We’re delighted to welcome artist-entrepreneur Jessica Burko to share keen insights into optimizing your online presence as an artist.
Getting More Out of Getting Online by Jessica Burko
So, you make stuff.
You are an artist/designer/craftsperson/artisan. You also have a blog/website/online shop and frequently update your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Pinterest feed/page/profile/boards. You stay connected with your fellow creative professionals using your MacBook/iPad/smart phone and you feel like you are doing everything right, but the sales/press/shows aren’t increasing like you thought they would by now.
It sounds like you are keeping up with the latest greatest technology, but not really utilizing it to its full potential to maximize your full potential. Don’t get lost in an avalanche of meaningless chatter while you engage, just be sure to update regularly, make targeted connections, and create significant dialogue. Closer attention to what you are doing online, in addition to where and when you are doing it, will help you focus and make the most of your time.
Instead of… spending all day tweeting your every move
Try… tweeting consistently but meaningfully by sharing relevant news and links about your work and the work of others in your field.
Instead of… posting photos of your nephew’s birthday party on Facebook
Try… creating a fan page that you update several times a week with new work.
Instead of… blogging about irrelevant topics
Try… publishing articles related to the type of work that you do, or a how-to article with step-by-step photos.
Instead of… friending every unknown who sends you a request
Try… just friending people you know personally, would like to know, or people who are in your field.
Instead of… following everyone who follows you
Try… to follow only those people who tweet items meaningful to you, and make sure to occasionally retweet what they share.
Having a strong online presence can be extremely beneficial to your art, no matter what type of media you explore. The key is to make the most of your time online, and not get distracted by the everything swirling around you. Falling down a rabbit hole is very easy to do with so many connections leading here, there, and everywhere. If you find that you’re spending too much time friending your pals from kindergarten, and not enough time in your studio making your actual artwork, try setting a timer so that you spend only a specified amount of time online, and the rest of your day using your hands for more tangible endeavors.
Generating opportunities takes effort, and marketing what you do to the right audience is more than half the battle. Online networking is an excellent way to increase your visibility, create buzz, gain sales, and expand your circle to lead to any number of exciting new paths. You may be the master of your virtual domain, but there are lots of other ways to market your work and develop your professional muscles while you flex your texting thumbs.
You can find more resources along these lines in artist Anna Koon’s The Focusing Series.
Jessica Burko is a professional artist, independent curator, and the Executive Director of Boston Handmade. Beyond exhibiting, selling, and promoting her own artwork she has worked as a professional Arts Marketer since 1997 and since 2002 has operated Burko Design offering marketing and PR services to artists and arts organizations to assist them in achieving their professional goals. Burko is located in Boston, MA, has a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA in Imaging Arts & Sciences from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Off Our Wall says
Fantastic resource! Thank you for this post. I will forward it to many artists I know!
Some people have warned me that if you sell you work online direct to buyers that galleries will not want to show your work. Is there any truth to this?
Jessica Burko says
Lora thank you for that great question. Before embarking on such activity artists who want to sell their work online directly to collectors should check with all galleries they are represented by to find out what their policies are. Some galleries won’t want you to handle direct sales, some will ask for a percentage of the sales, and some won’t interfere. Regardless of your gallery agreement, you should make sure that your pricing is consistent across all sales venues, online and in person, so that your work maintains it’s value. When approaching a new gallery I’d be surprised if they would consider your online shop a deterrent, though they might ask you to close it.