What is Your Call to Action?

If you don’t have one, you should change that now.

Calls to action. Do you have one? Do you have multiple? What is a call to action? If you are a creative person trying to make it online, you need to be aware of this concept. Basically, a call to action is a command for your audience. It’s the sales pitch on social media captions. It’s the long ramble YouTubers give at the end of their videos. A call to action is any action your audience performs that will benefit you as a creator/business. 

Like, subscribe, turn on notifications, visit my website, become a patron on Patreon, support this content with a donation, follow the link in my bio, visit my store, buy merch, buy art, buy something else, share this post, bookmark it, visit my blog, sign up for my email list, and so on.

Calls to action are very important. Sometimes they are subtle. Sometimes they are in your face. Whatever form they take, you need to be aware of how to use them on your audience.

Why do you need a call to action?

It is not enough to just be on social media. It is not enough to just get a follower’s attention. Yes, you can attract new followers by simply sharing your art, but will you get art sales? Will you generate income or grow your email list if you are not giving your audience direction? You can, but using a call to action will increase your odds for success.

I remember when my Instagram following started to grow, I was filled with excitement when I got my first DMs asking, “Is that piece for sale?” It was a great feeling, but the fact a follower had to message me and ask this meant it wasn’t obvious my work was for sale. I wasn’t effectively communicating my call to action, and I was potentially missing out on sales as a consequence.

I got my audience’s attention, but had no idea what I should do with it after that. A call to action is the next step.

What is your call to action?

What do you want from your audience? What is your main focus? If you want to make art sales, then create calls to action that point your audience in that direction. If you just want new followers, then your call to action will come in the form of great content alone. (Please, please don’t use “follow me for more content like this” or anything of the sort in your social media captions. Also, do not drop unsolicited calls to follow you in strangers’ DMs or post comments. That is a waste of time and energy. Focus on creating great content.)

Every creator/creative business will have slightly different calls to action. It’s up to you to determine what you are pushing to your audience. Every social media profile and post/caption are opportunities for a call to action.

What do calls to action look like?

Calls to action in social media bios:

Instagram/Facebook/Tiktok/Twitter bios should always have a call to action and a link to whatever action you are asking your audience to perform. Focus on one, maybe two calls to action. Make sure your call to action is your main goal as a creator online at the moment.

All of these calls to action should be made clear when your audience taps on the link in your bio.

Examples:

  1. Commissions open, Email me at ____
  2. Join my email list
  3. Read latest blog post
  4. All art for sale
  5. Shop my store
  6. Sign up for my e-course
  7. View tutorials on YouTube
Hard Sells:

Hard sell calls to action get right to the point. Introduce an attractive piece of visual content to get your audience’s attention, and then direct them to your desired action immediately.

Examples:

  1. New pieces are in my shop! Follow the link in my bio to claim one.
  2. Hey! Follow the link in my bio to read my latest blog post.
  3. My commission schedule is now open for the month of May. DM me now to get on calendar.
Soft Sells:

Soft sells are less aggressive and open with something related to your call to action, but they don’t demand the performance of the action. Think of soft sells as just showing up and providing information to those who might be interested. I try to make the majority of my social posts soft sells.

Examples:

  1. This piece of art was inspired by *insert backstory to your art*. I am excited to finally put this piece into the world. If it speaks to you, it is currently available for sale. Follow the link in my bio and tap on the Shop button.
  2. Lately I have been thinking about *insert topic your audience might be interested in*, and this inspired me to write a new blog post. You can find it through the link in my bio.

The benefit to a soft sell is that it can double as a conversation starter, which leads me to the next kind of call to action.

Conversation Starters:

A call to action doesn’t need to focus on sales, nor does it need to focus on actions that benefit your tangible business goals. A call to action can be a call for conversation, a call for community, or a call for stories. This does two things. 1) It helps you get more online exposure as your posts get more engagement. And 2) It helps you connect with your audience while reinforcing your brand.

Social media is a popularity contest in a lot of ways. Posts that get more engagement get seen by more people. A call to action in the form of a question that can lead to conversation in the comments can then boost your exposure to a wider audience.

Think about the topics that relate to your art, your creative process, your brand, yourself, etc.. Then write a caption where you share a bit of your own thoughts before you turn the focus on your audience. Give them an opportunity to talk about their own experiences. Get to know your audience and let them get to know you.

How many calls to action can you have?

You can have a variety of calls to action. I have many that are tailored around all the things I do in my business. (Like sell my art, write blog posts, support my Patreon page, do consulting sessions, commissions, corporate licensing, and more.) The areas that make me the most money are the calls to action I focus on more often. Seems obvious, right? It’s not at first. You never know exactly what will be your biggest stream of income until you try it, promote it, and see what happens.

When you are first starting out, I suggest focusing on one money-oriented call to action, and a couple of community-oriented calls to action. If you want to work mostly on commission, then push that call to action most often using hard sells, soft sells, and then give your audience a break with conversation starters.

As your business grows, you can start introducing more calls to action that cater to your diversified income streams. Since I have multiple calls to action, I created a landing page for the link in my IG bio with buttons that I point to with each call to action I use in captions. (ex. New art is in my shop. Follow the link in my bio and tap on New Arrivals.)

What if your followers get tired of you selling to them?

If you want to sell your art, then you need to see yourself as a business. That means you have to think like a business too. You have a product to offer and you are online to sell it. Your followers should be following you because they enjoy your art and your brand. A true follower won’t get annoyed by your calls to action if a) they genuinely enjoy what you do and b) you offer quality content around your calls to action to keep them engaged.

To keep your audience from getting burned out on calls to action, stagger your use of hard sells, soft sells, and conversation starters. Don’t just bombard your audience with hard sells like “This piece is available for sale. Go to my website now to buy it,” on every caption you post.

How often should you use a call to action?

You should use a call to action in almost every social media post you create and your social profile bios should always have a call to action. Like I said above, don’t do a hard sell every time you post, but at the very least, plan on using a conversational call to action.

If you have your audience’s attention, don’t waste it.

***

Do you have a clear idea of your call to action now? If you don’t, I am always here! You can easily add a consulting session to my online calendar now.

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine!

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

How I Varnish Acrylic Art

*Links contained in this post are affiliate links for Amazon and/or Dick Blick and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. These commissions help fund more content like this, so thank you!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the varnish I use on my canvases, so it’s time for a little info dump.

First of all, why varnish your paintings?

I don’t believe in following all art rules, but varnish is one of those things that I adhere to religiously. Every canvas piece I finish gets at least two coats of varnish. If your art will not be displayed behind glass, then you should varnish it. (Some work with loose materials, like charcoal or pastels, could also use a coat of spray varnish/fixative to keep particles from falling off even when displayed behind glass.)

Here’s why I varnish my work:

  1. It protects the work- a coat of varnish will protect your paintings from dust, moisture, fingerprints, and other random things. Some varnishes (like the one I use) protects work from UV light.
  2. It enhances colors- Darker colors under a gloss varnish can look much deeper and more vibrant.
  3. It creates a consistent surface finish- Some paints have varying gloss or matte finishes. A varnish will bring everything together.

I’m sure there are more reasons to varnish your work–but that’s my list.

Two dried coats of Liquitex High Gloss Varnish.

Products I usE to Varnish my Art:

Liquitex High Gloss Varnish (Amazon or Blick Art Materials)

I LOVE this varnish. It’s non-yellowing, it’s archival, and it’s shiny AF.

COVID has caused inventory issues for Liquitex. When the High Gloss Varnish is in stock, I suggest buying in bulk. In the meantime, the Gloss Varnish (Amazon or Blick) might be a good substitute. I haven’t tried that one yet.

If you aren’t a fan of glossy finishes, then I definitely recommend Liquitex Matte Varnish (Amazon or Blick). I use this varnish occasionally.

Cheap 2 inch Foam Brush (Amazon or Blick Art Materials)

Streaks are an issue. Do not use bristled brushes with this varnish. Use a cheap foam brush.

Yogurt container with a lid– I don’t rinse out my foam brush with each use. I’m lazy, and foam brushes break down easily with wear and tear. I saturate my brush while varnishing and then store it in a washed out yogurt container between uses. Once black chunks start to fall off the brush, I toss it and grab a fresh one.

How I apply the varnish:

You can see from the video below, I apply this varnish with slow and even strokes. I try not to pass over an area more than 3 times. It begins to dry quickly, so don’t rework areas you covered after moving on. Read the directions on this varnish. Do not water it down. Do not over work it or it can get foggy. Apply a thin coat and wait 3 hours between before applying the next. I apply two coats total.

I paint and varnish the sides of my canvases as well.

Tiny bubbles can form. I don’t have any issues with them after the varnish dries, but sometimes I will blow on the canvas to pop them, slap the back of the canvas a few times, or tap the canvas frame on my table to vibrate the surface, pop bubbles, and even out any areas that pooled.

***

Voila!

Let me know if you have questions! If you enjoy learning about the supplies I use in the studio and want to know more, let me know through Instagram or Email, or consider becoming a Patron of mine to support more content like this. Now go get messy and share your creation on Instagram using #messyeverafter!

-Kelly

SUPPORT MESSY EVER AFTER ON PATREON:

A lot of artists don’t like to share their secrets, but I’m an open book. If you enjoy the content I create and the advice I give to other creators, please consider becoming Patron of mine on Patreon. Pledging as little as $1 a month supports this content and my career as an artist.

Further Reading:

You Can’t Be Trusted To Judge Your Own Art

I have been, and will probably always be my own worst critic. I default to thinking everything I do sucks. My art, my writing, my face, and whatever else I can think of. My inner critic says it all blows. My inner critic is an asshole, and it should not be trusted. If you have an asshole inner critic too, then you my friend cannot be trusted to judge your own art. Or anything else you create for that matter.

I can be somewhat objective and evaluate the technical aspects of my art. I can tell you if I am lacking negative space and balance. I can tell you when I need more contrast or need to rework different forms. This is basic critiquing and every artist should learn how to recognize and manipulate design principles. What we cannot be trusted to do is judge the objective value of our work.

Is it good enough to show the world? Is it good enough to sell? Is it straight garbage to add to the dumpster fire of my life? Things like that. Most of the time, the judgment is wrong and biased.

I have created work that I hated, and it sold immediately. I have created work that I thought was amazing, and it sits in my studio for years. I’ve learned that the accuracy of my judgments needs improvement–but it’s been easier to just stop trying to judge my work at all.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

When I was writing my novel a couple of months ago, I kept hearing this nagging voice in my head that was all like “You’ve never written a novel. You will not be good at this. This book will be terrible. Who are you to think you can do this?” Before I accepted I was an artist, that voice said the same thing about my art.

Happily, I ignored that voice and continued writing (I’m working through third draft edits at the moment. Jury is still out on whether or not this thing does in fact suck major donkey balls–but that’s not my biggest concern.) While I was taking a break from writing, I googled “How to know if you suck at writing” and came across a video explaining the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.” -Verywellmind

This filled me with hope. If I believe I am amazing at what I am doing, then that might actually mean I am worse than I think–so if I believe I suck, does that mean I am actually better than I think? Maybe. I might just have the ability to recognize my own incompetence and lack of skill. I might not be good–but I have the power to recognize that and try to get better.

You have to believe you suck just enough to keep you moving forward, but not suck so much that it paralyzes you.

Judgment Paralysis:

Past me would judge my work so harshly that 1) I didn’t show it to the world and 2) I let myself get so discouraged that I stopped creating. (I did this over and over again with writing most of all, but art as well.)

If you do either, then you have work to do. Dial back the judgment. Your internal critic needs to be quieted.

Grow while recognizing weaknesses:

Current me knows that my art isn’t the greatest, my writing could definitely still use a lot of work, and perfection is unattainable, but growth is always a good goal.

You’re not going to be perfect. You’re not going to be the best. Just make art and keep moving forward.

F**K It. Put it out into the world.

Every day I work on art, I still think 75% of the time “Well, this is garbage.” But I still finish the work and put it on social media and in my online store.

I have trained myself to not give shit if my work is good or bad. I make art that I enjoy. I put it into the world. Then I go make more art. I repeat that cycle and hope some of it sells. When I get tired of art, I go write. I don’t think I am great at writing, but I keep doing it. Maybe I am the worst, but that doesn’t matter, because I’ll only get better at what I do the more I do it.

Make the art. Put it out into the world. Let everyone else decide its value. But, if they do think it sucks, f**k ’em, because the value of art is subjective. Really, nobody can be trusted to judge your art objectively, but especially not you.

In summary:

Don’t judge your work. Recognize your weaknesses, and keep practicing. If you do judge your work, don’t let that stop you from creating or putting it out into the world. And if you think you’re the best f***ing artist that ever existed, then you probably do suck at what you do, but high five for being confident! Keep putting that art into the world!

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

***

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading: