Sometimes for an artist, as with any other profession or lifestyle, one finds it necessary to do some gardening.
What do I mean by that?
Well, as any gardener knows, a weed is really just a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to. There is nothing inherently wrong with this plant, many weeds are beautiful wildflowers, and many are useful to humans and animals alike. However, if you have a plan for a garden that calls for tomatoes to grow in this particular patch of earth, and instead you find dandelions and grass, you decide to take action.
That is the place I found myself in today. I belonged to artist group on Facebook that was supposed to help artists figure out how to market their work. However, the group was generally not that helpful. Several times I posted links to my website asking for advice on the appearance and structure of the website, and found myself not only not getting helpful answers, but also having it implied that I was just trying to promote myself on the group.
Well, why would I promote myself to other artists who are all trying to market their own art? I was simply asking for help, which was the stated purpose of the group, help with marketing.
If today’s incidents had been the first problems, I would have shrugged it off, apologized for my “mistake”, and moved on. But it’s happened before, it seems like any attempt to share any part of your own experience on that group is viewed as self promotion and is against the rules. I am not one to make trouble, and I am not one to knowingly violate the rules, but with this group I just seemed to not be able to understand how they wanted things done. I grew weary of innocent requests for help being removed from the group wall, and I began to wonder what was the point of belonging to the group if I couldn’t ask for help.
I decided that trying to figure out what was allowed and not allowed on the group was simply more a cause of stress to me than it was a help.
In the garden of my life, unnecessary stress is a dandelion in my tomato patch.
So, like any smart gardener, I decided to tend my garden and pull that weed. Now, I don’t have any hard feelings toward the group or the administrator. Like a dandelion, which is beautiful at the right time, and in the right place, and can be useful for certain purposes, this group is good for some people in some circumstances. But also like a dandelion, you don’t want it in your tomato patch.
Right now in my life, this dandelion was growing in my tomatoes. So I left the group.
Hopefully, nobody there thinks I have anything against them, I’m just busy growing tomatoes!
Synopsis of part 1: My dear husband and I discussed what a blog was in general. I also began explaining what an art blog was specifically. The conversation ended with him asking why I needed a blog specifically for art, which I didn’t answer at that time. I answer that question here, not just for him, but for anyone who wants to read.
So decided it would be good to explain here the “why” of having a blog for art. Obviously, the first reason is to share my art. I mean most artists don’t create art in the hopes that nobody ever lays eyes on it, we create it to share. We want others to see it, we hope they will like it, we hope they will get pleasure from it, or understand the message we tried to convey with it. Even if they don’t care for it, we hope they will see it and come away with a little more understanding of what we were trying to say.
So an art blog provides the artist with a way to share their art, but this answer begs the question, “Why a blog specifically for art? Why not just a general blog, or sharing to Facebook or other social media?”
There are a few answers to this. First, not everyone has, or wants, a personal blog. Many artists don’t feel any particular inclination to write, and especially not about their personal lives. However, making a blog with the primary purpose of sharing art is something that benefits the artist, without requiring that they pour out details about the happenings of their day.
A second answer is that many who have a personal blog share more on it than they want the average stranger to read. They only share their blog with a selection of people. A blog specifically for art can be shared with the general public. The artist only shares those parts of their lives that directly impacts their art. This means that people who are really only interested in the art don’t have to be bored with the story of what aunt Martha bought the kids for Christmas. It also means that the readers of the personal blog can receive an abbreviated tale of the art related stuff, along with a link to the art blog if they want to know more.
Third, the art blog is a place to offer art for sale, while the personal one is a place for friends. The readers of the art blog can get to know the artist in a limited way that relates to art, and they don’t need to know every single detail. For an artist who sells their art, it is a business as well as a passion and hobby. Like any business, there needs to be some separation between the business and the personal life. How would you feel if your friend sold cars and every time you saw them they started a sales pitch about the newest great deal on their lot? How would you feel if your doctor came into the exam room and started telling you about his marital problems? No, there needs to a separation, and when there isn’t it makes the business person look unprofessional and the friend look fake and pushy.
Another example of this need of separation is politics. On my personal blog I often state my political points of view. If I am trying sell art, I want to avoid alienating potential customers because they may hold a different view than I do. On my art blog, I don’t post about politics, unless one of my pieces of art touches on a political issue, which most do not.
Now, that isn’t to say that I never post any images of my art to Facebook, I have, but when I do I am aware that people can download it, copy it, print it, even use it in ads, and legally I can’t really do anything about it, because when I agreed to Facebook’s terms of service, I agreed that Facebook could do whatever they wanted with pictures I uploaded. I have guidelines over what and how I upload things to Facebook, which I’ll share sometime in another article. For now I’ll just say that Facebook isn’t the best place to upload your art if you want to be able to sell or license that art yourself. So, Facebook can be good place to post links to your blog, and to develop some interest in your work, but its best if as a professional you have your own space, where you control what is posted, what is shared, and who is invited.
An art blog can also be tied to your art website, such as this one is. I blog about my experiences with and thoughts about art on the blogging tab, but I have a landing page with a slideshow of some of my art, and a gallery tab where people can buy the art. This website is still under construction, so I haven’t added anywhere near all of my art, and I plan to add more tabs also, such as a “contact the artist” tab, and perhaps a “commissions order” tab.
On an art blog you can also run contests, post how to videos, and almost anything else you want to do related to your art, while with social media you are limited by their terms. I would like to add though, that if you use a free blogging service sometimes you are limited to their terms as well. In general, the free blogging sites aren’t as restrictive as the social media sites though, and they can be a good place to start your blogging experience. However, free sites do have their limits, and eventually you may find that its best to move to your own website, with your own domain name and hosting service.
A fourth reason for an art blog is that it allows the art collector, or potential art collector, to connect with the artist. It allows the collector to feel that they know the artist as a person, while still keeping enough distance to feel professional.
So to recap, the reasons for an art blog are:
1. To have a place to share your art.
2. To help keep business and personal life separate.
3. An art blog can be your virtual “storefront” where you sell your creations while still maintaining legal control of them.
4. An art blog lets a collector connect to the artist, but in a way that is limited enough to still remain professional.
There might be other reasons as well, that I haven’t thought of, but these are the reasons that stand out to me most, and that I’ll share with my husband the next time we speak of this.
“You started a what?” He asked, looking confused, then turned his attention back to his cup of coffee.
“Another blog.” I said, wondering why it seemed like I was always repeating myself.
“Since when do you have a blog, and why do need another one, and what exactly is a blog anyway?”
“Well, a blog is kind of like a journal, except it’s on the internet, and usually anyone can read it. It comes from the words “web” and “log”, you know web, as in the world-wide web, and log… as in…”
“Captains log, Stardate 41855.2…” he interrupted in his best Captain Picard voice, “I know what a log is!”
At this point in the conversation, I felt like this:
But I didn’t remark on that. Instead I continued.
“Okay, so a blog is a log on the internet, and I’ve had one for a couple of years, where have you been? Anyway, I need another one because my first one is a personal blog, in it I tell about homeschooling, trying to lose weight, what I’m making for dinner, or where we went on a date. The new blog I started is an Art Blog.”
“Don’t you post your art on your personal blog?”
“Well yes, but this blog will just be for art, and art related stuff.”
“Oh, Okay. Why?”
At this point in the conversation, my husband and I looked a little like this:
So I decided it was best to continue the conversation another time.
*The preceding conversation is fictional, but is being used to convey true facts, I had to say that or my husband would object!
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Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.
My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to sign them before shipping! Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.
Yesterday, my desires were fairly simple, I wanted to go to work, and after work I wanted to come home and color my hair, and then practice painting clouds on paper until I was either happy with them, or until I became too frustrated to continue.
Well I went to work.
After work I felt really tired, and so none of the other stuff happened. That was okay, I accomplished something else, you see, I’ve really been thinking about how to get my art “out there” more. I mean, I am still learning, still improving, and I’m sure in time my art will be better and attract even more buyers, but much of my the work I’ve already created is perfectly saleable. The only reason sales have dropped is that the people who are interested in buying are not seeing it. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do about that. Somehow I have to get my work “out there” in the right places so people who buy art will see it.
I felt that perhaps advertising would provide the answer, so on Wednesday January 7th I started promoting listings on etsy. Then yesterday, since the promotions had been running seven days, I decided to see what the results were, here is what I saw. Thanks to the ads, my work had 3000 impressions on etsy, but only 14 of the 3000 impressions resulted in clicks, which ended up costing me $4.70, and none of those clicks translated into sales.
Okay, it was only a week, but still, 3000 people saw my work, and only 14 of those 3000 were interested enough to even take a closer look, none of them were interested enough to buy. To me that means if I am going to advertise, I need more targeted advertising, something that would be seen by the people interested in buying art. I mean, a lot of etsy shoppers are looking for purses, hats, and things like that. I need some way to target those who are wanting to buy art. But what kind of advertising would do this? I asked myself this question, and replied to myself that I really didn’t have any idea.
(Yes I talk to myself, and answer myself, sometimes, I even argue with myself!)
This was all in the back of my mind as I looked at other blogs, and as if in answer to this question I ran across this video on Her Online World:
Well, in case you didn’t have time to watch, the main points of the video were that the best sources of traffic had to be paid for. (That one I had kind of already figured out, organic reach is nice, but it is limited). The next thing was that Facebook ads, TARGETED facebook ads and promoted posts are some of the best kinds of promotion.
So I decided to try an experiment. My etsy ads ran for 7 days, I went ahead and stopped them. I wrote a post on my Facebook Art Page announcing that one of paintings was now available in my etsy shop, and I linked to that listing in my shop, I targeted this promotion to people who were interested in collecting art and who had an interest in home decor, as well as the specific style of the painting shown in the listing. I decided to run this ad for 7 days, and keep track of the results. By results, I mean that I am going to be examining my etsy stats for shop views and listing views. After the 7 days are up, I’ll run more etsy based ads, then after 7 days of that I’ll switch back to another facebook ad or promoted listing. I’ll record the results.
I printed up the following calendar to keep track of such things, as you can see, the first 6 days of the month are with no ads of any kind, I am also keeping track of what etsy calls “events” which is new listings or renewals, to see if they have any significant impact. I’ll be sure to update after completing this cycle a few times, so probably around the end of March, I’ll update and blog my findings.
See the key up on the top of the calendar.
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Fine Art America is the place to go for Prints of all my Paintings.
My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!