How to Use Social Media for Artists: Blogs, Social Networks and Mailing Lists

Hi I’m Brainard Carey. I’m an educator, an author and an artist. I’ve written three books for artists – one was called Making It in The Art World, the other was called New Markets for Artists and the last is called The Art World Demystified. I’ve also shown work at the Whitney Biennial, having a show now in New York, different places, and also, I host the Yale University radio series called Lives of the Artists. I’ve interviewed over 700 artists, architects, curators, writers, about their world and how they navigate it. And today I’m going to tell you a little bit about social media training for artists. A basic strategy for social media for artists – how to use blogs, and an email list as well as various social media out there.

So, to begin with here are the steps. Number one, start a blog. Whether you have one or not what I would suggest is using a blog attached to your website. So, if you have a WordPress website, you could easily attach a blog. If you have a Squarespace website or many other template-based website, which is primarily what websites are now, you should be able to attach a blog or at least link a page to it. I think it’s good to have a blog on your website.

What you do on that blog and how do you use that blog?

Essentially, this is how it works: You write something once a week in your blog, on Fridays, and it could be, and ideally is, anecdotal. Not necessarily about your art, but more about what you’re doing – went to a movie, got a new dog, you traveled, anything. But write a little bit about what you’re doing and with an image. So, you put an image in your blog and maybe just a few paragraphs. If you’re not really a writer, just a few paragraphs and an image from where you were. Again, it could be a book review, a movie you saw, how you feel about current events, whatever it is. But write something that’s small and points toward your art. You know, you could be talking about what you’re doing in the studio, what you’re exploring lately, but it shouldn’t always be by your art. It should be about things that you think about, that you’re interested in.

So, you do this blog post let’s say once a week of 500 words or less. And then that blog post has a link that goes directly to it. So, you go to Facebook, if you’re on Facebook, and say something. Say, “This week I’ve been thinking about your dogs and cats, and I saw this movie, take a look at what I’ve written here,” and then you put a link to your blog post. That same thing could be done on twitter and other social media platforms. That could also be done on Instagram. With Instagram it would be slightly different – you’d upload the photo and then you would either put a link in the comments or have your profile link on Instagram go directly to your blog. So, this is how you share the blog. This is step one, in other words, is starting a blog, open one up writing, it once a week. Step two is sharing it to social media.

And step three is how you share it to your mailing list. The way you have a mailing list is you tickle your contacts rather than just sending them all out in one email with a BCC or CC. What you should have if you have a mailing list greater than 10, is an e-marketing program. MailChimp is one of them, so is Aweber. Aweber’s what I use as I contact. I’ve used a lot of different ones – I think Aweber is a great one. MailChimp is free for the first 500. Aweber costs $20 or something like that a month. So, what you do with this service is very important. You put your emails in there, your email contacts. And it’s important for them to all be in this because when you send out an email through, an e-marketing service which you’re in control of everything, people have the chance to subscribe or unsubscribe. They can subscribe to it through your website even – which I’ll talk about in in another installment of the series. But essentially, this is the this is the last step. You send out a letter once a month to your contacts and you tell them that you’ve been writing about so-and-so. It’s friendly. It’s plain text. There’s no images in this letter you’re sending out through your newsletter service or e-marketing service – which is again MailChimp, or Aweber or similar. And you just act a little chatty, write a little, a few words that are chatting about what it is that you’re doing and then have a link to your blog. That’s the last step.

And the reason you’re being chatty and sending a link to your blog is, you’re giving them content. You’re not just saying this is my new work or waiting for something to happen like a show or something big. You can write about your work and of course link to it and send that to them. But the idea is that everybody that subscribes to by email, everybody that’s interested in you in social media, and even the people who don’t know you on social media now become interested because you’re writing about interesting things that they like. They like your voice. And that drives traffic to your website, because your blog is on your website so people have a reason to look at your art every single week. That’s the strategy.

To summarize, number one, open a blog on your website. This should be one page in your website. Number two, post that link to your blog post at least once a week, on your various social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and similar. Then number three, using an e-marketing service to send out emails to your list once a month, and you should be slowly collecting more and more names which I’ll talk about in another episode. But send out a letter once a month, be chatty and give a link to your blog. This is the whole story with social media strategy initially in terms of getting the word out there. I’ll talk about more steps and more advanced steps in the following episodes. I wish you the best with your art and your studio practice.

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.


Episode 246 – New Markets for Artists / Instagram

Print-on-Demand  World

Now that people are able to self-publish their own books, and often make more money than they would with traditional publishers because they are doing all the marketing and promotion themselves, the print-on-demand method is changing the publishing world as well.

The up and downside of the print-on-demand process is that you alone must direct customers to your product. In the case of the video that I made, I sent the Amazon link to libraries and schools that might want to buy it, and those became the majority of my DVD sales. In the case of the yoga video my son is making, he has a YouTube channel and a Facebook page with many followers, and he can advertise to this audience for free. The new social media tools are a big help when driving traffic to your on-demand products. An executive once told me that marketing anything is simply telling people over and over what it is that you do, so that one day, when they decide to buy a good that you produce, or a service, your name will be one of the first they think of.


In this chapter I have talked about how artists can use Internet resources such as eBay and blogs and on-demand services, but other markets for selling your work are still being created. It seems that every day there is a new social networking site—some are just for artists— that combines many of these services, though it is important to compare prices and read the fine print before signing up so you know how much you will actually get paid for each item sold.


New social platforms are not better just because they are new, but because they are effective in a new and clear way. A recent example that is valuable is Instagram, a service much like Twitter, but it is only images that you upload, very simply. The beauty of Instagram is that your news feed of people you are following is all images. So you respond only to images by liking them. For artists and anyone interested in art, it is a place where striking images can be found. Even NPR radio has an Instagram account that they communicate to listeners with; find it, and look at their pictures. Like other platforms, this is one more way to create an awareness of you and your work so that you can sell it. Personally I like Instagram; I use it on my phone, an Android smart phone, and I love looking at the images. It is a resource full of rich inspiration, like a giant picture file from all over the world, as well as a community that can comment or like each others images. It is entirely aesthetic, it is about looking.

Hotel-Motel-Hospital   Collections

The market for selling prints to consultants, who, in turn, sell prints to interior designers or hospitals and hotels directly,  is growing all the time. Some hotels and other facilities now have digital galleries where customers watch a screen that plays a slide show of paintings and art for sale. The dealer can stop the slide show and talk about the work. Once custom- ers decide what they want, and in what size, the dealer sells the print and has a printer make and ship it to the customer’s home. We will talk more about this powerful new form of selling art in chapter 8.

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.