Local Social Network for the Arts Community in Central Valley
Do you have an internet presence? If you do, are you getting value for your money? Do you have only one site, or do you use many? I use about 5 – 10 sites regularly and I selected most of them for specific reasons which I have given below. Why do I put art up on so many sites? Well, frankly, I do it for the same reason Ann Landers syndicates her column in so many different newspapers: so I can get more exposure for individual art pieces. The more widespread your art is throughout the cloud, the more chances it has to be seen. This also gives me the experience of looking at the individual sites and seeing what different artists have done with their sites.
Though painful (and expensive!) experience, I learned to analyze each site I use and to check out how much traffic they actually draw. Some lessons I learned along the way: not to use sites that demand a lot of money up-front, not to depend on the site to promote my work no matter how much I am paying them. Why not depend on their marketing if I am paying for it you ask? Well, just economic basics really. Each site is in the business to make money the more artists that use them the more money they make which means I am not their only customer. Although most of these sites have automatic promotions for their artists, it doesn’t guarantee you will reach potential buyers.
Reason number one for using multiple sites is exposure, exposure, exposure. Reason two is while most of my sites do have some features in common which creates overlap, they are also a way I can increase my Google presence by linking them together. Reason number three is that we all have favorite sites where we look for things, so by using several different sites it increases the potential of reaching more prospective customers. Reason four is more problematical: I want to be taken seriously as an artist and one way to do this is to have a business presence, and investing in an internet web site is a lot less expensive that opening an actual gallery. If you want to check and see if you are being taken seriously as an artist, ask yourself if when friends and family talk about your art usually they say you have a hobby. Then ask yourself if your name would be the first one thought of if they are looking for art for their home or business? I will just bet you that it isn’t. Sad but true and one way to impress upon customers that you are a “real artist” is to spend money on a business presence.
GAILDALEYSFINEART:GailDaleysFineArt is my own web site which I use to promote information concerning my art, my activities and myself. At one point, I paid lot of money for an “on-line store web site” which sold relatively little; despite all the SEO (search engine optimization) stuff the host site recommended I simply wasn’t reaching very many buyers. I also discovered several drawbacks to selling original art on-line; the most exasperating of these was shipping costs. I once sold a small painting to a customer in Canada and found that it cost as much to ship out of the US as I made on the art! I had the same experience when I sold a print. So I simply put up a notice on my site that originals were only sold inside the continental US. It was a tough decision, but I also scaled back the site to a more informative platform. I can still sell art from it, but I now negotiate each asking price, and I found an alternative place to sell prints of my art.
FINE ART AMERICA: GailDaleysPrintShop . Fine Art America is a great site for prints; you set a base price for the sizes of each print and FAA posts a price that includes their commission. Customers can choose canvas prints, Wrap Style: Black, White, or art prints with any kind of fine art paper. I can sell more prints at lower prices because FAA can print cheaper than I can locally. If the customer orders a frame or mat, I also get a commission on the sale of the extras. The site also offers prints of my work in cards individually or in sets. Shipping and sales tax is automatically computed and doesn’t come out of my profit. Whenever I post a new painting to the site, I can automatically up-date my Facebook page and twitter as well as several other sites, like Stumble on and Pintrest. As a bonus, the site also has a blog that I use. It is relatively inexpensive $30/year.
ARTID: I chose ArtId principally because of the no-cost link to E-Bay store as I discovered early on that listing art on e-bay can be costly. Either prints or original art can be posted. E-Bay is enormous and the competition is fierce so any method I can use to get my art posted not requiring a fee is a plus. ArtId is easy to use if you aren’t very familiar with the internet and it does have some nice features. While it has a free membership, with a “Silver” membership (around $20/month or $240/year) you can unload an unlimited amount of images and also get to list your art free on e-bay. It has links to PayPal, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; the site also has a blog feature.
ARTISTSITES ArtistSites.org is a site I discovered when I was first exploring the internet. It is free and it also has a blog. Unfortunately if you are a buyer it is not a particularly easy site to use or find a particular artist. For one thing, there is no search box where you can put in an artist’s name, and while the artists are divided by last name, (for me you would look under D), once you reach your designated letter the artists aren’t in any particular order. It also appears to be used mainly by other artists. However, I do maintain it and I find the comments from fellow artists both helpful and interesting.
SELL-ARTS Sell-Arts.com is another free Site. It is also user friendly, and it has links to PayPal, a blog, a forum for artists that apparently isn’t used very much, and, probably the most interesting feature, an Art News section featuring articles from local/national/international newspapers and magazines. I maintain it because it increases my internet presence.
ARTISTSLIKEOURSELVES: The site was created for artists by artists that I discovered in my early internet days. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a high Google presence; when you search for it oftentimes you get an error message, so I while I maintain it, I don’t list it with other links on my personal web site. This isn’t an easy site to use for a buyer either; when you do find it, like Sell-Arts, there is no artist search. It is designed for use by visual artists, writers and performers. The site more or less forces you to interact with your fellow artists because while it doesn’t cost money to become a member, in order to post art you need a certain amount of “credits” which you obtain by viewing and commenting on other artists work on the site. Artists like Ourselves uses a 'credits' system to promote expression of both art and the artists' opinion of others' art. When you sign up, you are given 50 credits immediately. Each time you upload a picture, painting, musical piece, poem etc. you are charged 10 credits. This means that you are able to upload 5 pieces immediately. To earn extra credits, you can send feedback to other artists about their work. Each time you send a comment to another artist, you earn two credits, so in order to upload one new painting, and you need to look at 5 from other artists.
ARTANDDESIGNONLINE ArtandDesignOnLine.com is another site with dual type membership: Free and paid. I found it in Artist’s Magazine. Although I set up a page on this site I don’t utilize it much. However the search engine is super easy, and with a free listing you are given a basic account with up to 4 photos, a subscription to Art and Design Online Newsletter, a personal My InnerCircle © account, full access to comment or network with fellow artist's/gallery listings, a personal Event tool and Calendar, and basic access to the Email Blast tool. The paid membership is relatively inexpensive around $10/month or $120/year.
Why Do I keep mentioning Blogs as a plus when choosing a site?
I have a whole blog on promoting my art which I will cover later. Just be aware that blogs are another way to let people know about you, about your art, and what you are doing with it.