Sunday, 5 July 2009

Social Networking For Artists

There is a plethora of social selling sites available for artists to showcase their work and most, unlike eBay, target a specific audience. If you are not familiar with social selling sites, and I'll hazard a guess that this is the minority, then take a look at Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda, Misi, Coriandr and Artfire. (Please add any that I have missed to the comments).

But, if you choose to sell on these types of sites you are not going to make many sales unless you are willing to invest some time in building up relationships - that's the "social" side of these sites. I recently delivered a seminar on internet selling and listed the different ways you can draw people to your on-line shop - Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, My Space, Flickr, Indiepublic, blogging.... did I miss any? I looked at the faces of my audience and about 20% were looking at me as if to say, Wha'....? Exactly. If you are not prepared to invest some time in promoting your on-line business then social selling is not for you, and there's no shame in that.







But blogging is, in my opinion (feel free to disagree) the second most effective way to drive traffic to your on-line shop or website. The first is to build relationships in the forums of the selling sites. People like to read insights into the person behind the business and look at colourful images, find out how things are made, share experiences. The only down-side is thinking about what to type - but this comes with practice, the more you talk about the easier it becomes to think up new stuff.


A short guide to Blogging
What is a blog? A blog is a free internet site that gives you the opportunity to publish your own words. Most people will use a blog as an on-line diary but it can also be used to promote, sell, discuss, campaign, moan and publicise. It is used by a whole range of people including journalists, political groups, media groups, social groups, subversive groups, idiots and well dodgy people!

What makes a blog? People out there in cyberspace create blogs for hundreds of reasons. Take a look at these examples I picked at random:


Pamela Angus
Kerala Life and Thoughts
Dolphin & Whale News

Some blogs are so specialist that only a tiny minority will ever read them whereas others are global and have a huge following. But blogs have one advantage over websites – they are free. Although it has its limitations a blog costs nothing but time. You don’t have to pay someone to host it, design or update it and you are not limited to how much you can post on your blog.

Creating a blog. There are several blog businesses out there but I am only familiar with Blogger so I can only help you with this particular site. As Blogger was bought by Google you will need to create a
Google account using your own email address. Google accounts, like Yahoo, are free and you can receive and send email with your Google (Gmail) account. First log onto Blogger

and there will be a screen to help you set up the account. Next Blogger will take you through the step by step process of creating your blog. Before you create your blog think about the following practicalities:
Title.
Introduction.
Profile.
Links.
Advertisements?
Slideshows?
Apart from the name of your blog address, which you cannot change, anything else, including the title, can be altered, updated and deleted by you. Don’t like the font? You can change it. Background? Change it. Which colour would you like to choose for your text, background, links, headings, subheadings, borders, side bar titles etc? Blogger can do it.

Does and Don’ts of Posting. Once you have set up your blog you are ready to start posting. Here are some tips about making entries to your blog.
- Do insert at least one image for every post. Blogs about artists for artists are boring without visuals.
- Do check your spelling – typos make poor reading.
- Do avoid writing anything slanderous or libelous. They can get back at you by bombarding you with comments and dissing you on their own blogs.
- Please respect the copyright laws as it is easier for “copiers” and plagiarists to be discovered. People WILL and DO sue!
- When posting images of your work protect your intellectual property rights by adding “The images (or paintings etc) are the sole property of the artist. Please respect the artist’s copyright”.
- Do add links to your posts and also on the side bar too. By swapping links with others you will increase your visibility on the web.
- Do not use profane language or your blog will be blocked from some sites.
- Use the tags for each post wisely because search engines pick up on them therefore tags are a useful tool.
- Decide whether you want viewers to be able to comment on your blog. You can set the comments so that you can check them for suitability before you publish them.

Blogging Extras. Now you have a blog who is going to read it? Well no-one unless you tell them about it. There are a gazillion blogs out there floating in cyberspace but only a fraction are read. You need to find ways to get your blog noticed and, once noticed, to keep a balance of first time viewers and return visitors.
Consider the following: who do you WANT to read your blog? Why do you want them to read it? Where will you find these people?

Working on the basis that publicity is FREE and advertising is what you PAY for I have the following suggestions:
Registering with Search Engines – it can take up to six months for a search engines, such as Google, to pick up your site. There is a site that will add you to all the search engines
Dogpile.

Joining Chat Rooms and Social Networking Sites – specialist sites, such as Indiepublic, are useful tools to promote and meet other artists. They are also time consuming.
Blog Group sites – such as
Bloggernity and My Zimbio are social networks for bloggers. You will be able to view all sorts of arts and gallery blogs. They will be able to view you too.
Art Listings sites – such as Axisartists and The Saatchi Gallery are useful for free publicity.
Gallery websites and artists’ websites – ask if they will add you as a link if you add them as a link.
Business cards and articles for newspapers and magazines, both on-line and hard copy, will increase your exposure.
Advertising – you can add Google Adsense to your site. It is free but it takes Google some time to pick up what your site is about. Then they will paste ads on your site for galleries or art suppliers. Each time someone clicks on them from your site will increase your exposure. If you get enough clicks and then set up an account, you could get paid too! But there is no such thing as a free lunch – you have to pay a fee for payable Adsense and it can prove costly.
Site Counters
Bravenet will give you a site counter for free. It is a very useful tool to help you measure the number of views you received daily and can also break it down into new and returning visitors. If you just get the basic counter you don’t need to pay for extras.



This article is the sole property of Jo Whitehead. Please respect the author’s intellectual rights. Do not copy or reproduce this article in any format.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jo, for another interesting and useful article - I think you're right in saying that it does get easier tho my main difficulty is still trying to find things to blog about that don't just sound like a myfuroshiki sales pitch.

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  2. Made it Myself.com is also a notable social selling site. I've been a seller there since March and the community is super friendly and supportive of each other.

    ps- Thank you for this article! I saw your post on Indiepublic; glad I found your blog :)

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  3. Thank you for taking the time to post that. Even if you've been blogging for a while it's really usefull to be reminded of how to get your blog out there.....read and therefore working for you.

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  4. Thank you for your article! It is so helpful. I have been struggling to focus the markets. I sell my work on Etsy but I see that there is good potential on Japanese market too, which is my home country. I started blogging in Japanese for communicating Japanese customer..I hope it helps my business...

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  5. Thank you for posting. It is so useful to me as new blogger.

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  6. You are certainly right about the hours...and hours...and hours involved in maintaining a blog. Thanks for all your tips and your time!

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