Member Spotlight: Shayda Windle

After spending 15 years in corporate marketing, Shayda Windle started her own creative services business, SW Creative Services, offering content creation, copywriting, and marketing campaign planning and execution to small business owners all over the country. Passionate about helping other entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of doing what they love—creating—Windle also is a freelance writer and has had articles featured in Plein Air Magazine, the Fairfax County Times, Loudoun County Magazine, and several online media outlets including Modern Marketing Today and Government Technology Insider.

We rely so much on social media to stay connected, informed, and entertained. What are some ways to optimize engagement on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

It’s difficult these days to stand out on social media, but with effective tactics you can keep your followers engaged. One of the keys to engagement is posting often and regularly. Most marketing agencies recommend posting every day to social media platforms to keep your brand top of mind. Keep it interesting by posting different things—maybe it’s a new piece of art on Monday, a blog post on Tuesday, and a question for your audience on Wednesday. Mapping out your content for the week is a great way to create efficiencies so marketing isn’t something you pour too much energy into.

You can optimize your time and resources by posting the same content through tools like Hootsuite, which allows users to post content automatically to each social media channel at once, or at a scheduled time that you know is most effective.

There are a lot of free tools available today to see how your content is performing. As an example, with the Instagram business account, you can see which posts perform the best under “insights.” On Twitter, you can sign up for the free analytics dashboard, which also shows you what’s performing best. Once you have a clearer picture of what content is engaging your followers, you can repurpose it in different ways.

What was the spark that made you leave corporate marketing behind and dedicate your services to small business owners and arts organizations?

In 2018, I gave birth to my second child and was fortunate enough to stay home with my kids. Shortly afterwards, I was contacted by a friend’s mother who had written a children’s book for her granddaughter. She was looking for an illustrator for the book and found my artwork on Instagram and hired me for the job. We collaborated for several months and self-published the book on Amazon. It was my big break into the business of art.

After I finished the book, I began taking on additional work as a freelance writer and graphic designer. As I got more work, I realized I could take things further with my background in marketing, so I started an LLC offering complete marketing programs for small businesses.

As a sole proprietor, I knew I couldn’t take on large clients and I really enjoyed working with small businesses and supporting the local economy. I was lucky enough to work with an art gallery last year, which taught me so much about marketing for the arts, something that can be incredibly difficult because it’s so subjective. When you’re promoting yourself and your work into the art market, you really have to consider your messaging and how to draw people in more than with technology or a need-based product or service.

What differences do you see between corporate marketing and marketing for small businesses or arts organizations?

It’s like night and day! Corporate marketing is incredibly bureaucratic, usually involving many teams of people and processes that need to be followed to execute a campaign. More importantly, marketing budgets are completely different when you compare the two.

While smaller organizations usually means smaller budgets, it’s not necessarily the worst thing. Not having a million-dollar budget allows marketers to be more creative in their techniques and try things that may not normally be done when given large amounts of cash to work with. There’s a lot of waste in corporate marketing. Smaller organizations have to repurpose content where they can. As an example, you can create a blog post and put it on your website, then repurpose it for social media and other platforms. You can even pitch a blog to the media for additional press and include it in a newsletter, or partner with another artist/organization to have your blog posted on their website. The opportunities are endless with a little brainstorming!

You’re a painter as well. What attracts you to that artform and how did you get into it?

I absolutely love painting. Ever since I was a kid, I was drawn to art, but never really pursued it seriously until 7-8 years ago. I had extra time on my hands and was super inspired by artists I saw on Instagram during my first pregnancy. As I continued following artists, I realized I could learn from them as well, so began taking courses through places like Creativebug and other websites, teaching myself to draw and paint. I started painting with watercolor and then moved to other mediums like acrylic and ink. During the pandemic, I decided to go all-in and started working with oils. I love all mediums and have most recently been doing a lot of work in mixed media, which is basically a dream, using all the mediums I love so much. You can check out some of my own artwork here.

Botanical Watercolor Trio, 21"X28", by Shayda Windle

What are some unique approaches you’ve used in campaigns to help diversify audiences and expand outreach?

Partnerships are a great way to expand your reach with new audiences. A few years ago, I partnered with another artist on Instagram to both give away a piece of art to those who followed each of us. Those who followed and tagged us in the post would be given that many entries in the giveaway. After a week, the winner was announced, and we were both able to increase our followers substantially, which ended up in some sales.

Last year, I had the opportunity to work for an art gallery who had relationships with several design firms. We partnered with them on blog posts and social media content. It not only brought additional awareness to the gallery and expanded their audience,  but helped strengthen the relationship between the firms as well.

Any way you can network is always great—whether through organizations like this one or your local chamber of commerce. If it weren’t for Zoom and web conferencing, there would’ve been little networking opportunities this past year, so I’m thankful for that. Of course, it’s always better to meet people in person, so I’m really looking forward to attending events again and highly suggest it for anyone looking to expand their network. Don’t forget business cards!

What advice do you have for small business or arts organizations on creating content and campaigns with minimal staff or financial resources?

Just as with any organization, it’s important to understand your target market. For small businesses, the relationship is much more personal than larger ones. Get to know your audience and target market and document their interests, past purchases, and buying behavior in your CRM tool or database.

When it comes to content, create materials that can be repurposed across multiple channels. As an example, say you are trying to spread the word about an emerging artist. You could interview the artist for a blog, which would of course include images of their work and ways to purchase them that can be shared across social media, placed in your company newsletter, and the story can even be pitched to the media for a broader reach. All these things I’ve done and, in the end, resulted in sales for the artist(s). I always recommend doing research and signing up for helpful newsletters and free resources from places like Hubspot, which have huge archives of free resources for those looking for new, innovative ways to market their business on smaller budgets.


Americans for the Arts Membership

This series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research. You can become a member by visiting us online, sending an email to membership@artsusa.org, or calling 202.371.2830.