There is ALWAYS a sodding cat hair!

I hate framing my work. I know it’s an essential part of being an artists and a skill I need to hone but boy does it suck. I would rather do anything, ANYTHING other than frame. Everything looks alluring, cleaning the loo, scraping those grim bits of food out of the crack in the table, going to a parents evening, anything. I have become just a little pathalogical about avoiding it. And because I hate it so much I always leave it till the last minute before an exhibition thus putting even more pressure on myself.

24 hours to go. There is finally no escape

It comes to the final day before the hand in deadline. Grumpy and stressed I have no alternative but to just get down to it and do it.

So I get all my equipment out and start to enforce “The Framing Zone”. This is an area in the tradition of a NASA “Clean Room”- allegedly free from all traces of jam, cat sick, dust bunnies, half eaten sweets, kid detritus, unidentified gooey things and the general mess of which my house seems to be primarily constructed. My long suffering husband and kids know that they enter “The Framing Zone” at their peril.

The crucial importance of wine in the framing process

The final part of preparation is to ensure I have a LARGE glass of wine for moral support.

And then it begins. I measure, mark, cut, tape, clean, screw and swear a lot. {This is why the kids need to be kept out of the area}.

Then finally, my framing completed I take the finished masterpiece out into the kitchen under the strong light. And you know what?

THERE IS ALWAYS A
SODDING CAT HAIR!

It drives me wild! No matter how careful and sterile I am and no matter how hard I check before finally screwing the back on the picture, a errant cat hair will always have sneaked under the glass and be compressed on a really obvious bit of the picture. This necessitates a return back to square one, taking the whole thing apart and trying to find the culprit {which often disappears as soon as the glass is moved due to some evil static power, only to reappear again when everything is put back together}

At this point I have twice managed to smash the glass on a frame as I fumble angrily to reassemble everything. Do you see why the wine is so important now?

Which brings me neatly to my “gigantic cat hair of life” theory

Seriously… The “gigantic cat hair of life” theory is really IMPORTANT for artists.

This theory states that whenever you are trying to achieve something, be it opening an exhibition, changing your career, selling your art, starting your creative business, however meticulously you plan, however careful you are there will always be one or two massive great “cat hairs” that turn up and complicate things, mess things up for a while and make things even harder than they need to be.

This will make you want to give up, shout and swear and chuck your work out of the window.

The key thing is not necessarily to avoid the cat hairs, as that is, as we know, impossible, there will always be one or two. The key is to deal with them well when they arrive. Don’t let them derail you or stop you from achieving your goal and getting where you want to be. Just remove them calmly by whatever means necessary, take a big swig of wine and carry on.

Creative survivors have “cat hair” removal down to a fine art

The people who do well with their creative careers and survive still get the cat hairs to deal with but they just pluck em off and carry on, dealing calmly with whatever adversity throws at them. The ones who sink let the first cat hair they find turn them into a nervous wreck and stop what they are doing, often justifying it with excuses about “not having the right hoover” or cat hair removal tool.

Just remember there will always be a sodding cat hair. That’s life. It’s how you deal with it that counts.

Have you had “cat hairs” to deal with in your creative career? How did you sort them out? Tell us in the comments.

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Artists & Twitter. Just what IS the point?

As an artist you are always being told you need to get on Twitter. Every blog, every news item, every art newsletter you read tells you to do it. So you jump in and join. You start tweeting, a bit about your work, a bit about your blog. You do it religiously for a couple of weeks, get some followers, start to enjoy it AND THEN… you have THE TWITTER CONFIDENCE CRISIS.

It suddenly it hits you. What on earth is the point of all this tweeting, Rting, @ing and DMing? Has the world gone mad? Isn’t Twitter is just some kind of superannuated monster timesinking water cooler discussion about crap? Just what on earth is the point exactly?

Many artists never get over this hump and their tweets fade off into the ether never to return. They mark it down as some huge waste of time with no clear value.

So… I started thinking about Twitter and its uses and how it helps me as an artist. I thought it might be useful to see how I use it and the value I get from it. The value isn’t always direct and obvious, but there is a lot of it hidden away in there.

I use Twitter to:

Think Global

Being an artist who lives on top of a moor in deepest wildest Yorkshire it would be very easy to lose touch with what is going on in the rest of the art world and become isolated . Thankfully via the power of Twitter I can spend a 15 minute lunch break perusing the offerings of New York galleries or art events in Copenhagen. Twitter is a brilliant way to keep up with art news across the globe. What’s not to love?

Act Local

I find that some of the biggest success I have with Twitter {especially sales wise} is when I use it at a local level. It’s easy to search and find people on Twitter who live in your local town, county or state. Relationships that you start on Twitter often translate into real life and may become people who will visit your gallery events or open studios. I have found that this can often lead indirectly to sales of your work. I have met some lovely people this way who I would never have met under normal circumstances.

Publicise events

Following on from the point above, Twitter allows me to search for people interested in art in any area where I am exhibiting. I can then tell them about my upcoming event, preview the work and get them interested and involved in what is going on. It’s a great way to increase the audience of people who might like your work. On the opening day of an event I can send reminders that the show is open via Twitter. All more immediate and likely to be seen than e-mail.

Discover galleries who may like my work.

By following a gallery I can get a feel for their personality and the kind of work they might be interested in. I can keep track of galleries and events in my local area or further afield who might be a good match for my work.

Network with other artists.

Twitter is a great way to get in touch and see what other artists are working on. A great source of inspiration and camaraderie. Seeing others work also inspires you to keep your own work fresh.

Build my mailing list

Whenever I post a blog entry on Twitter it usually results in a few signups to my mailing list. In turn this offers me the opportunity to tell people who may be interested about any future work they might like.

Drive traffic to my latest blog posts

Whenever I write a new post on my site I link to it from Twitter. This drives quite a lot of traffic and helps to get people more involved in what I do.

Get people interested and involved in my work as it progresses.

Posting ideas and images of preparatory sketches involves people in the work from the start and builds interest. By the time a piece is ready for an exhibition there may already be people interested in coming to see. It’s also great to get feedback as the piece progresses.

And last but not least

Indirect sales

Twitter is not a good medium for direct sales. Don’t expect people to come along and just buy your work straight off there and then. However, Twitter should be seen as some kind of slow burning network system where something will come of it down the line. Someone may discover your work on Twitter, come to a gallery show, join your mailing list and then buy something 6 months down the line. I find this is how I get the most sales through Twitter

So, Twitter does definitely have a point and a great deal of value but it can be a little hidden at first. Still waters run deep and all that. Make sure you get over the Twitter hump and plumb the depths of its possibilities.

How do you find Twitter helps you as an artist? I would love to hear your experiences and how you use it. Please share your experiences in the comments

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Start selling art, crafts or photos online {quickly & without going nuts} Part 2

In Part 1 of this series on how to start selling art, crafts & photos online,  we looked at setting up a website to get your artwork online and start to sell it.

In this post we are going to run through how to market and promote your work and new website:

So… You have your new website set up with your work on it and ways that people can buy it…but… I hear you say, what now?

Get your work on other gallery & market sites

In addition to your main hub site, there are loads of other great places to sell your art work online too. Depending on what you do some will be more suitable than others. Some sell your creative items direct and some {print-on-demand sites} offer reproductions of your work in a variety of interesting formats.

“Print-on-demand” sites can be a great way of creating another income stream around your art. For example, if you have an original oil painting you may wish to sell copies of it as greetings cards or posters. This gives you additional sales and an additional income stream from your original image.

One drawback of using some of these sites, especially the handmade & craft markets, is that competition tends to make prices very low and of course if you price low on one site you have to match that across any other site where you sell your art too. If you work is high cost you may want to only sell it through your own site.

Having said that, many of these sites have great community spirit and are a great way to showcase your work. You can also use them as a shopping cart by linking your gallery directly to the items you have on them if you don’t want to accept payment on your main site itself {although they will take a commission}

A great way to work is to place your work on maybe 3 of these sites and then link from your hub website to them. That way you can drive traffic to all your satellite sites from your main site.

Check out these great places to sell your creativity online and see which ones might suit your work.

  • Redbubble – Print on Demand. Also offers framing – great for photographers
  • Imagekind – Print on demand. Also offers framing. Great for photographers as well
  • Society 6 – Print-on-demand site where you can offer your work in some interesting formats, such as iPhone or Laptop skins
  • Etsy – Wonderful cornucopia of crafters work. Downside is that it’s massive so you have to work hard to promote your work.
  • Folksy – A market for crafters work that is smaller and more UK focussed.
  • ArtFire – Great place for selling handmade craft items
  • 1000markets – Market for unique and handcrafted gifts

Remember to link to these sites from your main hub website to drive traffic as its easy for your work to get lost in amongst everyone else’s. Its easier to promote your own site and then send the visitors to your other shop sites via links.

PROMOTE, promote, promote. Shout it from the rooftops & tell the world

If there is a secret to successful art sales on the web it’s MARKETING YOUR WORK & WEBSITE. Unfortunately many people make the mistake of sitting back and thinking the website will do all the work and then wonder why they don’t sell anything. Like a real life gallery with no visitors you won’t sell anything if no one sees your work. A website alone won’t do the job of getting people to visit and look at your creations. The truth is that for your website to work for you, you have to TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT…

You need to drive traffic to your main site and and through links from that to your other shop sites too. Promotion and marketing are the lifeblood of your website and will get the visitors flowing through. Thankfully its easy and fun to do on the web by making the most of Social Media.

Social Media for artists

Social Media networks are very useful for this. Social Media is defined by the use of sites and networks whose main purpose is social interaction, communication and the creation and exchange of user generated content. Ie they allow you to have a sit down and chat with people all over the world.

There are many many different social media networks that you might want to explore but he two main ones that its worth looking at for starters are Twitter & Facebook.

The key with both sites {and all social media} is RELATIONSHIPS. Nobody likes anyone who just goes on about themselves all the time and its the same in Social Media. Its no use just talking about your self in a steady stream of links to your work for sale. People will soon get bored of that and unfollow, block or ignore you.

Make sure you share interesting and useful information, links to other sites that you like, other artists work, posts relating to the kind of work that you do. The rule is create about 12 links to other interesting things to every one that you link to your own work. Be generous, share and meet people.

Start building relationships on these networks with links back to your main site and you will soon have a steady stream of traffic.

Blogging

Start blogging on your main website. Write posts about your work and other related themes that people who like your work might find interesting. Blogging is one of the main ways you can get people interested in what you do and attract visitors so it’s definitely worth investing some time in.

Blog about

  • Your methods
  • Your inspiration
  • Your upcoming shows and exhibitions
  • Your loves and passions
  • Your future plans and ideas

You will attract like minded people who will probably like what you do.

Cosy up with Google

It’s important that Google and other search engines can find and index your work easily. This is often made to sound really complicated but in reality is a lot easier than it sounds. With a FolioTwist website a lot of this is taken care of for you, but it pays to understand the process and what you can do to increase your visibility.

You might like to read this post about simple Search Engine Optimisation {SEO} for artists which can really help you get visitors by making your site more google friendly.

Collect emails and start building an email mailing list

After all this hard work in building and promoting a website you don’t want to miss the visitors who come to your site and leave after a quick look. Chances are you will never see them again so you want to get their details if possible. Collect their emails and start building your mailing list of people who are interested in your work. That way, when you have some new work to show you can alert your army of potential buyers and you have a market ready and waiting. It’s crucial to start collecting emails right from the start.

  • Make sure you have a means of collecting emails on your site. A simple contact form can be used to begin with.
  • Don’t use your Outlook or Hotmail account to send out emails. It looks unprofessional and is untrackable and often undeliverable too. MailChimp offer a free email service which is a great starting point. You may want to progress on to a product like Aweber when you are a little more established.
  • Make sure you make it clear that you won’t abuse the details and sell them on
  • Keep any signup forms simple. Ask for the minimum of information. People will be more likely to sign up
  • Offer visitors to your site something nice to persuade them to sign up. Perhaps a downloadable copy of a piece of your work or entry into a draw for a painting.
  • You can collect details for your mailing list at your real world gallery shows and exhibitions too.
  • This post gives you some simple ideas about how to get more sign ups at gallery exhibitions and craft fairs.
  • Read this post about the power of mailing lists to artists.

Be patient

Don’t worry that you don’t see instant results. Selling art on the internet takes time. Don’t get disheartened if nothing much seems to happen at first. Just keep soldiering on and you WILL notice things start to work. Make sure you give yourself at least 6 months to start to see some results from all your hard work.

Above all, have fun telling people about your work and you will start see an improvement in your sales.


If you found this post useful why not Get Updates By Email

Get my FREE Course “5 Days to More Art Sales” which points you in the right direction with inspiration and a plan for starting to sell your artwork online.

This is by necessity of space a very quick look at getting your work online. I have made a large part of the content of my ebook “How to sell your art craft and photos online” [previously for sale} available online for free. View the content here

 

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10 shiny golden rules of social media for artists {for Twitter, Facebook, everywhere}

Social media networks {like Twitter & Facebook to name just 2 of the more well known ones} can be a great source of support, collaboration, fun and valuable traffic for an artists online… but like everything {well, most things}, you gotta stick to the rules.

There are some essential ground rules that are pretty universal across all social media sites. Keeping on the right side of the established etiquette can make a big difference if you are trying to use Twitter, Facebook or any social network to help sell your art. If you annoy people they won’t be interested in what you have to say.

So here are 10 pretty essential common sense rules to bear in mind when you venture into social media.

DO do do…

Use your real name

People feel more trusting of a real person and will interact more freely with you.

Be Real

Don’t try to pretend to be somebody you are not. You will come across as false. Share, be honest and be a genuine person. People are attracted to these qualities and you will have better quality and genuine conversations conversations with others, which is really the main point of social media.

Personalise your profile

Make the effort to put up an avatar and personalise your space as much as possible, whatever site you are using. Don’t just leave it as the default. That way people know that you are a real person and not just a spammer or automated bot. People are more likely to trust and interact with you if you have added images or a biography for example.

Respect people and their “virtual space”

This is the most important DO. Don’t start hounding people with information about your work or starting arguments on forums. Be nice and treat people the way you want to be treated.

Say Thank You

You know what your mum used to say… and she was right!. If someone does something nice, say showcases your work on their forum or tweet – say Thanks! Its a great conversation starter and if you don’t acknowledge their helpfulness they won’t bother again.

DON’T even think about…

Don’t view other Social Media users as competitors

This is a new way of doing things. People who do a similar thing to you can offer great collaboration opportunities. You may be able to learn from them. Create trusting and sharing relationships and you can both help each other.

Don’t just spam with links to your stuff

The most important don’t. This is where most people who say “Social Media doesn’t work” fall down. They are pushing their stuff for sale without giving anything in return. You’ve seen them on Twitter, long lists of links to shop items with no conversation in between. You have to give to receive.

Make sure you share good interesting useful content, both your own and from other sources. A good ratio of sales message [ie “look at my new painting”] to useful content [ie “read this blog I found about making your own sketchbooks”] is around 1/12. Again its about having a two way genuine conversation.

Don’t get obsessed with numbers

As always 10,000 twitter followers who don’t give a monkeys about your work are less valuable than 1 follower who really loves it.

Don’t spread yourself too thin

There are SO many Social Media networks out there. You can’t participate in all of them without going actually insane. Choose where you focus your energies wisely.

Don’t Expect instant results

Social Media works like real world networking where a friend of a friend might buy something 2 years down the line. You need to build it up gradually. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.

Bonus rule

Wherever you are interacting online, if you try and stick within these guidelines you shouldn’t go far wrong. There’s one bonus  last rule {I had to break the rule of 10!} that’s maybe the most important one of all and that is… HAVE FUN


If you found this post useful why not Get Updates By Email

Get my FREE Course “The Artists Escape Plan” which points you in the right direction with inspiration and a plan for starting to sell your artwork online.

The images illustrating this post come from the lovely Spoongraphics blog by Chris Spooner. Chris offers great tutorials, free icons and a lot lot more on his blog. Well worth checking out. Download Chris’s free social media icon pack here.

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