We’ve all heard the phrase “starving artist”. Typically this description refers to some poor soul who is struggling to make ends meet while putting their time and effort into their art. When I think of the term, I think of someone who has the courage to risk everything and follow their passion.
Meet Claire Hall. After I interviewed Claire in her downtown Toronto art studio, I was inspired. Through her business, Claire helps people feel more comfortable in their homes by creating custom-designed artwork at an affordable price. “Many people want original artwork, but they don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on it,” she said. Claire’s solution is simple. Clients can submit a picture of their room through her website and she will create custom art based on their décor and budget.
When I asked her how she got her start she said, “I went to school for fashion-design, but I always loved to paint.” Claire’s hobby became a business when she decided to load some of her paintings onto Facebook. “After one day I had 20 orders, so I took it as a sign.” Shortly after, Claire left her successful career in the fashion industry to pursue her true calling.
Not long after that she ran into a problem that is all too familiar for many entrepreneurs – getting business. “Once people found out about my business they were really interested, but getting the awareness was tough.” That changed when she was featured in the Toronto Star earlier this September. “The day the article appeared, I received over 1,500 visitors to my website, 200 emails and 100 orders.” The article was so effective that she now has a 50 person waiting list, and the orders keep coming in.
This story not only illustrates why you should follow your passion, but it demonstrates how small businesses can profit from free publicity. When your submit your story to news outlets, you aren’t the only one benefitting as journalists are always looking for new and interesting content to write about. Additionally, if Claire purchased an advertisement in the Toronto Star there’s a good chance that most readers would have skipped over it. Why? Because traditional advertising just can’t compete with the credibility that public relations can offer. Most importantly PR is free! Free publicity can work wonders for businesses with a limited advertising budget. So get your name out there by submitting information to newspapers, social news websites, or to journalist support sites like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) – and you might be surprised at what happens next.