Saturday, March 8, 2014

Poll Results: How Do You Find Out About Plein Air Painting Workshops?

The top four ways people find out about workshops, in order: 
Instructor Web Sites, Print Magazine Ads, Instructor Blogs and Recommendations from Friends.

The top way people most often find out about workshops, in order:
Instructor Websites, Print Magazine Ads, Internet Searches, Recommendations from Friends.
(Note that social media such as Facebook lag far behind and, surprisingly, Internet directories such as

As a plein air painting workshop teacher, I always wonder how my students find me.  If I ask, quite often they can't recall, or they will say something like, "I saw your workshop advertised on the Internet - or maybe it was in a magazine."  These aren't particularly helpful responses when one is trying to squeeze the most out of a small advertising budget.

Back in the old days, there weren't many places to put your ad dollars.  You either placed an ad in a magazine or sent out a mailing.  If you were smart, you used ad source codes to help figure out the most effective advertising method.  If you weren't smart, you could still maybe guess.  After all, the students either came from your magazine ad or your mailing, or perhaps from a referral from a previous student, and most people could remember how they found out about you if you asked.

But today, besides magazine ads and mailings, students can learn about your workshops by following your blog, viewing your website, Googling key words, hanging out on Facebook -- well, the list goes on.  Some of these are "free" advertising venues; others, like Google Adwords, cost money.

Because all of these cost in some way -- if not in dollars, then in precious time away from the easel -- I wanted to get a better handle on the possibilities.  Did it make sense to spend time tweeting to the Twitterverse, or to list my workshops with a targeted directory like

I decided to conduct a survey.  Granted, I announced the survey on the Internet, and already that shifted the bias to Internet-friendly folks.  I did try to get the word out to regions beyond my sphere of influence; that is, I placed the request for help in a variety of online forums and other groups where (I think) I am relatively unknown.  I received 76 responses.  That doesn't sound like a very big sample, but maybe it'll be enough for my needs.

Here are my questions:

  • I find out about painting workshops through (check all that apply), and
  • How do you MOST OFTEN find out about painting workshops? (Check only one)

For answers, I included the following options:

  • Print magazine ads
  • Online magazine ads
  • Internet search on Google, Bing, etc.
  • Internet directory listings such as
  • Instructor blogs
  • Instructor websites
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Online forums such as WetCanvas
  • Recommendations from friends

I also had two follow up questions:

  • If you use an Internet search (via Google, Bing, etc.) to find workshops, what keywords do you use? (An example might be "plein air workshops March" or "painting workshop Maine").
  • Anything you'd like to add that I might have missed?

You can see the graphs at the top of the blog, but here are the raw data:
"I find out about workshops through..."
"I find out about workshops MOST OFTEN through..."

Additionally, I asked what key words people used when searching online.  They were what you would expect, such as the phrase "plein air workshop" or "plein air painting workshop" often combined with a month or season, a geographical region, the type of medium or instructor name.

Finally, I asked if there was any question I'd missed.  I got some good responses here.  Other ad sources included: newsletters from instructors or art schools, articles written by instructors, Youtube videos by the instructor, art supply store bulletin boards or newsletters and instructor's art viewed in a gallery or art school.

So, where am I going to put my time and money?  I think it's pretty clear from the graphs.

(And I want to thank everyone who participated!  I'll leave the survey up while longer, if you haven't voted yet.  It never hurts to have more data.  You can find the link to the survey here.)

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