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Selling Your Creative Ideas

Lesson 6 of 15

Who Would Support Your Idea?

Stacey Williams-Ng

Selling Your Creative Ideas

Stacey Williams-Ng

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Lesson Info

6. Who Would Support Your Idea?

Lesson Info

Who Would Support Your Idea?

So we're going to help you focus on the high points of your concept because even though it might be embarrassing in a way or maybe you feel like you're asking people or your intruding on their lives to ask for them, try and just think of groupings. And always think about who in your network is going to best be able to support that. If you wanna start a tattoo studio and your mom's an Evangelical Christian, maybe she's not the best person to go to and she's not into it. I get it, you don't always need to go to friends and family. But think about the groupings and the people in your lives and start to make those connections. Who is able to support you? Maybe your parents are able to support you they're just not willing because there's weirdness there. That's okay, try to find able and willing, right. You've got your musician friends are willing but they're not really able, you get it, all right. So I want you to write down for your new assignment names of people that you know and maybe d...

raw it in little clouds or what have you or draw lines, but start to map out the people you know and people you know they know. Because you might not know their friends but you know that they know that guy. And start planning what you wanna say to them. Because we're gonna start at home. So another example that we might use for a big idea, because I tend to go toward the art stuff. Let's say you wanna start a community garden initiative. This is exactly the kind of project that I'm really thinking of when I'm doing this lesson plan. Again, this isn't about going onto Shark Tank and getting a million dollars for an invention. I'm not good with that. I'm not your right resource for that. But I am your right resource if you're typically a subject matter expert, you are really into gardening or you're really into art. I'm a muralist myself. If you're really into something and you need to kind of come out of that reality into the light and talk to business people. That's where we're at. So let's imagine you wanna start a community garden initiative. We're gonna use that as an example, right. Look at your notes, and again, who will benefit from it? And who will pay for it? And they're different. So we wanna think about the families and the people, the vegans, the community that maybe is in a food desert. Whatever the things that are bubbling in your mind that make it seem like a great idea to have a community garden in that space that you have in mind thinking of the key beneficiaries. And don't stop with the people who are eating the vegetables. Think about what it will do to the neighborhood. Think about what it will do for the city. Think about what it'll do for the state. Don't limit yourself to oh, there are families in the area and they're gonna wanna eat these vegetables. Think about state-wide this might actually be really powerful, depending on where you are. So think of larger context as you think about who will benefit. And then when you think about who will pay for it I want you to get creative there as well. Types of supporters for my idea, the murals, corporate donors. I honestly would never have thought of that on my own. Someone had to tell me that. And it seems super obvious to me now. I wanna tell you a story later in this lesson when we get to what you're selling because it's cool. I'll get to it. But I went to a corporate donor, shy as could be, and I was just asking for the basics and they ended up being a huge sponsor and it just blew my mind. So I'm gonna be telling you about that later. Little success story. Public grants. Okay, public grants are a big pain in the neck to apply for. (laughing) Yeah, so go for it, we've done it. In fact, we won a wonderful arts board grant that I'm very, very, very proud of. And I don't mean to downplay grants. Grants are super important and I believe in them to the depths of my soul. Because some people aren't out there just selling shoes or just doing a regular job in a cubicle. We live in this other space; we, you, me. We live in a space where we maybe don't have a nine to five job, I don't. We can't rely on a paycheck or benefits. And so what we have to do is go out there and sell our ideas and get ourselves noticed. And when you live in a nontraditional world like that, if we didn't have a support system like grants, that's what they're for, they're for people like us. We can come up with big ideas and we can make the world a better place. What is the downside to grants? They're damn hard to get and it's a lot of writing and it's a lot of details and they're heavy applications. And sometimes it's for a little tiny amount of money. So you might spend $7,000 of your time to get a $1,200 grant. And I get that, but you also have to think about the fact that that $1,200 grant is something you can brag about and can get you other grants. They're tough, but they're important and we all believe in them. Art patrons in my case, again, this is for my idea. This isn't for the garden. I was able to go to individuals that I knew that were into art projects and wanted to see culture in our city. Other artists, I know I said don't do it, I'm gonna contradict myself all the time. But yeah, you go to other artists because I knew that they would, maybe they would just volunteer their time to be assistants to the visiting artist. They have things that they can give. They have value to bring to the table even if they're not gonna give you a million dollars they're definitely going to help you. So what are my supporters? These are not all financial supporters. They are all bringing value. Service professionals. If you need to rent a lift, think about asking the lift company to give it to you for free because we'll give you a press release that said your lifts were the ones that lifted this famous Paris artist on the side of the building. Didn't work, but I tried it, okay. (laughing) The crowd, this is what I mean by your kickstarter, your fundraising, your social campaigns, right, to support your idea. So these were our six buckets. So let's look at what yours might be now that you've seen an example. You're gonna do a community garden. So who are yours maybe? Public grants, probably. There's probably a whole bunch of grants for that because it's something in the United States we're really concerned about right now. How are we going to eat more local and how are we gonna overcome the obesity epidemic and all those great things are, like I said earlier, having a season for your ideas. That is what I mean by having a season. Right now we have a nation-wide crisis where we're trying to eat better and overcome chemically processed foods. So there will be grants if you're in the right season for your idea. Community funds, there may already be a neighborhood fund, a city fund, a county fund, that is specifically set aside for gardening initiatives. And if you don't ask around for that you'll never know and you would be leaving money on the table. The crowd, again, enthusiasts again, that's the equivalent of the art patrons. There might be people in your community, and I'm sure there are, who really believe in what you're doing and they want to give you money, they want to help. So try and find those enthusiasts. It's not easy, but it's worth the trouble. Yes? I have a couple of questions on what we've talked about so far. This one is from Zoo who says, how important do you consider having social media and any tips in that area? So since that's kind of one of the things, the crowd or reaching out to your followers, what if you personally don't already have a following? Are there ways that you can find people that do or how would you approach that? Yeah, I would say it's super important. I know that's an easy answer, okay. But it is super important. And my goodness, just contrast us right now to try and imagine doing your idea in 1979. In those days the only way you could ever reach a wide public was taking out an ad in the newspaper or a magazine. Now we are all publishing platforms. That's good, the bad side is we are all publishing platforms so you are publishing next to six billion other people who are saying a whole bunch of other stuff too. So it's super hard to get attention. So I guess that's maybe obvious. But what I am saying is to your point, Kenna, is if you don't already have that following that's where it gets hard. So maybe my suggestion is to use a hub and spoke approach. So your friend is really active on social media. She's an influencer in your community, so go to her and that goes back to finding the right people in your own community. Your friend has a zillion Instagram followers. Maybe it's for yoga, but it's something, right. And she has a platform. So if you go to people that you already know who have a great social media platform and get them on your side to work for you and get their followers to follow you, that's a good way to start. There are also, of course, books out there about how to really start getting the right kinds of followers. There's a lot of fake following. So you can fall into this illusion of having-- maybe you have 2K Instagram followers but they're bots or they're just people who like everything and they're not really ever gonna buy from you or they're not really following your idea, they just clicked because it was no investment on their part. So how do you get that meaningful audience? Social media is crucial because you can't be invisible out there, but it isn't really where your financial sponsorship is gonna come from. It's just not, it's too easy. It's too easy for everyone involved. It's too easy to make a free profile and it's too easy for everybody to click and say the like you. So you have to do it and it's great, but on the other hand it's not meaningful. So don't spend too much time on it I guess is my advice. Great, thank you. And one more; you talked about how time consuming grant writing can be, finding grants that might be in your area might seem overwhelming to people. Are there people out there that are willing to help and partner with you who are grant writers or what might an approach be to kind of get ahold of somebody in that resource if you have no idea where to start? If you really have no idea where to start, then I have to say Google search. I know that sounds terrible. Let me tell you a little story about what happened to me. I'm also a painter, so I have my own little Instagram feed of figure paintings I do that has nothing to do with my work. It's just special to me. And I posted one on my Facebook page. And there's a woman that I know, her name's Stephanie, and we don't really know each other. We're just casual acquaintances. We live in the same city. We've been Facebook friends forever but I don't really have a really strong connection with her. She wrote to me and said, "I love that painting "you posted last night, I would like to buy it from you." I'm like, "Okay, I'm so happy it speaks to you." And she told me about why it was so special to her. She asked me how much I would charge for it. And then she added, "I'm also a grant writer, "so if you would like me to write a grant "for you in exchange for that painting "I would love to do that." Well, now that's not necessarily gonna happen to you. But later in this lesson we're going to talk about, in this course, we're gonna talk about points of negotiation. What do you have to offer, right? You may actually have some trading out there that you can cash in on. You have talented friends. All of you have talented friends. And if you can find out from friends who maybe have won a grant, find out did they write it themselves? Did they have someone write it for them? Friends who work for nonprofits are gonna be able to give you a long list. Maybe you're just friends with them in real life but you've never asked them about their work. You probably know people in nonprofits who've been in that world. So you're gonna find yourself, if you're selling a new idea, talking a lot to your friends about things you may not have ever had conversations about, which is a real blessing actually. It's a great way to get to know people better. Find out what points of negotiation you have in your own community. They're probably already there. That's my advice.

Class Description

Ideas are the natural realm of creative people, but sometimes the toughest part is selling a new concept to the world at large. How do you convince potential supporters to get behind your idea? Learn to recognize the importance of community and audience–Your idea has an audience, it has potential. In Selling Your Creative Ideas, with Stacey Williams-Ng, you’ll learn to find and connect to the right audience that can help make your dream project a reality, and get paid for it.

In this class, you’ll learn.

  • Networking Strategies
  • Matching your Ideas to the Right People
  • Researching Potential Supporters
  • Going from Idea to Project to Profit
  • How to Define Success

Stacey Williams-Ng, the mastermind behind Black Cat Alley, an outdoor art gallery, will take you through the entire process of getting paid to create your art project.

In Selling Your Creative Ideas, Stacey will help all creatives get organized, and package their ideas to make them appealing to potential supporters. 

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I really liked Stacey's way of speaking, her voice and energy! Thank you and congratulations making your projects real and good luck with your future ones!

Emmanuelle Halliday

Real useful tips and all around class, be it reminders or new to you. Example: Focus on authenticity, ways of thanking your patrons and different levels of sponsorship (basic but I had totally overlooked it!). I guess I related even more to Stacey as I stem from the perspective of a French graphic artist who doesn't even dare to dream of convincing the underpriviledged town council where I teach that street art murals are the way to rise above those conditions. Thanks Stacey. B.A.D. and Proud, Paris Area, France.