When a fellow artist friend visited me in my studio last summer, he asked, "What do you do in the winter?". My reply was something snarky and self deprecating. If I had to guess, "Hibernate and wallow" was the exact response.
The truth is, there is never any lack of work to be done. When you sell online and promote yourself as a self representing artist, the list of new sites to update, new tricks of the trade, and the ever changing environment of selling/promoting online can keep you so busy you may consider cloning yourself (but I wouldn't advise it, watch Multiplicity if you don't believe me).
With that being said, I've got a list of things I've been up to that I'd like to share, and I could really gab about each one at length but I'll try and be as brief and succinct as possible because, you know, time is precious and all that. (ETA: Brevity is not my forte - see below).
Facebook - I think I figured out the best way to utilize my art page JUST as everything was about to change (exposure of posts has been limited as they are encouraging more paid posts, aka "boosts", from pages). If I had clued in about a year or so ago, who knows what it could have done for exposure/sales, but alas, it is what it is. We only have the now to work with, right?
That being said, I greatly increased the number of likes on my page by doing a few simple things. First of all, I made it a New Year's resolution to only give myself a little time in the morning and at night to look at my "regular" facebook feed - if any time at all. As anyone on facebook knows, it is so easy to discover you've just spent an hour looking at pictures, following links to stories to read, or watching videos that make you laugh. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that! But for me, it was an easy distraction through the day that took me away from my work. When you are your own boss, it's easy to let things like that slide but, again, there are only so many hours in the day. Cutting back on "regular" facebook time was also for my own mental well being. I began to realize how depressed it could make me or anxious/enraged depending on my mood (and what might be happening in the world at any given moment).
Focusing on my art page, I began to like more pages as my art page, therefore giving me a feed that was nothing but art... what a refreshing change! Now I look at facebook and comment/like in a totally different way. Not as Jessica liking her friend's picture of a recently devoured dish of crème brûlée (as scrumptious as it may appear to be), but as Jessica "the artist" liking and sharing pictures of fellow artists from all over the world. This has led to making new connections with other creators and entering into dialogues about my favorite subject... ART!
Also - and this seems so simple, because it is - the more frequently you post, the more action you'll see happening on your page. That's pretty much the case with every site out there across the board. A "no duh" observation? Maybe. But hey, it took me long enough to catch on to the obvious, maybe it can help a reader or two as well.
My final note on this is that I am still always tempted to bounce back onto my regular facebook account to see what people are up to, some days more than others. But on the whole I have a new attitude about using facebook, and it means a lot more art time every day, which has been great.
Pinterest - I'll admit, I really didn't "get" Pinterest at first. My husband still doesn't and probably never will. (He's the first person to support and cheer me on in my work, but you should see his eyes glaze over when I excitedly show him a new board. Just. Doesn't. Get it.)
The way I look at Pinterest now, and have begun to see the whole world of presenting yourself online, is that it is a reflection of your unique aesthetic, interests and abilities. Yes, Pinterest is a great tool for promoting your own work, but if that's all you do there, you may not get many followers. Creating new boards that are AUTHENTICALLY interesting to you (more on that later) is where it is at. For me, I feel like I have different versions of myself that are side by side, just as real and "me" from one to the next. One version of myself would ideally live somewhere tropical by the sea, wearing flowing white dresses and turquoise jewelry, barefoot 24/7. Thus, Coastal Style and Coastal Home were created. Another version of me lives in a funky, artsy house wearing colorful fashion that screams "I'm an artiste!". I also could see myself in a chic NYC loft, or a country cottage with a kitchen garden outside, or a rustic, natural home in the woods. None of that may sound like it has much to do with art per say, but they each have a unique, true-to-me aesthetic. Most importantly, it's something that I get real enjoyment from, and so finding the time (and items to pin) to make these boards interesting is genuinely FUN for me.
As for art, well that's what 90% or so of what my pinning is about. I do pin my original work, reproductions, etc, but my Contemporary Art board of other artist's work gets a ton of action regularly and is my most popular board, not surprisingly. As with my other boards, I don't pin anything and everything that could possibly fit. I only pin images that I truly love and connect with. That makes my board something unique amongst the plethora of other boards out there about art, painting, abstract art, etc. because no one has exactly the same tastes as I do (Or you! Just think about that for a moment and begin to see the real value it has!) I also enjoy pinning work of great artists in history that I admire, and images of where artists work.
Once I shifted my perspective from "how can I use this to make me sales" to "how can I use this to present my unique perspective and aesthetic as an artist and a 'taste-maker'", everything changed. That's when the world of Pinterest really opened up for me and things took off from there. In the process, this genuine content sharing leads to views and possible sales for my own work, so, in a roundabout way, I've ended up accomplishing my original hope for the site - getting views and sales!
Twitter - For a long time Twitter was simply the dumping ground for any content I shared online. Post a new pic on Tumblr or my facebook page? Off to Twitter it goes. I didn't pay attention to it, I didn't think of it as its own entity, I just let it fly. If someone followed me, I most likely followed back. I never spent any time there, so who cares who I add/follow?
Well, I am in the midst of changing all that. First of all, the ability to upload pictures makes the experience of using Twitter SO much more enjoyable when it comes to following and sharing artist's work (let alone your own). It's all about a visual experience when it comes to sharing your artistic vision, so a bunch of images rather than verbal soundbites are much more interesting/engaging. Second of all, in the process of discovering new artists and interesting people to follow, I'm also unfollowing a lot that have no use for me. (That sounds harsh but clearly I mean me personally, not that they have no use at all... ok... you get it). By selectively choosing who to follow, it makes the experience of Twitter a lot more enjoyable and engaging. If I follow you, it's because I am genuinely interested in what you have to share and/or say rather than hoping to have an "I'll pat your back if you pat mine" relationship. I think the former has a lot more value ultimately. Which leads me to my final point about all of this social networking...
For a long time, I did whatever I could do to promote my work, get seen, get sales, etc. Sometimes it felt right, a lot of times it felt like desperate scrambling or clawing at any nibble of potential. I am so over that way of looking at my work and the world of social networking. I don't think it actually serves anyone to create or share something that isn't truly of interest to them. To boil it down... create what you want deep in your heart to create. Share what genuinely interests or excites you. Otherwise, what's the point? If you don't honestly care or feel passionate about something, why would anyone else?
With that in mind, the next piece of this puzzle fits together and comes about rather effortlessly.
Maybe that's not exactly the right word for it, but what I'd like to convey here is the potential of utilizing interconnected content across many different platforms. (Whoa... that was a mouthful.) In simpler terms, and as an example, I could easily go on a pinning binge sharing unique artwork I discover one after another, being led down a rabbit hole of new boards to explore, and more and more art to gaze upon. Once I come up for air from that, I can go back and copy/paste the names of each new artist I've pinned on Facebook, adding their pages (if they have one) and in some cases, sharing an image I find particularly striking on their page. Or when I'm on Etsy, I look at my favorites now purely as curating. What would I genuinely wish to offer customers if I owned my own dream gift shop/gallery? Or how would I stage a fabulous beach home, or arrange a fashion spread in an niche catalog? Once again, I look at "favoriting" as another opportunity to reflect my aesthetic authentically. In the process of discovering artists/shops that strike my fancy, I can follow them on Facebook or Twitter and/or pin something I love. You see what I mean? It becomes a dance between these various sites, a "synergistic swirl" if you will, and when done organically and sincerely, it's actually quite a lot of fun as well as SERIOUSLY inspiring. There is no lack of value in that department.
Now that I've shared all that, guess what? There is SO MUCH MORE WORK TO BE DONE! But as far as understanding and best utilizing these three sites - for now - I think I've got a pretty solid system worked out that is going to work for me. And really, that's the advice that I've give to anyone . Do this stuff if you actually like it, find a way to make it work uniquely and sincerely for you, and if you just don't enjoy it, no matter what, then don't do it! It's not worth your time. Speaking of... someone's got to cook dinner and that someone is me.