Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Art of Business

Seattle Metals Guild workshop committee is offering a series of 3 classes for developing your online presence. Here is an interview with the workshop instruct
rThe Business of Art with Gwen Gyldenege
A three-workshop series. Learn to increase your online visibility, share your art, and find new customer bases.

Are you pondering how your business is going and what you might do to increase sales or just understand a bit more of the internet hubbub. SMG workshop committee has received many requests in the past to offer workshops to help understand and As an Artist be recognized on the internet. It is a great mystery to many of us and "WHY DO I NEED TO DO THIS"' so in that vein of thought we present

The Art of Business interview with Gwen Gyldenege February 2012
Why get online?
Having a professional presence as an artist online is not about sharing what you ate for lunch or how angry you are at the customer who jilted you. It's about sharing your art, what inspires you and connecting to your patrons. It's a way to catalog your work into a portfolio and to make it easy for people to find you and learn about, then buy your work.
Let's say you create jewelry that has a distinctly modern aesthetic and is inspired by the Texas Hill Country. Many people today will search online for things they like first, before they even consider going to a store. Then, there are other patrons who, after seeing your work in a gallery, want to be able to look at all the other amazing works of art you create online and extend the joy of browsing and discovering your art. Because of examples like the previous two, it is becoming increasingly more important for artists to have at least a simple presence online. You can keep it as small as a brief, single page website or a facebook business page. Or, you can be as ellaborate as existing on a website, blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, email newsletter and more.

If there are so many people online. How do potential patrons people find me?
Let's continue with the same example of aesthetically modern, Texas Hill country inspired jewelry. When someone is searching on Google for "modern hill country jewelry" you want them to be able to find you, look at what you have to offer, and then decide that they want to buy a piece of your work. In the past, they had to stumble upon you at a gallery, a show or festival, through a friend or another patron. It was very heavily dependent upon who knew about you.
Think of being online like listing yourself in those printed phone books still arriving at your doorstep. You make a website and then enable it to be found by search engines. This is like putting up an ad in the yellow pages. Then, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo allow people to search everywhere on the web for whatever they want. This is like when you flip through the yellow pages in the "jewelers" section or "art galleries" in "Seattle" and scour the pages for something that looks "modern" to your eye. This scouring action is what search engines do - they are smart enough to match words on your website page to words that someone is searching. Then, the search engine presents them with a list of pages to view.
The closest way a printed phone book could give you a custom tailored list of results is with an index, and even that leaves something to be desired if you're seeking to find "Texas Hill Modern" jewelry. In printed media, it's up to the the person reading the phone book to interpret the results. Now, with search engines, we can describe what we are so that we are more easily found. People can now search on your name, where you sell, what you sell, a description of the piece, etc. It all depends on how descriptive you get and how well you know your customers interests and their buying process (what, why & when do they buy).
Why do I have to share my story?
You share to create interest. You share photos of your work or links to things that interest you to build connections and build relationships with your patrons. You give things, like knowledge, away so that people begin to recognize you as an expert in your field.
When you are working away in your studio and you have an Einstein discovery moment, where you come upon an amazing new technique, aren't you excited by that? Haven't you then shown a friend or shared it with another artist who got just as excited? By using things like Facebook, twitter, or a blog post to share this exciting new thing, you are now putting the word out for others who share in the same interests to find you.
What kind of guidelines would you suggest for sharing?
Personally, I only write or share things I would feel comfortable saying to someone in-person. When we don't have someone in front of us as we write, post, tweet, etc. we have a tendency to over share or get very unpleasant. If you wouldn't want your kids, employer, archenemy, or friends to know your thoughts, techniques, or art, then don't share it. Moral of the story: Be polite, be considerate and be wise.
Why do you need to "know your customers"?
In the past, we all had marketing people who would understand what drives consumers to buy and they wrote ads that targeted those types of people. Unless you are writing books or you have work in a gallery (and even then), very rarely does an artist ever have someone who just goes out and advertises or talks up their work.
Why? Because it hasn't been affordable for a small business. Often, by the time an artist pays for all the services they need, they have very little profit left over. Now, we have the power to do it ourselves. We can augment our fantastic in-person presence with an online presence and now begin to learn about how to build our sales and increase our customers.

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