No-Cost Gifts for the Creative People in Your Life
For the year-end holidays, I offer two meaningful gifts you can give to the creative people in your life, with nary a ding to your wallet. (I’ve added a bonus from me at the end, too.)
Leave a Review
First, consider the simple and powerful gift of reviewing the work of the artists you know.
Reviews are incredibly meaningful for the people you care about who have books, recordings, videos, and other original media available online from major websites. Whether it’s leaving a review of your friend’s music on iTunes or Bandcamp, or leaving a review of your friend’s book on Amazon or Bookshop.org, or reviewing your friend’s video on their YouTube or Vimeo channel, that simple, quick, no-cost gesture is a true gift. Let me count the ways.
1. You respect their work.
So many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances of creative artists ignore the commercial aspects of their art. They may gush in private, offer heartfelt congratulations when a new book, album, or video is released, but do they share their opinion with the world? Too often, the answer is no. Go ahead. Tell people. Go public.
2. You understand that social proof is important to the success of an artist.
When you look at a product online that you’re considering buying, does your impression of the product improve when you notice multiple positive reviews underneath the product description? The same phenomenon is at work with people’s creative work online. Do your part to increase the number of reviews. This is important because these websites reward the popular items by making them more likely to be seen by new visitors. Just as it was in high school, if you’re popular, you become more popular. If you’re not popular, it’s hard to be seen at all.
3. You stand behind them as an ally, in public view.
Attaching your name to the review is an added boost for the artist. It’s not required by most sites – you can usually devise a screen name that’s as anonymous as you want – but it can be a kindness to use your actual name.
Did you know?
Your review can be brief.
Truth is, the fact that it exists matters the most. If you are moved to write an essay about the work you’re reviewing that’s a bonus. But the total number of reviews – not the length of each review – affects how likely new visitors to the website will encounter the book, music, or video. So if you only have the time to give the thing 5 stars and say, “I enjoyed this a lot” it’s okay. That’s. Really. Enough.
Your review can have grammatical or spelling errors.
This is not the place for anxiety about your writing skills. An error or two won’t affect the review’s usefulness to the creative person whose work you’re reviewing. Have at it.
You don’t need to be original.
If your review resembles one or two that are already in the list, it’s fine. Just say something that you mean and move along. The gift you’re giving is the gift of your public statement of support for your friend’s work.
Little-known fact: If you didn’t buy the book from Amazon, you can still leave a review of it there.
Amazon is an important marketplace for all writers, and reviews on Amazon really help authors make an impact. Amazon makes an exception from its usual review policy when it comes to books. Other kinds of products can only be reviewed after you’ve bought the item on Amazon. But books are special. So even if you got the book somewhere else (like your local bookstore or bookshop.org, which channels sales income to indie bookstores) or if you received it as a gift, or if you borrowed it from the library or a friend, you can still leave a review on Amazon. Spread the word.
Leave a star rating.
Do a few quick star ratings – hopefully 4 or 5 stars – for projects you enjoy, and skip writing anything at all, if you’re really stretched for time.
Say Thank You
Second, consider communicating directly with some of the people whose work you love, admire, value, or enjoy.
Whether you know these artists or merely admire them, telling someone that their work matters to you is a meaningful gift. Even famous people aren’t immune to the positive impact that words of thanks can bring.
In a thank-you note, a social media post or DM, a message or email, or a face-to-face moment, take the time to say the thing:
Your story got me through a tough time.
Your music has been my constant companion these past few months.
When I see you dance, my spirit soars with you.
Any time I need to cheer up, I put your album on repeat.
I wouldn’t have kept up my walking routine without your podcast.
Your book has helped me solve so many problems that I can’t imagine working without it.
Philadelphia author / choreographer Andrew Simonet designates 12 December as an annual Artist Thank You Day, but you don’t need to limit yourself to one day a year. See how good it feels to tell an artist the ways that you appreciate their creative work.
As a gift to you, my subscribers, I pulled three cards from the FLOAT Cards for Writers deck. The first image below is of the three cards face down. See if one or more of them is calling to you. Then check below to see what’s on the flip side. I hope there’s something useful, supportive, or enjoyable for you. Let me know if you got something good!
Does one particular card call to you?
Here’s the flip side. (Zoom in if you need to.) Did you get something useful?
Thanks for reading.
With my warm wishes for the holidays and the New Year,
PS Have you subscribed to my newsletter? When you do, you’ll get each new monthly blog post as it’s published, and occasional guest posts from wonderful writers and coaches. Here’s where to sign up.
PPS I’ll catch you up next month on what happened during #NaNoWriMo2022. For my report from the half-way mark, see this post.