So if there’s one thing I’ve learned after spending nearly 15 years doing marketing for many products and services and then launching my own business is it’s much harder to market yourself! It feels so icky and networking feels taboo but the reality is, both marketing and networking are necessary evils to success.
As we explained in our last post, starting with who you know is a great way to start the networking process. You never know where one innocent conversation could lead and who your network could connect you to. And really you don’t realize how much people are willing to do for you until you ask. So definitely don’t take the power of networking lightly.
But often times it helps to put yourself out there in a few other ways as well, allow people to find you beyond that initial conversation and help them spread the word about you by having you “pop up” in other places. What do I mean by that? Well, typically for something to resonate, people need to see or hear it a minimum of 3x. And in today’s world where we are bombarded with messages it’s safe to assume more than 3x. So let’s talk about how and where you can put yourself out there, and for cheap because we know, budgets are tight (or non existent).
1. Have a Website and/or a Blog: Most artists are likely to have some online forum that features your work by now but if not, don’t be intimidated—it’s now rather affordable and you don’t have to be real “techy.” While this may not be 100% free to create, a website and/or blog is likely to gain you the most traffic but more importantly, help you build up that image that you’re “legit” and you’ve got product or services to sell. And today, there are websites like Squarespace.com and Wordpress.com that offer you really affordable “all-in-one” website templates that are built to include tracking, search engine optimization and of course the ability to import photos, videos, custom content and more. So even if you already have a website—consider a blog in addition. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your site and show off a bit more of who you are. And both websites and blogs are great for Google search results. So check out either of the sites mentioned above for your website or blog as well as tumblr.com and blogspot.com for blogs only.
2. Stay Connected: While I’m sure everyone is well aware of Facebook and how it can keep you connected, did you know LinkedIn can also be a great source? LinkedIn has many “groups” that you can join for free and connect with people like you for advice, promotions, etc. And if you spend the time building up your network in LinkedIn (sending requests to connect), it works similar to Facebook by which your network will see anything you post/update on your profile page in their newsfeed. So a good tip to keep in mind for both sites—find ways to update your profile page often so you will re-appear in people’s newsfeed to stay top of mind. New work, new profile image, new exhibition—be sure to update both your Facebook and LinkedIn pages for all of your network to see.
3. Marketing with Social Media: Now more than ever it’s easy to help spread your name by “word of mouth” via social media. The following are all great ways to promote your work, be seen and give your fans a way to stay connected. And keep mind, social media is like one huge spider web, so be sure to feature each of you page links on your other social pages to maximize your exposure. Here’s a quick social media cheat sheet:
Facebook: Artists can create a “Page” to showcase work, announce events, engage fans etc. The two critical pieces: content and frequency. Facebook is good for updates that you want to “stay around” on your page for a while—so great for photos and/or videos. Post a couple times a week so you stay top of mind in people’s news feed. And encourage your friends and contacts to “like” your content so it spreads and shows up in their feeds to their friends as well.
Twitter: A micro-blogging site best for quick, short updates which works well for news on new work, events, announcements, thoughts, etc. The advantage here is you’re part of another community where you can connect to people like you and also provide fans a way to engage with you. It is meant to be a two way convo, so no one wants to talk to the person who only blasts their own ideas—on Twitter it’s best to engage with your followers through tweeting back @ them. Tip: check out Search.twitter.com to see what people are talking about and how you can contribute to the conversation and sites like wefollow.com or twellow.com help you find/follow people who love what you have to offer (those who mention art, performing arts, etc in their profiles) and once you follow them, they can discover you and follow you back. And, like Facebook, Twitter is totally free!
Flickr: A free, or affordable if you upgrade, photo sharing site. If you’re unable to build a full website, this can be a great place to show of your work and start to build up a portfolio of images. Make sure you feature your Flickr page/link on all your other social media profile pages as well as your website or blog.
Pintrest: The latest craze in social media. While the site says it’s not meant to be for self promotion but instead visual discovery, they do encourage that people share images, designs, photos, art and “tag” that image with the original source. So for an artist you can share your work (low res version of course) and tag it with your name or website so people know how to find more of what they love. And you can promote your “pins” with a link on your website or FB page, also free!
YouTube: YouTube is second to Google as the most used search engine. So this is a great opportunity to feature your content and tag your videos so you will show up in search results. Create a “channel page” so all of your content is stored in once place and you can then drive traffic to your YouTube channel through your other social pages.
4. Email Marketing: Sending out a “mass email” to all of your past, current and potential customers is a great way to keep them informed and engaged. If you have new piece of work you’re promoting, an exhibition coming up or any other relevant news you think they would find of interest, design a quick email blast on something like Mail Chimp or Pitchengine.com. And make sure you’re talking to your gallery about including your work/news on their monthly or quarterly email blasts.
5. Join Art Communities: If you haven’t already, think about places that can serve as a conduit for you to get exposure. There are online sites where you can be listed or even feature your work for sale like: deviantart.com, pelime.com, coroflot.com and organizations also offer “listing opportunities” like NYFA Source, an extensive national directory for artists and art organizations. There is a cost to some of these but worth looking into to see how you can further promote yourself.
So there’s a quick crash course on some ways you can network, stay connected and promote your brand. Next up I’ll be talking about “branding” and what exactly does that mean, what’s the power behind a good brand and how to go about building your own brand image.
What questions do you have about marketing—leave us a comment or question here and we’ll be sure to answer it.
thanks, jen (marketing guru)