Inspire, Connect, Promote Your Art Through Blogging and Twitter

When I went to art school, we were taught that our artist websites should include samples of our work, contact info, a bio, CV, and perhaps a blog. Back in those days, spam comments were rampant so we learned to disable them, reinforcing the fear of allowing the public to connect with us, the creators. Nowadays, the idea of providing blog content that consistently reads like a press release is stuffy and outdated. When it comes to using social media to talk about your art, it’s important to create compelling blog and Twitter posts that energize your readers in order to elevate your brand.

Inspire
show your process. What are you working on?

Be transparent. Share an industry or trade secret. You’re an artist and people are fascinated by you. They also usually have NO IDEA how you do what you do, and sharing that process with your readers is an incredibly intimate peek into who you are. Are you a jewelry maker? Show us how you use resin and original photography to make a necklace. Don’t worry too much about someone stealing your process; you’re an artist because you’ve got talent, and most people will readily admit that they could never do what you do, even if you provide a step by step guide! This may also help them understand your pricing, and why your work is so unique and valuable.

Not to worry! Your fine-tuned photography talents, lighting knowledge, and photo editing abilities will never be reproduced by an iPhone user and a crying baby! [via Pinterestfail.com]

image via [http://craftfail.com/2011/10/epic-stepping-stone-craft-fail/]

Connect
Your fans want to hear from you!

While strong blog content should be the base of your social media tactic, it can be tempting for artists to think of the blog solely as a way to document their art instead of using it as a way of engaging with their readers. Maybe you’re a creator, but not much of a conversationalist. This type of blogging doesn’t encourage a two-way dialogue with your readers, or sharing amongst your readers through other social media outlets. The best way to get connected is to include other industry leaders into your social media tactics. Starring a tweet, mentioning a person back who mentions you in their tweets, following people back who are enthusiastic about your brand are all ways you can generate enthusiasm within your blog and Twitter posts. Some helpful tips: –Reply to your followers when they comment on your blog. This lets them know that you care about what they are saying, even if it’s just a simple “thank you.” It also helps to keep the blog alive for a longer period of time after you initially post it. -When you mention other artists in your blog post, hyperlink their name so that readers can check that person out. -When you tweet the link to your blog, make sure you @ mention the artists you’ve highlighted in your blog and any industry thought leaders to a) grab their attention b) show them that you think they’re awesome. If they love your post, they’ll star, retweet or both, which helps you gain targeted, quality followers (and is also fun and gratifying when they acknowledge you):

retweets

I @ mentioned the artists from my “3 Philly Artists who Rock Instagram” post on Twitter, and all three of them starred and/or retweeted my post to thousands of followers!

Promote

Address your fear of being over-connected, annoying, and spammy Because no one wants to be coined the “look-at-me” generation, some artists have a knee-jerk reaction to sharing about themselves and their work, and may feel discouraged from participating. Stick to the virtues of offering genuine helpfulness, and ensure your posts contain meaningful, interesting, and entertaining content and you’ll have nothing to worry about! Figure out a creative way to link to your storefront as a part of your Call to Action (CTA) as you wrap up your blog post. For instance, in my blog post demystifying the Sell on Etsy app, I highlight my own store for readers to check out–now that I’ve shared the stats from my items for sale, they’re probably wondering what those “Nora Nude Coasters” look like, and they’ll be more inclined to visit the link. I also offer a link for 40 free listings for readers wanting to get started on Etsy, and a $5 coupon for those who love shopping handmade at the bottom of that same article. What’s that called again? Authentic helpfulness! What did I just do? Link you to my original content! *          *          *           *           *             *           *            *            *             *            * This is my final post for my Social Media Marketing class through Southern New Hampshire University. After this, I’m into the wild on my own! I would like to thank my professor, Dr. Jessica Rogers, for an awesome and intriguing semester!

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Why Artists Are Afraid to Join Social Media

There are an alarming number of artists who are dragging their feet when it comes to joining in on the conversation through social media; does this sound like you? Perhaps you want the world to see your work, but you are struggling to understand how to use Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to your advantage. Maybe you have a fear of becoming a social media zombie, or you’re afraid to leave your comfort zone of simply blogging or having a website for people to view your work. Being able to interact with other artists and art lovers might seem intimidating, but it is detrimental to the growth of your personal brand. Social media isn’t going to disappear, so if you choose to be a laggard on adopting this medium you’re only going to slow yourself down. Here are three concerns most artists have about entering the social media stratosphere, and solutions on how to overcome such obstacles.

risk-plagiarism

Copyright infringement; manufacturers stealing original designs and mass producing them; fraudulent downloading and printing of original material

 

Solutions:

-Register for Pixsy. You can synch your original photos and Pixsy will scan the internet for replicas, even “checking under the couch.” This is especially helpful for photographers. This is currently in private beta mode, so pre-register now in anticipation of when the site goes live.

-It never hurts to conduct a Google search using keywords that would describe your items every now and again to monitor the results.

-Watermark your photos close to the center to avoid being cropped out, and upload smaller, more compressed files. Watermarks are annoying and ugly, but a necessity for photographers. Document work at an angle instead of straight on to make it harder to copy.

This painting is considered public domain today, but if Manet had internet in 1863 he might want to watermark his image

The original “Olympia” is considered public domain today, but if Manet had internet in 1863 he might have watermarked his image like so (This is actually a “master copy” I painted in art school)

 

Challenge- which Apps to use

Figuring out which social media platforms to use or bypass; updating on a regular basis; making timely and relevant updates

Solutions:

-Instagram and a Facebook page are a must for artists. Check out my previous blog post on how to rock Instagram here. Posting your work on Pinterest is great for weavers, ceramicists and craftspeople. Twitter is perfect if you’re involved in a lot of art shows and events. Plus, Yoko Ono is on Twitter and she’s really fun to follow.

-Set up a HootSuite account for your social media accounts. This allows you to schedule in advance, and saves the trouble of posting similar updates on different SM platforms. With the free version, you can link up to 3 accounts at once to HootSuite. You can also schedule reoccurring material if there is something important that should be shared more than once.

-You can also use ScheduGram or other apps that are designed to schedule specifically for Instagram instead of bombarding your viewers with a ton of photos at once. For instance, I made the decision to unfollow Ai Weiwei after my Instagram feed was taken over with his “leg as a gun” campaign for weeks on end–the frequent posts became too much. Your followers will become bored or annoyed, and may decide to unfollow or tune you out if you overdo it.

Challenge: fear of using Hashtags

How to use them; what’s appropriate; what not to hashtag

Solutions:

-Hint: There is no need to hashtag your own name. You are searchable by your name and username on Twitter and Instagram.

-Find and follow artists and peers whom you respect and admire before you post to see how others are talking about the same subject as you.

-If you can find specific hashtags that are popular or trending amongst your community, use them when it is appropriate. For instance, I used #pancakeart and #discgolf for this Instagram post:

This lead to the post going slightly viral by the time I woke up on Monday morning. Not only did I receive a shout out from master Pancake Artist Kevin Blankenship, but my disc golf pancake was also featured as the cover image in a “best of Instagram” blog on All Things Disc Golf. Instagram gets very exciting once people you don’t know start liking your posts and following you.

Conclusion: Unless your name is Lisa Yuskavage and you’re selling your work for millions of dollars in a New York gallery, you’ll want to get online so that people can discover you. Though there are risks and challenges, it is also a very fun and rewarding medium that you should get to know and embrace.

Want to keep learning more about harnessing the power of social media as an artist? Follow my blog! http://www.sarahrado.wordpress.com

Demystifying the Sell on Etsy App

A few weeks ago, I suggested to my friend that she list her beautiful photography on Etsy after she knocked it out of the park at a recent art show. Her response was, “Why shouldn’t I just list them on eBay?”  That’s a legitimate concern, and a question that deserves to be demystified for all artists. There are some key advantages to participating in a socially-based e-commerce community website that only allows (or, is supposed to only allow) handmade arts and crafts that artists should consider once they decide that setting up an online storefront is right for them. First, your listing will stand out easier on Etsy than on a huge e-commerce site like eBay. Think of it as the difference between having a canoe on a small pond instead of a giant ocean. While eBay might draw from a larger pool of shoppers, Etsy hones in on just one type of shopper- the person who is specifically looking to buy handmade items (insert corny joke about sailing in the “Specific Ocean” here). It’s by no means an intimately-sized online marketplace, though: as of 2013, the Etsy community hit a cool 30 million members.

Disc Golf Love shirts printed by my husband. Will he be the next Etsy superstar? Not without me setting up an account for him!

Disc Golf Love shirts printed by my husband, Stu Kaplan. Will he be the next Etsy superstar? Not without me setting up an account for him!

track your inventory

Most artists and craftspeople are constantly setting up at art shows and craft fairs, selling their work, packing it up, creating more inventory and preparing for the next endeavor. Like any business, you’ll need to keep track of what sells, what doesn’t, and how many items you have in stock for the next event. This is the #1 reason why the “Sell Now” feature on the Sell on Etsy App is going to be your best friend if you are an on-the-go artist or craftswoman with work listed on Etsy. Are you going to hand write each and every sale in a ledger book at your event or type it into an Excel document in between customers? Doubtful, and if you are, you’re wasting valuable face time with potential customers.

“Sell Now” Feature

Art shows can get hectic and it seems like everyone wants to buy something all at once. “Sell Now” through Sell on Etsy is awesome for this reason, because it allows you to track your inventory on a real-time basis as you complete the sale, whether cash or credit. Screen shots below illustrate the simple, beautiful and easy to navigate app:

Menu for "Sell Now" feature on Sell on Etsy App for iPhone

Menu for “Sell Now” feature on Sell on Etsy App for iPhone

Screenshot from Quick Sale mode

Screenshot from Quick Sale mode

etsy6

Adding new sale items

If you’re on the road often or in between functioning computers, adding new sale items through the Sell on Etsy App is even faster and easier to use than listing through the website on a desktop computer. I often shoot photos of my work during the daytime, edit them later, and then can’t contain my excitement long enough to open my laptop…so I start adding my items on the phone app in between checking my Instagram and Pinterest feeds before I fall asleep.

Analytics

It’s like Christmas morning when you can wake up and check your Sell on Etsy app for your website’s analytics. While you’ll need to check the website from a computer for detailed analytics such as breakdown of web traffic visitors and search terms that landed shoppers on your page, you can view daily, weekly, and monthly visits, listing and shop favorites, reviews, and sale information on the Sell on Etsy app.

Etsy shop history screenshot from my shop

Etsy shop history screenshot from my shop

Screenshot of my shop. I sure would like to get these numbers higher

Screenshot of my shop traffic for last week

Growth of Mobile App Usage amongst shoppers

One of the reasons it is so important to choose a social media-based e-commerce site that offers a great user experience with their mobile app is because the use of apps on smartphones and tablets is exploding. 80% of the time consumers spend visiting a retail site on mobile is through an app, according to ComScore’s Gian Fulgoni. A September 2013 study proves that Etsy is hanging with the big boys in this category, with 29% of its 20 million unique visits coming from the mobile app. Etsy does a great job of providing visitor origin information and includes the mobile app data as well. Screen shots from my shop highlighting traffic from the Etsy app:

stats3

stats4

Screenshot of traffic for a specific listing from last week, including 13 of 36 visits coming from the Etsy app.

stats2

Traffic sources to my Etsy page, ranked.

Etsy isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely right for me, my cousin, my aunt, and Snooki!

Want to set up your own Etsy shop? Here are 40 free product listings, from me to you!

If you’d hurt yourself with a glue gun but love to shop arts and crafts, here is $5 to spend on Etsy!

The Zero Dollar Art Show: Utilizing Social Media and Alternative Space to Sell Your Work

Curating your own DIY art show doesn’t have to be complicated OR expensive. In fact, you might be surprised at how easy it is display and sell your artwork for no cost to a solid audience of art lovers. Finding an alternative space to display and sell your work (and your friends’ work!) and using social media to promote the event are the two key ingredients you need to maximize profit at your Zero Dollar Art Show. 

CONNECT WITH A LOCAL BUSINESS 

Do you have a friend that works at an independent coffee shop, restaurant or bar? Talk to them about hanging your work and having a have a show opening. You can also check with the owners of businesses you are a patron of. For example, I had already built a mutually beneficial relationship with the owners of the nearby bar by painting seasonal artwork onto their windows in exchange for some of their goods (ok, ok, a few free beers). They were happy to host my event and run drink specials for the evening! Whether you can offer graphic design or photography, your artistic talent is sure to be a valuable resource for your business partner.

 PRE-PROMOTION THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

Create a Facebook Event. This is what really gets the bodies through the door. You’ll want to do this about 2-3 weeks in advance. Make sure the event is public, and that the page has an attractive custom photo for the background. Be sure to include links to the artists’ websites and online storefronts. Be specific about the date, time, location; food or drink specials; anything that makes the night unique. All participants should invite their friends and share the event on Facebook. You can make sure the invitees see your event pop up in their feed after the initial invitation is sent by having the participating artists post photos of their works in progress onto the event page. This generates excitement in the days leading up to the show. Unless someone has turned off notifications for the event, this will pop up in the feed of everyone who has been invited so they don’t forget. Check back every day, and you’ll see that RSVP YES number inch upwards every time someone posts!

photo 1(1)

Encourage your participants to post pictures of what they’re working on to the Facebook event in the days leading up to the event. This generates excitement and reminds people of the show

Post on Instagram. Because art shows rely heavily on visuals, this is super important for artists to use to pre-promote the show. Pick a short, memorable, yet unique hashtag for your event that you and your fellow participants can use when they put up pictures of projects they are working on or of artwork they are going to display. People will be able to find your event easier before, during, and after the show with this. Make sure to include it on any graphics promoting the show info as the “official” hashtag, and include it in your Facebook event and/or blog post. Tag people on these photos that you think would enjoy your show, and tag the artists participating as well. Not everyone is going to comment or like, but just know that they are definitely looking.

Post on Twitter. Use the same hashtag across social media sites for continuity, and use it every time you talk about the event. You can tweet links to your artist’s websites, and pictures before and during the event to ramp up interest with your followers. You will also want to “mention” (@) local community, news, or art accounts. If they think your event is cool, chances are they’ll retweet it for you. Share the Facebook event link on Twitter and watch your “going” number grow even higher.

OTHER TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL ZERO-DOLLAR ART SHOW: 

-Try a group show first. This will maximize your number of visitors.
-Partner with a local print shop. Ask them to print posters and postcards for free in exchange for their logo or a coupon on the flyer, and mentions on your social media accounts.
-Get your friends involved. A friend in the beginning stages of a food or music career might want to set up at your event as well. They can entertain or feed people, and make a few bucks too. Anything that adds spice to the event is always a plus!
-Have realistic price points. It’s great to have some bigger pieces to showcase your talent, but smaller, functional, less expensive work tends to sell easier depending on your audience.
Let the Bodies Fill the Room!

Let the Bodies Fill the Room! #artistsofthekeep

Need help planning your art event? Feel free to reach out to me!