Why You Should Let Your Followers Get to Know You

Artists and creatives being themselves on social media.

When you operate on social media as a creative person, it can be hard to show your genuine self to your audience right away. Though, this is one of the most important things you should do. It can take time and persistence to get comfortable putting yourself out there, but the benefits are worth it.

If you are a creative person it’s likely that the world has tried to stuff you into a box so many times that you actually hide the best parts of you. The parts that are a little weird or eccentric, or the struggles you experience. I’ve been there. I hid a lot of myself. In the past, I felt so “other” that I would shrink around new people–but then I met a friend years ago who was confidently weird and eccentric. By being herself, she gave me permission to do the same. After that, I continued to evolve into my own weirdness and loved it. When it came time to put my artwork online, I took that love and ran with it.

I had a goal to be me and speak my truth as a creator and business owner and I’m glad I did. I write these blog posts to help artists and creatives succeed in their businesses and in creativity, but this topic is relevant as just a regular human in society as well. Here’s why you should let your followers get to know you and your true self on social media:

You Can Build trust and make sales

Clearly, making money is a main goal for creators online. Sometimes we put our work into the world just for kicks, but selling it is often a focus. When you allow your audience to get to know you, it is more likely they will buy from you.

When your followers can see that you are a real human they can relate to, they will feel less hesitation to give you their money. It’s easy to support people you know and like. Online transactions take a lot of trust. A customer will wonder if their money or their personal information is safe, if they will even get the items they ordered, or if you will be there if they have questions, etc..

When you share who you are, what you value, and why you do what you do, then customers will be eager to support you if they relate to you.

Be cautious though. Don’t share too much. Being yourself while running a business does not mean airing dirty laundry or being dramatic. Nor does it mean sharing everything about where you live, your family, your children, or anything that leaves you vulnerable to the creepers on the internet. It only takes one request for pictures of your feet in your DMs to realize the necessity of some privacy.

Keep yourself safe and make sure that you are giving your audience something valuable while sharing your story.

Do good in the world.

Being yourself creates a ripple effect through everyone you interact with, and gives them permission to do the same. Just as my friend from years ago gave me permission to be a weirdo, I try to do that for others with my online presence.

When you open up, show your quirks, your sense of humor, share your life, your struggles, your triumphs, or your humanity, it inspires others. We attract the energy we put out into the world and we amplify it in others. Good and bad.

I feel like this should go without saying, because I’m assuming if you are reading this, you aren’t a genuine asshole–but if you are an asshole and you like to be mean and get people riled up, then ignore everything I am saying here. The world has enough assholes right now. Though, if you can do it in a delightfully snarky way like @effinbirds or @whiskeyriversoap and manage to make people laugh, then carry on with your salty sentiments. I, too, like to say “fuck” a lot.

Be yourself. Be kind. Own your weirdness. Or if you are an asshole, at least be funny about it. Please and thank you.

Connect on a genuine, human level.

It is refreshing to come across real people doing cool things online. The internet is full of weird stuff. A lot of good-weird stuff, but a lot of bad-weird stuff too. The internet allows us to craft an identity that might have some truth to it, but unfortunately it’s easy to lie. It’s easy to pretend to be something you are not and social influencers do it all the time. I even do it when I’m staging photos. You think I wear jeans all the time? No. I’m wearing sweat pants, two sweaters, a cardigan, bed head, and fluffy socks that would make your grandma swoon. But if I cringe when I catch myself in the mirror, I’m not putting that on the internet to live forever. Maybe an IG story though…

Anyway, there is room for real people online. There is a place for genuine, down-to-Earth, good people to exist and thrive in an online space. I have met many people through Instagram that I would consider true friends, because I made the choice to be open and invite people into my life. I have shared enough about my life and struggles that long lasting friendships have grown within my DMs. I’ve been a shoulder to lean on for people who are struggling, and my followers have often been there for me. When I was deeply depressed in early 2020, one of my friends from France sat with me on the phone one afternoon and made my life a bit brighter when I needed it most. I wouldn’t have met him without being myself online. This part has little to do with running a business, but everything to do with feeding the human spirit.

It is up to you to decide how much of yourself you want to share with your followers. You don’t need to be vulnerable and share everything, but I can promise you that if you have struggled through something and found a way out, sharing your story can help your audience feel connected to you and feel less alone in the world. Even if that struggle is spilling your coffee on your laptop or your kid sticking gum in your hair. Life is interesting. Share the quirks!

Personally, I share what is relevant to me as an artist and my creative process. Which means I am open about struggles with confidence, depression/anxiety, battling with my internal critic, and more. I always try to share with a positive tone, and I try to encourage others. Social media can be used to actually connect deeply with others, and it’s beautiful when that happens.

Embrace your voice as a creator.

When I decided to become a professional artist, I lacked confidence. I had a dream, and I wanted to succeed, but I also had a really loud internal critic that told me I wasn’t good enough all the damn time. Somehow, I still put my work online. The desire to create was stronger than my fear of sucking. Over time, the more I shared, the more confident I became in my voice as a creator.

When you show up, be yourself, and focus on your craft, you get feedback from your audience than can help you gain more confidence in yourself as a creator. I know it’s scary at first, but this is where faking it until you make it comes into play. Well, not even faking it. Just ignore the fear and internal critic and put yourself out there anyway. Easier said than done, I know, but the benefits can be amazing.

When you open up about your creative process or something relatable in your life and have followers respond positively, it helps you trust your own voice. That positive reinforcement feels damn good. Even when your art still needs work, you can evolve in the open. I honestly cringe at some of the work I created a couple of years ago, but having a mission of being honest and vulnerable to my audience kept me accountable to the creative process. The more I shared, the more I painted, the more I grew and found my voice.

I want the same for you. Do your thing. Put your creations and yourself as an artist out into the world. Watch yourself evolve over time as you interact with your audience.

I wouldn’t be here writing this without the positive feedback I’ve received from my audience over the last few years. Your audience can help you find your voice and embrace it. And then you get to continue the cycle and inspire other artists. It’s pretty cool.

***

Now get out there and be yourself! Open up and start conversations through social media. You never know who you will inspire when you own your weirdness and connect with others.

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

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:

Why Artists Depend On Others to Guide Their Art

(And why they shouldn’t.)

If you have ever dreamed of making art, selling your art, or even if you have already successfully sold art, the question “What should I make?” will pop into your head. All creative people experience a loss or lack of direction at some point. Even after four years of making art full-time, I still have those moments. It’s part of the creative process, but trying to solve your lack of direction by asking others for guidance can be detrimental to your creative development.

It is far too easy to lose yourself when you open the door to any and all guidance, advice, critiques, etc.. Believe me, everyone has opinions, but not everyone has your artistic intentions and interests in mind when they share them.

Like today, my adorable six year old niece was watching me draw. I asked her “What do you think?” and she stood there with an unenthused look on her face and replied “Why do you only know how to draw swirls?” (Reasonable question, as my work has been swirly AF lately.)

“I can draw other things, but this is what I like drawing right now,” I said. She still wore a critical expression, and posed a slightly crushing followup question.

“When will you stop drawing swirls?” I couldn’t help but laugh, while pretending I wasn’t crying a little on the inside 😉

Clearly, my niece isn’t impressed, but that’s okay. Now imagine that conversation with an adult. I’ve had many conversations like this, and even though it’s not explicit verbal rejection, questions can be loaded, and all non-verbal cues can point to disapproval of your current direction. We’ve probably all been there in some way. Someone asks an innocent sounding question and suddenly your mind is filled with “OMG, you hate it! I suck! Why am I doing this?! Nobody is going to like this!”

I mean–no–I’ve never gone down that thought spiral before… *definite sarcasm*

We artists can be sensitive creatures. Any whiff of negative feedback can make us question everything we are doing, and accept guidance from outsiders. This guidance can sometimes result in losing touch with our own creative vision, and that’s where I have a problem.

Why do artists depend on outside opinions?

In order to prevent being swayed, or pushed away from your own creative authenticity, it’s important to look at why this happens in the first place.

1. You lack confidence in your art or abilities.

We all have to start somewhere, and in the beginning of creative explorations, few of us have built-in confidence that we know what we are doing. We ask our friends, families, and partners “Do you think this is good?” And we crave their validation as fuel to move us forward. This isn’t necessarily bad if you are talking to someone who knows how to provide the right feedback to keep you moving forward, but asking the wrong person can trigger the negative thought spiral above.

Over time, you will build internal confidence. (I wrote a blog post years ago on this matter.) Until then, be careful where you seek feedback on your art.

2. You are focused on selling art more than creating art.

I get it, you want to make a sale. This makes it tempting to look at artists around you who are selling a certain kind of art and think you should follow the same aesthetic. And it makes the suggestions from friends and family to paint what they saw on Pinterest or at a craft fair sound like a good idea–but you need to check in with yourself and determine what kind of art you actually want to make.

If you find yourself accepting guidance from others on what they think will sell, then you need to revisit why you are creating in the first place.

3. You haven’t found your style or direction yet.

Maybe you’re confident in your abilities, but you still don’t really know what kind of art you should focus on. Asking people around you what they want to see is okay if it encourages you to try new things and naturally find a style, but be careful that those ideas don’t override your own desires.

Whose opinions should you trust?

I want to be clear, I am not saying that you shouldn’t listen to anyone when it comes to your art. External feedback is really important when you are exploring your creativity. Instead of trusting everyone has valid input about your art, I just encourage you to select people who can understand how your mind works.

If you are looking to others to help assess your work, I suggest making them read this post about how to critique art. Critiquing doesn’t come naturally to people, but this post will help get artists and non-artists into the right mindset.

If you want to create art for others, then having someone tell you exactly what kind of art they want is welcomed. Let’s say you are doing contracting work, commissions, illustrations, or anything that involves bringing a client’s vision to life, then accepting guidance and giving up a good amount of control of the end product is expected.

When you just want to create, or find your own creative voice, then outside opinions will likely just distract you from your goal.

So–

What should you Make?

Make the art that you want to make. Other people cannot tell you what art is hiding inside of you. They don’t know, and sometimes even you don’t know, but that’s a journey you’ll have to take on your own. Finding your direction requires playfulness, time, and patience. Before you ask others for guidance, get your art supplies and try new things. See where that takes you. You don’t need anyone’s approval but your own.

Only you know what kind of art you should make. If you don’t have the answers now, you will find them over time.

If I internalized my little niece’s displeasure at my repetitive swirls, I’d probably be drawing rainbow unicorns and dancing donuts with sprinkles on them right now to make her happy. As fun as that would be, it’s a bit of a departure from what I love doing. (Though, outside of my work day, I will rainbow unicorn the sh*t out of my art. Maybe even add some glitter!)

Next time someone tells you to draw a barn near a wheat field instead of naked lady with a body full of tattoos, or a poured abstract acrylic piece–ask yourself if they are trying to help you find your authentic creative voice, or if they want you to make art that conforms to their personal ideals.

Trust the guidance of those who want to nurture the creativity that’s already within you.

***

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope this was helpful. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. And, 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.

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


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 Creative Limitations Can Inspire You

A few days ago, I lived in California. Life has changed drastically, and it still feels a little surreal that I’ve closed a chapter in my life that was full of palm trees and a short drive to the Pacific ocean.  As I write this, I am sitting at my brother’s dining room table in Minnesota, impatiently waiting for my moving pod to arrive with all of my art supplies.

Last week, it was easy for me to do art when I had a full studio set up. I had shelves of supplies, and everything I could need to flex my creativity. Watercolor paper, mixed media paper, watercolors, canvases, every size paint brush, acrylics, a variety of inks, pens, markers, varnishes, and more.

Right now, I only have a black pen, a handful of precut watercolor paper with watercolor designs I applied before moving, and gold ink. My carry-on was filled with clothes and essentials, so I could only bring a few items to create with while I wait for the rest of my stuff.

Even though I would love to have my complete studio set up, I’m okay with this for the moment, because I’ve learned that limitations aren’t a bad thing.

Limitations can set you free

It sounds counterintuitive, but applying limitations to a situation can kickstart creativity. When we have too many choices before us, we can become paralyzed with indecision. An abundance of choice can keep us stuck in place as we evaluate every option before us. We waste energy imagining what we could have instead of deciding how to use what we already have.

When you are given limitations, you no longer have to look at what else is available. You can focus all of your energy on what is directly before you.

The limited art supplies I currently have for the next few days prevent me from getting distracted by anything else. There is power in narrowing your focus.

You don’t NEED to buy new art supplies

Have you ever experienced art supply boredom? If you’re like me, you probably have a bunch of art supplies that you have accumulated that maybe don’t excite you anymore. It’s like going grocery shopping but having no idea what to make for dinner after, so you order take out instead.

With a little discipline, that boredom can be transformed.

Challenge yourself, and pick out a few supplies you haven’t used in awhile. Sit down and give yourself 15-30 minutes to explore and play with the materials. You never know what will come of it.

***

Of course, I’m itching to use my other supplies right now, and I know how exciting it can be splurge at Dick Blick–but when your budget is tight, or all of your stuff is on a truck somewhere, you have to make the most of what you already have. You never know what will send you down a new creative path.

While I get settled in Minnesota, my store is closed and I will be focusing on consulting sessions with all you lovely artists out there for the next couple of weeks. If you need help with your 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.

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


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: