The struggle is real a term we use often just to poke fun at how weird life can be when you just let it flow. Ultimately decisions are tough and being you in 2014 just like it did back in our junior high & high schools days causes alienation. Without giving away our age here (ha-ha) it’s amazing that so many years later the average creative or entrepreneur is faced with following the herd or going straight on the fork in the road towards other routes in life. On social media a topic we cover often we are fortunate enough to work from home so we see patterns, trends and certain fluctuations of things on the internet.

In 2014 being professional is crucial to your business, your brand and most importantly yourself. We have also almost fallen into the trap of trying to fit in or be relevant with current pop trends etc but you know what? It’s not necessarily the key to your brand’s success. You can use the same tools as everyone but in your own way to reach a different end result. The concept of the indie business is still very alive and well but you have to keep in mind what sets you apart from any other. In our opinion this is your personality, how you carry yourself and most importantly just being yourself & professional in business. We see people pushing branding on twitter like telemarketers would in a cold call/post/spam type of way “hoping to get noticed”. This is NOT EFFECTIVE let us tell you why?

This quick post is meant to provide a few of you amazing talented creative entrepreneurs (and those to come) with some pointers when reaching out to publications, PR firms & people of importance to your goal. How you present yourself has everything to do with marketing yourself from logo to social media if you mean to be known for your talents. What do we mean? Here are a few examples we have personally experienced in 2014.

Example One: The Musician

X musician hits us up in a tweet via twitter saying to check out his/her music.
One of four things happens that detours most publications from clicking: wrong link sent, a non-follower on that social network, no dialogue before link sent, or publications goes to page to see you sent it to 100 others (spam) meaning listener lost.

Something to consider musicians:

The average publication gets hundreds of tags, emails & Facebook messages in a week from people just like this so how are you standing out? If you tag us in a tweet being initially sent to someone else how can we take YOU serious?

The Problem:

This makes you look desperate for attention or listens which makes your talent questionable when you send dead links.

It comes off as spamming meaning you just lost a listener no matter how dope you may be or important they were to you when you don’t engage them first.

Talk to your audience or at least follow them before sending links, those with the largest following engage them in a personal way this WORKS.

Embrace your audience don’t bombard them with your music. Be humble your fans make you so listen to their feedback and input it will help you GROW as an artist.

The Solution:

Check your links before sending or save them using notepad like apps for fast copy & paste. (We do it all the time for accuracy).

Make sure to FOLLOW those you are looking to engage. For most social media is a numbers game, so pick your players well when you reach out.

Engage your audience for they are your future in music. Ask them to live tweet at your shows, shout them out on the mic, build your future one fan at a time. Also try merch contest the ways to make fans are endless depending on your HUSTLE.

DO NOT spam every publication on twitter with your link, which could get you banned and you are back at square one. If anything learns to use hoot suite, tweet deck, yoono and the many other sources out there to cue your tweets if you work full time, multiple jobs etc.

Being a musician is hard, tedious but worth it when you find your path in the industry. Unfortunately depending on how you apply, hustle and brand yourself this journey of passion could be shorter or longer for you. No matter what Being Professional in 2014 is crucial.

Example Two: The Artist

X artist emails us saying “I want to be featured on your website”. We are always more than happy to discover or be introduced to a new Chicago Artist. The problems which immediately arises are few examples of work, no updated website, few social media urls, lack of replying to emails even with a follow up due to being “busy”.

Something to consider artist:

Showcasing yourself to a website is an amazing amount of exposure to your talent but let’s have enough presentable for people/readers to see. The way you present yourself gives a face to your abilities outside of the gallery or studio allowing your reach to cover the city just with good presentation.

The Problem:

Artist often tell us personally we are so busy painting we can’t do xyz. I have a hard time understanding these as you have to buy supplies, you have to talk with the gallery you are showing at about a lot of things and then you have ART to create.

Sending a request without preparation makes anyone question your dedication to your own talent. If you don’t care why should the publication or the reader?

Your website is your online presence, most artist have artsy friends it’s always unsettling to see such amazing talent on a bad website or lack of one. The other day it took 15 mins for us to find our friends Flickr account. The average person would have given up.

Our favorite, replying to emails. Listen if you reach out to us and then we back to you even if not prepared for what you asked why not properly conclude the request? Simply put it’s annoying.

The Solution:

Make time to brand yourself outside of your initial talents. Money is low for the creative often but finds a way, barter and someone to help you in your network (ask us we know many). You don’t know until you ask.

A simple point & shoot (Sony RX 100) or a camera phone with $40 lighting from cowboy studios can do wonders for your artwork. Be ready because you NEVER know who you’ll meet at an event, opening or show who will want to feature you.

We live in a mobile age having a responsive, mobile friendly updated website and one that showcases you best is paramount to your success. It’s a onetime investment for most cost wise and a monthly update wouldn’t hurt either. Again invest in yourself.

If you reach out conclude emails via conversation if you are not ready example: “XYZ I am updating my portfolio but would love to revisit this conversation when I am ready for showing or scheduling a show for you to promote”. It’s a one-liner but still be tactful in approach. We are the biggest goofs but still highly respect professionalism.

Artists have time but managing that time to hustle your talents is also paramount to your success, attendance & sales popularity. No matter what Being Professional in 2014.

Example Three: The Fashionista or Fashion Blogger

X fashion artist/blogger ask for a feature for a forth coming show via last minute often but NEVER re-tweets it when we support it hmmm. We grew up in fashion embracing personal style over commercialized trends any & every day. However we run into these things when dealing with many fashion bloggers or event promoters: demand posting, confusion on times of the show or confirmed rsvp, lack of presentable flyer for a post, or demanding when the gallery will be posted as if they own OUR images. (Unless paid for you don’t)

Something to consider Fashionistas/Fashion Bloggers: As much as we enjoy the invites, we post on our time frame at our discretion given we were not paid most of the time but lend our time in supporting the documentation of Chicago’s amazing talent (OFTEN YOU).

The Problem:

Blogging became popular largely due to fashion & food in the same mannerism as INSTAGRAM. If you send a publication an event they are not on anyone’s time but their own. We appreciate those however who do come to us on the humble.

If you send out an event, make sure all the information is legit, confirmed & the people supporting your event via blogging, social media etc are RSVP’d for SURE. There is nothing worse than arriving with uncertainty to be turned away after lugging so much equipment to an event in order to support.

You have a 1200 plus word write up, send it 48 hours before the event but have NO FLYER. Really?! Every post on the web requires visuals and 80% of all blogs need this to present your event properly. We shouldn’t have to ask you, it should be attached ready to go with needing a resize at best.

The events was awesome then roll in the demanding passive aggressive tweets, emails or Facebook messages as if you paid us personally to attend. Our most amazing messages & thank you come from those who covered their own bases to represent themselves with their friend photographers, designers etc. As the saying goes cross your t’s & dot your i’s. If we were not paid by you why all the pushiness all of the sudden?

The Solution:

A lot of publications will match your hustle for events actually most prefer to be paid to do so, however we do not really. Demanding anyone to do anything from your lack of preparation is flat out RUDE. Prepare, partner and build a network of people willing to help you push the event at hand if the timeline is urgent. In fashion you are as a strong as your network, photographers & makeup artist.

Confirm all details as soon as possible. Yes fashion shows always start late and are unpredictable but do your best to assure those coming to highlight you are taken care of as its their time you are leveraging & your future to be documented.

Don’t demand, screenshot, or post photos without the photographers permission. Some of us have great lawyers. So ask yourself is a simple question or two to the artist worth a cease and desist no it isn’t. Be courteous, credit ALL photographers and spread the love giving them social credit as well with each post.
The fashion world is crucial but a few nice words, support & FULL credit go a long way. This applies to makeup artist, photographers, fashion talent, creative directors, designers, developers the whole nine. We all pay dues at some point but they remain unseen if unaccredited.

In Closing Out…

We would tap on business but as creative entrepreneurs we are each our own unique business. The key is Being Professional in 2014 and letting our businesses ultimately reflect US not what we were taught in high school, college or to gain a master’s degree. The biggest goal for entrepreneurs is to define WHO YOU ARE and how you will use this to illuminate, elevate or evolve as a creative entrepreneur in Chicago let alone the world. We are so blessed as the religious would say to see the patterns which often we have fallen into as well. This isn’t meant to TREAT anyone only to share with many of you why though talented you may not be getting the response to your work you desire. We are keepers of one another as creative entrepreneurs and it is our mission to educate through our experience where we can as we grow & evolve ourselves.

Feel free to email us at chicagohustles@gmail.com if you need help on branding education, industry know how or just a few questions to better present yourself as a Creative Entrepreneur to the world. We are forever humbled if you even read this far. We just want to change the path of future creative entrepreneurs who are on their way to being something amazing.

Being Professional in 2014 your brand & talent depend on it greatly. Be humble but hustle harder.