The Plastic Club, an artist’s club, studio and gallery, in Center City Philadelphia holds regular art salons to discuss art, critique each others work and learn new techniques. DoN was invited to give a presentation about Social Media and how artists can start using various on-line platforms to promote their art. We began the two hour discussion with the basics of social interactions:
An elevator pitch is a short, succinct description of you and your business. For example: “My name is DoN Brewer, I write an art blog called DoNArTNeWs about the Philadelphia art scene with photographs and art reviews, artist interviews and how-to reports. DoNArTNeWs is based on multiple on-line platforms and has reached over 750 thousand unique visitors this year.”
How would you describe your art and successes if you had someone’s undivided attention for one minute? By preparing your pitch in advance and practicing in the mirror or with friends you can be ready when the opportunity to introduce yourself arises. Put a smile on your face, make eye contact, shake hands and make a pitch that is fact filled and to the point.
I always carry business cards in my wallet, pocket or camera bag and give them away freely. Cards are inexpensive and a great way to make a lasting impression – but make sure it’s a good one. Overly colorful, shiny or too small fonts can get your card lost in the shuffle. Try to limit your palette to three colors, include important contact information and resist the urge to make both sides of the card glossy. Shiny cards are pretty but they are difficult to write on if the person your presenting the card to wants to jot down notes. An interesting logo, large fonts, nice card stock and simple colors makes a strong impression. I use www.overnightprints.com for my cards, they offer low prices and guarantee satisfaction. Their ad is in the DoNArTNeWs sidebar.
I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion
This how-to book by author Alyson Stanfield will teach you how to promote your art in the marketplace. DoNArTNeWs followed the tips in this easy to read, fact filled book and the step-by-step advice really works! Starting first as a newsletter and now as a multi-platform blog (an on-line magazine), DoNArTNeWs has reached millions of art enthusiasts since 2008. I’d Rather be in the Studio can help you develop a marketing strategy, create a database of clients, build confidence and promote a positive image.
Another book that I found very inspiring is Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way Starter Kit. My biggest take-away from this popular book is making an ‘art date’ with myself. An art date means going out to visit other artists, art galleries and museums on a regular basis – even if I have to go alone. Visiting art galleries doesn’t have to be a team sport; if you can’t find friends to go with you, go by yourself and don’t stand yourself up. Committing to keeping a date with yourself is not just an exercise in seeing new art, it promotes self-reliance and confidence.
Website Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine‘s “natural” or un-paid (“organic“) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. (Wikipedia) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital to having your artist website appear at the top of search engine websites such as Google. If you don’t understand HTML, then find someone who does and make sure that the important ‘meta-tags’ are complete and accurate. Having your name is important in the title but what you do is more so. Are you an abstract expressionist? Do you paint portraits? Is watercolor landscapes your specialty? This information should be included in the ‘Title Tag’ with the first nine words of the title being the most important terms relating to your business. The title information appears in the bar at the top of your web browser window; if your website says “Home’ or “Index’ and does not show your name and business description then you will never show up in a web search.
Other important meta-tags are ‘Name’, ‘Copyright’, ‘Description’ and ‘Key Words’. By filling in the blanks with the terms most important to your business your website will appear high in search engines. Make sure everything is spelled correctly and avoid small words like ‘is’, ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘it’…use only important search terms. The grammar doesn’t have to make sense in the title as long as it includes the words that people may use to search for someone like you.
A blog is a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis. OK, let’s be frank. Blogging is easy but it takes time to learn. DoNArTNeWs is based on a WordPress platform which offers many benefits. You are looking at a website with the domain name of www.brewermultimedia.com hosted by www.1and1.com with a blog called DoNArTNeWs based on a template called Twenty-Twelve. There are zillions of templates to choose from, I like Twenty-Twelve because I can customize the header with my own logo image. Free blogs are available directly through WordPress but then their name will be part of you blog URL. You can also pay WordPress for a domain name.
The most important thing is creating good content. I attend art events and take photographs, interview artists or gallery owners on my smart phone and then try to write the post in a timely manner. Since I know Photoshop, I resize the photo to fit the width of the column and change it to a .gif which reduces the size of the image allowing it to load faster. Images can also be adjusted in WordPress, there are tutorials on-line and support forums. Images are uploaded to a ‘Media File’ and have titles, alt tags and descriptions that should be completed as fully as possible – always mention your own name in the description since it is relevant to search engines.
I use the recorded interview either as a way to compose my own review of the art or to share the conversation by transcribing into text. Important terms are highlighted with a link – the link button looks like a little chain on the toolbar at the top of the page you compose the blog post on. Links should usually direct to a new window so visitors don’t click off of your page.
The blog post is linked to categories relevant to the content such as art, painting, prints, etc and important keywords are noted as tags. I link to as many categories as possible, link the post to other posts I’ve written and copy-and-paste links each time the information is repeated.
Tumblr is a free and easy way to start a blog and reach a wide audience. The simplified dashboard and variety of templates let’s you be as creative as you want or just keep it simple. You can upload your own images, link from your website or share images from other blogs. Content can be text with links as well. Tumblr is very popular with artists and is a good way to share your ideas and see what other artists are creating
Facebook and Twitter
Facebook fan page is a public profile on Facebook for use by businesses, celebrities, etc. that allows your customers to follow you, and interact with you. A Facebook fan page is a way to advertise your art to people who are interested in what you’re about. Fan pages are easy to set up in a category relevant to what you do. The tag line is a great place to use your elevator pitch terms, a good header image and profile picture offers a quick insight into your business. When I write a blog post I click the title of the blog, copy the url and paste it into a status, write a short description and add hash tags (#tags). The link will bring up an image from the blog or you can upload a different image. Hash tags are links to topics. For example when I write a post I will add #art #Philadelphia #photography #artist etc. Also adding a link to your status by using the ‘@’ followed by your page name sets an additional link back to your page and highlights it on your fan’s newsfeed.
Build an audience by inviting your friends to ‘like’ the page, add links back to your Facebook page and Twitter handle. Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters. Registered users can read and post tweets but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through the website interface, SMS, or mobile device app. (Wikipedia) Twitter is a great way to reach a large targeted audience. You can communicate directly with people using short messages or link back to your blog and Facebook posts.
A good way to organize and automate your social media is through Hootsuite which enables a ‘tweet’ to automatically be sent when you post a status on your Facebook fan page. Following others on Facebook and Twitter, liking, sharing and adding comments will help build your audience. Hootsuite is a social media management system for brand management created by Ryan Holmes in 2008. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress…and more.
Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Instagram is a smart phone camera app that can be set up to post to your Facebook fan page, send a Tweet and post to your Tumblr blog automatically. More than just a picture, it’s a way to share links and hash tags instantly.
PayPal is a global e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. PayPal offers merchant services such as ‘buy buttons’ that can easily be embedded in your blog by copying and pasting the code into your post.
This is actually the bottom line of this tutorial. By using your website, a blog, Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and Instgram you can let your fans know when you’re having an event, what’s new, what’s for sale and how to buy your art.
People ask me how much time I put into writing and posting? I do some or all of the above almost everyday. By sharing stories and pictures, linking to important information, leading fans to my sites with tweets and Facebook status updates I am able to maximize traffic to my website and blogs.
There are many other ways to promote your art on-line such as ebay, Etsy, redbubble, Saatchi Online and many, many more. It only takes time and research to learn how to use these tools to promote and sell your art.
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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