them and how you can help bring value to them. Engage with your audience by posting an interesting link on Discord for example or talk to one of your patrons about their needs. In Anske’s case, if someone has finished a book using her course, she asks what’s next.
12. Stay in touch with monthly newsletters, revamping your tiers, and reaching out to the patrons at least once a month, even if nothing is happening. Use Patreon’s relationship manager for quick notes and reminders.
“The worst is not communicating with them, they can easily forget you,” she says. When sending out newsletters, be sure to thank them and show them what you’ve built — together— since the last time you talked.