Creating music and art are acts of service. They bring joy, comfort and connection in hard times and can make the good times even better. If only it were just that simple. If you’re an independent musician or creative artist pursuing your art as a career, the fact of the matter is you’re also an entrepreneur who’s chosen to run a small business. Your work is incredibly valuable, but unless you want an audience of just your besties, your mom and your Uncle Frank, you need to grow a wider audience and establish yourself as a brand that people can connect with, trust and understand.
But how do you do this? One of the most effective ways is by using digital and social media platforms to share your work, tell stories of what inspired you and what motivates you to do the work you do, the challenges you’ve overcome and things you’re passionate about, and share behind-the-scenes glimpses into what you’re doing. All of these create genuine connections with your audience and build the “know, like and trust factor” that’s so that’s so important in establishing your brand and attracting clients, customers and fans.
Here are a few tips for growing building your brand and growing your online community:
- Share your work, and don’t be shy. Whether it’s the finished product or drafts and demos you’d like feedback on, put it out there, often and consistently. Perfectionism is the enemy so don’t let it hold you back. Remember: done is better than perfect.
- Share stories about the challenges you’ve overcome, what inspired you to do the work you’re doing, and how you got to where you are today. Even if you think your stories aren’t special or unique, they are! No one else has your backstory or motivations.
- Connect over the common bond of music and art—your own and the work of others you admire!
- Share what you’re passionate about, whether it’s gardening, plant-based recipes, film noir or true crime podcasts. Your fans might love it too and eagerly share your enthusiasm. Even if it’s not their thing, your fans will still be interested in finding out why you love it.
- Don’t limit yourself to only sharing about your one main creative endeavor. If you have others, share about those too. We’re multifaceted beings and that’s what makes us fascinating.
- Make your content original and lean into your uniqueness. Don’t copy what others are doing, as tempting as it may be. Your uniqueness is your greatest strength!
- Build community around shared values, whether it’s fighting for women’s rights or protecting the environment.
- Share about the good causes, nonprofits and organizations you care about. This is a powerful way to build community. It may not resonate with everyone, but it will create a stronger bond with likeminded followers.
- Separate your worth as a human being from how many fans or followers you have.
- It’s probably going to take longer than you think, so be patient and keep sharing.
Not everyone will love what you’re doing, and that’s ok. In fact, that’s a good thing. You want to cultivate your audience—the people who love your work and align with your values. This is far more valuable than finding a large audience who could take it or leave it. As musician Drew Holcomb says, “A creative career is about trying to find your audience, not trying to find any audience.” Take it to heart that the right people will find you if you authentically share your stories and put yourself out there, and they will.