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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Harnessing the power of the web

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"Harnessing the power of the web - online promotion for artists" was the title of my recent talk in the "Arts Hub Forum" series organized by Hutt Valley Community Arts - a new initiative that aims to bring practical business knowledge to artists in the Hutt Valley and beyond.

The talk was well attended, and it turned out to be a captive audience. I am also welcoming several new subscribers to this mailing list! :)

"Online promotion for artists" is a wide topic to cover in a two hour talk. The main tools for online promotion (for artists or otherwise) - besides having one's own website - are blogs, online profiles and galleries, social networking sites, topic specific online forums and discussion groups, and online shopfronts or auction sites. Each of these topics could easily have filled its own talk!

The main point is that you should use as many of these tools as you can find the time and commitment for. Online profiles, forums, social networks and blogs are wonderful tools for building an audience and driving traffic to one's own website. Some of these sites offer advanced functionality that it would be costly to implement in your own site. Besides, larger sites get more traffic - it is often easier to get some initial traffic, and to start building an audience or customer base, with a gallery or a shop front on a well known and well established site, than starting one's own domain from scratch.

However, nothing beats the opportunities to establish a professional and individual image that having your own website offers. Online galleries or profiles, and "build-your-own-website" tools may be a fast and inexpensive way to establish some sort of online presence, but they are generally based on templates that can be quite restrictive in terms of the information that can be submitted - not to mention the design and layout features, which offer hardly any flexibility for individual "branding".

There are many uses one's own website can be put to, and promotion in the narrow sense is only one of them. Your website can serve not only as a one-stop-shop for your fans or customers to find whatever information they require. They can be your PR kit - flexible to keep updated, and certainly less expensive than sticking your media releases and photos in the snail mail! They can be a communication hub for you and your fans, audiences or customers.

A website can be your gateway to gain an audience independent of national or geographical boundaries. It can, of course, be your shop front and main distribution channel - directly from your bedroom to that of your fans, so to speak. No need to curry favour with publishers or label executives, gallery owners or artist management!

Last but not least, your website can also be an invaluable documentation of your work, and how it is received. So when you do want to apply for that grant, or impress that agent, you can confidently and proudly point them to your own url. Believe me - these people will immediately take you more seriously if you can show them a well designed, well thought out and well maintained website.

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Big Secret of Online Success

Upcoming Events: "Harnessing the power of the internet - online promotion for Artists" :: Public talk, Tuesday 20 October 2009, 11 am - 1 pm. Venue: Public Library, Petone. More information: Hutt Valley Community Arts website or email.

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on the topic of web promotion and “web persuasion”, which was provided by one of the bigger and better web design companies here in New Zealand (we call this “spying on the competition” – though, to be sure, those people aim at a far more corporate market than my small artsy home studio).

What have I learned on the occasion? Well, first of all, that these guys don’t know anything earthshaking that I haven’t figured out for myself by now - or if they do, that’s not the sort of info they divulge in a public seminar!

Secondly, they seem to have spotted the same issue that is my motivation for writing this blog: The need to educate people more about the whole area of web (as opposed to print) communication, and how to effectively transmit your message through your website and other online tools. The need to have a strategy, before you even begin the first site draft.

Owning and running a website is 100% a dynamic process. A site is a living document that should reflect your business or your artistic or professional activities at every stage – not something you can hand over to your web designer and then expect to never be bothered with any more.

“But how do I do this if I don’t know how to build websites?” you may well ask. Actually, these days, changing the content of your own website has become ridiculously easy. There are numerous editing tools out there – some of them freeware – which allow you to change text, links and even images like you would in a text document. When you get a website, make sure your web designer sets you up with one of those – and instructs you in how to use these tools!

Then of course there is also a massive, and steadily growing plethora of online tools that don’t even require that much effort and computer knowledge. Social and professional networking sites, blogs, image, music and video sharing sites, online forums on every topic in the world, auction sites and shop fronts - you name it.

Keeping up with all that sometimes seems like an overwhelming task that could easily suck the 24 hours out of your day! But, as the good folks at the web seminar pointed out – it is very hard to achieve a 100% change all at once, but it is quite easy to achieve a 1% change a hundred times. All it takes is a little discipline, and quite a lot of patience.

Patience and discipline – there’s one of the Big Secrets of being successful on the web! And one which the Snake Oil Merchants probably won’t tell you. ☺