This was the first draft of the Paws By Zann Custom Pet Portraits site. That was only about a month ago and already I’ve changed everything six times over.
Fair warning #1: this is going to be about more than a website.
This is about a campaign, a cluster of campaigns, a crusade, an attempted empire in a tiny niche of a market. This is the story of me taking everything I’ve learned selling software, phone lines, gift cards and all manner of other distractions and applying it to the only thing I’ve ever enjoyed enough to become naturally good at:
Apparently, and unfortunately for me, that’s “the thing” I can do better than anyone else in my far fuzzy reaches. It’s a silly skill, let’s get that out of the way right now. I know. But it’s what I’ve got and I’m going to work with it. Some people can write, some people can study, some people can focus on profitable tasks that don’t interest them long enough to get through those and go do stuff that is not profitable but really fun. That’s great for them, but I’m 28 years old (last time I checked) and it’s time I finally accepted what I do and do not do well. I do not focus well on things that aren’t drawing dogs. I focus really well on drawing dogs. Go figure.
The purpose of that little rant is this: I acknowledge and fully accept that trying to make a career (yeah, that’s right, I called my hobby a career) is an uphill battle. I’ve even spent some time counting the reasons why it’s an uphill battle. So far I have four of them:
- There are far more people out there with creative aspirations than there is a market for creative goods.
- Nobody really needs a portrait of their dog.
- These completely unnecessary portraits have to be pretty expensive in order to justify the amount of time it takes to make them, which brings me to my next point…
- Custom art is exactly the opposite of scalable. It defies scalability like a snowball defies roundness on a hot sidewalk in Mexico. The two simply cannot coexist.
Fair warning #2: I’m not starting from zero.
I’m a marketing professional. I use automated messages and A/B testing and I stalk people with cookies* and I pay for clicks, follows and lists of names. I do trade shows and calculate ROI’s and produce an ungodly amount of PDF’s, PPT’s and G-suite documents. And I came into all this from sales where every human emotion is just a string to be pulled for profit. I was an art student once, but now I’m in marketing and sales. And in true North American fashion I’ve conflated myself with my profession. I am marketing and sales.
And sure, I’m kinda sorta good at it. But I really suck at enjoying it.
I’m going to apply what I’ve learned selling other people’s stuff to selling my own stuff.
I’m going to document this process so you can watch what happens. So if you also have laughably impractical skill maybe you can take some of the things I learn during this process and use them to sell your weirdness online too. Maybe you can skip some of the mistakes and go straight for the high-return goods. At the very least, I’m going to outline a list of tools that you can use to self-promote. There are tons of artists out there with talent that dwarfs mine, even in my narrow, dog-shaped vertical, but from what I’ve seen their marketing knowledge is often lacking. I’d like to help.
* This could be interpreted as either using tracking codes to tell where people go online, or sneaking up on people with circular unleavened baked goods. The answer is both.
Up Next Part 2: Starting Point