Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 3)

"At a minimum today's artist needs a website and a blog. Your website is your online "gallery" where collectors and others interested in your art can view your works in an organized manner.

The major difference between a website and a blog is that a website needs to be promoted to be seen. Blogs on the other hand are like the "Energizer Bunny"...with the ability to announce themselves and keep on doing so with every posted update you make."

Link your blog to your website and like magic it will pull your website right along with it."

Don't Be Left Sitting on the Curb.
The above quote is from part one of this series...I put it in front of you because you need to read it need to digest it, you need to believe it, and you need to do it.

The internet is here to stay. Businesses, large and small, are making their presence known to the world. Why should you as an artist be left behind? In the right hand column there's a list of marketing blogs for artists...they all say the same thing "Today's artist needs a website and a blog".

I'm just guessing, but I'll bet if you are familiar and comfortable with computers you already have a website. It's those of you who don't know how to do much more than send an email or do a simple web search that find the idea of setting up a website overwhelming.

I've been there, I was you. I exhibited my art for the first time in the summer of 2004. At every art fair as I passed out my brochure, people ask about my website. I told my friends that just hearing the word WEBSITE was a threat...and they told me I needed to get over it. I have brutally honest friends!

I spent every evening for the better part of two months searching the internet, looking at artist websites and web hosting services. I looked at so many sites that I had to start cataloging them.

The artist websites that I found most pleasing to the eye were all from the same web hosting service...Fine Art Studio On Line.

Developing a web presence that works:
The following is my "personal journey" into the world of internet marketing...the steps I took and the resulting growth in visitors to my website.

1. In late October of 2005 I set up my website. I chose FASO (Fine Art Studio Online) for two simple reasons.

  • I loved the websites other artists had developed. They may have chosen different layouts and color schemes but they all had one thing in common...THEIR ART WAS THE FOCUS. There were no advertisements and nothing jumping around at you.
  • FASO offerd 24/7 Technical Support. This was a huge deal for me. I even contacted several artists to verify that this was true...I needed the security of knowing there were "real people" to talk to. Remember, I barely knew how to email!
The basic set up went smoothly...I had a few questions but on the whole I have to say the instructions are clear and everything went quite well. Any questions I had were answered promptly...and YES there are real people if you need them! Very pleasant real people!

The Results...after all my friends and relatives did their "look see", things calmed down to where by December 'o5, I had 46 real visitors/with 510 page views. I was so excited...people I didn't know were actually looking at my work. Google had my name!

Traffic dropped off in Feb-May and then took a jump again when my art fair season began in June of '06. When my art fairs ended traffic dropped again drastically. The reality of it was this...I was no longer out there promoting my website!

2. In the April of '07 I set up the blog that was integrated into my website...calling it simply "My Studio Journal". This blog was part of my website package and had been there all along, but I never fully comprehended it's importance.

The monthly website traffic for May increased to 261 visitors/3271 page views and continued to increase monthly. December totals for '07 were 580 visitors/7721 page views compared to December of '06 (27 visitors/346 page views) ...close to 300% increase!
  • I need to say this...In the beginning I wasn't a good blogger nor was I a faithful blogger. You can read more about my beginnings here.
3. In January of '08 I set up my first "Squidoo Lens" Squidoo is a website hosting hundreds of thousands of web pages called "lenses". Each lens is one person's look at something online. It's FREE and totally non-techy. I first became familiar with Squidoo on Katherine Tyrrell's website, Making a Mark, when I clicked on her Artist Resources link.

My Squidoo Lens, Drawing Techniques: using carbon, charcoal, and graphite, is just a baby compared to the information for artists found in Katherine's lens. Here's what I did.
  • I chose the subject I'm ask about most by my customers.
  • I kept it simple,concise and interesting.
  • I linked back to my website and blog liberally and I put links to my new Squidoo Lens on my website and blog.
  • Most importantly...I included the "module" on my lens that contains an RSS feed. This means that every time I update my blog my Squidoo Lens is also updated with a link to my new article. This not only keeps my "lens" fresh in the eyes of search engines but sends people back to my blog to read the article!
The Results...To date, in three months, there have been 1127 visitors to my lens. In the past 30 days the "most important" stats are as follows.

Visitors coming directly from: My Website...38, from The Extraordinary Pencil, blogspot...128, visitors, as a direct result of blog articles I've written, clicking the provided Squidoo Link...45

Clickouts...Squidoo visitors clicking on links back to my website and blog: In the last 30 days alone there have been....246 clickouts to my Website and 105 clickouts to my Blogspot.

The beauty of my squidoo lens is this...I never have to do another thing to it. It updates regularly via the RSS feed from my blog just keeps sending people my way through the links I provided. It just sits there working for me.

4. In February of '08...I set up an additional blog (outside my website) with me yet another web presence. I'm not going into great detail here because by now you should be getting the picture of how linking to yourself delivers. But I will tell you this, since The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot went on line, the page views on my website, Marsha Robinett Fine Art, have increased to over 12,000 per month.

I still post in regularly in My Studio Blog that is integrated into my website because it keeps my website updated and the search engines love fresh material.

I give you this information to encourage you.
To prove to you that someone who once considered the word "Website" a threat can do this. I could have used percentages instead of actual figures but I wanted you to feel the impact as real as I did, as I took these steps forward.

I'm not going to feed you a line and say this was all quick and simple. None of it was as difficult as I thought but it does take time to do it right.
  • Once your website is set up, you need to upload your new works regularly and update your "About The Artist" page to keep it current...otherwise, unless you desire to make changes, your website is fairly maintenance free.
  • Your Blog...I'm of the opinion that you should post at least once a week, two or three times is better. This could be as simple as a photo of your art and a short explanation of how you did it or what it means to you.
  • Squidoo...if you decide to do this...keep in mind, it's not a "stand alone" answer. It doesn't take the place of either your website or blog. It compliments them.
The Secret is to yourself.
On my website in the center of the home page is a link to The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot and my squidoo lens has it's own topic on My Studio Blog. On my blogspot, close to the top in the side bar, are links to my website, and squidoo lens. On my squidoo lens, people are referred back to my website and blog. It's just that simple.

In addition...every newsletter, every email, and every blog post now have links to my sites at the bottom. As you can see I keep my "E Bunny" hoppin!

Note: Your Google ranking, your page views, and the number of visitors to your website will in time increase sales but cannot replace a personal contact with your customer base.

In the final part of this series I'm going talk about this and the importance of "Real World Marketing Strategies".

Remember, it's the Journey that defines you.

  • Are you prepared?
  • Do you know your destination?
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • Why are you waiting?
This article continues here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4


Marsha Robinett Fine
My Squidoo...drawing techniques

My Website Hosting Service:
Fine Art Studio Online...Easy Artist Websites
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Positively Remarkable 24/7 Artist Support!

*Sign-Up...using this link or use the code (3209)
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