As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, Social Media and a web presence is essential in todays day and age to carve out your place in the art world. It can seem like a daunting task at first because there are so many platforms to do this on and intially until you get the hang of it it can seem like it takes up a lot of your time. Coming from first hand experience I can honestly say that anytime that you put into it definitely comes back in your favour. Over the years I have definitely noticed large spikes in sales and exposure/oppportunities when I have taken the time to expand my web presence.
The first and easiest thing to set up would be a Facebook Fan Page. The networking software for Facebook is pretty much unparralled and it is a super easy way to start to get yourself and your art known in circles outside of your immediate friends. You want to set up an Art fan page instead of just using your personal profile because it offers you more options, as well as still maintains your personal privacy. You can post all of your art that you want the world to see and it's super simple to upload and comment on them all. Keep in mind that once you post something on facebook, apparently Facebook has the rights to it. So either just make sure you size your work to be web friendly and not a larger file. This way it looks great on the computer, but can't be used for anything by hijackers. It's not always a bad thing to have people using your art as screen savers or clip art, but you want to make sure that they can't use it for profit. In todays day and age it is inevitable that as soon as you put your stuff online it is public property... but if anyone uses your art for screen savers etc., think of it as free advertsising. The more people that see your art the better!
In the old days, you used to need to rely on galleries and groups for the large network of clients that they have carefully amassed over their years of business, but now with technology it is really easy for you to get your own network going. I'm not trying to be down on galleries at all. They are a huge help in boosting your art in the public eye and they are amazing at getting it before the eyes of people who are actually interested in buying art. If you can get into a gallery do it... but keep in mind that the standard cut they take is 50%. For me, some of my paintings take hundreds of hours, 400+ was my longest, so in order to sell it through a gallery that means I am giving the gallery 200hrs of my time for free! Doesn't seem like a good business venture in that way. More on galleries to come later though...
Twitter is another great platform that is short and sweet. 140 characters per tweet makes it a really time efficient way to reach out. There are some people who are all about this and it works really well for them. I am still kind of struggling to see the huge importance that some people put on it, but it definitely has it's place. Say you just finished a new piece and want to share it with the world. You can post a pic on Twitter and write a few words about it. Then people can see it form their mobile devices and even tweet you back, and if you ae lucky, buy it on the spot! :) There are a tonne of youtube videos on how to use it and make it work for you. Worth checking some out while you have your morning coffee one day if you are unsure about it.
Linkedin is a professional networking platform that is really effective for all business related stuff, if you choose to use it the way it's intended. You can get refferals and communicate with like minded people in your field. Super easy to set up a profile and it will just keep growing as time goes on.
Your personal website is of huge importance though. It is a way for you to present your art and yourself to the world in whatever way you seem fit. You can put whatever information you want on it and lay it out anyway you want. All the other platforms have a basic template that is only somewhat customizable. It's important to have a bit about yourself on your site, what your accomplishments are, a bio or artists statement and then your portfolio. There are a bunch of pre packaged templates for websites out there that are really good and easy to use when you are just getting started, but hiring a good webdesigner who is on top of all the latest and greatest web stuff, like my guy Jon Veder at http://nxtlvl.ca, can really take your web presence to the next level. A good web person can give you insights as to how to get more traffic and customize your site to be really user/mobile friendly. Nothing worse than having a site that just frustrates the viewer so they end up checking someone elses site out.
If you get a blog on your site like this one it is a great way to show a bit more of your personality to the world. Sometimes I go quite a while without posting, a bit of a no-no, but as long as you post pertinent stuff it helps to let people get to know you, like Facebook. There are a bunch of other social media sites that can help you out, but the above mentioned ones seem to be the easiest to use and have the greatest reach. All of this probably seems like a lot of stuff to deal with all the time, but here is where the trick comes in. If you talk to a websdesigner or do the research yourself, there is a way to integrate all these platforms together so that everytime you do a blog post a link is automatically tweeted and gets posted on your facebook page. You can also integrate all of these other platforms on your website so that your entire social media personality is accessable through the most important one, your personal website. This means that you only really have to maintain one of these things on a regular basis instead of all of them all the time... that takes up way too much valuable art time! Because each of these platforms are different and they are set up in different ways, each with their own strong points, you can snag peoples interest in a different way on each of them. And you can communicate and build relationships with an infinite amount of people. It is really fun chatting online and messaging with people all around the world about art and the likes... even better when one day you get to meet them face to face!
So embrace modern technology and meet new people with it. If you don't, then be prepared to give half of your hard earned money and time to someone else who will do it for you!
Feel free to shoot me any questions you have about this and I can try to steer you in the right direction. Have a great day!!