I hope you enjoyed the market set-up tips, showcasing your products in the best possible way is very important! Onto more tips today with Creative Business Tip #5! Remember to catch up and to follow on in the series - click here for tips #1, #2, #3 or #4. The tips are created to work in conjunction with one another so keep integrating them into your routine as you build your business.
Press & Features:
Many creative business owners dream of being featured in their favourite publications and they often think that it's a dream that might not come true. However, by working on your press kit and having a strategy you can get featured and start building a press portfolio. Press features are positive as they are free and give you a stamp of approval. It's also a great confidence booster and it means you are on the right track with your creations or service.
Don't sit back and wait for publications to approach you, be proactive about getting in touch with them and letting them know about your business. Take a professional approach and work on a press kit. One of the main things you will need are good photos to represent your products. If you offer a service you can send photos of your space or process, think of a creative way to show what you offer. I know that some businesses are not at a point where they can afford a professional shoot, but don't let that get you down. I am by no means a professional photographer, but I find that these tips for taking your own photos really help and you can apply it to your blog content too:
Good Natural Light: Find a space in your office or home, which has good natural light. This might be in the morning or afternoon, but test and see when it's best. I often find 2pm - 4pm to be the best for my shots as the light is still bright, but softer. If you are uncertain take a few shots at different times of the day and then compare them, be aware of shadows and how you arrange items. Develop your eye to inspect your photos and to compare and pick the best from the batch.
A Clean Surface & Background: I like using a white surface, but colours work well too. White cardboard is a great option and you can set-up a mock infinity curve. Sheets are popular too, but please iron or steam them. A creased background is not an option. Keep shots clear of background clutter.
Practice: Like most things we become more skilled when we practice. Even basic digital cameras have different settings, practice taking photos and as I mentioned develop your eye to spot what makes a good shot.
Find Inspiration: I am a big believer in inspiration on all fronts and in photography, even when an amateur you can still be inspired by the photos of your favourite bloggers or photographers. Look at their photos and understand what it is that you like - is it the styling, the light, the way it is edited or is well balanced?
Pic Monkey: Yes, good old Pic Monkey which I love, recommend and refer to so often. Many people think they need Photoshop or a similar program to get going and the answer is yes, when you reach a certain level, you do need it. In the meantime use this free site to resize photos and brighten them up.
Okay...let's chat about what else should be in your press kit?
Essentially, the kit is digital so you can email the photos and facts. Make sure your photos are resized to under 1MB so that you don't clog up any inboxes. Secondly, you need some positive facts about your business to include in the email and perhaps a short bio. Lastly, create a list of potential magazines to email. Look at their websites, Facebook or Twitter accounts for contact details. You will be surprised at what you can find when you actively begin to work on this. Remember last week's tip about your online presence, I suggest including a link to your blog or Facebook business page, but make sure you are presenting the best that you can.
In all correspondence be professional and polite, but let your personality shine through. Check grammar and spelling and don't be afraid to touch on some positive aspects of your business.
Don't Give Up:
So... you mailed them once, they didn't reply - are you going to give up and retire? NO! Of course not - try again, stay professional and try a different avenue like sending them a Tweet and asking for the correct contact. Keep it polite though, as what you say is a direct reflection on your brand. No ranting or how dare you not reply to me messages! Eventually, if you don't get anywhere with that publication, cross them off you list, move on and make sure you are continually looking at people who you can add to your contact list.
These can be sample products that you package up creatively and send to editors, magazine staff or bloggers. Make sure your press pack showcases your best, include an introduction note rather than a letter, keep it short and sweet, but factual and personal and remember your all important branding. Make sure you aim to get the right contact person to send the package to and make sure you courier to the magazine's offices. No editor wants to stand in a post office queue to collect a package from a stranger. Keep it creative and include a call to action, where you mention why you are sending it, but again keep it professional and not too demanding. For example - invite them to visit your blog or online shop (don't forget the link on your business card or on the note).
Start your own press kit with product photos, facts and start working on an email to send to publications. Work on a list of contacts - research their details. Keep it personal, don't send a mass email hoping for the best. You can keep the structure of your email and content similar, but send the mails one at a time and personalise them, where possible. Remember this task is about growth and also about evolving as business owner. Make it a goal to work on your press kit, to update it and to finesse your correspondence.
Approaching the press and composing emails is something that I offer in my one on one consulting sessions and we work on this during the Intermediate Workshops that I run. Get in touch if you would like help with composing the perfect email or even further guidance on researching publications.