Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Social Networking for Artists

Article by Angela Capesius

 So you decided that you want to begin selling your art online? Good for you! If you are not a tech-savvy person though, selling and showcasing your art online can seem like a daunting task. Not to worry - creating a plan and doing research helps smooth the way. With these simple and effective tips you can create your online profile and begin reaching out to your audience.

For starters, there are essentially two different types of websites that you’ll use: networking websites and sales website. Networking websites are essential networking platforms that will assist in gaining popularity among your target audience. Sales websites are platforms that will assist in actual sales of your art. These two platforms should be used in unison and work best when they are hyperlinked together - one site directs viewers to the other site and vice versa. In fact, the content (information you provide about yourself and art on both types of sites) should match one another -- this will help with your brand.

  1. Sell Yourself.  You, as an artist, need to assume that anyone who comes across your art online has no idea who you are or what your art is about. Show your audience how much you believe in yourself. Create an online profile of yourself that sums up your inspirations, your creativity, your techniques, your passion, and yourself. This profile will be featured on several different online outlets. Be genuine and relatable to your target audience. If words are not your forte, ask a friend to help or hire a professional writer. Think of this online profile as a first impression, you only get one – and you’d like it to count!  
  2. Join Online Sites. There are several websites that you can simply and effectively showcase and sell your art while using the websites popularity to reach out to a large audience. Take time to consider where your art will fit in and what type of audience are you hoping to sell to. Some sites will charge a flat rate while others will take a percentage of sales. Be sure to carefully choose which sites you connect with, make sure they are reputable and credible sites that will not damage your reputation you are working so hard to build. Also, be weary of the prices that these platforms charge. Just because they charge a lot doesn’t mean they will result in sales. 
  3. Social Media. Social media has the potential to be a very powerful tool, possibly the most important online tool, if it is used correctly. You can use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, to name a few, to reach out and connect with your target audience. One of the most important aspects of social media is to engage your audience while giving them the ability to reach out and connect with you. By using this outlet you will allow your audience to get to know you better as an artist. Encourage your clients and fans to share your posts of information along to their network, which is the beauty of social media. Look into different social media websites and find the ones that best fit your needs as an artist keeping in mind that social media sites target specific audiences. 
  4. Blog. A blog is an important tool to utilize to keep your online profile up to date. A blog is different than social media because it gives you the space to share and go in to depth a bit more than you would on social media. On social media sites, you want to keep things short and to the point but a blog gives you the freedom to share your thoughts, process, or inspirations. A blog is great way to share upcoming events, works-in-progress, or even show your process and methods. The beauty of a blog is that it is a space that you can share what you choose. You can link your blog to social media sites so that you are allowing your audience to use each of your outlets. Some popular and free hosts that offer blog publishing services are Blogger and Wordpress. 
  5. Mailing List. A mailing list can be a very useful tool if used moderately. One very important reason is to reach your audience with important information and announcements. If you are not a frequent blogger you can offer an email subscription that will alert your readers when new posts are available. A mailing list can be especially useful to promote showcases and gallery viewing information to fans that may not use social media sites or do not use them often. A mailing list is also a fun way to reach out to your network during holidays and events.
  6. Online Portfolio. Keeping an online portfolio that clients can easily access is important. The online gallery can be either a website or blog. Devote space on either (or both) just for this portfolio. Potential clients need to be able to easily access your work. Think of your gallery as a preliminary sales platform to show and promote your pieces. Your art must be photographed well when you showcase it online. Hire a professional photographer, if you are able, if not, follow the tips on ART278.org about how to photograph your art beautifully.  
  7. Website. Every professional needs to have a website. This is a space where you can link all of these different sources together. A website is also very likely to come up if someone were to enter your name or business in a search engine. One of the most important aspects of a website is to keep it up to date. If you are not capable of managing a website yourself there are several companies that can do that for you. Hiring someone to create your website is also something to consider, it is a great investment into yourself as an artist and to your business. Your website can also be where your pieces can be purchased, or list information on how to purchase. If investing in a company to design it for you is out of the question (for now … until you become the next Picasso) then use a website host that has simple design tools so you can put it together yourself. It’s easier that you may imagine – give it a try! 
  8. Reach Out. Reach out to local libraries, art galleries, or other potential venues to display or promote your art in any way. This will not only increase your local recognition as an artist but it will allow you to use their online presence to your advantage. It’s a win-win for both parties involved. If you are contacted by an art gallery or organization overseas, thoroughly research who they are, how long they have been in business, find the press releases written about previous exhibits, etc. It may be tempting to do business with a gallery in New York City, for example, but may find out that the gallery simply takes advantage of artists by overcharging them without promoting their art. 

You can use as many or as few of the tips as you like. If you do one or two of the above tips and see a significantly positive response then do not feel obligated to do the rest - yet. Having an online presence is important for growing your business but always remember the importance of face-to-face communication.
I wish you success as you grow your art business! Good luck!

Article by Angela Capesius
Featured in Women in Art 278 Magazine
July 2014 issue

Click to read the full issue online
Click to buy a copy of the magazine

Credit: Leverage - leveragenewagemedia.com