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.

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Episode 84 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Selling Art Online

Selling Art Online

There is an artist called The Me Nobody Knows or TMNK who sells his painting on the streets of the city and also on the Internet. He is always near his paintings and has made his living by selling work that is generally under $500, but sometimes more. He is also actively selling his work on eBay, and there, he shows images of himself selling work on the street, and the fact that he is auctioning his own work on eBay makes sense in this context. He is an outsider, generating his own sales on his own terms, and we buy it because it is working and he is a professional. What makes him professional is his consistency. He continues to exhibit his work, and has built a website that promotes his paintings and prints and drives people to eBay. The mystique that he cultivates is that he is a nobody and makes his art in relative obscurity. Of course, he has become just the opposite, but by building that mystique—of a nobody—he is able to play the card of the artist cliché and lead others to believe that he labors in obscurity, which helps to sell his work to the public.

Another example is Abbey Ryan, an artist who sells a painting a day on eBay and earns almost $100,000 a year from it. She has a blog, a website, and has created a way to remain in the studio all day and make a living at it. She was written about in business blogger Seth Godin’s book Linchpin as an example of a businesswoman cutting out the middleman and bringing her work straight to market.

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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