...Salad Fixins...Can you be an artist today and not have a website and a blog? I suppose so...but I think you are missing a Golden Opportunity. More and more, the public expects it and they ask for it. Times have just changed and our marketing must also change. The Internet has opened up opportunities that never before existed. Europe is just a click away. Why shouldn't we artist benefit?
Carbon and Graphite pencil on paper
Carbon and Graphite pencil on paper
Galleries are closing and from what I'm seeing personally, the Art Fair venue is also suffering...the "real world markets" that we have been so familiar with and so comfortable with are disappearing. We can either sit around, reminiscing about our past success or we can forge ahead.
The Internet is here to stay...it's time we artists got on board in a big way.
So why do you need both a website and a blog? How are they different? First of all they are very different and work together to compliment and strengthen each other. Your website and blog are the foundation of your online presence. They aren't all you need to do but they are most definitely the start. (I will write about other venues later)
Your website is your 'Professional Venue'...It says to the public "I'm an artist and I'm in business". It's where collectors and yes 'just lookers' can visit and comfortably view your work.
Your website should make the viewer feel as though they are in a gallery...quiet, easy to move through, and friendly. Keep your colors soft and neutral...let your art shine and be the center of attention. (When you look at your website what do you see first...the website colors or your art?)
Tell them about you, your vision, why you paint. Provided answers to their anticipated questions...perhaps a FAQ page. Make sure there's an 'obvious' way to contact you. Provide a way to purchase. Lastly, Put prices on your work...don't make them ask.
Your website is not an ad agency...it should be about you and your art.
Now...the Blog is a different animal indeed. This is a more casual setting. Here you can express yourself (within reason)...get personal, let them 'see' who the artist really is. Learn to write in 'speak'...less professional. I've said it before and I'll say it again...for those of you who think you can't blog because you can't write...you don't have to write well, you just have to write often.
I actually have two blogs. One is provided by FASO and is integrated into my website. The other is a Google Blogger site. They both carry the same post...and with good reason.
"My Studio Blog"...is integrated into my website, it's secure, and keeps my website, my name, and my art fresh and alive on the Internet.
When the viewer clicks on My Studio Blog, they never leave my website. All my collections and other pertinent information are just a click away. (Try it...click here to go to my website, then click on "My Studio Blog")
Why an Integrated Blog? Search engines love fresh content. Most websites tend to become static with time. After the initial setup the information and yes the art become stale...search engine rankings drop and your website ends up on page 86 when someone does a related search!
The integrated blog provides new content to my website every time I post an article...keeping my website fresh. For Example: If I write an article about the methods and materials I use to create my drawings...it will get indexed in the search engines and could be pull up if the keywords were good. My Studio Blog is a valuable marketing tool for my website.
My second blog..."The Extraordinary Pencil" is a Google blog. It serves as an additional Internet presence and traffic driver to my website. It is heavily linked to my website and has a more casual format. The down side is this...it is totally vulnerable to Google's whim.
I've experienced two shut downs in the last year because they marked The Extraordinary Pencil as a spam blog. My blog was held hostage several days each time...some innocent people have never had their blogs returned to them. Free is not always the best. Just make sure you have some kind of backup.
Can you put ads on your blog?...I suppose so. I don't personally care for them. I don't care for the way they look on my site and I feel they are distracting to the viewer. Do they pay off?...perhaps in some cases. The question would be how much monitoring does it take and is it worth the time it takes away from creating your art? Is the 'clutter' it creates worth the effort and payoff? I think you will find this article by Clint Watson enlightening....Why I dropped Google AdSense.
I guess I'm saying all this to acknowledge that today...more than ever before we are all trying to decide how we are going to 'best' survive until the economy turns around. I used the word BEST because WE WILL SURVIVE. It's just human nature. But the hierarchy will change...many of those who were 'on top of the pile' will no longer exist. Many business, (well known business) are going to disappear. While those who wisely adjust the dynamics of their business will remain and be poised to move forward when the time comes.
Where will you be?
I want to be on the top of the pile and ready to run when the economy turns around and it will turn around. We are all making tough decisions but when I see an artist close down their website it saddens me.
I know many of you have paid hundreds if not thousands to have someone set up your site and continue to pay each time it is updated. Others are sitting there with sites they're not pleased with...and some artists have no web presence at all and wondering, should I?
My website and the features it offers is the back bone of my art business. It is the glue that holds everything together. To give it up would be like hanging a CLOSED FOR BUSINESS sign on my door.
As an Artist...this is not the time to decrease your visibility. It's a time when we need to figure out how to ramp up our marketing...using methods that are proven, and affordable, if not a little creative.
PS...It's a time to share what works for you... so others can benefit.
Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques