Module Eight : The courage to walk your own creative journey

This Unfurl course has been leading towards this – you finding, making, creating, even occasionally faking your creative courage. Of being able to share your voice with the world in a humble yet bold manner, in your own voice, with your own nuances and love of things. 

Working through fears, immersing yourself into the deep love of your creative passion, writing about why you ARE good enough, finding your creative inspiration and realising the importance of allowing yourself to bloom. You’ve also worked on a habit of developing your breathing and focusing your creative voice.

Now you’re ready to show off your creative work to the world!!

Sometimes you might not feel quite ready, but something I practice regularly – this is from many years of personal experience and also some wonderful bits I’ve read here & there over the years – is that you’ll never ever be ready. Nothing will be perfect, and if you continue to wait for perfection you’ll never put yourself out there. So – start when you’re not ready. Begin. Just simply begin and then move forward.

Be open and ready, and even eager, to make mistakes. To move on from your mistakes, to know that it’s all a journey – your creative work as well as the way you express yourself and the way you put yourself out there. Some times it might work, sometimes it might not work. You might fall flat on your face…

feathers Ellie Beck Petalplum
 
What if I fall.....

oh but darling, what if you fly!

Share your voice

So, you've just spent a week immersed deeply in developing your voice in your creative practice. And let's be honest here, a week is nothing... but sometimes a week might be enough to push us further to keep on doing it, to keep on making the space, creating the time to continue pushing ourselves. Once you start along the journey of an everyday creative practice, you'll (hopefully) find it easier to continue along the journey. 

This final week is about solidifying all that you've learned about yourself these past weeks, and what direction you want to continue moving along. As well as learning about how to share that voice with the world. And, if it's for you, how to work toward making this a part-or-full-time income. Just so you know, earning an income from your creative practice is not the main 'outcome' of this course, and you don't need to worry if you want to simply continue enjoying the doing, and not having to earn an income from it. 

Let's be honest and say that earning an income from your arts or creative practice is not easy. But I for one continue to do it because I simply can't not share my work, because the thought of going back to a "regular" full time job doesn't fit for me anymore, and because this feels like my calling for life.

Know that by using your own voice you are growing, building, encouraging a community, a tribe, a 'following' (I don't really like the idea of people 'following' me, but it's just the words they use in social isn't it). That by being more and more yourself you connect with people who love that, and the people who don't love that won't feel inclined to join along. And that's the beauty of it because you don't want or need people who don't love you to be part of your gang. Your community will uplift you, support you, love you (even if / when you make mistakes), and they'll respect you for staying true to yourself.

You don't need a giant following, you just need the right people to surround yourself with. Those people will be your advocates, your fan base, your customers, and also your friends and community. 


 
You can’t got back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending
— C.S. Lewis
 

Ways to share your work

Social media is the easiest, quickest, simplest and most direct way to put your work out into the world. My experience of blogging for more than 10years, and being on Instagram for close to 7 years, is that it’s mostly a very supportive encouraging environment. The positivity far outweighs any negative comments, almost by about 99% or something like that. What I’m saying is that most people are happy to see the good and great things, rather than automatically look for the bad or to put your work down.

I’m going to talk mostly about Instagram, because that’s  where I have the most experience, but other places such as Facebook and Pinterest are great platforms to have a presence on as well. In terms of clicks-to-your-website, it’s actually far better to be on Facebook. People there are engaged in a different way, and more ‘programmed’ to click out from the app, whereas on Instagram it’s much harder to get people to click away from the app to your website.

I do think you can build a loyal and beautiful following on Instagram. There’s pros and cons for both Facebook and Instagram, but ultimately it comes down to two things – what platform you prefer spending time on / in, and where you think your audience might best be (this takes a bit of guessing and testing). I personally don’t love the look / feel of Facebook feed, and feel more visually inspired by Instagram, but I’ve noticed over the years that Facebook does have a better conversion rate, and there are still many more users actively engaged on Facebook. 

Pinterest, while being a beautiful platform to be share your work and be inspired by, isn't as community focused or connective as Facebook or Instagram. It's not naturally a place where people communicate or comment actively, but as a place to share your work it's a highly visual and does seem to have a great clicks-to-website conversion (for some people). For me, I'm wanting the community and connection that simply doesn't happen on Pinterest.

Your project this week is to:

Choose one platform that you want to join or become more active on. Can I suggest Instagram if you haven't yet tried it, because I'm quite sure you'll learn to love the beautiful feel of it as well as the creative connections that you can find naturally happen. I have used it to build an community of people who I feel truly connected to, to find 'my tribe' as it where, and have made many connections with people who I collaborate with, am inspired by and converse with regularly. 

You can download my Instagram guide here - the how to, as well as some tips on taking photos, how to use hashtags, etc.

Here's what I'd like you to try this week:

  • Post every single day for the next week. Continue this for the next month, if you miss a day or two that's ok, but aim for at least 4 or 5 posts in a week.
  • Post only your 'best version of your work' type photos. This doesn't mean it has to be professionally photographed finished works, but it does mean don't post 'happy snaps' in bad lighting.
  • Start to curate your Instagram feed without being too worried about it being perfect. I find it's a balance of staying yourself while still understanding that Instagram is a platform to share your best version of you. That in order to find some momentum and grow an audience you do need to put on a little show, of sorts. Make people feel inspired to come and visit your page.
  • Connect with others aligned with your creative passion - ie; seek out artists, photographers, natural dyers, those who stitch, painters, etc etc (use hashtags to find people, or the explore page which will start to show you other people based on the people who already follow. Also utilise the drop-down button beside a favourite person's 'follow' tab, this shows other people to follow).
  • Start conversations with them - leave comments that are thoughtful, thought-provoking, inspiring, intriguing. This is how you engage people, rather than simply leaving 'love it' comments, actually start to have conversations. 
  • On your posts I want you to start sharing stories - in your caption talk about your work, or about where or how or why you made it. Give your followers (and potential new followers) something to connect with deeper than your image. I personally am more inspired to connect with someone who writes something that asks me to connect back - asks me a question, or provides some insight into who they are or about their work. 
  • Spend 20 minutes every day engaging with your followers and those who you follow. 10 minutes before you post your picture for the day go and comment on pages / pictures you love. Then, once you post spend time replying straight away to comments that people leave - connect with them, write back, converse. 
  • Instagram is still, above all, a community-driven platform and when you spend time there with this in mind you'll find that community will build. It may be slow, but it will happen if you're dedicated to making it work, having a plan and being engaging and inspiring. 
Ellie Beck Petalplum Naturally dyed fabric purples.JPG

I talk about what things you can share in the Instagram guide, but what I want to remind you is this:

If you want to share your creative work with the world, and make a connection with people through your creative self, then you must be willing to work through the fear of being wrong or making mistakes. This fear I think is what holds many people back, combined with the shyness of thinking what you have to say isn't important enough, or exciting enough. If you share parts of your heart, then people will share parts of their heart back. 

I have found, time and time again, that by opening and sharing in an honest and raw way that my community have shared that back with me. The posts that resonate the most with my followers / community are the ones where I share something deeper than usual. I have also found that by being more genuinely myself I am growing a community who connects with me on a deeper level, and respects me for what I share. And further more, this community become people who want to join in on that journey with me, and become customers, supporters and collaborators in my creative practice. 


Things to share:

  • Your nature mandala & inspiration walks
  • Your tools & equipment - paint brushes, threads & needles, etc etc
  • Your sketchbooks and journals
  • Your cup of tea and work in progress
  • Your finished work
  • Your inspiration / muse
  • Your materials
  • Your studio / workspace

For those of you who have been quiet in the past few weeks, this week I'm highly encouraging - gently forcing - you to step outside of your fear. To push through it, to work with it. To remind yourself that if you never try, you'll never know what is possible. We are all humans experiencing a human life together - connecting, sharing, learning. 

 

To live a creative life
we must lose our fear of being wrong
— Joseph Chilton Pearce