Monday, February 27, 2012

Social Media and Painting

H.L. Mencken

That old curmudgeon, H.L. Mencken, once wrote:  "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."    Not true, of course, since there are many teachers who do, and many doers who teach.  (This might be grist for a future post, perhaps.)

These days, we can take Mencken a step further:  "Those who can, do; those who don't, live in Facebook."

Or, instead of Facebook, substitute your favorite social medium.  We have many now, including Google Plus, Twitter and Pinterest.  And tomorrow we'll have more.

I'll be the first to admit that I spend time on Facebook.  I've found it great for reconnecting with friends from whom I've wandered over the decades.  Originally, though, I signed up hoping to  increase my presence as a professional artist on the Web.  I did the same with all the other social media sites.  The other day I even signed up for Pinterest, but mostly just to test some HTML code that will prevent people from "pinning" my copyrighted images from my blog and website.  (Thank to Katherine Tyrell for that tip!)

So, as a professional artist, how is social media working for me?  Frankly, it's not.

I'm sure I can hire a consultant who might suggest ways I can improve this situation, but honestly, I don't think it's worth the effort.  Social media takes away valuable time from activities that can have a  bigger impact on my professional life.  These activities include meeting potential buyers face-to-face, working my mailing list of already-proven buyers and students and, yes, even painting.

And if you don't paint, you have nothing.

Besides my website, which I use as an online portfolio, I've found the blog most useful.   I've sold from both the website and the blog; and both have pulled in new students.  When I post to the blog, I make sure a link to the post also goes to Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.  This doesn't take much effort.  I've also made sure I have a professional page on both Facebook and Google Plus that encourages new visitors to visit my website and blog.  I use Youtube, too.  Although it isn't exactly a social medium, I encourage visitors to my channel  to visit my "real" sites, too.

All of these social media sites require time and energy to evaluate.  Time and energy I'd rather spend painting  and doing my old-fashioned social networking.


Vickilou92 said...

Michael, I totally agree with you! I'd rather read a good art book than troll social media sites! There is so much I want to learn...I use my Facebook group as a learning site rather than just a 'me,me,me' site. I'm going to re-post this there...

Mary Rochelle Burnham said...

I agree, too! I do it in hopes of connecting with other artists (works great) and potential buyers (not so good...yet) as well as students, etc. I resent the time that it takes to market. I am trying to find the balance between what I need to do that works and eliminating what doesn't.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

It's all about balance, isn't it?

Lori Woodward said...

Michael, I agree. I have many personal friends who are successful artists and none of them make income by posting on Facebook. In fact, they spend very little time on social media outlets.

I also agree that blogs and email newsletters are more effective. I've sold paintings to subscribers to my email newsletter list (to mostly collectors who have bought from me in the past).

If something is already working for me, then why should I waste time on something that doesn't have a history (albeit short history) of working? I do admit that I spend time on Facebook, but it's mostly to see what others are up to, post links to my blogs and blogs of other writers/artists, and like you... connect with old friends and my family members.

My hope is to wean myself off of FB because it's not an efficient way of keeping track of the few people I really want to. I get bombarded with images and my ADD mind starts getting Dopamine hits... and then next thing I know, too much time has passed. My mind begins to think what I'm seeing on FB is important, but it's a lie.. what's important is that I get my own work done.

Thanks for this post... so glad you said it!

J. Gazo-McKim said...

I have just started posting to my blog and linking it from there to other social media. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Libbyfife said...

Another good post so thank you. I guess my issue with all of it-blogs, web sites, social media of one sort or another-is this: how do you drive people to your site? My theory is that old fashioned word of mouth and making contacts (in person or online) is the way to go if you want to sell your art. My opinion is that this is the basis of a successful FB page or blog or website. Without traffic to begin with, your site is just a site. And with that said, I have a web site that acts as my online portfolio so that when I meet someone I can direct them there to view my work. My blog is for my ridiculous side and I abandoned the FB page-it was a time sink!

Thanks again-I always find your posts to be helpful:)