Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Advice for promoting and selling your art online

Below are some suggestions on how to improve your online presence-- these suggestions can be helpful in planning your strategy for promoting and selling art online:

1. Post links to your art!

Include a link to the art site(s) that you are using on every profile that you have-- every site that you are involved with. For example, if you have a profile on www.myspace.com or www.facebook.com make sure to include links to the sites where your artwork can be found. Thus, if you have an account on www.myartspace.com be sure to include that link on your Facebook or Myspace profile. If you are managing a New York Art Exchange (www.nyaxe.com) store from your myartspace account be sure to include your store link on those sites as well.

You will also want to include a link to your art on every post that you make-- be it a blog entry or comment on social networking sites. Be sure to include links on any email message you send or reply to. You can even use html code in order to place something like 'View My Art Here' or 'Buy My Art Here' on your profiles so that people will click on 'View My Art Here' or 'Buy My Art' in order to be taken to the site you desire people to view.

2. Build multiple online networks to promote your art!

Build networks on sites like Myspace and Facebook. By building networks on several social networking sites you will be able to use each of those sites as a vehicle for your art. Most of these sites will allow you to send links to several people at once in the form of bulletins, shared links, or group messages. Take advantage of that! However, don’t abuse it. You don’t want the site to mistake you for a spammer nor do you want to annoy people. Sending a weekly update about your development as an artist will suffice. If you are selling art online you may want to inform your networks of new listings. Maintaining social networks is a great way to reach hundreds or thousands of people at once.

3. Write about your art!

Use a service like www.blogger.com or www.livejournal.com in order to create a blog/journal about your art. Post entries about your art, exhibits that you will be involved with, and your thoughts about the direction of your work-- include links to your artwork on every entry that you make be it a comment to another user or a journal entry about what you ate last night. Do the same on any art site that you are involved with if they offer blogs or journals. As mentioned before, it is always good to end an entry with your name followed by the links you desire to promote.

Remember that you don't always have to write about yourself. Anything you mention in an entry can help improve your placement in search engines. If you associate yourself with a specific artist, style, or movement be sure to write about that and the connection you feel that you have. By doing that your name may show up on searches for those respected influences on search engines like Google. Again, by including your name and links to your art on these entries you will greatly improve your search placement. In other words, each entry will help improve your online presence. Remember that establishing your online presence will improve your chance of selling art online.

4. Alternative press is a good thing-- Seek it!

Seek out art zines that may feature your work online. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these to discover-- and don't dismiss art blogs! As you can tell by my interviews(www.myartspace.com/interviews) artists from all walks of life and stages of career have found value in what bloggers, such as myself, can provide as far as exposure is concerned. I've interviewed artists who are virtually unknown and artists who have had their work sell for over a million dollars at auction. These artists may not share artistic direction or financial status, but they all share an acknowledgment of what online exposure can accomplish and a desire for the recognition that the Internet can provide.

Many art bloggers will be more than happy to make a post about your art if you contact them. Sure, you may desire to be covered by a major art magazine... but until that day comes-- if it comes --the art blogosphere is the next best thing-- if not the best! An art blog article, review, or interview can bring a continuous flow of traffic to your website for years to come if you include links to your art. In other words, an article about your art on an art blog will most likely be viewed by more people than an article about your art in a magazine. Recognition is just a few clicks away! The times have changed.

5. Combine efforts, work together with fellow artists!

Forming an alliance of sorts with like-minded artists can benefit you greatly as far as online exposure is concerned. If you admire the art of your friends be sure to include a link to their work on your profiles and make sure that they do the same. Working together you may decide to create a profile, blog, or website that represents all of the artists involved in the group. A page that includes links to each respected members art is of great value-- especially if each member includes that link along with their personal art links when posting on the sites they are involved with.

Art groups have popped up all over the net alongside self-declared art movements. Artists unified under a common goal-- in many cases exposure for each member --have worked with great success on auction sites and other online resources. There are other benefits to a union like this... for example, if you are unable to find time to go online you will know that your name is still being spread by your friends. Gaining exposure online can sometimes be a battle... it may very well be a fight that is best not fought alone.

6. Find the time to promote your art online!

Some individuals feel that the Internet is an addiction best left avoided. However, if you want to gain exposure for you art-- both online and offline --you really need to find enough time to promote yourself. Spend some time each day posting links to your art, uploading images of your art, commenting on the work of others and building networks on the sites you are involved with. A half hour of concentrated promotion of your art each day will really pay off as the years go by. After-all, you can't build your online presence if you are not online.

One of the best ways to promote your art online is to maintain a blog that is focused on your artistic practice and interest. If you are actively writing about your art on a blog you will be able to take advantage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In other words, you will increase your chances of being indexed by search engines. Again, this is time well spent.

7. Avoid throwing money away on 'how-to' art marketing books!

Don't waste your time and money on 'how-to' books that are focused on gaining exposure for your art online. I'm sure there might be some that are worth your time and cash, but I've yet to find any. That money is better spent elsewhere for your online marketing/exposure efforts. For example, you could spend the money on website construction or a premium account on www.myartspace.com. There are many online art communities... find the one that works best for you.

I've mentioned my dislike for 'how-to' art marketing publications in the past and have received some delightfully angry responses from authors of these types of books. Why do I say to avoid them? Because they are often over-priced for the information they contain-- information that is often not current with the times and that contains 'helpful' links that are no longer active... which is not very helpful at all-- especially when a $19.95 price-tag is involved!

I take this position because if you do a Yahoo or Google search for 'art marketing advice' or 'gaining exposure for your art online' you will most likely discover everything mentioned in these books and more-- for free. True, those books may contain personal experiences that the author has had researching (note, researching) online marketing and exposure tactics, but more often than not you will discover that the author is not an artist and therefore has not had any direct experience marketing or gaining exposure for art online.

Many of these books are also written by authors who have a business motive hidden within the pages of their book-- that being their $100+ per month art consultant service which is often mentioned in one of the final chapters. This is why I take a hard stance against these books and in many cases their authors-- and before you say that I have a motive note that I make it very clear that I write for www.myartspace.com. Also note that you did not have to pay $19.95 to discover that fact. Also remember that membership on myartspace is free. Premium service on myartspace is just an option.

Instead of buying a collection of art marketing books you would be better off researching online art marketing and exposure on your own. Discussing marketing and exposure tactics with other artists that you meet online is also a great way to discover free information about promoting your art online. The only thing it will cost you is the price of internet connection and time.

In closing, there are many things you can do to promote your art online. Each step can improve your chances of selling art online. This includes, creating free accounts on every art site that offers free membership, creating a blog or two about your art, using social networking sites to build a network, posting links to your art on art forums, and if you must invest money, invest it in a personal website or paid-membership on an art site that you deem worthy of your hard earned bucks.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
www.myartspace.com

4 comments:

hjmart said...

Good article! I agree about the books. Tried to read a few and not too much information was provided. Some information was outdated and not very useful today.

Would love my art to be reviewed by you. Feel free to contact me any time :)

http://hjmart.etsy.com

Helen
HJM Art Gallery

Anonymous said...

RE. #7
You lost all credibility by pushing your web art service.
Did you once even mention in your article that artists would be better off with their own website and domain name?
It is much cheaper, offers more possibilities for design and use, one is not lost in the crowd of other vanity art websites, one can put hundreds if not thousands of works of art on their website, will be included in Google and other web search engines and creates more of a brand for the artist.

www.colorbakery.com said...

Wonderful post, Brian. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I couldn't agree more with your sage advice; throw the "how to" books away and get online and start promoting your work, pounding the cyber pavement. I've never been written up in the Sunday Times Magazine, but I do pay our mortgage with my art, and I couldn't have done that without the web.

Warmly,
Mindy

Balhatain said...

Anon, said “You lost all credibility by pushing your web art service. Did you once even mention in your article that artists would be better off with their own website and domain name?”

Keep in mind that this is the Myartspace Blog, the official blog for myartspace.com. I'm the Senior Editor for the site. So yes, I will promote the site on the official blog. That goes without saying.

I have talked about the need for having a personal website in the past. Also, if you look at my interview series you will notice that I always mention their personal website at the end if they have one. The need is obvious.

However, there is also a need to promote personal websites on social networking sites. The simple fact is that social networks tend to receive more traffic than a personal website-- so it never hurts to have your personal website listed on a few networks. Especially if those communities are free to join.


Anon said, “It is much cheaper, offers more possibilities for design and use, one is not lost in the crowd of other vanity art websites, one can put hundreds if not thousands of works of art on their website, will be included in Google and other web search engines and creates more of a brand for the artist.”

A personal website can be cheap, true. However, it can be difficult to maintain or design if you are not tech savvy. So I will not agree that it is the best option as far as money goes-- at least in some situations.

For example, I know artists who have paid thousands to have a site designed and who pay a few hundred every time something goes wrong. I also know artists who have had personal websites created by art site builders who charge up to $300 per month, again per month, for their service.

As for uploading art, there are social art sites and other social networking sites that allow unlimited uploading. For example, myartspace.com allows all members to upload as many images as they want, videos as they want, and create as many galleries as they want for free. Keep in mind that myartspace is free to join.

I will say that some social art sites only allow unlimited uploading if the member has a paid subscription. At myartspace.com we don't limit-- or should I say restrict-- our members in that way. All members, free or Premium, can upload as many images as they want and create as many galleries as they want to promote themselves.