When I first started exhibiting my work about a year ago, I knew that I would eventually have to dip my toe in the sea of social media if I was to produce sales online. Being that it is the start of a new year, I thought why not setup a little experiment and see just how social media can “bring home the bacon”. So I learnt as much as I could about social media – what it is and how it could help me with my art. Social media is essentially a category of online media where people are talking, sharing, participating, networking and bookmarking online. Examples of this new media are blogs, internet forums, podcasts, social bookmarking, picture-sharing and social networking sites just to name a few. There are so many out there with new sources added daily. So how was this supposed to help me with my art career? The answer is simple – all of these provide me with incredible exposure to masses. Exactly what I needed if I was to sell art beyond the city limits of Kelowna……so my experiment begins. Here are a few I have tried so far and the results I have seen….
I have been on facebook for about 4 years now. I found it a great tool for meeting new people, connecting with long, lost friends and sharing pictures with family and friends. I had never thought about marketing my art through facebook. So when I launched my website about a year ago, I decided to post my art on my personal facebook page as well. I set up a photo album called “Portfolio” and added digital pictures of my art. This worked out well as I was able to get some great exposure and generate some sales. I even managed to get a few collectors out of it! Then I found out in December of 2009 that facebook frowns on people who try to market products/services through their personal facebook page. And found out that I may be shut down if I continue to market my art this way. Oops! So I have since taken off the prices of my art on my portfolio page. They are there to simply look at now. However, facebook does offer a great alternative to businesses and a way to market their products. Set up a FAN PAGE! This way you can set up a page specifically for your business. Here’s a link to help set up a fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php) It’s super easy….just follow the steps. You must have a facebook account to do this. You can fill in all of your business info and post pictures of your products. It’s like a virtual business card and more. I like this option because it really ZEROS IN on your target audience. Anyone can add themselves to your fan page even if they are not on your friends list thereby growing your customer base. And, unlike your personal page, the pictures you post will be seen by people who actually want to see your art, your fans! It’s been a great resource for me. I already have 137 fans and I just started the page a few weeks ago.
Well, I’ll be honest, I have never been much of a blog reader. I never felt I had time to read blogs. I should be painting, right? Well, YES….and NO. Yes, you should be spending your valuable time painting and creating. But what about the business side of your art? Blogs are traffic magnets and can bring people to your website and hopefully bring you some sales. I started a blog just a few weeks ago and already I am seeing major hits on my website. If you are like me and am not sure what to write about…try the topics outlined in this blog post by Barney Davey (http://www.artprintissues.com/2009/08/last-summer-repost-52-blog-topics-for-artists-get-started-now.html). There are a lot of great topics and I am sure that you will find one that you can relate too. For me, I have decided to write about my personal journey as an emerging artist. There are not a lot of resources on the internet for someone starting out as an artist. And I thought why not share with everyone what I am going through to pursue my dream. From time to time, I am sure that I will be ranting about my frustrations on working full time, raising a family and trying to pursue my dream (I am sure that article will be called “What was I thinking???”). But none the less it will also be about the things I have tried to get where I want to be….like marketing, art shows, approaching galleries, etc. All in all, write about what you know. Blogs are easy to create. I have heard that wordpress is the best one out there and the most flexible when adding your content, pictures, etc. To open an wordpress blog, go here (http://en.wordpress.com/signup/ ).
Twitter – www.twitter.com/thenewbieartist
Twitter is a valuable tool to tap into an amazing community of people from around the world to see what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing. It’s a great resource to find out what you should write in your blogs. Find out what people are talking about and include it in your blog. In return, it’s also a great way to bring exposure to your blogs, websites, etc. Here are some great tips for those twitter newbies (like myself!) http://www.twitip.com/10-easy-steps-for-twitter-beginners/.
Flickr is a free online photo and video hosting website. The benefit of using this free file sharing site are massive. Flickr asks photo submitters to organize images using tags, which allow searchers to find images related to particular topics, such as place names or subject matter. Once an internet searcher finds your images you can then drive them back to your website. This site is just another way for you to get free traffic to your site, helping to promote your art. It is easy to get started with Flickr. Go to www.flickr.com, click on the “Create Your Account” button and enter your Yahoo email address and password. Once you are a member of Flickr you can start uploading your videos and photos to share with your friends and the world.
Imagekind – http://www.imagekind.com/goodon_poster
Imagekind is the world’s first hybrid art gallery – offering a photo-sharing experience along with a POD (Print on Demand) service. Print on Demand is the name given to the process of producing high quality fine art prints or canvases according to specific, individual requirements. You upload your art to Imagekind’s website and in turn the customer chooses which ones they would like to make prints of. Prints can be made in photo quality papers or canvas as well they can choose to frame their print with over 160 frames to choose from. Also, you can set your markup on each piece you sell giving you control over what you earn. I uploaded the majority of my photos a few weeks ago. I have not made any sales yet but I do know of a few artists that have had success with this website.
I have found that just by utilizing these social media tools I have increased my website traffic substantially. I was getting on average 10-12 hits/day on my website before. Now I get anywhere from 30-35 hits/day because I am increasing my online presence. In eight short days, I have received 157 hits, more than I ever have in one month! How did I do this? By linking these social media tools back to my central hub, my website. Has it “brought home the bacon” yet? Well, it’s only been a few short weeks….but I will keep you posted! There are so many social media tools out there. I have also heard great things about LinkedIn, Bebo and Ning which I am also wanting to test out in the near future. The experiment continues!
What social media tools do you use? What have you found to bring in the most traffic? Sales? Exposure?