Invest: Devote to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile resultThere’s no getting away from it. Marketing yourself and your practice is a big job.

We definitely have days when we want to throw the to-do list out of the window and stay in bed. We’re not saying that having a duvet day is a bad thing, but a duvet month, or even a duvet year? We’re not so sure.

If you’re still under the duvet, we’d like to offer some encouragement. We believe creating a great online presence is possible for everyone. Yes, everyone. Even you. 🙂 But first you have want to do it. This sounds very simple, but we’ll repeat it.

 

First you have to want to do it.

When you know what you want, then you just have to decide how.

For example, Tracy became interested in a new hobby — quilt-making — but she didn’t know how to go about it. How is this applicable to marketing ourselves? For that answer, we’ll follow the path she took.

 

This is Tracy’s story

I’ve always loved quilts and always wanted one of my own. I used to have a book of photographs of vintage quilts and spent happy hours admiring them. When I spent 3 months following The Artist’s Way, in the summer of 2009, quilt-making came up a few times in my notes and ideas for creative things I’d like to do.

In July 2010, I went along to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum to see an exhibition of contemporary quilts. The skill and work in the pieces on display was just incredible. I knew I’d never be able to replicate that in a million years. I felt no closer to my dream of making a quilt of my own.

When I was browsing the V&A bookstore, I found the books on quilting dull and uninspiring. They all seemed the same. The quilts looked formulaic and too mathematical. Suddenly, a book jumped out at me – The Gentle Art of Quilting . The cover had an image of a quilt made with jewel like colours. I knew straight away that this book was the one I wanted. I flipped the pages and saw beautiful quilt after beautiful quilt. Somehow, they looked achievable. I didn’t have the money to pay for the book at the time, so I made a note of the title.

By August 2010 I’d bought the book. I also went along to the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham NEC. I had an idea of a quilt I wanted to make for my two year old son and picked out some lovely fabric  from a stall that is still my favourite fabric shop – The Eternal Maker (luckily it’s in Chichester or my family would never see me).

In September 2010, at my local Women’s Institute meeting, I picked up the new prospectus of courses at Denman College, the Women’s Institute College in Oxfordshire. I saw there were quilting courses listed, including a weekend course entitled Patchwork for Beginners. I sent off a deposit and a few months later, I was there. It was December 2010.

 

My next stage

I loved the course and learned so much. I came home with a cushion I’d made but felt no closer to my goal of making a quilt. The teacher on the course told us about Saturday workshops that she was leading at a quilting shop in Northamptonshire. I’d enjoyed learning with her so much, I think I’d have followed her to the moon, so I booked myself on three Saturday workshops – January, February and March 2011, and booked cheap day return train tickets to Northampton.

Over the next three months I achieved my goal of making a quilt. Each time I went to Northampton for a workshop, I learned the skills I needed for each stage of the quilt. Back at home I would complete as much as I could before the next workshop. By the end of the three months, it was finished. It wasn’t perfect, but I’d learned so many skills, and I loved what I’d made for my little boy. He’s slept with it every night for the last four years.

Since then, I’ve made two double quilts and numerous sofa-sized ‘lap-quilts’. I’ve made gifts for family and friends. I even made a quilt for the dog! Every quilt I’ve made, I’ve used everything I learned from that teacher. Every quilt I’ve designed and made has been unique.

 

Enjoying the Process

Whenever I look at a finished quilt, I remember all the different stages:

  • Having an idea or a theme
  • Selecting fabric (often over months, in several different places)
  • Cutting the fabric
  • Laying out the design
  • Sewing the pieces to make blocks
  • Sewing the blocks to make a quilt top
  • Layering with the backing and wadding
  • Quilting
  • Making the binding
  • Sewing on the binding

 

It all comes down to the desire to learn

The reason I wanted to share this story with you today, is because while I was sewing the last part of the quilt, I was thinking that the way that I learned to quilt is the same way I learned about online marketing. It came about from simply wanting to do it. I read books. I read articles. I found teachers to help and guide me. I went to workshops. I practised what I knew. I learned what worked for me. I refined and persisted with my ideas and developed them over time.’

Rome wasn’t built in a day. A quilt wasn’t made in a day. A great online presence definitely won’t be built in a day either.

 

Steps to creating your online presence

Building a great online presence is a huge task, but broken down into many smaller tasks it becomes manageable, and even enjoyable.

Just as with quilting, you can think of the process of creating your online presence in different stages (and these can each be broken down even further!):

  • Decide what tone/personality/voice will reflect your practice and who you are
  • Gather inspiration for this by looking at other people’s online presence – and not just homeopaths. This can help you figure out what you like, as well as what you don’t like – in terms of approach, type of content and design
  • We all know that visuals play a big part in engaging people but, they can also be very informative for you in shaping your marketing. To this end, you can collect images and either pin them up in your workspace or, create virtual moodboards using Pinterest
  • Think about what you need to say and then take the time to write good copy
  • Find the right graphic designer and commission the design of your visual identity which, can then be applied to your business cards, flyers, website and any other promotional materials you need
  • Your website is the hub of your online presence. Commission the creation of one or do it yourself (first, decide which way to go)
  • Pick a regular schedule for sharing useful content via your newsletter and stick to it

 

At the end of it – you have something unique. Handmade. It shows your personality. It takes time, money and effort, but is something to be proud of. The process isn’t easy, and takes determination.

If you haven’t created an online presence for yourself before, you might think you don’t have the skills. But with the right teachers, you can learn (and that’s what we’re here for!).

At the very start you just have to know you want to. If you want to do it. You’ll find a way.

Tracy and Lulu

Not signed up to our mailing list yet? Sign up here for free bi-weekly tips

If you found this post valuable, please forward it to other practitioners who may benefit from it as well.