Episode 241 – New Markets for Artists / Lessons from an Independent Artist

Lessons from an Independent Artist

It’s important to remember that this is not the only kind of art that Abbey Ryan produces, but it is how she earns a living. She works on other art projects in addition to her daily paintings, but her daily paintings remain consistent and familiar. In other words, she doesn’t experiment all the time with her daily paintings; she takes greater risks in her studio work that is not on eBay. The images she uploads every day are similar, and her audience knows what to expect.

There are many lessons to be learned from Abbey Ryan’s story, but more than anything it shows what can happen in today’s online markets, no matter where you live in the world. At the very least, it proves that eBay can be a legitimate resource for selling your work and earning a living. If you want to make a start in this kind of market, there are several things you take into consideration. Begin by thinking about what kind of work you could sell online, consistently, every day. Imagine yourself doing it. Does it feel exciting, or does it feel overwhelming? If it seems like a possibility for you, then the next step is to begin to formulate your strategy.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 240 – New Markets for Artists / Success for Abbey Ryan

Why Success for Abbey Ryan?

There are many painters who follow this type of process, but Abbey Ryan has been particularly successful, so let’s examine why that is. To begin with, she was very consistent in her approach, especially during the first year. To put up a painting on eBay every day takes more than work; it takes dedication, especially when the prices are low and people aren’t bidding. In her first year, Ryan worked very hard and wasn’t making much money. Could you do that?

Ryan’s commitment was certainly one of the keys to her success. But let’s look at how she managed her online market. She was using three sources at first: eBay, a blog, and her website. That’s a total of three forums to update and manage every single day. It wasn’t very hard work, but she had to learn how to do it, and that takes time. That was some of what she learned and worked through in her first year. Also, she wasn’t shy about promoting her work and sending links to blogs and news outlets that might write about her. Now, if she gets press anywhere, she high- lights it right away on her website and blog and shares it with the world. She has added Facebook and Twitter to the mix now and also offers giclée prints of her work at $50. All of her knowledge on this type of selling was gained in less than three years, so no matter what age you are or where you live, in a few years you could potentially have a whole new education and career.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 239 – New Markets for Artists / eBay and Selling Art Online: Two Cases

Chapter 6

eBay and Selling Art Online: Two Cases

Traditional methods still survive, but options are multiplying all the time for selling your work. Rags-to-riches stories are much more common today because the Internet has provided loop holes in the playing field so that emerging artists can suddenly gain fame through a blog or a viral video or other methods.

Abbey Ryan, the Painter Who Made a Living on eBay

The way art is marketed and sold keeps changing with the times. Now with eBay, Amazon, and other retailers, wholesalers, and trading services online, you have many, many options, and you can use one or several of these resources to sell your work.

To give an example of one approach to selling art online, I interviewed an artist named Abbey Ryan, who uses eBay to sell her work. Her process is fairly straightforward and very profitable. She began the practice of painting one canvas every day, a small, square canvas that was always the same size. The paintings were usually of a piece of fruit or a minimal still life. After she finished each painting, she would post it on eBay and also on her blog. She also sent out an email to friends telling them what she was doing.

For the first year she did this, the minimum bid on her paintings was around $50. At first, her paintings sold for well under $100 each on eBay. In fact, for a whole year, her paint- ings were selling for under $100 each, and some didn’t sell at all. But after a year, her prices began to increase because people were bidding higher on eBay. Now three years have gone by and each painting sells for $800 to $1,000. Since she makes over three hundred paintings a year, she is bringing in at least

$200,000 a year from this. For some artists, that might seem like a dream. Here she is in her studio—which is not in a major city—working away, shipping her art all over the world and making a living at it. There are other painters and writers who have used the Internet to create one work a day and get the word out to potential buyers. In 2011, there was a “draw every day” campaign running on Twitter, and many people simply took photographs of their daily drawings and uploaded the picture to their Twitter accounts. Commitment to this kind of a process can work well for writers and artists, because it helps them to put their work out there every day and feel supported by others doing the same. It’s also a great way to get constant feedback on your artistic output.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 238 – New Markets for Artists / Examine Ads That Get Your Attention

Examine Ads That Get Your Attention

Look at other ads and see what jumps out at you; this will help you get a sense of what gets your attention and what doesn’t. I just went to my Facebook account page and found two ads by artists on there, which is no coincidence. The first ad has the artist’s name at the top of the ad, and the text—  to the right of the image—says “View Original Art by Award Winning Artist [her name].” In the second ad, the artist put his name at the top followed by the words “View the Art of Figurative artist [his name].” In both cases, the artist included an image of their work. Now when someone looks at that ad, they have two options, as opposed to a Google ad, where the only way to interact with the ad is to click it. On Facebook, there is a small thumbs-up symbol underneath the ad with the word “Like” next to it, followed by a number that tells you how many people have “liked” it on Facebook. In addition to clicking on the ad, which links to your website or Facebook page, people can also “like” your ad. You see, people may be too busy to click on your link and look at your art, but if they are getting enough information from your one sentence and the picture next to it, they can just click the thumb and “like” it. They don’t even have to look at your page, and you get that person’s name. But how do you get their name?

In the case of both of the artists’ ads I described, the ad links through to their Facebook page instead of their website. OK, it gets a tiny bit complicated here. Either of those artists could have made the link go straight to their website, so why did they choose to send people to their Facebook page? For one thing, they would not get the “like” link below their ad if the ad linked to their website. Having that “like” link is very nice because you will be able to see the individual’s name without their having to sign up for your mailing list, which takes much longer. Then, you can send a newsfeed story on Facebook to all the users who liked the page. However, this is where Facebook keeps changing policies, which we can expect endlessly, so it may be different when you are working on your ad, but it is the same idea. Remember, through experimentation you will learn most of this, not by understanding it all first, but by jumping in-make an ad.

As with Google AdWords, you will be asked to make a decision about your search criteria. On Facebook, you have much more to choose from. You can target certain areas, like the city or state you live in, or you can target Facebook users who are artists, collectors, curators, or even people with certain birthdays, meaning people in a particular age group. There are many, many criteria to search through, so take your time on this step, but also remember that you can always make changes; nothing is set in stone and Facebook itself keeps adding new tools all the time. And don’t worry if this seems confusing; when you go to Facebook and begin the process, it will guide you through many of the decisions you have to make.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 237 – New Markets for Artists / Watching Your Ad Work

Watching Your Ad Work

Once your campaign is up and running, you can log into your AdWords account and see exactly how your ads are working. You will be able to see where the traffic is coming from, which of your ads performed the best, and which keywords were the most effective. As you look over that data, you might notice that some keywords worked better than others, and you can judge this by how many seconds people stayed on your home page after clicking on your ad. If they stayed for less than two seconds, then chances are they knew right away they were on the wrong page; that means they were searching for something else. Based on these results you might want to stop using some keywords and try others instead. Your goal is to make each click count, and that means having people stay on your page for five seconds or longer, which would indicate that they are actually interested. The other criterion that you can adjust is location. In the case of the Thomas McNight ad I discussed, he probably specified an area around his studio as the target location for his ad, or maybe even several states around his studio. That way, the people who found his site could actually go visit his studio if they wanted, and that’s a big plus. Those people would come to think of him as a local artist whom they could meet. These are all considerations when creating a Google AdWords campaign. You can find the help you need to set up and maintain your campaign online, but Google also has a customer service phone number you can call. It’s worth noting that Facebook does not offer this kind of personal support as of 2012.

A Facebook Campaign

To start a Facebook campaign, you need to have a Facebook account. When you are on your Facebook page,  search for “Facebook ad,” and you will find easy instructions on how to get started. In many ways, it’s very similar to the Google AdWords setup process (probably because that’s where they got the idea from). As I said earlier, the difference with Facebook is that you can include a picture and you have more information about the people you are reaching. Now the fun begins. You begin by creating an ad for your campaign that includes a photograph (uploaded from your computer) and also some text (which you’ll have to write, and which will appear next to it). It may seem obvious to you, as an artist, to include a picture of your art, but that depends on how well your art reads when the dimensions are so small, about 1” x ½”.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 236 – New Markets for Artists / Advanced Targeting

Advanced Targeting

Since Facebook knows its users’ birthdays, hometowns, schools, and interests, your ad can target people with very specific interests and backgrounds, making Facebook something really new and precise in advertising. Never before have so many people so willingly provided so much information that could be accessed by advertisers. For ages, advertisers have been trying to figure out how to better know and target their audiences, and here it is—all the work done for you, all the data collected.

Is Facebook more effective than Google AdWords? I think so, but Google AdWords are also very powerful in another way. Facebook may have millions of registered users, but in order for them to see your ad they do have to be on Facebook. With Google AdWords, all you have to do is perform a search on Google. That’s very effective because it means that people are actually looking for something, so they are more likely to be actively interested in your ad, whereas on Facebook, your ad appears and draws interest, but the people who see it, are not actively seeking what your ad has to offer. If you can afford to experiment with both Facebook and AdWords, that’s what I’d recommend. If not, I would start with Facebook.

Your Campaign: Getting Started

First, take a deep breath and know that this is not a complex process, though it may seem so at first. All you are doing is placing ads targeted to a specific audience on the Internet, so that your art will become more visible and attract buyers. You are doing this instead of placing ads in traditional media like magazines or putting up posters around town because not only do Internet ads reach people worldwide, they can target a specific audience.

The next step is to begin with either Google AdWords  or Facebook. Let’s say you are beginning with Google Ad- Words. Just search for the phrase “Google AdWords” and you’ll find the site very easily. The best way to get started is to call them up on the phone. If you would rather do it all online without speaking to someone, then you have that option as well.

Once you have opened an account, you have a few decisions to make. The main one is how much you’re willing to spend. How much can you afford to spend each month? Your budget is important because it will determine how far your ad will reach, and if you decide to spend less or more in the future, you can see how that affects your results and compare.

Once you’ve made that decision, you can  begin  to create your ad. In the case I mentioned, where I Googled “contemporary art,” the first ad that popped up  in the right hand column of  the Google search page was “Thomas McKnight ORIGINALS paintings, prints and more for less. Official site for Thomas McKnight.”

Let’s examine this ad for a moment. I found this by typing in “contemporary art,” so we know he probably chose these as keywords. The keywords are the words you’ll enter when creating your AdWords account so that people searching for something in particular will find you. Thomas McKnight’s ad mentions his name twice, which is probably unnecessary. He is very traditional in his approach as an artist, and yet he uses Google AdWords to advertise, so they must work for him.

If you don’t have a history like his—he has had artwork commissioned by the White House and has pieces in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian—you might want to take a different approach. If your work is abstract, or figurative, or something else, you might want to say that in your ad. The text of your ad can’t be very long, but you can experiment. You can make four or five ads, run them all at once, and see which ones get clicks and which ones don’t. As for the text, start with something easy, like your name and the kind of work you have for sale, and then create more ads that speak to different parts of your art practice that you think people might be interested in. If you paint landscapes, say that, and if you’re a sculptor or performer or conceptual artist, say that too. The idea is to play with it and experiment.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 235 – New Markets for Artists / Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads

More and more I am seeing ads by artists on Facebook. This is a new way to reach an international audience, or a specific audience bounded by your location or other criteria. When I see ads on my Facebook page, they are all related to the arts somehow. There are ads for galleries, museums, artists, and yoga businesses. Why do I get those specific ads? Because when you use Facebook, you are constantly feeding personal information into it. You tell Facebook where you went to college, where you work, and what your interests and hobbies are. That is a lot of information to give out but, remarkably, millions of people do it.

The Facebook Advantage

Facebook’s popularity and its ability to glean personal data from its users give it an edge on Google AdWords in some ways. As of the writing of this book, there are more than 500 million active users on Facebook, and it’s growing all the time. Google has access to more people, with about 100 million searches a day and growing, but Google can’t target a specific audience as effectively as Facebook. That’s because Google does not have all the personal information about you that Facebook has.

Also, when you make an ad for Facebook, you can use a picture, and for an artist that makes a big difference. Ads created for Google AdWords only use text, which makes it very clean looking when you search, but not as visual as Facebook. Facebook ads work in more or less the same as the way as Google AdWords. You pay per click and the process of setting up a campaign is very similar. The big difference on Facebook is that you can include a picture with your ad and the ways in which you can define your search.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 234 – New Markets for Artists / Your Budget

Your Budget

Let’s say you want to spend $30 a month, which is pretty low to begin with. That’s about a dollar a day. The way it works is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can even decide how much you want to pay. Let’s say you decide to pay 10 cents a click. You may get a notice saying that is too low, but let’s imagine the amount of 10 cents per click is accepted. Every time someone clicks your ad, you will be charged 10 cents. If ten people click your ad in a day, your ad will not run until the next day begins because you just spent your dollar a day limit. Because you’re paying for that click, you want to be sure that your first page looks really good and gets the response you’re after, like a phone call or a purchase or a new e-newsletter subscriber. If you increase your budget to $60 a month, you could potentially have twice as many people clicking on your ad. But if you only want to pay 10 cents, you may not get any clicks at all, because other artists are competing with you for the top spot and they can drive up the price; if they are willing to pay 50 cents or more, Google will show their ads first.

One way to get around guessing how much to pay for a click is to make it automatic. That means Google will determine the best rate for you to pay so that you will be competitive, usually somewhere between 75 cents and a dollar. That may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. If you are paying $60 a month for your ad, you could get 60–80 clicks for that amount. If those clicks generate one sale, you will probably be doing well. Google offers support for all aspects of AdWords, so don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed. It’s as simple as filling out forms and following directions.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 233 – New Markets for Artists / Your Ad Campaign

Your Ad Campaign

The elements of an ad campaign are the design of your ad, the amount you want to pay, and the keywords you will use, meaning the words that people will have to type when performing a search for your ad to pop up. This may sound a bit complicated, but it really isn’t once you get going. When you make the ad, you’ll write a few very short lines to get people to click on it. I just Googled “contemporary artist” and this came up first in the ads on the right hand side of the screen: “Thomas McKnight ORIGINALS paintings, prints and more for less. Official site for Thomas McKnight.” The ad links to an artist’s website, the first page of which shows one of his images, with a list of the prints he has for sale right below it, along with prices and his phone number. The site is well made and answers any questions you might have about his art. He has clearly made a successful business out of selling his works and, based on the information on the site as well as his professional presentation, it looks like he’s doing well. It turns out that he is not far from where I performed the search, and that is not a coincidence.

Location  Targeting

You see, when you write your ad, which should look something like Mr. McKnight’s, you can also decide  where  you want people to see it. For example, he is probably trying to reach people within a certain radius of his studio. But in your campaign data, which you’ll enter when making your ad, you can also use criteria other than location, like what words should make your ad pop up when typed into a search engine. This is not something you master right away; it is something you adjust and manipulate over time, until you are getting what you want (effective click-through) for the least amount of money.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 232 – New Markets for Artists / Advertising Your Art on the Web

Chapter 5

Advertising Your Art on the Web

The main outlets for promoting artwork have always been magazines and other print publications that are read by collectors, but Google AdWords represents a new wave in advertising. The way it works is that you first decide what you want to advertise. If you’re an artist, you’ll probably want to advertise your website. The product you’re trying to sell is your art, but you are promoting your website so that people will visit it. When you’ve gotten people to visit your site, you have to think carefully about what you want them to do there. Most advertisers want people to sign up for their mailing list, and that’s a good idea. (In chapter 14 we talk about how to create a mailing list.) But you may want to do something different. Perhaps you want people to buy a print or comment on your art. Whatever it is that you want people to do, you can make it happen by getting them to visit your website.

Placing an Ad with Google

To begin the process of placing an ad with Google you can simply read about it by searching for AdWords online. Google makes it easy for you by offering a phone number you can call to discuss your ad with a live person who will walk you through the whole thing. If that service is no longer available at the time you are reading this book, there will be a tutorial that shows you how to get started.

The first thing you need to determine is how much you want to spend. You can spend a dollar a day, or more; it’s up to you, and you can change it or cancel it at any time. The way people will find your ad is through the words they type into search for something, for example, your name, or “art for sale,” or something similar. What you are doing is setting up a campaign for your ad.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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