How To Show Your Worth. Three Easy Tips.
“So what is hand-lettering?”
” Is that a font?”
“ Oh so you you draw for fun?”
“But what’s the point? Don’t we have computers now? “
These are all questions I get on a regular basis when introducing myself to people as a “hand-lettering artist.” The fact is, the general population has no idea that hand-lettering is even a job and even less of an idea of what it actually involves. I am not alone in this problem, I’ve talked to many creative people over a wide range of industries that have trouble getting people outside of the art community to understand what it is that they do and why it matters.
Although it can be tricky to present ourselves and our work, it is not impossible. To help, here are three easy tips to help you better explain what you do, present your work, and show your worth.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
I was at a networking event last week where I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people. It was interesting to me how many of these people couldn’t. explain what it was they did. For instance, when I asked one woman what she did she responded “Well um, I’m kind of in-between a few things. I sort of used to do birth photography, but now I’m sort of moving into some other stuff and maybe trying some other projects, but I don’t really know because things are sort of busy right now with stuff.” As you can imagine, after that into I had a hard time believing that this woman was serious about what it was she was “sort-of-kind-of doing.”
You don’t have to be 100% sure of what you’re doing to SOUND like you’re 100% sure of what you’re doing. The more concise, clear and confident you are when you introduce yourself and your work, the more likely people are to take you seriously and to believe you know what you’re talking about. Even if they have no idea what a “Social Networking Marketer” or a “UX designer” or a “textile artist” does, they will think it’s legit if you say it with confidence.
Along with your elevator pitch, practice explaining your job in simple clear terms. I’m serious, actually practice. Saying it out loud will help you to see if you’re message is clear or confusing.
Brag It Up!
People will never understand why your work is worthwhile if you don’t believe it yourself. There is no shame in talking about your work with pride, it’s your work after all! You should be proud! I know so many people who complain about how people don’t like or appreciate their work, but at the same time when I hear them talk about their work they say things like “I’m just a wedding photographer” or “I’m just starting out in graphic design and am not very good yet.” If you put your work down or talk about it like it doesn’t matter, then no one else is going to care about it either. Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to pull out your phone and show people what you do. Talk about your work like it’s the coolest thing ever BECAUSE IT IS GOSH DARNIT.
Make It Relivant
This is the trickiest, but also the most important tip in presenting your work. People don't care about your work, they only care about having their problems solved. That being said, you need to help people realize how your work is relevant to their lives and how it could be of use to them.
Let’s take my job for example. No one NEEDS to hire a lettering-artist ever. Period. No company is going to fail because they forgot to hire someone to do hand-lettering, that’s just a fact. Keeping that in mind, I have to present myself in a way that shows how my skill can add value to a company (even though it might not be a necessity.) For instance, if I’m talking to a small clothing boutique owner I might say something like this, “I really am impressed with what you do, it can be hard to be a local shop owner these days with so many people only shopping online for cloths now. Have you ever considered getting a mural in your store? I painted another mural for a shop similar to yours and their foot traffic went up significantly because people wanted to come in to get cute pictures with the mural and then ended up buying clothes. Its amazing how a mural can transform a space into a fun place to visit!” Instead of just telling the shop owner that I paint murals, I’m helping them see how murals are relevant to them and how having one could improve their business and build their brand.
Learn how to talk to people and find ways to let your work fix their problems. When you make your work relevant to other people’s lives, that ‘s how you get clients and help people understand the worth of what you do.
It’s never easy to educate people about what we do, but the more you practice the better it gets. Remember, no one is going to care about what you do or why it’s important unless you really believe that it matters and can talk about it with pride.