When you’re new to the lettering world is can feel a little like you’re yelling into the void. There are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of hand lettering and calligraphy artists out there, and that might make you feel a little intimidated.

 

If that’s the case for you, you’re going to want to tune into this my interview with Tom Ross. (And if it’s not the case, you can tune in for some pretty epic dad jokes!)

Tom Ross is the CEO of Design Cuts, a community of over half a million creatives!

He is also the co-host of The Honest Designers Show (Check out episode 119, where I was lucky enough to be featured on recently!) and Tom’s most recent podcast, The Honest Entrepreneur Show.

Which brings us to my interview with Tom, where he covers some pretty major topics: how to stand out, differentiate yourself and build a community around your art!

And in case you’re wondering WHY Tom is the right person to talk about these topics?

Because Tom’s day job involved a lot of speaking with BIG name letterers. I’m talking Ian Barnard, Lauren Hom and Stefan Kunz…THOSE big names. Tom also has a huuuge background in design and marketing, and he acts as a unofficial business coach to these people!

So, let’s get to it!

 

 

“Owning who you are and what you’re about is a really powerful thing.”

Tom Ross

 

Look at your idols and go back to their first posts. What do you see? Probably posts that are no where near the level they are today. Everyone (including the best of the best) had to start somewhere!

The people you look up to probably felt EXACTLY the same as you do looking at their work now. The difference is that they’re just further ahead on their journey.

So you want to make a name for yourself and start an Instagram account but you have self-doubt or imposter syndrome…

 

Tom On Mindset

 

Don’t let yourself get caught up in your own head. Tom combat that negativity, Tom has two tips:

  • Just Do – The more stuff you keep yourself busy with, the less time you have to get stuck in your negative thoughts, self-doubt and/or imposter syndrome.
  • Get Out of Your Head by Getting Into Someone Else’s – Thing more about your audience and empathize with them. What do they want to see?

 

Tom On Followers

 

How many followers have you actually reached out to?

Instead of worrying about the followers you could get tomorrow, focus on the followers you have right now. Whether that be 10 or 100 or 1000.

Followers will come with time. But the ones who follow you NOW deserve your time NOW.

Buuut say you actually do want to grow your following (and there is nothing wrong with that), Tom suggests that you DM (direct message) every single person that follow you TODAY and thank them for following you. Do this every day! Ask them what they are looking for from you! The magic is in the early days.

 

“Community gets built one person at a time.”

Tom Ross

 

And if you’re stuck for time and can’t watch the interview just yet (but trust me, add it to your list because it is GOOD), here are a few key takeaways you could benefit from NOW.

 

KEY POINTS:

  • The number of followers you have REALLY does not matter. Quality > Quantity
  • Be unscalable. You can’t automate moments of delight!
  • Karma + Hard Work
  • Invest in the relationships
  • People like a sense of community
  • Don’t be afraid to niche
  • It’s not about the aesthetic, it’s about the niche
  • BE THE ANSWER TO A QUESTION

But seriously. Tom shared SO. MUCH. VALUABLE. INFO. with us and it’s totally worth watching the interview in full! (And when he talks about the upside down triangle…WOW!)

 

“It’s not how many people you have, it’s how engaged they are.”

Tom Ross

 

And in case you’re interested in some of the things we spoke about above, here they are again:

My feature on The Honest Designers Show, Episode 119: Earning a Living From Lettering with Becca Courtice)

Design Cuts YouTube

My episode (Episode 148) on Drunk on Lettering

 

HUGE thanks to Tom for coming on to have a chat with me! Based on the amount of amazing tips and suggestions Tom shared with us, I really think that this interview will benefit so many of you!