Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Is It About Donna Downey?

What is it about Donna Downey (DD) at Simply Me that makes me want to jump in my car and drive 12 hours to North Carolina to go to one of her classes?  What makes me kick myself if a Wednesday passes and I didn't go to her site to see what she's up to? 

I can tell you right away, hands down, it's the video inspiration pages she does every Wednesday.  I can completely lose myself in watching her happy process unfold.  I've been known to lose hours of my life to watching video after video.  Donna packs in tons of ideas and demonstrates how to use different materials.  I've learned how to make my own spray bottles of paint and how to transfer images from Donna, along with a million other fun techniques.

Her site is a complete reflection of her. Her background is a compilation of her own artwork and represents her perfectly. She uses her favorite color (teal) for her headers, which matches the tips of her hair, the paint on the walls of her studio, even her glasses are teal-ish.  As she says, it's simply her.  Putting herself out there in her own totally authentic way.

Now, while doing all this seemingly fun and joyful stuff, Donna is also selling herself and her products, but it doesn't feel the least bit slimy to me.  She sells the supplies she uses in her inspiration pages, but it doesn't feel like a sales pitch. I want to buy them because I have seen what they can do and I want to try them out myself.  I wanna make something fabulous like she just did! This is exactly how you want your audience to feel if you're teaching or selling products-you want to inspire your audience to create.

You might be interested in pulling the spirit of what Donna does into your own site if it feels natural to you. You're going to do it your way, but I think it's always worth it to spend some time studying what others do well, as you can learn from the success of others.

Here's my interpretation of what Donna does well, that you can draw from:
  • Demos!  I love DEMOS!  People love demos and here's why:  People are getting tons of good information FOR FREE.  If you're giving me something for free, I feel much better about buying from you.  It's a give and take. You've given something to me and now I'm giving back to you for your efforts and generosity.
  • Show your skills:  Seeing your process online helps me to feel confident in buying from you.  I know that Donna knows her stuff and I know that she has something to teach me.  I learn something every time, so I know I won't be disappointed with my purchase of a class from her.
  • Strut your creative stuff-Donna has a seemingly bottomless supply of creative ideas and I bet you do too.  Show them off! Then, I will want to be in the presence of your energy and travel to wherever you live to sit in a class with you.
  • Share your adventures-Share your version of living the creative life.  People are signing up for your lifestyle as much as your art.  I love to see where Donna's been and what opportunities leading a creative life can bring. It's inspiration to keep on going! She's traveling all around teaching her classes and sharing her experiences along the way.  Even if you're not jet setting about, you still have aspects of your creative life that will help draw people to you.  Is yoga a part of your creative lift?  Do you take different classes yourself?  Do you visit parks with beautiful waterfalls that you might capture and inspire others with?
  • Make your site an extension of who you are- Use your colors.  Let your banner be a reflection of what your site is about.  Here's some info. on creating a banner.  It's geared toward Blogger, but the info. is helpful in general.  You can also google "creating a banner in ___" and insert the platform that you use.
  • Include great photos-The content, the clarity and the lighting of Donna's photos really reflect what she is communicating with her words.  They make you curious, you want to go deeper.  I know in my rush to post, I don't always spend time on my photos (Documenting my work is my least favorite part of the creative process).  You will be best served however, by carefully curating your own online photos.  
  • Use your photos to tell a story-Often, you don't even need a lot of words in a post.  Donna uses her photos to tell a story of what she has created.  You can do this for demos too-you don't need to make a video even, you can show what you're doing step-by-step by taking photos along the creative journey.
Drop me a comment and let me know who some of your favorite online creators are and why you love them.  Knowing what makes a website great helps us all as we work to build our own online businesses!


Kelly D said...

Part of why I'm sharing in this way is to reflect the greatness of the artists I admire and to let them know that what they do matters.
I was so happy to see Donna Downey share her own journey here:

PattiSokol said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I love watching Donna's videos. They are very inspirational.

Kelly D said...

Thanks Patti! I had a feeling I wasn't the only one :)

Unknown said...

Hi Kelly - I was so struck by your story sharing how Donna inspires you. She has had such an effect on me and my art that it has literally changed my life. I talk about it in this post on my blog "Art in Real Life" at
‎I found her style of teaching so completely opposite of what I had learned in art school that I came back to my true artist roots through her encouragement. Thank you for summing up all of the things that I knew about why I had such a "groupie" mentality about her but had never seen written anywhere. I think you have the sharing spirit as well. I am doing my best to find my way and using the very same observations you wrote about. I am glad to have found your blog and will be back. Thanks again!

Kelly D said...

Lindi!!!!I love your post and reading about your art awakening was like reading my own journal! You're an art soul sister for sure and I'll be checking back into your site as soon as I have a little more time! So glad to find you. You've also inspired me to take that road trip to NC, sounds SO worth it!

Dawn said...

Beautifully written post. I am a Donna fan and could totally relate to everything you said about her. If I have her supplies, my art will look just like hers, right? =)

Kelly D said...

Thank you Dawn-Yes, Donna makes it all look so easy-which I think can be said about all masters of their craft. She could take a block of mud and a cat hair and make it look good:)

Unknown said...

I too, am a Donna Downey groupie. I am making it a goal to travel to her studio and take a class in the next year! Love her!

Kelly D said...

That's awesome Allison! I love an occasion for a road trip, especially when it results in good, juicy art making.

Ally Scraps said...

I watch Donna's videos, but also absolutely love Christy Tomlinson and Dyan Reaveley. They all inspire me to get up off my butt and create something.And Donna makes me laugh. She is so down to earth and honest. It's that honesty that keeps me coming back for more. Thanks!

Kelly D said...

Thanks Ally for the heads up on Christy and Dyan. I will check them out, but I also just hopped over to your site and see that you have quite a bit going on yourself! Love your style, I'll be spending some time there checking it out!

Erika said...

I too am addicted to Donna Downey. I would love to go to one of her workshops, I just don't have the cash to get to one of her workshops :( I really wish she'd visit my state!

I love Donna Downey too!


Unknown said...

I'm an avid Donna follower as well. Your post is spot on for everything I would want to say. I am so inspired by her and look forward to Collage Monday and Inspiration Wednesday like a child waiting for cookies to come out of the oven. Thanks for sharing with us. I will check your blog regularly. :)

I'm a Late Bloomer said...

Hands down.... it's Donna Downey. I always feel ike hopping in my car to go do a weekend retreat with her. One of these days, I will. How about I let you know and we'll go together. :-)

Kelly D said...

It's a date Teresa! You just give a holler and I'm there!