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 199 – New Markets for Artists / The Webmaster and Widgets

The Webmaster and Widgets

The first thing to think about is who is going to design your website? Unlike Facebook pages, web pages have to be built from scratch, and that usually costs money unless you do it yourself. Let’s imagine that you are paying a friend or a web designer to update your website. Here’s what you’ll do: You will send your web designer (who you trust) your Facebook username and password so she can access your account. Tell her you want a widget on your website’s homepage that links to your Facebook page. It is not a difficult thing for a web designer to do, and it should cost very little, but the advantage of doing this is huge.

There Are Many Widgets

Widget boxes come in different shapes and sizes. I recommend telling your web designer you want a rectangle, either tall or wide—whatever fits best. Your homepage is the first page people see when going to your website, so place your Facebook widget somewhere noticeable. Your Facebook widget will look almost like a mini-Facebook page; your name, your profile picture, and your latest update will be there. It can also show you other things, like recent posts, but the basics are probably enough. This will make a fantastic little addition to your website, because it updates itself automatically, and it does it continuously. Now there’s no need to pay your website designer to make constant updates or update your website yourself, because the Facebook widget will show updates from your Facebook page as soon as you make them. That is how you join your website and your Facebook page.

Some other advantages to adding a Facebook widget are that your website will always have current information about what you are doing and people can add you as a Facebook friend by clicking the widget and going right to your Facebook page to make a friend request. There is also a Twitter widget that you can add to your homepage next to the Facebook widget. (More on Twitter later.)

Summary Thus Far

To recap what we have said thus far, the first step is to make a Facebook page, then send friend requests to your real friends as well as other people in the arts who you want to be in touch with. You will find those people by going to other artists’ Facebook pages and looking at their lists of friends. Next, you will familiarize yourself with the different features of Face- book by uploading a few pictures onto your page and looking at other peoples’ pages and “liking” things and commenting on them. Lastly, you will sync up your website and Facebook page by having your web designer install a Facebook widget on your website’s homepage.

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.


Episode 198 – New Markets for Artists / Removing Comments

Removing Comments

On your Facebook page profile—also known as your “wall”—people can post comments, pictures, links—pretty much anything. If someone is bothering you by posting unwanted comments on your wall, there are several ways to take care of it. If you are looking at the post on your wall, you can move your cursor over the upper right-hand area of the post and you will see a little “x” appear. Click on that and you’ll be given several options. One is to remove the post; another option is to mark it as spam; and a third option is to mark it as abusive. You also have the option of blocking that person permanently. Once you block someone, he won’t be able to see your wall or your status updates, and won’t be able to comment, post, or send you private messages anymore. Your Facebook account should be set up so that only your friends, who will include other people in the art world you might want to meet, can view your work.

Facebook and Your Website

The next task to tackle is making your website and your Facebook page talk to each other. Now that you understand most of the basics of a Facebook page, you can see that it is very different from your web page in some ways. It is similar in that both your Facebook page and your website display images of your work. On your website you will probably have past and current images of your work, whereas on your Facebook page—especially  if you created it only recently—you’ll probably have mostly current work. Also, whereas you might announce an upcoming show or event on your website, this is even easier to do on Facebook; all it takes is for you to write a sentence in your status update and click the share button. You can also create an “event” and invite people to it, making Facebook the better venue for promoting your shows.

In a moment I will explain how to connect your Facebook page and website, but first I want to talk about things you might hear concerning the “ranking” of your website on Google. Before Facebook, getting webpages to appear at the top of the list of results for a given search term was a big concern. For a corporation, this could mean getting its website to come up at the top of a search about its product for you. Now things have changed a bit on the web, so it’s not just about getting a website to be ranked higher in search results. Though that still helps, having your Facebook page come up first when someone searches your name is just as useful, especially if someone is trying to contact you. I mention this because there is a lot of talk about website ranking, but it’s not as big an issue for an artist, unless many people on Facebook share your name, in which case you want your page to come up in a search first. I’ll explain how to marry your Facebook page with your web page so you will get a higher page ranking and be easier to find.

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.


Episode 197 – New Markets for Artists / Relationships between Facebook Friends

Continued from Episode 196…

What was interesting about the school photograph was that names that I had forgotten other people remembered. Before long, almost everyone had been tagged in the photo. For me, this was a turning point in using social media tools. This was not about sharing my interests or liking someone else’s pictures; it was about memories and people from the past that I enjoyed for purely sentimental reasons. Some people hate that aspect of Facebook, but for me, it was welcomed and inspiring.

The story I want to tell about this post on the elementary school group’s wall is about enemies and how they can come together on Facebook, often in these types of group pages. You might not want to be friends with someone on Facebook, but you may have to see their posts on a group page that you belong to. In this case, I was watching my old school photograph get tagged and remembering all those names. Below the photograph, people were commenting on the image and their memories. I recognized the names and commented back, enjoying myself. Then I got a private message from someone who was commenting on the photograph. (On a side note, a private message is the same as an email inbox message, and you can send anybody that is your friend a direct message by clicking on the “send a message” button on the top right of anyone’s Facebook page. It’s just like email, but with less spam, and it’s very easy to read. You can read your messages by going to the top left of your Facebook page and clicking on the envelope icon. Then you will see your messages and you can easily respond to them in the space below.) The message was from a friend who told me that she hated someone else from our elementary school class who was commenting on the photograph. She told me a story about something that happened between the two of them as children that permanently damaged the relationship for her. She said that she wasn’t speaking to her anymore but she wanted to tell me because she didn’t like being in the same stream of comments as her ex-friend.

Relationships between Facebook Friends

Of course, I understood. Then, I got a private message from the other person involved, the ex-friend, who said she knew that what she did in the past upset the other friend and hoped her old friend will forgive her, going so far as to ask me to put in a good word for her! You see how complex things can get on Facebook? Luckily, it’s fairly

easy to deal with this, because there are lots of privacy barriers in place on Facebook. I just responded to both people politely and said that I understood. The point that I am trying to make is that just like in the real world, there can be relationships that are tricky to navigate on Facebook. I have found this to be a very minor issue for me, partly because I am in a stable relationship and have been for several years, and partly because I don’t gossip much or talk about people I prefer not to be friends with.

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.


Episode 196 – New Markets for Artists / Tagging


Ex-spouses and ex-lovers make up the next category of friends and are to be added with caution. You should generally not add an ex-lover or spouse unless you want them to comment about your new relationships. Be careful, because un-friending someone isn’t always easy to do, especially if you are just breaking up. Facebook is aware of these kinds  of issues; in fact, when you first sign up and give Facebook your basic information, it asks you what your relationship status is. If you check “Married” or “Single” you can always change it to “It’s complicated” or something else. In the new world of social networking, relationship status can be mysterious or not, but it is something to be mindful of at the very least.


Another issue is sometimes having friends that don’t get along. There are a lot of groups that you can join on Facebook, and I ran into some problems, (albeit a very minor one) after joining a group that will explain what I mean. I joined a Facebook elementary school group after I was invited by a past classmate from elementary school. That’s right, it was a page for my very first school! People often make pages about schools so they can get in touch with friends from that time. I recognized a few names and joined. On that page, if I recognized someone, I made a comment on his or her photo. Then I realized that I had several old class photos stored away somewhere. I found one, I scanned a photo of the class picture from fourth grade. On the elementary school Facebook page there is a place where you can post a photo. I posted the photograph of my school picture from fourth grade, which had about thirty students in it, neatly arranged.


Once I posted the picture, other former students began commenting on it. What happened next was really fascinating. People began to “tag” the photograph of the group of children. “Tagging” means identifying other people in Facebook photos so that their names are displayed under the image. When you are looking at a photograph of people on Facebook, there is an option right next to the photograph that says “tag this photograph,” and if you click on it, you can drag your cursor over the photo and click when it’s hovering over someone’s face. A form will pop up for you to fill in that person’s name. After you tag one person or several people in a picture, you click a button that says “done tagging.” What you are  left with is a caption underneath the photo with everyone’s name in it. If you casually move your cursor over the photo, you will see who’s who in the picture. Pretty neat, huh?

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.


Episode 195 – New Markets for Artists / Special Friends

Special Friends

Of course, there are exceptions. Consider for example the special cases of family and exes—that is, past lovers, spouses, and family members. Once you friend someone and she or he accepts your friendship on Facebook, you are connected to her Facebook page and see her daily news and updates. This works for many relationships but not all. The first time I heard about a Facebook relationship issue was with teenagers and their parents. One woman told me that her daughter would not accept her friend request. The daughter had her reasons no doubt; she wanted to talk to her friends  in privacy. This became an issue for the mother and daughter, but the mother eventually came to understand, and the daughter did eventually accept her mother as a friend. The mother posted the news on her Facebook page, saying “My daughter finally accepted my friend request today!”  That post was funny of course, but it also illustrates how Facebook users make an effort to control who sees their pages and who does not.


I have a relative who is a teenager and attends public school in New York City. He’s on Facebook, and of course so are all his friends. He accepted my friend request, so I’m able to see how he uses Facebook and communicates with his classmates. Looking at a page like his gives you a clear sense of what tools on Facebook are used most often. There are video chats with friends, abbreviations for everything you can imagine, and quite a bit of cursing and off-the-cuff comments. Because his page feels very informal and he seems to say whatever he wants, there is even more reason for him to screen friends, in case he doesn’t want an ex-girlfriend or someone else to see the page.

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.


Episode 194 – New Markets for Artists / Your Schedule

Your  Schedule

As part of your fifteen minutes a day, you can try adding  two or three friends that you have found on the Facebook pages of other friends in the arts. That’s it! Take it slow at first so that you don’t risk adding too many friends and getting a warning. When you add a friend, you have the option of sending a personal message with your friend request. In my opinion, it’s smart to add a short personal message, even if you send the same message to everyone. When someone friends me now on Facebook, the first thing I want to know is if they’re a spammer. It’s hard to tell, but I usually check to see how many friends we have in common, and if they send me a personal message, that’s a good sign, too. I almost always add people who send me personal messages because I know they’re real and not just adding friends for game points or something. I suggest that you come up with something short, such as “I am an artist and I would like to keep in touch . . .” Sometimes I’ll try mentioning a friend we have in common and say something like “I would like to be your friend. I’m a mutual friend of Sandy Robbins and I would like to keep in touch.” That’s another good way to  introduce yourself, but you could make it more casual or more formal depending on who you are friending. For example, if you’re writing to family it might be more casual, whereas if you’re writing to a museum curator or gallery director it might be more formal. In general, I think it’s good to err on the side  of being too polite. It’s not too much to say this in a note   for a friend request: “Dear John, I would like to talk about art with you and Kristine, who is a mutual friend. I would also be interested in perhaps interviewing you as well. Best, Brainard.” Of course, you do not have to say you want to interview them, but I can tell you, I have been interviewing people for years, and pretty much everyone likes to be interviewed. I could meet almost anyone at all by sending them a legitimate interview request. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, especially famous artists, curators, and celebrities. They are selective in the requests they accept— they have to be—but if you are sincere and have a place to publish the interview, even a blog, you can interview almost anyone.

However, the friend request note we are talking about need not go that far. Most people will accept your friend request. Some people like to keep their Facebook friends true to life, meaning they have to have physically met them before accepting their friend request. You can draw the line wherever you like. You do not have to accept any friend requests, and when you get one you can always use the “not now” button and make a decision later; the person requesting your friendship will only see that his request is pending. Don’t worry about hurting this person’s feelings if you decide not to add him.

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.


Episode 193 – New Markets for Artists / Friend Limits

Continued from last episode…

How was I finding the friends I needed for my zombie army? I was looking for other artists, curators, and people who liked the arts. I started looking at the Facebook pages of people and organizations in the art world, including critics, well-known artists, and galleries and museums. I would then look through their friends and click on the “add friend” button, thinking that those people might have interests similar to mine. If you look at someone’s wall and you like the comments that someone else is making, friend them. That’s what I did, and before long I had an entire army of zombies!

Friend  Limits

Facebook is designed to make you want to connect with other people and make more friends. However, Facebook discourages random friend adding because they want to generate real conversations rather than meaningless lists of friends for gaming purposes. If you add too many friends in a day, Facebook will send you a warning. If you continue to add friends, Facebook will turn off your account and tell you that you broke the rules. I know because it happened to me. You can either start another account at that point or you can appeal, which is what I did. I searched, “What to do when your Facebook account is shut off” online, and I found an email address to which to write an appeal letter. I simply wrote that letter and my account was restored.

More Friends

The rule-makers at Facebook are really not after individuals who are adding too many friends; they’re after bots, which are automated programs that create Facebook accounts and automatically generate friends. Why do bots exist, you ask? Because having a lot of friends actually translates into real value. If you are an artist for example, having many friends is valuable because a lot more people will be seeing your art, and they are potential customers or partners of some kind. If you are a businessperson or corporate employee, you are making friends and mixing business with pleasure a bit, and that could turn into professional advances for you as well as personal benefits. As an artist, you are sharing your work and telling people about what you are doing, just like any person who has a message that they want to share—and the more friends you have on Facebook, the more the message of your art is shared.

In short, the more friends the better, especially friends who are interested in art, because your work can reach the world through them.

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.


Episode 192 – New Markets for Artists / Friends: How to Add Them and Why

Friends: How to Add Them and Why (Dale Carnegie, Pay Attention!)

Having friends on Facebook—as of 2012, you can add up to five thousand of them—is like being on a mailing list. You have the option of inviting everyone in your email address book when you first sign up for a Facebook account. If you haven’t done this yet, you can do it now. Click on the small arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook page, next to the word “Home.” Select “Account Settings.” Now on the left side of the page you will see the words “Invite Friends;” click on that. Once you do, you can see there are a few options. Either you can enter your email address and password and Facebook will automatically invite everyone from your account, or you can enter in email addresses one at a time. The other way to get Facebook friends is to add them. Once you add a friend, you have to wait for them to accept your request. One way  to find friends is to look at the Facebook pages of people like me, as I have many friends who are artists. I already have five thousand friends, which is the maximum, but I have another page as well. Even if you don’t “friend” me, you can still look through my friends and begin “friending” them if you like. But please do friend me, because that will subscribe you to my Facebook updates.

To illustrate the dos and don’ts of friending, let me tell you how I got involved, reluctantly, in Facebook.

My Facebook Story

My wife and I are a collaborative art team, and our body of work includes visual art as well as performance and conceptual art. We work with different museum directors and curators, most of whom are in New York, though many are not. We know that all the relationships we have in the art world are important and, like anyone, we try to be as sensitive as we can and not burn bridges or make enemies, even if we do not share someone’s opinion or taste.

The story began one day in 2008, when I got a form email saying that I had been bitten by a zombie and asking me to join Facebook. I usually ignored things like that, but this time it was different because it was from a curator I knew and with whom my wife and I had worked. So, reluctantly, to keep up the playing spirit, I joined Facebook.

Playing Games

At first I found frustrating that I had to answer so many questions, but not taking it very seriously allowed me to start getting very silly with it. For a profile picture, I put an image of Harry Potter that I got from the web. I entered joke interests so that it that sounded like I was ten years old. Ultimately, of course, I joined the Zombies game on Facebook, which was the whole reason I had signed up. I invited all my friends and began exploring Facebook, but I couldn’t really figure  it out. I kept getting messages alerting me that I had been bitten by more zombies, and I realized that I had to bite back—which meant that I had to invite a few of my friends to become zombies. The more friends I got to be zombies, the more points I earned, and I became stronger and better equipped to win fights. It may sound silly—or perhaps it won’t to some of you—but even though I thought it was ridiculous, I became addicted to it. I started to really enjoy competing with the friend and curator who invited me to join Facebook and play the game. It was just the kind of meaningless game playing that I had wanted to avoid, but instead I was going on Facebook every day and night to fight zombies and add friends.

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.


Episode 191 – New Markets for Artists / Posting a Photo of Your Art

Posting a Photo of Your Art

To post an image on your wall, click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook page. Then you will be looking at your “Wall,” where you can post your own comments and photographs. Really, your wall is like a personal web page, and Facebook makes it easy for you to add content, which your friends can then comment on. Probably the best part of Facebook is how easy it is to post photographs to your wall. Obviously, you’ll want to add pictures of your artwork, but you can also post photos of your studio, or just a photo you took during a walk. Go ahead and post a few photos of your studio or a picture of a tree or a street scene. Begin by looking at your Facebook wall. You’ll notice that towards the top of your page there are four or five words in a row that begin with Share: Status,  Photo,  Place,  and Life Event. Click on “Photo” and a little box will pop up giving you three choices. You can upload a photo, take a photo, or create an album. For now, let’s do the simplest thing and upload a photo. You will be shown a dialogue box that lets you search your computer for a photo. For the time being, make it easy on yourself and choose a photo that is easy to access on your computer. (If you don’t know how to put photos on your computer, have someone help you with that part, and then upload a photo.) Ta da! That was the hard part. Now you are using Facebook and sharing your art.

You will notice that when you posted your photo, you can also enter in a date and place. Entering the date is a great feature because you can post photos of your art a year ago, or at any time in the past, and it will post lower down on your timeline. If you think of Facebook as one super long page or timeline of your life, the photograph dates make sense of the entire timeline. You can back date images that were created years ago, or an event that happened in the past.

You have learned how to like and comment on comments, how to enter a status update, and how to post images of your art. If you stick to the fifteen minutes a day every weekday, then each session you can spend ten minutes commenting on other people’s things and a few minutes uploading a new photo and saying something about it or just posting a status update. This is a powerful beginning, but now is the part where you get to make friends. I discuss how and why to do that below.

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.