I’ve noticed something recently. A lot of smaller businesses online are either having to shut down or they’re scaling their portfolio down a lot. So I’ve decided to write a a post for people who want to know ways to support small businesses and independent creatives they follow on various social media.
Purchase their work!
This is the most obvious. If you want creative people and small businesses to continue creating at a regular pace and put all of their time and effort into what they’re doing, your best bet is to purchase from them. The amount you spend and the frequency of which you do it is down to you, and it’s largely dependent on what you need, what people are providing and the cost of the items themselves. I’ve been encouraging some friends to include payments in instalments to make things more accessible. I’ve introduced it in full scale to my store recently and it’s been pretty popular.
Let them know what you want more/less of!
Is your favourite artist releasing a bunch of designs you like on items you don’t want/need? Contact them! Small retailers are usually more able to respond to direct demand quite quickly and can sometimes make things as a one off.
Please keep in mind some people may have to release items as a pre-order to generate the funds (and establish the demand) for certain products. A couple of years ago I released t-shirts at the request of a few people, they started as a pre-order and when I had the funds I ordered in as many as I believed demand to be (from people saying they’d buy one) to not sell nearly as many as I’d anticipated. Had I done this as a full pre-order I wouldn’t have had this problem, and the situation itself nearly led to me having to close down my store.
The next couple are pretty similar. The first of which is subscribing via a service such as Patreon. This is great for people who make content on YouTube, write blogs or generally create content that may not necessarily always result in items for sale. Most Patreon creators include rewards and regular updates for Patrons, and it’s something I’m still getting the hang of. Some people need the funds to cover project costs, others to cover their regular outgoings. They usually list their reasons for using it in their description.
You can sign up to support creators on Patreon from as little as $1 a month (around 80p) and even if you can only pledge $1 a month it’s a huge boost to the creator. At the time of writing, my pledges come to around $50 and a bunch of those are $1. It builds up if enough people do it and it means creators can focus on making great content for you full time without worrying about money, and you’ll get rewards in the meantime!
I should probably mention that once you make a pledge you can edit or pause it whenever you need to. You’re not tied into pledging a certain amount until you cancel or anything like that.
Not able to pledge every month for whatever reason? Does the creator you want to support not make anything you can buy/afford? Almost all of them have a PayPal account you can send funds to as and when you see fit, even if it’s just a couple of quid. As I mentioned before, it all adds up.
If PayPal isn’t your thing (or theirs), see if there are other ways you can send them some cash.
Share their work!
A lot of people don’t have a disposable income to support creatives financially for a variety of reasons and that’s ok! There are other ways you can do it. People tend to use all sorts of social media, and if you think someone isn’t getting the recognition they deserve then share their work. You never know who might be following you. They might end up interested in someone’s work and be able to support them in any of the ways I’ve mentioned.
Whatever your main social media, follow your favourite creators if they have a profile there and share their content. If they don’t, post their work with credit and try to either include their @ from Instagram, Twitter etc or a link to the best place to view them. You’re a part of the media and, whether you choose to believe it or not, people listen to you and care about your opinions. They usually also have things in common with you, which is why they follow you. So chances are if you like something for whatever reason, some of the people following you will too! It doesn’t matter whether you have 10 followers or 10,000. You’re important to your followers and to the people you amplify and share the work of.