How to Grow Your Hand Lettering Audience
You’ve found your motivation and you’re starting to feel like this is something you can actually do. You’ve been giving it some serious thought and have decided you’re going to set aside time to show up every day and practice.
But maybe you’re wondering if it will all pan out. Let’s say you do decide to practice hand lettering and you do gradually improve and build up your skill. Then what?
What if the clients don’t come? What if no one cares? What if nobody follows you? What if you don’t get a ton of people asking to hire you? What if you don’t become famous?
Ok, kidding about the famous part. But seriously: do you just sit back and hope for the best or are there some practical things you can do to prepare?
Or maybe a better question: what’s the point of growing an audience anyway? Is that really necessary?
Why Grow An Audience
Having an audience can unlock some serious opportunities for you. This is what growing an audience can do for you:
- You are seen as an authority.
- You are able to sell products.
- You are able to build community.
- Launching new things gets easier.
Not bad, right? Sign me up!
Well, not so fast. Having an audience is a wonderful thing, but it’s no easy task and it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, I’m not sure you have what it takes.
Do you think you’re up to the challenge? If so, I’ll break down exactly what it takes by sharing 4 keys to growing an audience.
I have to warn you though: if you’re looking for the easy route, you might as well stop reading right now.
1. Curate What You Share
If you want to grow an audience for your hand lettering, guess what you need to post? Surprise! Hand lettering!
What’s that? You already know that part? Then let me come at this from a different angle: this means you need to NOT be posting other things.
This is the part most people miss. Because it’s harsh. They’re passionate about a bunch of things and they post all of them.
Here’s the problem though: people are forced to simplify. They’re exposed to too much in a day and there’s too much noise in the world and on social media. If you’re not giving someone a very clear idea of what kind of content they can expect to see when they follow you, they will move on!
Let me give you an example. Look at my feed in the image below. When you come across this profile, what would you expect to see when you follow?
I think it’s safe to say you can expect to see more hand lettering! This seems obvious, but what you don’t think about is all of the things I’m not posting.
Guess what? I love music. I love photography. I love coffee. I love traveling. But it’s not on my curated feed. This is the single most significant catalyst in your audience growth as a hand lettering artist.
Want to build an audience for hand lettering? Ok, you already know you need to post hand lettering, but I’ll give you the advice you need to hear: stop posting everything that is NOT hand lettering!
I know that may hurt, but you have to decide if this is worth it to you or not. If you want to grow an audience, that potential audience needs to know exactly what they’re going to get from you when they follow.
People are cognitively limited to 150 close relationships.
People can process the complexities and multi-faceted interests and nuances of a few close friends, but they can’t do it for hundreds or thousands of people that they follow (that includes you)!
To maintain their sanity, they’re forced to simplify. They’re going to put you in a box. There’s nothing you can do about that. But what you can do is define the box they’re already going to put you in.
Project the type of thing you want to be known for and don’t project the things you don’t want to be known for. It’s as simple as that.
2. Post Consistently
People live their lives in weekly cycles. You do too, I’m sure. You have certain things that you do on certain days, you have specific TV shows that you watch on specific days, and every week it resets.
Monday comes around, and you start your whole routine over again. This is what people do. For the most part, we don’t have as many monthly things, or bi-weekly things as we do weekly. We simply think in weekly terms.
The key is to get inside this weekly cycle.
If you can get inside the weekly cycle of your audience member and create an association with a day to your content, you create an extremely powerful association.
Is it Wednesday? Then your audience knows theres new hand lettering content from you. It’s very simple, direct, and straightforward.
What does not work is trying to do something every other week or once-a-month. Every other week is too confusing. What if you miss a day? Your audience will have no idea what will happen. Is it the 2nd week of the month? Is it the 4th? Will you make up for it next week? Will you get back on schedule the following week?
That’s too much confusion. Don’t force your audience to think.
The same with once a month. If you’re only posting once a month, you simply do not exist. People have no idea and they will almost certainly miss your one, single hand lettering post that month when you share it. You’re not even on their radar.
If you’re going to do something, do it weekly.
You’ve got to be dedicated. How much do you want this? Are you going to quit now? We’re only on Key 2 of 4!
I’m going to level with you: this is a hard one. There’s no mincing words. It’s easy to think you could post weekly or share something new daily when you’re feeling inspired and excited about hand lettering, but then reality hits you.
A week or two later, you’re not feeling it anymore. It’s no longer fun and easy but now you’ve set a requirement for yourself and an expectation for your audience!
I prefer to prevent that situation from happening by building a queue of content ahead of time. If you decide you want to post weekly, I would recommend creating at the schedule you would be creating for 6 to 8 weeks without publishing to prove to yourself that you’re going to stick with it.
In doing this, you will build up a queue of hand lettering that is ready to post on time. You can even schedule your posts out in advance if you want.
To reiterate, create at the frequency you want to post hand lettering, but don’t publish this work yet. Prove to yourself that you’ll stay on track for at least 6 to 8 weeks.
Now, if that sounds easy, I’m about to up the ante. I already said if you’re going to do something, do it at least weekly. But the ultimate place to be is posting daily.
This is serious business. I would not recommend starting out by posting daily if you have not consistently held a weekly schedule prior to this point. But there is no denying that daily posting is the pinnacle of achievement.
You will have maximum engagement if you can break in the daily-posting schedule. Think about how incredible that is: your audience doesn’t even have to think about what day it is to know whether or not there will be new content from you.
Is the sun up? Is it morning time now? Am I awake? Then there’s new content.
Wow. That is powerful. Think about how engaged you’ve been with these daily hand lettering posts for over two weeks now.
If you think you’re up to the challenge of daily posts, I have a quick tip for you: accountability. Specifically, the three P’s of accountability:
- Public Accountability
- Partner Accountability
- Personal Accountability
Public Accountability: Make a commitment to your audience to post daily. This way, your reputation is on the line. It will light a fire under you.
Partner Accountability: This is a two-way street. Find an accountability partner to hold you to your commitments. Meet regularly and do the same for them.
Personal Accountability: This last one is typically the weakest of the group because we’re often not afraid to disappoint ourselves, but I recommend making a personal commitment to yourself in conjunction with the other two. A three-fold cord is not easily broken. With the support of the other two kinds of accountability, you will end up keeping your word to yourself which gives your personal commitments more weight.
3. Maintaining High Quality
Throughout your efforts of curation and consistent posting, you want to make sure not to compromise on the quality of your work.
Not everything has to be perfect, but set a quality precedent for yourself. If your output schedule is causing you to cut corners on the quality, you may want to reconsider.
- How can you deliver value to your audience?
- What questions are they asking you?
- Are you taking the time to answer their questions?
- How might you repurpose your answers in various mediums?
When publishing new work, ask yourself what your audience will get out of it. If you are showing client work, maybe take people behind the scenes of your process in the form of a case study.
Try out new mediums. If you’ve only been posting photos to Instagram, try sharing videos! This could be anything from a timelapse set to music to a narrated real-time video. You could also show your digitization process in a screencast.
Find ways to provide value to people. Ask them what they’re struggling with and tailor your content to their answers. Instead of hand lettering a single word, try hand lettering advice or answers to frequently-asked questions you get.
Whenever I sit down to write a new post, I no longer just write whatever I’m feeling, but I write in direct response to the most common questions people ask. I want to give you exactly what you’re looking for.
When you take the time to listen and figure out what people are looking for and then deliver on that desire, you make people feel like you’re reading their minds.
Reaching that mind-reading level is where things really explode. That’s when you get content that really resonates with people and gets them addicted. They’re also much more likely to share it which just adds to the positive feedback loop.
You’re helping people, they’re sharing it, more people are getting helped and you’re growing your audience. Everybody wins.
4. Give it Time
You’ve made it this far, so by you realize that none of this is going to happen overnight. It takes a lot of effort and mental fortitude, but I believe you have what it takes.
Good things take time.
Show up every day for two years. You’ve got to think long term here. Don’t get discouraged when you share work and it doesn’t get as much as exposure or as many likes as you would have liked.
A day is a success when you showed up and made something.
Don’t worry about your work going viral. Instead, play the long game. You’re building up a body of work that will eventually be so huge it can’t be ignored.
Share as you go. As you create, show the process and share the journey. We already know you’re going to be successful. We’re just laying the groundwork right now. The wonderful thing about this is when people look back, they’re going to be able to see all of your hard work along the way and realize that it’s not magic that you got where you did.
Practicing hand lettering every day is hard. Blogging for 30 days in a row is hard too (that’s what I’m doing right now). But it’s so worth it. I want this for you, but you’ve got to want it for yourself.
Be patient and remember that the day is a success if you showed up—regardless of the tangible results you see.
If you’re looking for more on this topic, I recently gave a conference talking on the 4 Keys to Growing An Audience. I brought my video guy with me to the conference to record the talk in full just for you.
Up Next: Go Behind the Scenes of a $16,250 Hand Lettering Job
You thought I forgot, didn’t you?
No, I didn’t forget. I just wanted to set the stage by giving you an overview of The Trifecta.
I didn’t want you to think you have to land huge, 5-figure jobs to make it as a hand lettering artist.
However, it is very possible to make thousands for a single job with a little business know-how.
On the next page, I’ll take you behind-the-scenes of a $16,250 project I did: