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September 2013

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Marketing your work–online!


It’s a brave new world out there, and if we mean to survive in it, we have to learn to adapt. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine, even if you’re as old as I am (I still long for a nice juicy pterodactyl burger from time to time...)

One of the newest ways of selling your work–be it art, craft, music, books, or otherwise–is online. There's eBay, Etsy (which is growing like a weed!), Imagekind, CafePress, and a raft of other opportunities, including your own blog. The ‘net is here to stay. The opportunities and options change, grow, and mutate as quickly as today’s must-have, whiz-bang computer, but even if you don’t “keep up,” you can still benefit.

I’ve not done podcasts or e-books yet, for instance, but they’re on my horizon! One thing at a time... (OK, I’ll be honest. SIX times at a time!)

Here are some tips I’ve learned from my own experience, along with advice from the pros:

Build a presence online and try to make it recognizable, internationally as well as locally–the ‘net has definitely expanded our horizons! (I’ve had buyers from Australia, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Indonesia and more. Students for my online classes have participated from their homes in India, France, Italy, Australia, England, Germany, Denmark and other far-flung places. You couldn’t do that if you only worked in real-time, real-space. It’s kind of a rush!)

To build that recognizable presence, your name may be the simplest choice–that’s what I decided on, finally, for both my website (http://cathyjohnson.info –unfortunately dot-com was taken, but people seem to find me anyway), my Café Press store http://www.cafepress.com/cathy_johnson, and my new fine arts gallery, online, after naming my original blog the rather whimsical “Quicksilver Workaholic.” It’s here, and I do still use it, obviously–you’re reading this here, after all! http://katequicksilvr.livejournal.com/ (But my user name there, katequicksilvr, tells you a whole lot, doesn’t it? Somehow those cryptic IDs seemed like a good idea at the time!)

The new gallery blog is Cathy Johnson Fine Art Galleries, at http://cathyjohnsonart.blogspot.com/ --that's the banner you see above. It's MUCH easier to remember! (See, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!)

Keep this in mind if you also have a Flickr album, a Photobucket or Picasa set, or one of the other graphics-hosting sites. Most will allow you to pick a personal URL or internet address that’s memorable, so try to maintain continuity. Make it easy for potential clients to find you on Google, MSN Search, Alta Vista or one of the other search engines. (It’s amazing how many people DO use the ‘net to shop and learn these days!)

Obviously your identifier doesn’t have to be your name–just something recognizable that you stick with, once you’ve made a decision. Just make it easy to remember. Go for clarity.

* The Daily Painters blog tells you exactly what to expect, with the name. http://www.dailypainters.com/ You know that it’s a group effort of artists producing art on a daily basis.

Each of the paintings there opens to more information about the individual artist, and tells how to buy that painting. (This is a paid site, by the way, and limited in the number of artists who can belong at a given time, but you may wish to look into becoming a part of it. I understand the artists there DO sell regularly!)

It’s a brilliant idea, and has even resulted in a book featuring the work of their member artists. Colour, Obsession, Joy and Torment: The Daily Painters Art Gallery 2008 The cover is rich and enticing...

And sorry, you can't ACTUALLY look inside, from here--that's just the only picture I could get of it.
Click on the title link above to take you to Amazon, where you can poke around in the book!

* Duane Keiser may have been the founder of the daily painting movement--he's certainly one of the best known and successful artists! duanekeiser.blogspot.com/ If you click on the "bid on this painting" link below the art, you'll go to his eBay--it's inspiring, for sure! (Amazingly, he often starts his paintings at $1–the one I just checked sold for $475, after 30 bids. See what building a presence can do?)

* Katherine Tyrrell is a wonderful artist AND a marketing genius–you may have already bookmarked her “Making a Mark” blog as a regular resource, and if you haven’t, I recommend it highly. It’s here: http://makingamark.blogspot.com/

A recent series she’s developing into new pages is devoted to selling art online–very timely! It’s EXCELLENT stuff...this is the most recent entry: http://tinyurl.com/avotoe (I made it into a tinyurl because it was so long it wouldn’t copy as a live link, but it goes to the same place.) Don’t stop there, though...browse around, click on the additional links, and I guarantee you’re learn a lot.

* “Paris Breakfasts” is the blog belonging to Carol Gillott–you can find it here: http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com/ and whenever you think of those words, you know exactly whose blog it is. She’s made it a “brand” of it, as they say.
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And speaking of creating a brand for yourself–do think about what you might want that to be. Pick something you can live with, for the long haul. Try not to box yourself in, too much, unless you’re sure you’ll still want to be doing much the same thing, say, three years or more from now. (Boredom IS a deadly enemy of creativity!)

Some people focus on a single medium, size, or genre of art. I can’t do that, my interests are too broad (and my attention span too short!), so I’ve settled on my name and hope that gets the job done!

And of course you may make a false start or two–I have, as I mentioned above. And at one time, I couldn’t imagine using the ‘net to earn my living, or supplement it, other than perhaps selling on eBay (which I’ve been doing since 2001, by the way!)

I also wanted to keep a degree of anonymity, so I used the name my friends know me by, Kate rather than Cathy. Oh, my, any idea how confusing that’s been over the years? People don’t know what to call me or how to find me. Some people use both. My family sticks to Cathy, which is fine–but for an online presence muddying the waters with a different name wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did. It’s taken ages for Google and the other search engines to figure out I drag around both names! I’ll admit, though, it’s become a whole lot easier once I focused, and just used Cathy Johnson for everything. It’s not the most memorable name in the world, but it’s my own. ;-)

Frustrated because all this takes time to get started and sort out? Of course it does, and a lot of work, too! But do realize that none of the individual blogs or websites I’ve mentioned have been around much longer than 3 years. That’s not exactly a lifetime, is it? You can do the same!

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* Upcoming, we'll have an interview with one young artist who has really learned how to make the ‘net work for her. Ann Nemcosky’s work deserves a global audience, and on the ‘net, that’s happening! She’s an inspiration...so have a sneak preview of Ann’s sales blog at http://atnemcosky.blogspot.com/ and next week we’ll have a chat with her!


OTHER RESOURCES:

There are a number of resources available that cover a lot of different aspects of online marketing--
Internet 101 for Artists, Second Edition: With a Special Guide to Selling Art on eBay may help if you want to focus on eBay.

I’ve done pretty well with my eBay gallery at http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/cathyjohnsonart
by the way, though now I tend to use the new Fine Arts Gallery blog rather than eBay for selling most of my original art. It’s simply easier to list there, and I’m a bit more in control of variables! I enjoy the personal aspect, too–people can leave comments and I can reply easily.

I DO try to keep the graphic consistent, though–on the new gallery, on my eBay ID, and on my new aStore where I recommend books, art materials, food and nutrition info, and other miscellaneous goodies. You can see what I mean here: http://astore.amazon.com/httpcathyjohi-20--it's the same basic banner, tweaked to suggest the books aspect.

(And incidentally I’ve been asked by several people how to set up an aStore–it's not strictly marketing your art, but we’ll cover it in a future post!)

How to Market and Sell Your Art, Music, Photographs, & Handmade Crafts Online has gotten some good reviews and looks worth investigating, too!


Let me know if YOU have a favorite book that’s proven most helpful to you, please!
We'll cover more of the websites that feature online marketing in future posts.

Comments

(Anonymous)

thanks!

My goal is to eventually start selling online, but I'm a long way from that, but now I realize that I can still start researching, learning, preparing!! Instead of my usual way, do nothing and when I'm ready jump right in, confused and all!
I look forward to the upcoming interview
Trish
p.s. my blog address is http://mycreativejourney.typepad.com/my_creative_journey/
I couldn't get signed in with my google or typepad id so i just clicked anonymous:)

Re: thanks!

It worked fine, Trish! You know, you could start small on eBay just to test the waters. That's what I did. It's a fairly easy way to get started...
Kate (or Cathy?:), thanks for this report - I've been waiting for it!
Actually, what d'you think about such places like artbreak.com, theartkey.com, artslant.com and the like?
They are free, rather good design for presenting you work, but I'm not sure if they are effective in terms of sale... so far :)
Hi Solga! You can call me whatever you like, my "real" name is Cathy, my friends call me Kate, and I answer to either one.

Truthfully, I have no idea about those places. Not ony have I not tried them, I'm afraid I've never heard of the three you mention. There IS a lot of competition out there, and a lot of different sites offering to display our work, but finding the one that works for YOU is the trick. You still have to drive traffic to it yourself, no matter where you decide to go.
This was a great post Kate. I enjoyed reading about your process (including stumbles) as much as your tips. It's interesting to know you as both Cathy Johnson who, in my mind, resides on a very high pedestal alongside the other great living artists of our time; and the honest, humble and candid Kate, who speaks from the heart and so generously shares her knowledge.
Jana, you make me blush! But yes, I've stumbled a LOT, and tried out different things that worked fine for someone else but just aren't me, or I wasn't there at the right time. I know darn well I can't do the daily painter thing, I'd drift off after a week.

No pedestals here, for either one of me! :-P

Marketing Your Work Online

Very informative article!!! Thank you for sharing.