Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unite Your E-Marketing Efforts

Alyson Stanfield's newsletter just begged to be shared this week and I can personally testify that her article "Unite your E-Marketing Efforts" is right on the mark! Linking to yourself works. Read, enjoy, and be sure to follow Alyson's link at the bottom of the page to learn more.

Unite Your E-Marketing Efforts

Got Web site? Check!
Got Blog? Check!
Got E-newsletter? Check!

Are they working for you? Are they driving people from your Web site to your blog and from your newsletter to your blog and Web site? Be sure you’re thinking of your e-marketing in total. Each element isn’t separate, but is part of a web--your network of strategic e-marketing.

You see me do this each week in this newsletter. I send people to my Web site through links about Classes & Events or within the body of the text. I send people to my Art Biz Blog with some sort of enticement at the end of the newsletter as well as a list of what they’ll find on the blog at the bottom of each issue. And it works. Mondays are by far the busiest day on my blog.

You can start to unite your e-marketing efforts by making sure your links are in order.

Link to your blog on every page of your Web site. (And don’t call it a journal. Call it a blog, which is what people will be looking for.)

Link to your Web site in a prominent place on your blog. But don’t stop there. Make sure you link to Web pages frequently (at least once a week) in your blog posts.

Link to both in your e-newsletter. You can make it a navigation link in your newsletter, but also insert links within your text to drive more traffic.

Put your blog and Web site links in your signature block, which is automatically attached to the end of every email you send out. (One of the resources I posted on the blog is about branding your email. Be sure to take a look at it.)

Add your blog feed to your Facebook profile. I’m a novice on Facebook and other social networking sites. I have so many requests and events that I don’t respond to and if yours is one of them, I apologize. I just haven’t figured it all out yet. BUT, I have figured out the blog feed thing. If I can do it, you can, too! (I import my blog as a Mini-Feed through the application called Notes. Edit your Import settings to add your blog.)

Know This . . .
Like everything else, e-marketing takes effort. In order to reap results, you must think of each component as a part of a comprehensive strategy.

Think About This . . .
In Are you doing all you can to cross promote your online presence?

Do This . . .
Unify your e-marketing. Copy the list above and go through your Web site, blog, e-newsletter, and email. Work through them one step at a time until you feel confident that you've boosted the probability of driving more people to your Web site and blog.

And to get you to my blog, I'm posting links to a bunch of other resources in today's entry on the Art Biz Blog (uniting this newsletter with the blog).

Copyright 2008 Alyson B. Stanfield. Alyson takes the mystery out of marketing your art and making more money as an artist. Visit to get articles just like this one delivered to your inbox.

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Monday, February 25, 2008

Do You Write Scannable Content?

The internet is not a book and few people, including myself, read it as if it were a book. I don't find a large block of text exciting nor will I read it. I'll move on to a smaller block of text, perhaps one or two sentences...hoping to find out what you are writing about. And many times just leave out of frustration!

We live in a fast paced society...people want to gather what they need and move on. When I sit down in the morning with my coffee to check my feed updates there's a lot on my mind. I first scan the titles, marking some to read later, opening the most interesting ones first.

If you got me with your title you will loose me if I can't quickly scan your text and acquire a "mental outline" of what your article is about. And while I'm doing this, I'm asking myself "Can I benefit from this information?, Is it worth reading the entire article?".

Wikipedia refers to this style of writing as "Chunking", and described it as the method of presenting information which splits concepts into small pieces or "chunks" of information to make reading and understanding faster and easier. do you write Scannable Content?

1. Make your first paragraph a "Grabber".
By this I mean...tell them what to expect...make it interesting yet concise. You have just a few seconds to grab their attention, pique their curiosity, and make them want to read on.

2. Be sure your text size is readable.
If you're not sure about this, ask your friends. Don't choose a smaller text just to shorten your article...if it's scannable people will scroll down to read your next topic. Readability is a big deal. I know there are ways for viewers to increase the print size on their screen...but they won't tend to do this for one blog or one page.

Page color and text color can make huge difference. Experiment by trying different combinations.

3. Use an appropriate page width.
Again, we are not reading a book...if you have to move your eyes and your head to follow the words across the page, your text area is probably too wide. The eyes get lost and begin to skip a line here and there.

The blog on my website came preset and is the perfect page width...and I specifically chose my blogspot layout style, (where you are now) with this in mind. I know the Bible is a book and I keep saying we're not reading a book...but have you ever tried to read a Bible passage where the text was in a single column that spanned the entire page width? Very difficult indeed!

4. Keep your paragraphs short.
This is not an English class...break your text into smaller paragraphs...sometimes even using a single sentence to make a statement. The separation between text blocks makes your article more scannable and the added white space will give the eye a place to rest, making your page more attractive and inviting.

5. Learn to write in "Speak"
Wow....this has probably been my biggest challenge. We are taught "formal" writing in English class and it's hard to change. Your blog needs to "sound" friendly...even though there is no sound! The printed word can be cold and harsh. For a technical blog this might be fine but for most blogs you need to show your softer, friendlier side...without the need for a "smiley face" icon!

6. Use headers and subheaders liberally.
The use of headers and subheaders will improve your visitors experience. Your readers are now able to get an idea of what the content is about before they read it. This is the "mental outline" I spoke of earlier. When this is in place I can move easily between topics.

7. Lists and bullet points
...this is another method useful for breaking up a long boring block of text. Your page will be more interesting to the eye and readers will find your text more understandable.

8. Incorporate Bold and Italic type faces
...This needs to be done artfully and with some taste. Don't splatter them around haphazardly. Set a standard for your site and stick to it. I use Bold to accent important words or phrases and use Italic for quotes, book titles and the like.

9. Lastly, remember images are your friends.
Images add interest to your articles and they attract your readers attention. Use them wisely. I've always felt the image should relate to the text...when it doesn't I feel somewhat misled.

Let me know what you think...was this article helpful, would you like to see more like this?

Wikipedia more about "Chunking"
My Website...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Blue Man Group....what a treat!

My New York trip was wonderful. My flight out was perfect, the flight home...we just won't talk about this! While I was there we simply enjoyed each others company. I ate until I thought I would pop, laughed until I hurt, and my daughter and I stayed up late talking like teenagers!
My grandson introduced me to the world of video games, patiently teaching me to move a marble through a precarious course of curves, jumps, and sudden drops...the latter resulting in the need to "start over", which happened often.

On Sunday we took the train into the Manhattan to see the "Blue Man Group". The Blue Man Group is a creative organization started by Phil Stanton, Chris Wink, and Matt Goldman; the performance is centered on a trio of mute performers, called Blue Men, who present themselves in blue grease paint and wear latex bald caps, face coverings, and black clothing. Blue Man Group's theatrical acts have evolved over the years but always incorporate rock music (with an emphasis on percussion), odd props, audience participation, sophisticated lighting, and huge amounts of paper!

The first 4 to 6 rows of the theater are known as the "poncho section". Audience members are provided with plastic ponchos in order to protect them from various food, paint, and and other substances, which get thrown, ejected, or sprayed from the stage. The show was family-oriented, humorous, energetic and employed thought-provoking satire on modern life.

I had some idea of what to expect yet was amazed by the multi-sensory experience that combined theater, percussion music, art, science and vaudeville into a form of entertainment that was like nothing else I had ever seen....a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Leaving for New York!

I'm headed for New York in a couple of days for a much anticipated visit with my daughter and grandson. They live on Long Island...about three blocks from the water. When the wind is in the right direction I swear you can smell the ocean!

On my last visit in mid November the weather was really mild and we went to the beach and fed the seagulls...quite an experience. The seagulls are accustomed to being fed and if you stand still will actually take the bread from your hand. There are so many at times that it makes one think of the movie "The Birds"!

In the photo above you can see the seagulls swarming in to grab the bread that Teddy has in his hand. These are huge birds! The second photo shows you what they looked like to Teddy as they swarmed down to take the bread. It was a fun afternoon but not without its consequences.

We had parked close to the beach and you know the old saying "what goes in must come out"...well let me tell you it's true! Our car was covered with bird *^%#!

We have tickets to see "The Blue Man Group" this trip. Going to take a train into the city...always a treat for us country folk. We're going to have brunch and then see the play. I'll tell you more when I get back. (no birds this trip)

My daughter is a professional chef, so my other treat is always her wonderful clothes never fit quite as well going home!

I will be gone until around the 19th...wish me a good flight.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

February Guest Artist...Cindy Haase

I became familiar with Cindy Haase and her work as the result of a comment she left on my blog. I was really impressed with her fiber art and couldn't help but notice how she had grown as an artist since the first piece had been posted to her site. I knew immediately that I wanted her to be my first Guest Artist and she has graciously accepted.

"The Notorious Cat Rustlers" Cindy Haase

I am honored to introduce you to Cindy Haase and I'll start by having her tell you a little about herself.
"I'm a full-time artist, loving life. I had a corporate career until 1992, and once I left I have never looked back. And I vowed that I would only wear pantyhose to weddings and funerals. And yes, I have kept that vow.

I'm a wife, a mom, and an involved grandma to my 3 grandkids who live just a few minutes away. Our family has a wicked sense of humor, and no matter what happens we find a way to laugh about it. It keeps us sane.

I grew up in Nebraska, but consider Colorado my home after almost 30 years. From my studio windows I can see the snowstorms come over the foothills and it still takes my breath away to see the beauty of it all.

Hobbies...hmmm, I love to read about Quantum Theory, Cosmology and Theology. I would have made a great scientist except for the math thing."

I am fascinated by some of the pieces you've created...and wondered if you've always had an interest in creating with fabric and what have been your greatest obstacles?
"I've always had an interest in creating with ANYTHING...pine cones, popsicle sticks, and gum wrappers were my media when I was little.

I purchased my first sewing machine when I was 16. Trading it in 35 years later for a high end model, I became a late-blooming quilter. First traditional quilts, and then art quilts and fiber art. As for the fiber art, I am self taught. For my colored pencil artwork, I'd say it's more of a self-directed study. I looked for people that were doing what I wanted to do and took classes from them.

Honestly, my biggest obstacle is focus. My mind never stops and trying to quiet it enough to physically focus on one medium, one project, or one idea is tough for me. I have these two things I love, fiber and colored pencil. When I focus on promoting my colored pencil, my fiber art gets put on the back burner and vice versa. I've had more opportunities to show my colored pencil work, so I need to work on those same opportunities for my fiber art.

Cindy, how has your art influenced your life?
"It's actually my therapy. If I don't do something artsy for a couple of days, I get REAL cranky. The fiber art gives me a chance to play and make things up as I go along...where my colored pencil work is very meticulous and the process is not as playful."

Your subjects seem to range from whimsical to geometric to representational...with such diversity in subjects and style I wonder, where does your inspiration come from?
"I think color or shape inspires me most of the time, then a concept or title evolves. Sometimes, a twist on a saying will inspire me first then the rest comes. I keep a sketchbook to help me if I feel in a dry spell for ideas.

I don't always feel I have to create something whimsical. As long as I get the sense of play from the process, I'm happy with the finished product."

Can you give us a little insight into the process that went into the creation of pieces we are showing here?
"Well, lets take the "Notorious Cat Rustlers" (pictured left and top). The original idea was "Date Night in the West", a piece for a local exhibit. It was going to be a cowboy and a horse. The cowboy was easy, he's modeled after my husband (glasses, mustache and all). but I couldn't draw a decent looking horse to save out went the horse. One cowboy was boring, and then an old commercial popped into my head about "herding cats". I immediately went to that special piece of cat fabric in my stash, and the cowboy became triplets. The title came near the end of the project.

One of the processes I use to create a more representational piece is called "thread painting". It starts with a simple pencil sketch on a piece of muslin. Then I fuse different fabrics to the muslin
to create a value structure. The really fun part is using my sewing machine to paint with decorative threads like rayons and metallics. Sometimes I do a bit of hand stitching. In "Convergence" (pictured above) the brick grid is hand stitched with embroidery floss. I taught myself how to thread paint, but I know many fiber artists are creating wonderful pieces with a similar process."

What advise would you give someone trying to break into this niche of the art market and what is the one thing that you wish you had known more about when you were just starting out?
"My advise would be to do what you love. Always make sure it's a reflection of your personality, your unique view of life. Then get your artwork out there, anywhere that will hang shops, bank lobbies, doctor's offices. Enter local shows, join a local fiber arts group, and get feedback. Look for a gallery that is fiber friendly. And always stretch and challenge yourself. If you started locally, then look for regional opportunities...and then get real brave and look for a national exhibit. It's like the lottery, the only chance to "win" is if you enter.

As for the second part of the question...I wish I had known more about marketing...pricing, press releases, mailing lists,
creating a buzz about my work. I'm now learning how to do all of that. I just assumed that if my work was good people would flock to buy it, the work would speak for itself. But I'm learning to speak on it's behalf."

In closing...
I want to thank you Cindy for participating in my first Guest Artist segment. It was nice getting to know you and learning more about your fiber art.

Just a few things Cindy didn't tell you:

  • Cindy is a juried member of the International Guild of Realism, and was juried into IGOR's 2006 Summer Exhibit at Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe, NM.
  • She currently serves as the national Membership Director for the Colored Pencil Society of America.
  • Both her fiber art and fine art are on exhibition at the South Union Gallery in Lakewood, CO.
  • Cindy also teaches workshops in colored pencil...the next workshop date is 4/26/08, you can check her blog for details.

You can see more art by Cindy Haase by visiting the links below.

In Stitches!...fiber art blog
Color On!...colored pencil blog
Cindy Haase's main website

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New "Guest Artist" Segment Comming Soon

I'm excited to be working on a new monthly "Guest Artist" segment for my blog. This is something I've wanted to do for sometime. As artists we all struggle with the same things...the same doubts, the same financial issues, the same questions about marketing and promoting our craft. I believe the way to learn is from each other.

I have gleaned so much from your websites and blogs...your art work and your articles have inspired me to do greater things....things I didn't think myself capable of. My desire is that you will be both challenged and encouraged as I go forward with this project.

Keep an eye out for my first "Guest Artist" appearance the early part of next week. No, I'm not going to tell you who it is, that would spoil the surprise...but something that I will tell you is that she doesn't only use a "pencil".

Hope you'll check back, and give her a huge welcome!

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