I'm pleased to present the first guest post on Culture Fancier! I connected with Laura on Twitter and responded to a tweet she made about wanting to collaborate with other artists or bloggers. Laura is a landscape painter and she lives in The West Kootenays in British Columbia. She describes it as one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Having spent some time there myself, I'm inclined to agree. Laura has a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts specializing in Painting and a Bachelor in Education specializing in High School Art. Read the rest of her bio here. This post outlines the different ways she has used social media to build her brand as an artist. Hopefully, you will pick up some useful tips from her personal experiences.
We live in a world where the word "social" means so much more than just gathering around like-minded people. It could mean sharing a photo of what you do that day with everyone from friends to family. What it really means, is us introverts have a better shot at getting ourselves out there without completely breaking down all our walls.
Putting yourself out there can be a pretty scary thing. Even more so if you're shy, reserved, and prefer to not draw any unnecessary attention to yourself. But what happens when you're shy, but also want to share your gift with the world? Well, thanks to social media there are ways we can share our gifts AND not have to give ourselves a panic attack by standing out in front of total strangers.
When it comes to being an artist, getting yourself and your work out there is pretty much the name of the game. No one is going to know you're and artist if you don't show them your work. So what are some ways you can get your name out there? I'm going to break it down for you based on my personal experiences. I'll also give you some tips and share my favorite apps to help you get there.
First, I want to talk about the importance of knowing your audience. Who are you trying to reach with your work? What kinds of people are you hoping to reach? Seems like an odd question but knowing the answers to these questions could mean the difference between landing an art show and getting lost in translation among so many of the other nameless artworks floating in cyber space. When you think of your audience, who comes to mind? Does your work speak to a certain group of people? If you aren't totally sure there are a few ways you can get a better idea of who your work is reaching, but you need to have a few things established first; If you have a Facebook page set up, you can check out your insights that will give you a break down of the average age of the people liking your page. You can also customize the key words your boost posts reach, this is a paid option but its worth having the option to be specific. You can choose specific keywords like "Abstract" or "Photography" so that people who have these words in their profiles as an interest will see your sponsored post in their timeline. Its like being sneaky without having to really "be" sneaky. The good news is Facebook isn't the only place you can see these kinds of stats. Most, if not all social media platforms has some kind of analytics set up to help you improve your media presence.
Here is a peek at what my Facebook insights look like today: It breaks down the average age of my fans, the people my posts have reached and the number of people who have engaged with my posts.
So, you've got your audience nailed down...but what's next?
The trick to using social media is remembering that it still requires you to BE SOCIAL. If you want people to pay attention to what you're doing you need to be active, and INTERACTIVE with your fans. Seems like a no brainer but there's a little more to it. When I first started this journey I hadn't read much on digital marketing nor did I have any real clue how to effectively USE my media accounts. I would share a photo here, make a random post there, I was a lurker and liker at best. We all know those types, the ones who go on liking sprees but never really make their presences known. There was no consistency to my posts, at the time I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting noticed. Was my art really THAT bad? When you're marketing yourself to the masses and people are interested in you or your work, that means there's something about YOU that they like. If you choose to ignore that, your fans are going to feel like you don't care. If YOU don't care, why should they? Acknowledging your new fans, engaging in conversations these are two crucial keys to be successful in your self marketing. This doesn't mean that you have to be glued to your device all day and respond at lightning speeds, it just means you will need some kind of system in place for how you address questions, comments, acknowledging your retweets, or reshares. The good news is you don't have to do this alone, I'll have a few apps that can help you keep track toward the end. But first, let's talk community.
The problem with the technological world is everything is so much more impersonal. People can be whoever they want online. It can be hard to spot the authentic people as a result. It's important to remain true to who you are as a real person. The more authentic you are, the more real people you will attract. This is true in all aspects of life, but it's important when you're interacting with so many people at once. If you're an artist looking to show your work, sell your work, or find like-minded people to collaborate with, the best thing you can do is go where the people are. Join online art communities, look for groups that specialize in your kind of art, look for feature opportunities. The more you branch out the more likely you are to reach more of your target audience. Yes, this is still the internet which means there are going to be people out there who are just out to make others miserable. Choosing NOT to engage in the negative comments, comparing good to bad etc. will save you so much unnecessary stress in the long run. Don't forget that while you're sharing your work, it's important to engage with other artists. See something you like? Let them know! Find an artist that inspires you? Give them a shout out. People will see that you're active in the community - it shows people you're a real person, and that you care. Remember, these are all based on my experiences. In the end, knowing your end goal and sticking to who you are how to be successful.
I used to always say that being an artist is part talent and part being in the right place at the right time. Today, that's only kind of true. You still need to be actively marketing yourself to ensure you are reached by the right kinds of people. But there are far more opportunities for you to be noticed than before. One thing I noticed, but never truly took part in until recently is other artists helping artists. There are SO MANY shout outs, features, and other ways for you to get your work out there. The only thing is you need to take that next step and submit an application.
Now, there are all kinds of ways you can use the community to your advantage. With Instagram there are feature accounts. Usually with these you need to be following them, tag them in your post, and use their designated hashtags. Sometimes it's as easy as sending them a DM with your work. Either way, its a really good way to get noticed. I've also noticed that hashtags WORK. Yes, there is a point where they become overkill. But I've gained far more traction on posts where I've used hashtags than where I didn't use any at all. Its all about how you use them. You want to be specific, keep your tags relevant to your target audience. I decided I needed a way for people to track my stuff across all platforms, so I came up with the hashtag #longlivethelandscape and use it on all my posts. It speaks to my views on my university professors telling me that Landscape art was dead, and somewhat cliche. I don't believe that to be true and with the amount of incredible landscape art out there I wanted to start a revolution! P.S If you feel the same way PLEASE feel free to use my hashtag!
Another thing I noticed was apparent in every marketing article I read was you want to make it easy for your fans to find you. If you aren't tech savvy or don't want to take up your time with all the apps that are out there. You want to make sure you have at LEAST a Facebook page, an Instagram account and Twitter. Now, I would argue that there are at least five apps you want to use. But let's start with these three for now.
Facebook - everyone has it, everyone uses it. But when it comes to marketing your brand, it's important to have the right set up. For me, my setup is having my artist page where all my art related ramblings, photos, current works, and ideas are kept together and my personal account, where the majority of the rest of my life's happenings are kept. I also made the choice to keep them relatively separate. The reason for this is one is my business. It helps keep things organized. Again, personal preference, not the end of the world if you decide to just use one. Just remember that people who are looking for your art will follow/add/like the you that they find. If it leads them to the you who drinks margaritas on a Tuesday and shares delicious food porn on the regular.. you probably won't make very many sales on your art. Does that make sense? Just food for thought. So what good is having a Facebook page? Well, Facebook has now set up the option to have a store front. Which means for those of you wanting to sell your work, you can do so direct from Facebook. You don't need to have a fancy website. You can also set up a list of services you offer, store hours, contact info. Essentially everything you need is right there. If my marketing research has taught me anything it's this: In this day and age, having a Facebook account is the norm, so if you don't have an account it can often be seen as a negative to future clients and employers. You want to be transparent and consistent and show your audience that you're here to stay. This means being active in the digital world. For some generations, this is an easy task, but for some - it can be pretty daunting. Just know there are plenty of people out there who do these kinds of things for a living. If you don't feel you can maintain your online presence, there are people you can hire to do it for you. Or, for us self motivated, self marketing "Ima do it my self" types there are plenty of tips, tricks, how to's online.
Here are two of my top Facebook communities for getting your artwork out there. Don't afraid of closed groups, be confident in your work. You'll find a lot of the bigger groups have a lot of the same people in them as well, its like running into an old friend sometimes.
Instagram - For artists of all kinds, Instagram is a must have. Why? Because its a VISUAL platform where the entire application is based on photos, snapshots, and collages. You don't have to compete non visual posts. One thing I've picked up on as mentioned above, is hashtags WORK. You want to build a following of people who are into your work right? So find out what other people are saying about other art like yours, use their keywords as hashtags or create your own. Follow the same people other artists are following, network yourself with as much art as you can. Don't forget to engage with people. See a post you love? Comment on it! Create a discussion to draw attention to your post. Marketing yourself isn't about getting a high number of followers or likes. You want quality over quantity, having those people follow you won't mean anything if you never reach out them. With Instagram's last update you can also hit "reply" to people's comments to make it easier to respond to people you may not be following. This is applicable across all platforms also. Be engaging! Just to touch on the authenticity thing again, be careful how you use filters on your work too. Be as true to yourself and to your work as possible.
Have you ever seen an Instagram account like this?
Granted, there are a ton of accounts like this. There are some that are worth checking out. One thing to point out, you want to check the quality of the work being shared, how many followers do they have? Is the work being reached? What I mean is, will it be beneficial for your work to be featured on their account? You want to work smarter, not harder.. right? Don't be afraid to DM, tag, follow, these accounts. It took a while before my features showed up, but they never would have shown up at all had I not taken the step to put myself out there.
Instagram now allows you to have a "business" account. This means with this setting you have access to analytics, and preferred contact options. Its a lot like Facebook Pages. I've found the breakdown of the Instagram analytics to be more user friendly and a little more detailed. It gives you your top performing posts for the week, the best times and dates for post activity, all kinds of great information.
Twitter - Ahhh Twitter. The place where you discover all kinds of sneaky ways to fit your thoughts into that annoying 140 character limit. But here are some things you may not know! Much like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter has built in analytics to show you how your posts are doing. It also offers an incredible way to keep track of all the people you follow by creating lists. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that lists were an ongoing battle for me for some time. Until one day it clicked! Lists let you sort and organize all the people you follow. They can be just for you or they can be public. For me, this is an awesome way to track my groups. I follow everyone from close friends and family, fellow artists, marketing specialists and just every day people. It can be hard to keep up with everyone and keep track of what they're up to. Lists let you go into a specific group of people and see their feeds. One suggestion - add people to your lists as you follow them, that way you don't miss anyone. Another great thing about Twitter is its a community all in itself. Twitter offers all kinds of group chats, discussions, weekly meet ups and other ways for you to get involved.
One of my personal favorite ways to be active on Twitter is to partake in a weekly chat. Not just any chat but #cfchat with @Crowdfire. Now, let me break this down a little for you. Crowdfire is an app designed with us in mind. It's an app that integrates with Twitter and tracks your new followers, non followers, fans and tweets. When I first started out, I wanted to be sure that I was acknowledging my new followers. But didn't have the time to respond to each and every one of them with how frequently I gained a new one. I also wanted to know who unfollowed me - that way I stayed current with who was still following me. The Crowdfire app allows you to see your new followers, people who have unfollowed, people who have liked your tweets, it also lets you tweet directly from the app. The goal is growth, they want YOU to grow. It's building a stronger sense of community while helping you grow your brand. Now, how does a chat work? This is the best part!
I stumbled across the Crowdfire Chat while scrolling through my newsfeed, more than a couple of people I was following were tweeting answers to these questions varying from marketing specifics to morning routines. I dug a little deeper and found that it's a chat run by the team at Crowdfire every Thursday. Anyone is welcome to join and the topics are always different. The best part is its designed for all kinds of people from artists, to marketing directors, to every day people just looking to connect. It is by far the best community I'm a part of. How does it work? Well, the easiest way to ensure you don't miss it is to turn your notifications on so whenever Crowdfire tweets, you'll see it. The chats are usually six questions long and it runs for about half an hour or so. But you can go back and answer the questions whenever you want, so long as you use their hashtag, they'll see and respond to you. That's another thing I love about these chats, they respond to EVERYONE. Crowdfire will tweet out a question with a number, you tweet back your answer using the proper number and hashtag #cfchat. Crowdfire will acknowledge your response and send a reply. You will also gain new likes, retweets, follows, and you'll get to be part of a great discussion. Honestly, it's worth checking out at least once!
Just last week I got to be the Crowdfire Warrior for the chat!
It gave me a chance to engage with all participants, create discussions and of course, it drew people to my profile. Now that I've been participating in these chats for over a year these people feel more like family than anything. They also know how to make a girl feel loved, just last week I received a thank you package from Crowdfire HQ for my participation and ongoing support of their team. How cool?! Since I started doing these chats I've made a lot of great friends who have helped me grow my brand even further. I've been able to reach out for support, brainstorm new ideas, share my art and I get to socialize with some pretty great people.
Join in on next Thursday's #cfchat! Follow Crowdfire and turn on notifications - to turn on tweet notifications, click the little bell next to the follow button.
Another third party app that I've grown to love is Hootesuite. An app that helps you post at all the right times. What does that matter? Well, for artists we want to be sure that our target audience is actually seeing our stuff. The best way to do that is to post within your optimum time slots. You're probably going, what the heck is that? I'll explain. For each industry, there is a specific time of day or night where people within the industry are most active. For example. In the automotive sales industry, the best time to make any posts or ads are usually before or after regular business hours. Most people who buy vehicles work some kind of 9 to 5 so if you post during those hours you're likely to miss an opportunity to reach them. But if you make a post right around dinner time it's more likely they will see your ad. Now, for artists the time varies, but they say the best times to post is anywhere between 11 pm and 3 am. Peak times being 2am. Well that's crazy, I don't want to stay up just so I can post something online. I feel you! This is where Hootsuite comes in. You sync your accounts to the app - I currently use it for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I then write my post - within 140 characters so not to disturb the Twitter gods. You can also choose to post it instantly, or you can schedule your post for whenever you feel would be a great time to reach your audience. So go ahead, schedule that post to go at the crack of dawn! You'll be sound asleep but your posts won't go unnoticed. Once you have used the app for a while it learns your patterns as well. So for me, I can choose to "auto schedule" and it will schedule my post based on the time my previous posts got the most attention. Lately, since I do most of my art stuff on weekends, my posts have been performing the best around 9 am on a Monday. So I'll write my post on Sunday and set it to auto schedule. It also breaks it down by the app. For example, my posts to Twitter get noticed earlier than my posts to Facebook. So Hootsuite will alter the times by about 10 or 15 mins for each account. It's just that easy.
Do you remember when Social Media was first referred to as Social Networking? I feel like that's a better term for the way I use my social platforms. Since I live in a relatively small town, I don't have access to grand Art Galleries or high profile art collectors. So I have to use what I do have to the best of my ability. I had to network myself among like-minded people, join online communities, and participate in discussions I found important. By using the tools I have I've been able to grow my brand and get my art out to places I never could have imagined. It can be daunting at first but know that there are so many others like you out there who are on very similar journeys. In a world where there is so much hate, I think it's so important to show support, share the love and lift people up whenever possible. Don't be afraid to show the world who you are, reach out for help, be the help others need and stay true to who you are. Not to sound all after school special about it. I just find that if you want to put yourself out there, you have to be willing to take that first step, and that would be far less scary if you knew you were stepping into a net of support rather than a net of hate. Be the love you want to see!
That's all for now my friends, it's been a blast. I'm so so thankful for the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience.
Until next time!
Follow Laura on her journey!
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All photos provided by the artist/guest blogger.
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