Sunday, October 27, 2013

Not a Social Butterfly

Every once in a while I grow weary of all this tech stuff. Like everyone else, I need it, it will never go away, but at times - enough is enough. I'm sure it's my age. Call me ancient, but I grew up in a time when we had to physically move across a room to change TV channels, run through the house to answer the phone and drive to the drug store to drop off film. Not that I ever want to go back to those days.

As artists, we're told how fortunate we are to gain control of our careers via the web and it's multitude of opportunities for self-marketing. No longer reliant on brick and mortar galleries, this has created a new kind of pressure. It's now up to us to determine what and how to promote ourselves and our art. And how often.

It often feels like a popularity contest. Social networking, websites, SEO, blogs, subscribers...the list is endless. Who has the most friends, likes, comments, shares or whatever. There is no shortage of marketing gurus roaming the internet to help and advise...for a fee. Where was this gang when I was fresh out of art school? Right, no internet back then but where was the emphasis on constructively managing an art career? The pervasive belief was that the creation of art superseded all else. Read that line again, my dears.

So here's my grumpy take:

I gave up on Twitter. How can a meaningful dialog be established in 140 characters that scrolls off the screen in less than a minute? The more you follow the faster it scrolls. Great if you're a celebrity yet some artists figured it out and reap great benefits. How, I can't fathom. Facebook feeds last longer, sometimes a day or two. I like FB and I have made some great connections and genuine friendships (not just adds). But here's the thing: on my personal page I have 1,464 "friends" that I've cultivated to find people with similar interests to mine. And some have found me. I try to post often but sometimes I'm just busy and immersed with my work and have nothing interesting to say. Do you want to hear what I had for breakfast or pray for my relative with a medical crisis? Now, Michael hardly ever posts anything, preferring to be entertained by others and he has 1,781 "friends". Huh! My business page which I was advised was a MUST by one of those art marketers has a paltry 337 likes. In my personal account, there are 218 pages awaiting a "like" from me - not to mention those I've "liked" that I did so just to be polite but really don't care about. My blog used to be cool. I've been posting since 2006 and used to at least a couple of times a week. At some point I wondered if anyone read it and why was I wasting my time? The positive about blogs is that bloggers own that bit of real estate and are not subject to another's rules and arbitrary advertisement. But again, in order to maintain readership the posts should be regular and engaging. Or edgy and controversial. Or regularly give away free stuff. There were many blogs in the recent past that I loved and eagerly awaited updates...however they have unfortunately fizzled out too. Or wandered over to Facebook.

Forget about the other new and hip sights such as Pinterest that we're told are the latest mandatory marketing sights. I'm too busy painting.

My website hosting service is very adequate and easy to manage and created specifically for artists. But their daily newsletters sent to subscribers contain contests, favs, featured artists, lists of latest exhibitions of accomplished artists, hot artists to watch, etc., etc. etc. making me feel miles out of the loop. Another popularity contest.

So my dear friends, like me if you agree and feel free to retweet (not retreat).
I'm poking you,


Kimberly Kelly Santini said...

Sharon - I love this!! I hear all that you are saying. The reality for artists who want to self represent is that they need social media and the internet to do so - unless they are fortunate enough to have some great real estate in the form of a studio (like you do!) and fantastic connections that they can work old-school style (which I suspect you also have!!). It's a matter of finding a balance that works and being able to tune out all the other non-essential noise. I don't do much on FB personally, but I do use it a lot to drive my business - and my latest stats show FB providing 28% of my sales compared to my blog driving 6% - but a couple years ago that was entirely flip-flopped! Email me if you want to talk some more about this - I don't want to see you give up entirely, and am happy to help out if you want! It's not about numbers or popularity at all - it's about having meaningful conversations and building relationships. (and I agree Twitter is a waste, at least for me!) :) Keep the faith!! And happy painting, Kim

Karen Thumm said...

Sharon, I LOVED your post for today!

I'm in total agreement with you about all these "musts" for us artists. They overwhelm me, and I do wonder if some of them are worth the effort or not.

For now I'm just going with my gut and what I feel comfortable with which is my blog and Facebook. No Twitter, and I despise Pinterest because it encourages image theft.

I'm no social butterfly either. In fact, I'm kind of the opposite - a recluse.

Keep on keeping on, Sharon. I enjoy your posts.

Sharon Crute said...

Kim: I'm old school as far as the work is first and foremost. I hope I didn't give you the impression that I was relinquishing my internet marketing...just stating that it gets tiresome. I agree, building relationships is paramount, so is providing impeccable care and service to my clients. I'd venture to say that the majority of my sales are from repeat customers. I love your blog and admire the attention you give it! You own it!

Sharon Crute said...

Karen - we are the reluctant artist entrepreneurs! We do it because we feel compelled to participate in all those conversations. I'd rather be painting but I understand the need for self-promotion in this changed economy. The good news is that we're in control of what and how much.

Unknown said...

Sharon, you are a voice in the wilderness of art marketing! My favorite posting ever. It seems like there is always some new "must use" site on the horizon and all it does is gobble up the time that should be spent on creating art. We are all being overwhelmed by technology and the need to make a living in the art world. Great post! Dawn

Jan Blawat said...

One nice thing about a blog is that it just sits there and waits for people like me to come wandering through. Sometimes it takes me a while, but I get here and I'm always interested in the things you write.