Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

Victor Yocco on Tailoring Your Message, Finding Support, and Having an Effective Website – Cracking Creativity Episode 89

Victor Yocco went to school and studied psychology and communication. After school he became a researcher for zoos and science centers, but after a while he decided he needed a change. So he asked a friend who worked at Intuitive, a design and research company, if they had any open jobs.

Even though he didn’t have any experience in design or user research, Victor found that he was a good fit for the job. His background in psychology and research allowed him to make the transition from researching zoos to researching user experience design.

The biggest obstacle Victor faced didn’t have anything to do with his new job. While everything in his professional life was going well, his battle with alcohol was not. Victor’s problem with drinking was interfering with his relationship and productivity. So he sought counseling and made a vow of sobriety. Since his pledge of sobriety, Victor has accomplished many things from articles to writing a book.

In this episode, Victor talks about why your message should change based on your platform, the importance of a support system, and the power of creating an effective website, among many other things.

Here are three things you can learn from Victor:

The Way You Communicate With Your Audience Matters

One thing artists often fail to realize is that the way you communicate with your audience can make a huge difference. You wouldn’t communicate with people the same in person as you would online. The same applies to how you present information on your website.

When you talk to someone in person, you can take your time and gain rapport. But when someone comes to your website, you only have a limited amount of time to capture their attention.

“If you take that into the digital world, we know people have such short attention spans, and you are somewhat forced through a screen to project your message immediately… what it is they should be doing and why? So looking at what makes sense for your product… What key messages should you try to get across to people in that three seconds that you have?… You have to draw somebody’s attention and you have to show them immediately why they should be there.”

Something we can do as artists is start filtering what we show people on our websites. Instead of trying to show all of our art to people when they land on our homepage, we should share a curated selection of the type of work we do.

To get this point across, Victor points to the example of restaurants with a lot of items on their menus. When you give people a lot of choices at once, you make it hard for them to make a decision.

“When you were speaking earlier… and you used the word filtering, I really like that word because it’s an important concept in psychology especially in persuasion, which there is such a thing as information overload and even too much of a good thing. An example is when you go to a restaurant and they hand you a menu, and there are eighty five things on there and they all sound good, that it’s very hard to make a decision.”

One of the best things you can do with your website is use ideas you see on other sites. For example, you can provide recommendations for people. This creates a more curated and focused experience for people who are interested in your art.

“Provide people with recommendations because they’re on your site because they like your work or they trust you and think that your recommendation is going to hold weight. So really filtering is something that helps people process information in a lot better way then just providing ‘Oh, here’s everything. Do what you will with it.”

Find a Support System

As artists, we believe we need to do everything ourselves. We don’t want to rely on anybody else. We want to work as independent creators.

But this way of thinking often backfires on us. We become stressed out. We take on too many projects. We can’t handle all the things coming at us.

That’s why it’s so important to have a support system. This is especially true if you going through struggles with drugs or alchol like Victor was.

“I say to everybody who feels like they might have an issue like drugs or alcohol… that one of the first steps that I found to be helpful was finding support. I don’t know how I would have been able to do it.”

You might think asking for help is a sign of weakness, but it’s not. People want to help you through struggles because they care. Asking for support is a strength, not a weakness.

“Definitely when I was drinking, I thought asking for support was just an admission of being weak… and what I found was the exact opposite. Through AA, through my counselors, through my family members when I would talk to them about what I was going through. That I found support and I found people who wanted me to succeed.”

Having a support system was critical to Victor’s development and growth. He believes it was one of the most important things he did to change his behaviors.

“Asking for and getting support around what you want to accomplish I think is critical. And then if you are trying to change I behavior, I think you need to insert some other behavior.”

Make Your Website a Positive Experience

There are a few simple ways you can make your website better for potential and returning customers. Your website is the best representation of your work online. So it should be as positive of an experience as possible.

One of the first ways to do this is by showing people that your website is secure and sells what people are looking for.

“People need to believe that using your product is a positive thing that will lead to the outcome they want and again you can address that through telling them ‘Buying through my site is safe and secure but also showing them through different ways of displaying information that their information is secure using your site or that the products you have on your site are unique to you, and so that influences the behavioral belief that using your site is a good thing to get the products that you’re selling.”

Another thing you can do to convince people to buy your art is by showing that other people trust you. It’s easier for people to buy when they see other people already trust you and like your work.

“Then there’s also social norms that people need to understand that other people think that using your product or your website is a good thing. Can you display testimonials? Can you have people like or rate your product? So that it shows that other people have been there and used it and that it’s a good thing for people too.”

If you want to convince people to buy from you, the best thing you can do is show them how it will affect their lives. It’s great that you love your art and want to sell it, but that doesn’t mean other people will automatically want to buy it.

You have to show them how your art can make a positive impact on their lives. You have to show them how their life will change when they buy your work.

“When it comes to persuasion, one of the biggest things you can do is making sure people understand why what you’re doing and why what your product is, is relevant to their life. So that’s about how you display information and how you do capture people’s attention immediately to say ‘How does using my website make my life better? How does making sure that I purchase my art through you make my life better? What are some opportunities that you have to show people this immediately or make the experience so usable that they realize using your product saves them time, saves them effort that they wouldn’t want to go a competitor to do that, or they wouldn’t want to choose not to buy your product because your site, they don’t understand how to use it, therefore they don’t see how it’s relevant to accomplishing the task they are trying to accomplish?”

Shownotes

  • about Victor
    • user experience – entire experience someone has with your product
    • as a researcher he focuses on problem, why people use it, and how to solve problems
      • does it accomplish the user’s goals?
      • talks to clients and potential clients
      • working with team to design solutions
    • background in psychology and communication
    • psychological component to all interactions
      • what is the underlying psychology of your product?
      • understanding how to design the best experiences
      • design can translate across different mediums (zoos to financial institutions)
  • creating the most optimal site
    • finding the balance of beautiful design and usability
    • observe people using your site
      • Usertesting.com – pay people to see how people use your site
        • people talk out loud about their experiences
        • understand where people are tripping up
    • not getting stuck trying to create bea

14:15 “If you truly want to sell your work or have people successfully complete the tasks that they’re engaging in, you need to understand where they’re tripping up and doing some usability testing, even on a few people, can really help with that.”

14:58 “Artists, designers, and creatives think in a different way than the general public or people who are not constantly doing something creative like that and so I think you will get a much more skewed findings towards what you’re doing being usable if you were only to ask your five friends or your five co-workers who do the exact same thing that you do for their professional lives. So try to get out and branch out… Try to find that type of person who is going to be your typical user and get in front of them to see where the issues are.”

  • Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan
    • tailoring your message to the method you are communicating in
      • ex: book, website, movie, etc.
    • having a good filtering system in place for your website

17:20 “The medium for zoos is often this static sign or a docent, someone who’s standing in an exhibit area trying to talk to people, and you would tailor a completely different message for a sign that is going to be permanent and possibly never replaced because of budget reasons versus the information you could have a docent providing people. With a sign, you need to get the point out immediately… with a docent you can create activities and allow them to be are part of the whole experience.”

18:08 “If you take that into the digital world, we know people have such short attention spans, and you are somewhat forced through a screen to project your message immediately… what it is they should be doing and why? So looking at what makes sense for your product… What key messages should you try to get across to people in that three seconds that you have?… You have to draw somebody’s attention and you have to show them immediately why they should be there.”

18:57 “When you were speaking earlier… and you used the word filtering, I really like that word because it’s an important concept in psychology especially in persuasion, which there is such a thing as information overload and even too much of a good thing. An example is when you go to a restaurant and they hand you a menu, and there are eighty five things on there and they all sound good, that it’s very hard to make a decision.”

20:14 “Provide people with recommendations because they’re on your site because they like your work or they trust you and think that your recommendation is going to hold weight. So really filtering is something that helps people process information in a lot better way then just providing ‘Oh, here’s everything. Do what you will with it.”

  • realizing what people are looking for
    • working with companies and legacy products
      • re-working products
      • fitting solution into the problem
    • when starting projects
      • interview people internally who will be in charge of the product and the external people who will use product
        • what do they want/need to accomplish
        • then decide what features are needed
        • don’t build things people don’t need
      • conveying what users need to your clients
      • test and see if things are on track
  • compromising on your designs

24:54 “There really won’t ever be one design that meets everybody’s needs and I think that’s a good thing… that means you have to be willing to experiment and you have to be willing to have things… fail sometimes, and you have to be willing to say ‘I’m going to keep trying and I’m going to keep iterating.’ Releasing one design and saying this is going to be useable, useful, and never touched for a decade isn’t realistic the way technology changes. The way our clients, and our customers, and our users expectations change. Those are things that are shifting on if not a monthly, a yearly basis. What people expect from technology, how people expect designs to work, and what functionality they expect.”

  • Pareto 80/20 Principle
    • certain people will be early adopters
      • designing for them is designing for niche crowd
    • designing for extreme laggards
      • already too late
    • design for the 80% not the fringes
      • don’t try to be cutting edge if it alienates people
    • assigning value to the feedback that you get

31:45 “It’s all about trade offs. Just like everything else in business life, which is, how much time and effort do you spend and I propose that the majority of time and effort should be spent making sure you have a usable experience over anything else.”

  • getting into user research
    • focused on communicating with people about environmental issues
      • was doing research in zoos and science centers
      • got funding through grants
      • decided he wanted to transition
    • reached out to friend to see if there were any jobs at Intuitive
      • knew how to research
      • wanted to learn design and user research
      • realized how much his background applied
    • saw how his psych study related to digital world
      • likes to see principles being applied

37:13 “I saw an opportunity to write about what this means is when you’re creating an experience you need to not just make something because you think social is going to work but you need to understand ‘How are the people who are going to use your website, or application, or your product, categorize themselves? What shared characteristics do they have that you can start to highlight so that they form groups and discuss your product and recommend it to others, and How can you start to see conversations and make sure that people are aware that being social around your product is okay and that it’s an expectation?’ Those are the things that I really enjoy doing .”

  • applying principles from one discipline to another
    • seeing connections and similarities across different fields and applying them

39:04 “I think what I enjoy doing is… thinking about ‘What is the web that connects these things?’ because once you understand something you see how it can be applied in other situations and for me that’s psychology and communication… and it excites me because I do enjoy sharing that knowledge or working with people. And I see them understand the underlying reason their design should be effective, or why they should consider making some tweaks to their designs to make it more effective and that’s a fun process for me to do.”

  • dealing with sobriety
    • allowed him to succeed
    • when he first started as researcher he had trouble with alcohol abuse
    • in his thirties, his tolerance went up, but he started to pass out/blackout
    • when he moved to new job, the beer on site, contributed to his alcoholism
    • drinking curbed his ambitions

43:12 “Eventually came to the crossroads of ‘I needed to do something because my life,’ was becoming horrible and so I needed to choose. Do I have a horrible life or do I attempt to become sober? And that’s a choice that was personal for me. I don’t think alcohol is something that nobody should consume. I don’t think alcohol should be banned at work… but when I talk about alcohol and I talk about sobriety, so I’ve been sober for two years now. And in those two years I’ve published twenty or thirty articles about what I do at work and I wrote a book and I got married and had a kid… all that is success that I would have never experienced if I had stayed drinking.”

44:41 “As creatives, a lot of people use alcohol or drugs or binge watching TV as a distraction, but really it ends up being procrastination that only hurts you.”

45:07 “Once I stopped drinking I was able to use that energy and that thinking and all the motivation that I was throwing at drinking… I took all that time and all that energy and I did start writing and I was able to produce and create things and get to the point where I was able to pitch a book deal and get one.”

  • transitioning into sobriety
    • was seeing a counselor because he was in a failing relationship
      • told him he should stop drinking
      • individual counselor also told him to stop drinking and attend AA
      • didn’t think he could handle it
    • withdrawing from tech events
      • he was trying to advance career
        • felt like not drinking was impacting him
        • wrote first article where he talked about it

50:07 “One thing that I was also able to do was find a way to refocus my energy and my frustration around not being able to drink anymore through my writing and so that was really a benefit for me to have something like that and I think it would possibly be a different story if I didn’t have the success that I started to experience there because it was starting to become something where, when I was feeling weak and exposed, I was able to fall back on ‘Well at least I have writing, and they seam to be well received and feeding on themselves.'”

52:07 “I say to everybody who feels like they might have an issue like drugs or alcohol… that one of the first steps that I found to be helpful was finding support. I don’t know how I would have been able to do it.”

53:09 “I don’t think whether it’s quitting alcohol or writing a book or anything you do that’s really tough in life, I think it’s good to put yourself out there and ask for support. I don’t see that as being weak anymore.”

53:23 “Definitely when I was drinking, I thought asking for support was just an admission of being weak… and what I found was the exact opposite. Through AA, through my counselors, through my family members when I would talk to them about what I was going through. That I found support and I found people who wanted me to succeed.”

54:00 “Asking for and getting support around what you want to accomplish I think is critical. And then if you are trying to change I behavior, I think you need to insert some other behavior.”

54:30 “If you’re trying to change, I think it’s a good opportunity to start exploring what other interests you might have in life and seeing what sticks… So I think it’s really important to keep yourself open to new opportunities and new experiences.”

  • Victor’s book: Design for the Mind
    • psychological principles of design
    • getting people to buy
    • how your product provides people control of the outcome
    • using persuasion and influence
      • free trial turning into a paid subscription
      • download ebook for free then ask people to buy something
        • reciprocity – giving back to someone that gave to you
    • 39YOCCO – discount code

58:38 “People need to believe that using your product is a positive thing that will lead to the outcome they want and again you can address that through telling them ‘Buying through my site is safe and secure but also showing them through different ways of displaying information that their information is secure using your site or that the products you have on your site are unique to you, and so that influences the behavioral belief that using your site is a good thing to get the products that you’re selling.”

59:21 “Then there’s also social norms that people need to understand that other people think that using your product or your website is a good thing. Can you display testimonials? Can you have people like or rate your product? So that it shows that other people have been there and used it and that it’s a good thing for people too.”

1:01:00 “When it comes to persuasion, one of the biggest things you can do is making sure people understand why what you’re doing and why what your product is, is relevant to their life. So that’s about how you display information and how you do capture people’s attention immediately to say ‘How does using my website make my life better? How does making sure that I purchase my art through you make my life better? What are some opportunities that you have to show people this immediately or make the experience so usable that they realize using your product saves them time, saves them effort that they wouldn’t want to go a competitor to do that, or they wouldn’t want to choose not to buy your product because your site, they don’t understand how to use it, therefore they don’t see how it’s relevant to accomplishing the task they are trying to accomplish?”

  • heuristics/mental shortcuts for decision making
    • default affect
      • make sure your default setting is user friendly for most people
  • favorite quote
    • “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
    • if I see something wrong, I need to set an example with my behavior
  • morning routine
    • getting daughter to daycare
    • doing things that make the day easier
    • make some time for writing (often in evenings)
  • recommendations
  • creative people
  • definition of creativity
    • learning more every time he writes about psychology

1:11:25 “Creativity doesn’t mean you’re making art. To be creative is to create something and I think that is something of a process where anything you do that helps you explore who you are and produces some type of output of what your thoughts are. So mean being creative is writing. For other people, being creative might be working out and thinking of new exercises… I believe a lot of what you get out of being creative is a better understanding of yourself. And that’s why it can hurt when you are creative and produce something and it gets perceived negatively or people find fault with or misinterpret your work. It’s something that’s a self-exploration first and doesn’t necessarily reflect how other people feel about what you’re creating.”

1:12:26 “When you engage in a process where you have to think about what you’re doing and why and what the outcome is going to be, I think that’s ultimately creative. And what it does personally is a thousand times more valuable than what it does for the world at large, at least on an individual perspective, because I think being creative allows you to understand yourself, understand the world around you better and make sense of it.”

  • being more creative
    • people who aren’t creative overthink and don’t budget time for it

1:13:26 “There isn’t something that magically makes you creative. An example would be writing a book or painting a picture. Nothing magically happens except for doing it. You have to take that first step and it never feels right. There’s no ‘Okay, this is how you be creative guidebook,’ I don’t think. The same thing when you first start out doing research. It feels like ‘Am I doing it right?’ Who’s going to tell me I’m doing it right? There’s not necessarily ever going to be that voice. You have to get used to the discomfort of taking a first step and then keep taking that step because that’s how something gets created. If you do nothing, it never happens. So budgeting time for that is very important as well.”

  • challenge
    • don’t feel the need to ask someone why they are not drinking
      • it’s not our business as to why
    • spend time open mindedly receiving messages about drinking
      • these are messages we receive throughout our daily lives

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