Episode 313 – New Markets for Artists / In Summary

In Summary

Let’s summarize how I prepared for the MONA project on Kickstarter. I made a simple MONA website with a small text block and a few widgets. I also revamped my regular artist website with a similar look of minimal text, a few links, and the “like” and “tweet” buttons. Free from advertising and other clutter, my pages were clean and easy to navigate. My primary goal was not to share content, but to get many “likes” on Facebook, and most of all, gather more email addresses. The email signup form is incredibly important, especially if you keep it simple so subscribers need only provide their email addresses and hit Submit. Having this kind of email marketing service is very helpful. It allows all persons interested in your work to receive updated information from you in a single email blast. That is the basic skeleton and summary of what I did online, but of course to be successful I also had to consider the content of the MONA project and recruit James Franco. There are many steps to making a project like this successful and the best it can be, and we knew we wanted to broadcast it inside and out of the art world. James Franco was essential in achieving that goal because of his popular appeal, and his mind for art. He has a way of thinking and working with art that is similar to ours, and we knew he would communicate to casual and main- stream art observers as well as those outside the world of art. We were so happy that he liked our idea, and his contribution fit perfectly with our project, just as we thought it would.

The Final Statistics

The Kickstarter project for MONA ended on August 31, 2011. By the end it had raised $16,000, had 1,012 new subscribers on the email list, got 2,780 Facebook “likes,” and got 165 project backers. Those are pretty incredible statistics for a ninety-day project. It also generated over forty articles in the press and James Franco promoted the museum on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The MONA idea was a good one, of course, but tools for generating that kind of success are clearly laid out in this book for anyone to replicate. I am grateful my project created with my wife worked so well, and that I could use it as an example in this book!

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 312 – New Markets for Artists / Networking All of Your Media

Networking All of Your Media

To summarize what I have said so far pertaining to networking, there are three things to keep in mind for your artist webpage. The first is the “like” and “send” buttons from Facebook and Twitter. The second is a signup form for your mailing list that you will get when you subscribe to a paid e-marketing service like icontact (which is what I use) or mailchimp, constant contact, patronmail or another, they are all the same more or less. The third is widgets that will stream information from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, providing your page with constant updates. And, of course, you have to decide how to handle the text and image layout on your website. If you really want a lot of images on it, I would suggest embedding a slide show that you can easily update and doesn’t unnecessarily clutter the page. Try to keep your text brief, and embed active links to essential information about you or your work.

All You Need Is Updates

That is really all you need to connect and automate your website to your social platforms. You can change the text on your website every now and then to reflect current news, but for most part the website will update itself using your widgets. There are several other sites which let you share and post information and you can always add new widgets to your website to include these as well, but I like a minimal look, as it makes content and aesthetic easier to maintain.

Clean and Simple Single Page Website

Pages that have minimal clickable buttons and links are nice because they are easy to navigate. Think of the Google homepage. It really only has one box, the Search Bar, that a user can interact with. I believe we all want our pages to be that elegant. Google is a good example of how less can be more on a website. I say this because I think that part of my project’s success was due to how easy it was to share online. Our art website was not just minimal, it was easy to read, and because it was also interesting, people “liked it,” shared it, and tweeted it.

News Media Design on the Web

Your webpage should have a similar design as that of an online news article. If you look at an article from the Huffington Post, or any other major online news publication, it only includes the article and relevant links embedded into the text, a few select photos, and “like” and “tweet” buttons at the top. Sometimes the all-inclusive “add this” button pops up to let you conveniently select which of the growing supply of networks you want to share the article on. The point is that these news sites are designed to be read and shared, and that’s how your site should be as well. You want people to understand who you are, what your project is, and what things they need to click on your page in less than a minute. The simplicity of this model means there’s actually less for you to do when you make your page. The hard part is having the restraint to not include unnecessary pictures and links.

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 311 – New Markets for Artists / What We Want from Our Website

What We Want from Our Website

There are three things we want from our website viewers. We want their email addresses so that we can keep in touch and let them know about future projects; we want their financial support; and we want them to spread the word about our project on Facebook and Twitter. To help facilitate these activities, we made new webpages. One was for MONA, and the other was for Praxis, our general art page. Then we opened new Twitter and Facebook pages for Praxis. The next thing we needed was an e-marketing program.

E-marketing  Program

E-marketing programs, of which there are many, are used to create signup forms on your website so people can join your mailing list. When they do this, their information is stored in a database and they will be included in future newsletters and updates. These programs are very important because you want to be able to collect contact information from potential customers who visit your site. Artists’ websites are usually a bit of a mess, with lots of old work, and typically a homepage that hasn’t been updated in a while. I have an idea to solve this problem, a kind of web 2.0 artist homepage for the 3.0 world. And it’s really much easier than current website models.

New Web Design with “Like” Buttons

The MONA website that I designed with my wife is very simple. There is some brief text describing the museum, and above are two widgets and a simple graphic of the acronym MONA. One is a Facebook widget that allows other people to “like” and share the website on their Facebook page.  The other is a Twitter widget that lets them tweet about your website directly.  The page also has a  sign-up form which  I keep extremely simple so that subscribers only have to enter their email and click the “Submit” button. Additional things like email verification and more personal information is unnecessary, and may discourage people from signing up.

Simple Signup Form

The sign-up form is super simple, even elegant, and there are no other photos on the site—just a link to the Kickstarter project. The website’s simplicity is important because there is little to navigate, and just a few elements for sharing , so it works perfectly. People can read the entire page in less than a minute and they can post, like and tweet it without leaving the page. The only other thing they can do, also without leaving the page, is sign up for the email list. You can still see the site by going to thenonvisiblemuseum.com. However, at the time of this reading, the site has been redesigned by the Saatchi & Saatchi, who did it for me pro bono, and incorporates much of what I just said above.

A New Artist Website, Too

Another similar site focuses on all the work I do with my wife (twobodies.com). You may already have your own site or are thinking of building one soon. Twobodies and MONA have similar web designs—few to no pictures, the same “like” and “tweet” buttons, a sign-up form, and some descriptive text—but the big difference with Twobodies was four large live-feed widgets which constantly update and displayed portions of my Facebook page. On Twobodies, these four rectangular widgets sit next to each other on the bottom of the page showing new information all the time. One of the widgets is a Kickstarter widget tracking the progress of the project, and others are for Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Now, whenever I post something new to my social networking ac- counts, my Twobodies homepage updates automatically.

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 310 – New Markets for Artists / James Franco

James Franco

We thought James Franco would be good, as he has done some very high-concept artwork himself. We decided to email him a short note inviting him to be in our video. The email was very brief, and there were no images or website link. We simply asked him if he would talk to us about being in our project. After a few days he wrote back, saying that his assistant would set up a meeting.

Arranging a Meeting

That meeting took over a month to plan, but he was and is a very busy actor and artist. Finally, we had a lunchtime meeting with him at a small cafe. He was dressed very casually and so were we. We only had about thirty minutes of his time, so after initial pleasantries, we told him our idea. We explained that if someone bought a piece of art, they would actually get a card in the mail with a description on it, which they could then put on their wall. If someone asked, or if the new art owner wanted to show the work, he or she could use the description on the card to talk about the art. James understood the idea and liked it. He told us that it made him think of film projects he has wanted to do, and maybe we could use those for our museum promotion. We liked that idea, and he told us about a film he wanted to make that never happened for several reasons. He agreed to make a five-minute video describing our museum and his movie project for our Kickstarter promotion. We were super excited.

Making the Video

After he made the video of himself describing the work, we edited it and submitted it to Kickstarter. A word of caution here: Kickstarter is not YouTube, and when you propose project to them they can accept or reject it. If your proposal gets rejected, as our first one (before MONA) did, don’t lose heart. Try again and make your rewards more interesting. When MONA was accepted, we began writing out our descriptions of the museum for our rewards. The following things we did to prepare the project for launch are things you need to consider for your own work, even if you are not fundraising or selling at the moment.

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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