45 content ideas for artists and designer-makers
People in marketing circles often talk about the power of solving customers’ pain points. For some creatives, particularly those in B2B (business-to-business) spaces, this is pretty straightforward. Through creating content that shares your expertise, you can literally help solve potential clients’ problems and take them on a journey from prospect to paying customer.
For example, let’s say I’m struggling to resize a photo for my blog in Photoshop. I might discover a great tutorial from a designer, which not only solves my problem but leads me to more relevant, helpful content on their blog. From here I sign up for their email list and enjoy their free content for several months. And when they release an e-book sharing even more insights into creating a strong design for your blog? I immediately hit buy.
But when it comes to content strategy for makers and artists whose customers are consumers, how does this work? Unless you’re specifically looking to reach creatives who want to start their own business or learn your craft, content that teaches may not feel right for you. When you’re selling your creations rather than your expertise (first and foremost, there’s always an element of both) the pain points aren’t always as obvious, nor is the type of content that would attract or engage your ideal customers.
So if you’re an artist or maker whose content isn’t having the impact you’re hoping for, here are three approaches to content strategy you may want to explore (and 15 specific content ideas for each), complete with examples of artists and makers who are creating awesome stuff along these lines.
Before we dig in: this list isn’t meant to be prescriptive and not every idea will feel right for every business. There’s nothing to say you can’t pick and choose ideas from each of these areas or adapt / remix any of these concepts to create something new.
I hope they spark some cool new content ideas for your business; and if they do, feel free to share the results in the comments below, I’d love to check them out!
Content ideas for artists and makers: Sharing your story, values and vision
Now more than ever, many people prefer to buy from independent businesses. Maybe they want a custom piece they know is one of a kind. Maybe they want to feel connected to the artist or story behind the artwork, so they can share that story with their own friends and family. Maybe they care deeply about buying from vendors who use locally sourced or sustainable products. Or perhaps they simply want to buy from someone they like and trust.
When you're an artist or maker, the 'pain points' your potential customers experience might not be things your content can solve directly (i.e. through a tutorial), but rather, they may centre around frustrations that come along with buying a product like yours (eg, a lack of environmentally friendly options).
With this in mind, these first 15 ideas are all about enabling people to connect with who you are, what you stand for, the meaning behind your work, and what sets you apart. This makes it easier to connect with potential customers around shared values and helps build trust and confidence in you and your brand.
One thing to note: even though these first ideas are more about you and your business, it's still important to think about what your readers can take away from each piece and how it will deliver value to them - for example, by inspiring, educating or entertaining.
1. Who are your creative influences?
What it is about their work, style or ethos you love and how have they inspired you to develop your own unique style and approach? If a potential customer is into your work, it’s likely they’ll dig the creatives who have inspired you too! For example, check out: It’s Friday, I’m in love: Paolo Roversi by Georgie St Clair.
2. How has your own story shaped your work?
What people, places and things have influenced your work and style? Or you could delve a little deeper and share a specific moment or conversation that has had a big impact on your approach. For example, check out: Meet DJ Bonnie Beats by Bucket Feet.
3. Take us on a tour of your studio or workspace
As well as sharing pictures, you could set the scene by telling us why you’ve made certain decor choices, the things you like to keep at hand while you work, the type of music you listen to (if any) and more.
4. What impact do you want to have with your creative work?
What bigger purpose drives you and what do you hope to achieve? How do you want to help or inspire others through your work? Why does this matter?
5. On a more personal level, what drives you to create?
What does making mean to you? Where does this stem from? How does creating enrich your life? Check out: What making means to me by Louise Tilbrook - inspired by Kate O’Sullivan’s A Maker’s Year challenge (see below).
6. What are your creative values?
What do you stand for, believe in and want to see more of in the world? You could even go a step further and create a manifesto for your brand. For example, I love how Caroline Winegart of Made Vibrant has illustratred her nine core values on her about page.
7. When it comes to your creative work, what won’t you compromise on?
What are your deal breakers or lines in the sand? I’d always advise sharing these types of posts with compassion and grace. It’s not about calling anyone out or naming and shaming, but rather seeking to educate and create positive change. For example, check out: Working for free never pays by Molly Jacques.
8. What materials or suppliers do you use in your work and why?
What difference does it make? Do you have any rules or requirements for the materials you work with, or any tips for sourcing a key material you use in your work that would be relevant and helpful to your ideal customer? For example, check out: Intention-based guide to using crystals in your life by Sophie Wood of Violet Gray Design.
9. Share a day in your life
I'm not the first person to suggest this idea, granted. But why not put your own creative spin on it? For example, Viktorija Semjonova from Andsmile shared photos and insights live on Instagram to document a day in her studio, then repurposed this content into a blog post. Genius! You can check out one of her Insta updates from the day below:
10. Ask me anything
Give your blog readers / podcast listeners / Instagram followers an opportunity to ask you questions and share your answers in a post or episode. It’s a great way to build relationships, shows you’re approachable and also gives you an opportunity to address popular questions efficiently.
11. Create a diary to document the story of building your business
Or share regular behind-the-scenes updates to keep your readers / followers posted. This type of content can be a great way to share your story as you go and take people on the journey with you, while also sharing some of your wins and lessons learned. For example, check out: Ode to October by Jen Wright of Inky Collective.
12. Write a letter to your younger self
What words of wisdom or motivation would you go back and tell yourself if you could? For example, check out: A letter to my younger self by Jasmine Luby Barrow on The Huffington Post.
13. Tell the story of how you got to where you are now
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful. Sharing your story so far could be a useful introduction to new readers and a way for regulars to get to know you better. For example, check out: Behind the screen by Teri Muncey of The Lovely Drawer.
14. What does someone need to know before investing in a product or service like yours?
What different options are available and what's the difference? While you may not be looking to reach aspiring artists or go too technical, I'm a firm believer that there's value in raising the level of understanding of the creative industries. The more potential customers understand what goes into a piece of work, the more they can recognise true value and what option best suits their needs. For example, check out: Wedding vs. commercial calligraphy: what’s the difference? by Molly Jacques.
15. What have you learned about your creative process so far?
How do you do your best work and how do you stay inspired? Do you have any rituals or routines to set you up for a successful week or do you embrace the ability to take each day as it comes?
Content ideas for artists and makers: Creative ways to share your work and process
As an artist or maker, you may be tempted to simply let your work speak for itself. Many independent creatives shy away from sharing their work through fear of appearing too self-promotional. This is natural and understandable!
But if your work only sits in a portfolio or shop, you're relying on people coming to you to find it. And if you truly want to make a living from your work, this doesn't tend to be an effective strategy.
Letting people know when you've created something new on your blog or social media can be a good first step, but when it comes to your content strategy, there's also scope to get creative and offer your readers/viewers more.
Here are some ideas for sharing your work in ways that deliver extra value, or help build an engaged community around what you do:
16. Set yourself creative constraints
Lisa Congdon’s ‘Experiments in blue’ series is a great example of how constraints can inspire creativity. Every week in 2016 she’s set herself the challenge of creating an artwork using mostly the colour blue, giving her readers something to look forward to and challenging her own creativity along the way. Another great example is the ‘Five words’ typography website and concept, where the creators produce and share awesome typographic designs using only five words in each one. Check out: Five Words by Skye Dwyer and Melissa Lee and one of their designs shared on Instagram below:
17. Launch a creative challenge
You could also create a challenge that other people can join in with, as Miranti Kayess did with her #52HandLettered project. For every week in 2015 she shared a prompt for fellow hand-letterers to create a piece of work around. Another is #themakersyear, a creativity and sustainable living challenge by Kate O’Sullivan of A Playful Day, which aims to get more people making and sharing their work.
18. Encourage customers to share photos of your products
Coffee-based skincare brand Frank Body has seen phenomenal success with this approach. Having ‘babes’ post photos of themselves covered in what (essentially) looks like dirt using #thefrankeffect, combined with the cheeky persona they’ve created for the brand, has set them apart from the typical Instagram fare and helped attract a huge following. Check out this episode of the Foundr podcast for more insight into their approach: $20m in sales in 1 year using Instagram? The Frank Body story.
19. Host an Instagram chat
Who says chats are just for Twitter? Allison Sadler is a great example of a designer-maker who has used Instagram to build a thriving community, particularly through her #MakeitSewcial chats. In a brave new Instagram world where engagement is more important than ever, this could be a great way to not only maximise your posts but also make some new creative friends!
20. Share an obstacle you've faced with a piece (or in your business) and how you overcame this
Any examples of a mistake, challenge or limitation sparking innovation and having a positive (if unexpected) impact on the result? Alternatively, you could share your favourite piece or 'best bits' and explain what worked particularly well in your process or why a piece is particularly meaningful to you.
21. Create something new using your work/product and share the step-by-step process
Coconut oil brand Sister + Co. does a great job of this, sharing recipes for dishes and beauty products you can make using their product on their blog. Also check out these gorgeous DIY Easter mini floral bouquets with free printable wrapping by artist Jessica Keala.
22. From idea to launch
Take us behind the scenes on a product or project and tell the story of how it developed from an idea or sketch to a finished piece, documenting your process and work along the way. This is a great way to show what goes into a piece and convey the quality, attention and passion behind it.
23. Create an animated GIF
Yes, you read that right! While most GIFs feature celebrities or comedy moments, as an artist or designer you have scope to create something really striking and unique. For example, you may well have seen illustrator Helen Green’s beautiful tribute to David Bowie on social media earlier this year. Helen also has lots more animated artworks on her dollychops blog, including the illustration of Lana Del Rey below:
24. Create a time-lapse
What better way to show exactly what goes into making a piece than to literally show what goes into making it? When done well, time-lapses can be mesmerising and highly shareable. For example, check out this time-lapse of watercolour artist Agnes-Cecile in this post by Ben Renschen for Society6.
25. Create a free resource for your community
Think about something your dream customer would truly value and enjoy. For example, if you’re a wedding calligrapher, you could create a beautiful wedding planning checklist or a printable ‘save the date’ card. Lifestyle blog Designlovefest also does a great job of this with their weekly ‘Dress your tech’ series of free desktop wallpapers.
26. Share a sneak peek of an upcoming project
This is a simple idea but one that can go a long way in relationship-building. Sharing a sneak peek of something that's not finished or launched yet requires a bit of vulnerability and demonstrates trust in your community, which can help to build loyalty and goodwill.
27. Share the story, inspiration or meaning behind a new product or range
You could even go a step further and create an interview series to mark the launch and share the vision behind it. For example, check out the My internal compass series by Violet Gray Design.
28. How has your creative style evolved since you started out?
What’s changed in terms of the mediums, colours or subjects you use and why? Share some pictures and take us through the journey of how your work has developed so far.
29. Create a lookbook
Pull together products that complement your own. Take a leaf out of big retailers like ASOS’ books and enable people to easily ‘shop the look’ (or ‘shop my favourites’, etc). As well as a natural way to link to your own products, you could potentially make some extra income through affiliate links to other retailers.
30. Experiment with a different medium
For example, check out artist Jennet Liaw’s Instagram feed. She often shares pictures of her lettering work in unusual places, with canvases including her hand, a Starbucks cup, salt and even a lemon! It’s eye-catching, memorable (and shareable). Check out an example below:
Content ideas for artists and makers: consider your customers’ wider interests and needs...
...or create a standalone magazine, blog or show for your target audience. This approach is all about attracting potential customers to your brand by creating content that relates to, but isn’t all directly about, your business, products or services.
It could involve either solving problems in other relevant areas of people’s lives or creating content that encapsulates the lifestyle your ideal customers aspire to lead.
The idea is to draw potential customers to your website and brand and become a go-to destination, by creating super valuable content (for example, content that educates, entertains or inspires) that's tailored to their interests and needs, in areas that relate to what you do. Here are some ideas and examples:
31. Share your design/visual expertise
Just because you may not be offering a service doesn’t mean you don’t have relevant, valuable expertise to share! In particular, as an artist or designer your eye for detail is a huge asset, which lends itself nicely to tips posts. For example, check out these 5 essential decor rules for your first adult apartment by Nada Alic for Society6.
32. Share tips or solve problems in other aspects of your ideal customers’ lives (but keep it relevant to either your product/service, core values or their desired lifestyle)
Wedding photographer Laura Babb does this exceptionally well. As well as sharing shots from her photo shoots on her blog, she also shares other content her dream clients would be interested in as they plan their big day, such as alternative wedding reading ideas and the case for an unplugged wedding.
33. Create a lifestyle challenge
Rather than challenging people to get creative, use your expertise to create a challenge that relates to your core values, the type of lifestyle your ideal audience aspires to or the end result your products help them achieve. For example, check out: 30 Days of Simplicity by Emily Ley or Operation “complexion perfection”: A 29-day challenge to work towards clear, glowing skin by Frank Body.
34. What are your favourite markets or independent stores?
Many people want to find alternatives to big stores and more unique items, and as someone who’s tapped into the artist/designer community, you may well know some fabulous quirky or lesser-known options that complement your own work/values/style. For example, check out: 30 ethical fashion brands you need to know by Anuschka Rees for Into Mind.
35. Launch a campaign
Got a cause that relates to your brand values that you’re super passionate about? You could also consider starting a campaign to help champion those values and connect with people who care about the same thing. For example, check out the Just a Card campaign, which encourages people to shop independent, by designer Sarah Hamilton, The Design Trust and Mollie Makes.
36. Share some of your recent favourites
Whether clothes, beauty products, home decor finds, books, podcasts or events, share curated picks that your ideal audience would love. For example, check out: Loving now: Lunya Sleepwear by Megan Gilger for The Fresh Exchange or Favorites: Joseph Joseph Kitchen Goods by Jessica Keala of Coco and Mingo.
37. Share your favourite picks from an exhibition or show
Again, use your artist’s eye to call attention to some of the must-see pieces. You could even create a piece of work inspired by what you saw, like this artwork by Viktoija from Andsmile, inspired by the Sonia Delaunay exhibition at the Tate Modern.
38. Share your thoughts on creativity or living a creative life
I truly believe making space for creativity is something anyone can benefit from, but as an independent artist or maker, your ideal customers (as supporters of the independent creative community) may well be interested in this topic too. And of course, you no doubt have lots of valuable insights on this subject!
39. Feature your ideal customers’ tips or stories
Think about how you could do this in a way that would be relevant and inspiring for others. For example, if you’re a wedding calligrapher, you could contact previous customers or do a call out on social media for newlyweds to share one thing they wish they’d known on their wedding day, then collate the responses into a blog post. If you sell laptop bags aimed at young professionals, you could create a round-up of helpful career tips, etc.
40. What mantras or principles do you live by?
Are there any rules or words of wisdom that get you through tough times? If you’re an artist, you could even turn these into prints or pieces of work for your audience. For example, check out: Abstract Affirmations by Caroline Winegart.
41. What’s your favourite piece of art or handmade item you own and why?
This idea was inspired by artist Georgie St Clair who has turned this concept into a wonderful interview series where creatives share their ‘treasured pieces’. Check out: Treasured Pieces: The favourite artwork of Jen Wright AKA ‘Inky Collective’.
42. Aside from the more obvious places like Pinterest, where do you find creative inspiration?
How do these sources impact or translate into real-life design or creative choices? For example, check out this tutorial on how to create colour schemes and get inspiration from magazine covers from Jenna Soard of YouCanBrand.com.
43. Profile a key figure in your field and share their insights or legacy
What impact did they have on your space, what are some of their greatest pieces of work and what are some key lessons we can learn? For example, check out: Style icon: Nina Simone by Maxwell Tielman for Design Sponge.
44. Create a beginner’s guide to a genre, movement, technique or trend that has influenced your work and style
What’s the origin and meaning, what are the main signifiers, who are some key proponents and where can you find items or work in this style?
45. What are some of the best ways to style or make the most of products like yours?
Whether how to choose the right frame for a piece of art or how to style a statement necklace, share your expertise and help others create a visually pleasing result for themselves. You could even use some of your own pieces to illustrate the points and include links to buy them within the post. For example, check out this post on how to create a gallery wall by Colleen Ludovice of Inspired to Share.
And that’s it! 45 content ideas for artists and designer-makers. Remember, these are simply prompts to get you thinking about the type of content that would draw potential customers to you and your brand. They could be adapted into any form of content you like, whether blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, Instagram posts or whatever feels most exciting to create.
Will you be experimenting with any of these ideas? Or do you know any artists or makers who create awesome content? Share your thoughts or give them a shout out in the comments below!