Audience + Problems

I just had a fun little instagram conversation with a friend of mine, Michelle Gifford (@iammichellegifford). She’s a Maskara Beauty Expert and business guru and recently she’s been posting instagram stories that focus on business tips. Which I am eating up. She was talking about how not to appear “salesy” on social media. And she gave some great tips:

  1. You ARE selling something. Just accept it.

  2. It’s great that you are selling something. That means that you are selling a solution to a problem. People have problems and people are willing to pay for a solution for the problem.

That got me thinking about my products and in my frugal mind, art is not a solution to a problem. Right? It’s extra. It doesn’t meet a basic need or solve a problem. It’s nice to have.

When I am a buyer of art, I buy it because I like it, it matches my style, or I want to support an artist. I’ve been through the struggle. I am there now!

And honestly, (small confession here) I get skeptical about buying art that I think I am capable of creating. Yes, I am very well aware of the fact that I have a pride issue and I’m working on it, but I am usually humbled when I attempt to recreate things I see, and after a struggle I appreciate the artist and their efforts and creativity. I digress.

My DM with Michelle:


I’m sure the business experts are reading this and thinking, “gurl your crazy. You DO have a solution. It DOES solve a problem.” And they’re probably right, but I just have doubts floating around in my head because my buying habits don’t reflect the same buying habits that I would like my audience to have.

While learning from Michelle she addressed this question in her stories and she said some things that stood out to me…

“As a photographer I face this all the time. The reality is, there are some people where photography is a necessity. And there are other people where photography is simply not a necessity. Guess who I’m not talking to? I am not even going to worry about the people who don’t need my solution.”

This is where the light bulb pinged on for me: I am worrying about the wrong audience!

I am NOT my audience. At some point, maybe I will be. But right now, living on a tight budget in the Bay Area, I am not my audience. I need to focus on those who have a problem and need my solution.

You need a last minute card for Valentine’s Day? Great! I provide printable greeting cards that you can print from your home office.

You need a gift for bride-to-be? Awesome! I can illustrate a custom portrait of the bride and her groom that captures a sweet memory.

You need to let a friend know that you’re thinking of them? Perfect, I can help. I have been through tough times to and I created thoughtful greeting cards and prints that will cheer up your friend.

Am I sounding salesy? I’ll let you be judge.

My point is that for too long I have been looking at the wrong audience and trying to persuade them that my art is worth it. I worry too much about the people who aren’t my people.

Stop trying to solve the problems of the wrong audience. Stop speaking to the people who will never buy your product.

I’m done fighting that battle. I’m moving on to better things and focusing on the people that like my style and my art and know that I can create something that’s just right for them and their needs.

I hope that other fellow small business owners can realize this sooner rather than later. Embrace your people and find their needs and learn about their problems. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.


My instastory and DM after Michelle’s words of wisdom: