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FIB - Scams 101 - Ye Olde Archives

Au contraire...

Posted By: Mel. White
Tuesday, 21 February 2006, at 6:48 a.m.

In Response To: That is completely not true, Mel. (Bluto)

> * SEO - Search Engine Optimization - Getting your website to rank well on
> search engines for certain keywords that your customers would search on to
> find a site like yours - Is this useless for art sites?

In fact, it IS a waste of time. If someone's looking for your website, they search by name. If I put my art online (which I don't), you would search for "Mel White" and after finding that there are at least 500 people online named "Mel White" you'd search for "Mel White" and art. Or you'd search for one of my comic books by title. You make sure the site is findable, but don't pay and go through the stress of getting it to the top of the heap because it still won't pay you back by generating that much more in sales.

Remember, I'm speaking from experience as an artist and a member of a community of artists. We've done this. We've been there. Drew the t-shirt.

People buy art in ways different than they buy information products. Art is a matter of taste as well as an impulse buy. Your site could be numero uno for all categories and specific categories and that won't mean your target audience will find it. They buy on size (numbers don't mean much to folks, but "gosh that's about the right size for my bathroom wall" does mean something) and color (which is different on Macs and on PCs) as well.

Having a good set of tags and titles on your images so that people can see them on a search in Google images is worth taking the time on. Optimizing for pottery and checking every week to make sure you come up at the top of the heap or in the top 100 is not.

Remember, I'm speaking as an artist and as one of the officers of an international artists' organization, ASFA. I have spent a lot of time not only marketing my own work but also talking with artists with successful and unsuccessful websites. ASFA has published a number of articles by artists on how to successfully market your art by artists who make a good living at it. We went through the SEO phase some 6 years ago, and the conclusion of the artists is "spend your time painting, instead."

Because our income relies on us producing original product and secondarily on sales of reprints, income dropped during the time when the artists spent time on internet marketing rather than on producing new art.

> * Newsletters - Are these useless for art sites?


Blog is better, and blogs have the advantage of (if you put them on a large blogsite) crosslinking with other artist blogs. This is generally how people find new artists in the most efficient manner (since the people who like their art will often like the same art that they like.)

Taking advantage of the blogsphere and putting comments in other artists' blogs (particularly people who show up at the same shows that you do) is an extremely effective method and not very time-consuming. So you're targeting at no cost and for little effort people who are likely to have an interest in your art. If they like your style, they'll check your blog daily to see what's going on and where you're going to be and will comment on rough sketches and so forth. And they will put up with 2-line blog messages, a picture or two, and an irregular schedule in a blog.

They will respond and dialogue with "well, I tried this but I don't think I like it. I think this is better. What do YOu think?" in a blog... information that is useful to the artist. They will mention you in their own blogs and link to your blog (which gets the secondary market... viral marketing at work.)

Newsletters stuffed with images aren't welcome in many email inboxes and are likely to be nuked. Diary-style newsletters don't get read. We know this because artists have tried it (even prolific writers like my friend Maggie) and it simply doesn't work. In fact, it's been tried as a co-op effort. Doesn't work.

Newsletters will work as long as you have a source of income supporting you and an aide who works for you for free and devotes their complete workday efforts to marketing and promoting you. This is the reason that artist Real Musgrave (a friend who does the Pocket Dragons) is so successful -- his wife, Muff, is a one-woman marketing tour-de-force who devotes her entire day to getting his product to shows, dealing with vendors, dealing with resale, packaging, producing newsletters, and so forth.

But that means someone devoting their entire life to promoting your art.

> * Placing ads - (PPC, classified, etc) - are these useless for art sites?

Yes. Completely. You spend less, in fact, on a good set of business cards with a tiny picture on it (I've done this) and put those cards in a little holder on your art show panel. You will get MORE clicks and more business from those cards (it's been tried, believe me) than you will from paying for clicks.

> I don't care if you are selling widgets, giving business advice, or just
> displaying jokes and funny pictures, internet marketing is necessary to
> the success of ANY website that needs traffic and customers.

Which is done most effectively offline for artists. Not online.

Marketing at shows puts your site into the hands of a target audience (they're there to see the art, and they're there to see a specific kind of art) with a specific known demographic profile, and specifically reaches people who are the most likely to buy your art at some point.

Many artists have tried the traditional Internet Marketing methods (including the very good advice from folks like Cory) and abandoned it because it produces almost no result. Blogs, image links, and business cards (and brochures for shows) work like gangbusters.

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