Websites

Contact: at the very least write out your email address: www.yournamedotcom


Having a website is pretty darn easy these days Whereas social media is fluid and requires frequent updates, you can sit back a bit on website updates.  You should definitely updates this with some regularity, but you don’t have to every day.

I know several people who are abandoning website updates in favor of social media. I don’t recommend this. A website is a wonderful public archive and can give a comprehensive picture of who you are and the full body of your work.

You are all at different stages and have different needs in a website. But, I would say that you all need to have one.  Julia Galloway’s Field Guide  is really the best advice and direction I have found on this topic. I would like to reiterate a few points. First, if you pay someone to design your website, you have access to expertise you do not have, to spend the time to learn- or take the time to update for that matter. On the other hand, you also have to rely on someone else to do that updating for you. This is a long-term expense. There are a number of really great ways to create a website on your own. I would suggest that at this stage, it may be better to start your website on your own.

It seems that going with the middle road, like Squarespace, or WordPress or similar platforms will allow you the ability to change your template fairly easily- without the need to learn code. There are more and more customizable options for you to explore, making this option feel less limiting than it used to. These companies are also large enough that they give you access to the most up to date options. While there is a small monthly or annual fee for these services, you can be sure that your site and its content will be up to date in so far as technology. Having a responsive and mobile ready website is critical for your ability to communicate your work to as many people as possible. If you change your mind a lot, be sure to find out whether you can easily change your information from one template to another (squarespace lets you do this- wix does not)

I strongly discourage you from using any kind of site that uses Adobe Flash. Smartphones- particularly iPhones do not open these sites and many people do not keep their Adobe software up to date enough to be able to access sites that use Flash on their computers.  

You could of course pay someone to set up one of these sites for you, and have them hand the reigns over to you to update going forward. If you have the cash, that’s what I would do.

Whatever you do, I highly recommend that you keep it simple! 

Here are some questions to ask yourself when setting up a website, and some things to consider when designing your site:

Questions: What is your primary purpose for having the website? Is it to display your work in a beautiful visual way? Is it a mixed content site (images and text), do you blog as a part of your practice? Do you want to sell things from your website or are you ok with maintaining an etsysite in addition to your website?

Considerations/ Suggestions:

Sales: If you are selling work from your site, be sure that you look into how that will work, with your bank, with taxes etc. We will discuss sales tomorrow. You may not need to have a shopping cart on your website, but having a place where people can contact you if they are interested in purchasing something is vital. You can have a discreet price list for people to access if you are not comfortable with having prices in the description of each pieces.

Documents: I highly recommend that you have your words on display and create a way for website visitors to see your writing as pdf’s- pdf’s as a url’s themselves, or downloadable versions. The art world is shifting and many gallerists use social media to curate exhibitions. If someone finds your name this way, make it easy for them to find about you, download your information and bring it to their committees. Find out before you choose- how easy it will be to make this information available.

Contact information: Have your email address at the very least- and even better, your phone number on the contact page of your website. Also connect your website to any and all social media sites that have to do with your artwork. Make it easy for people to contact you. As a gallerist, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to try to reach out to an artists to invite them to be in an exhibition and have to fill in one of those contact forms that emails the artist from their website. This takes time that I often did not have  when reaching out to artists.   This has on more than one occasion made me decide not to invite that artist. If you are concerned about privacy, create an email address specifically for your business communications.

bio

Business vs personal email address…..

News: If you have a good practice of maintaining and keeping your website up to date- by all means have a “news” page. If you do not have a great practice of keeping thing up to date, avoid the use of this type of page and stick with your CV and resume for this function. The more things you have to keep up to date, the harder it is to maintain all of them.

About: an about page is a great place to have your bio, artist statement and documents, or it can be a place for a more candid picture of you and your practice. This could also be your home page

Images: Find a way to keep your images organized that is easy for people to navigate without too many clicks. Avoid the need for click-backs- try not to make people have to head back to the Home page before seeing the next image.  There is a careful balance between keeping information organized and creating too many clicks. Follow image size specifications so your website doesn’t load to slowly (too large), or your images either don’t expand or become pixelated (too small) when opened. Most companies have really great FAQ sheets or tutorials. Really pay attention to this! Also pay attention to how much storage is allowed by your site. Large images take up a lot of space. A free wordpress site for example has a surprisingly small amount of storage virtually requiring a user to upgrade after just a few months.

Some suggestions to get you started- go to the websites of the people you admire who are further along in their careers. See how they so it.

Sales Tax

Wherever you sell your art, you may need to pay sales tax. You can do this in one of two ways. You can wrap the sales tax into the price of your work and do the reverse calculation– making it easier to sell work to your customers in nice round numbers. Or- you can add the cost of tax to the price of your work at the end.

For example $450 plus tax = $450 + 8.5% = $450 + $38.25= $488.25. OR $450 including tax equals a price of $450 for the consumer. You  then have to do the reverse calculation to find out how much you owe the state. Therefore: $450 – $35.25= $414.75. I like these 2 sites to figure it out: sales tax states and ConvertIt. Whichever way you do it, you are required by law  to pay those taxes to your state. Each state has different rules about this- and even different municipalities. Pay attention to where you are!

Sales Tax Guide for Artists


Forty-five U.S. states and Washington D.C. all have a sales tax. States and local areas use sales tax to pay for budget items like schools and roads. But states don’t collect sales tax from citizens directly. They rely on business owners like you to collect it from your buyers and then remit it from time to time (usually monthly, quarterly or annually.)

If you are an artist who primarily works from your home or studio, then you might only have sales tax nexus in your home state. However, other business activities can create sales tax nexus, including:

  • A location – a store, office, warehouse, factory or other location creates nexus
  • An employee – employees, many contractors, sales people, installers and repairers create nexus
  • A drop shipping relationship – Drop shipping can include using a 3rd party to print and send your designs, like t-shirts; depending on your negotiations with your drop shipper, you may have nexus if you drop ship
  • An affiliate – some states consider 3rd party affiliates who send customers to your online store to create nexus
  • Art shows or craft fairs – In some states, if you sell within their borders for just a handful of days (such as at a festival or craft fair) then you have nexus there
  • Storing inventory in a warehouse – Storing inventory in a warehouse in a state, such as selling your Amazon Handmade products through Amazon FBA, creates nexus

Handling Sales Tax with In-Person Sales

 Whether you sell your artwork out of your studio or own a brick and mortar location, collecting sales tax in-person is one of the more painless ways to deal with sales tax.

The “point of sale” is important here. For in-person sales, the point of sale is where the two of you are standing while you make the sale. So you’d only be responsible to charge a single sales tax rate – the sales tax rate at the location where you are selling your items.

For example, you sell your items out of your studio in Sedona, Arizona, you’d charge all of your customers the 9.35% Sedona sales tax rate.

If you are selling from your booth at a craft fair in Duluth, Minnesota, you’d charge your buyer the 6.875% Duluth sales tax rate.

You can look up U.S. sales tax rates here.

Sales Tax at Festivals and Craft Fairs

Now say you travel across state lines to sell at a festival or craft fair. Does that create nexus? As with almost every sales tax question, the answer is “it depends.”

Every state is different when it comes to sales tax on temporary sales such as at a craft fair or festival! Some states provide a wealth of information or special publications just for festival vendors. Other states treat every seller – from people who own in-state retail stores to people who are coming to the state to make sales for just a single weekend – just the same.

For example, when selling at a craft fair in Arkansas (as an out-of-state vendor) you are required to collect sales tax and turn it into the festival organizer daily. In Colorado, you are required to register for a “special event” sales tax license. But in Georgia, you are not required to register for a sales tax permit at all as long as you don’t make sales in the state for more than 5 days in the calendar year, or don’t collect more than $100,000 in sales over the course of the fair.

Sales Tax when Selling Online

Selling online is when sales tax starts to get tricky. If you only have nexus in your home state, you are only required to collect sales tax from buyers in your home state, even when selling to people all over the country online.

Though, unlike with in-person sales, the sales tax rate you charge your customers will likely vary when you are selling online. A handful of states are what is known as “origin-based” sales tax states, where you charge every customer in the state the sales tax rate at your business location. But most states are “destination-based” sales tax states, meaning you are required to charge your buyer sales tax at the sales tax rate at their ship to address.

Sales Tax on Shipping

When selling online, you also need to take sales tax on shipping into account. About half the states consider any shipping charges you charge your customer to be a taxable part of the sale. The other half say that shipping is non-taxable as long as you separately state the shipping charges on your invoice.

Filing your Sales Tax Returns

So you’ve done everything right and have been charging sales tax to your buyers. Soon enough, your sales tax filing due date will roll around.

Sales tax filing due dates vary by state, but are generally either monthly, quarterly or annually. As a general rule, the more sales tax you collect from buyers in a state, the more often that state is going to want you to file a sales tax return.

If you only make in-person sales from one or two locations, filing a sales tax return is fairly simple. You just tally up how much sales tax you collected from buyers in a state, find your jurisdiction or jurisdictions on the state sales tax filing form, and enter how much you collected. You will likely have to break down the amounts you collected in state, county and city taxes, but if you only have one or two locations this is fairly doable.

On the other hand, if you sell online and have collected sales tax from buyers in many jurisdictions, filing sales tax is much more difficult. Keep in mind that states and local areas all use the sales tax you collected to pay for things like schools and fire departments. Because of this, states require that you break down how much sales tax you collected by state, county, city and other district so they know how to allocate the sales tax funds you are going to send them.

If you made online sales and collected multiple sales tax rates, filing your sales tax return can quickly turn into a time-consuming headache.

Etsy

The most popular handmade marketplace on the internet needs no introduction. But when it comes to handling sales tax, Etsy gets a little more complicated.

Etsy does not calculate how much sales tax you should collect. Instead, they allow you to enter how much sales tax you want to collect from buyers by state and zip code. This works great if you live in an origin-based state. You can simply tell Etsy to collect the same amount of sales tax from all buyers.

But if you live in a destination-based state where you are supposed to collect sales tax based on your buyer’s ship to address, you’ll be required to enter all the sales tax rates from your state. Ouch! They also only allow you to enter sales tax by 5-digit zip code, which, while mostly accurate, doesn’t always get it right.

 

Online Sales

Selling your work online. One of the easiest ways to sell your work online is through etsy. Here’s a great big listing of places you can sell your work online.

There are a number of things you have to take into account when selling work for yourself; selling online adds another dimension. Paying taxes, collecting and paying sales taxes, bank fees, shipping, protecting your customers’ privacy and transaction security are all things to pay attention to when making online sales.

Here’s a great article about setting up your own online store in Entrepreneur .


My latest takeaway from the research I have done for this class is invest in Shopify. This service integrates, website, online sales and in person sales and has the unique ability to integrate with your social media. It also helps with Shipping! Heres a pretty comprehensive list of pros and cons for this service.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a web application that allows you to create your own online store. It provides you with a wide range of templates that can be customised to meet individual users’ branding requirements, and it allows either physical or digital goods to be sold.

One of the main ideas behind Shopify is that users without much in the way of technical or design skills can create a store without the involvement of a design agency or web developer; however, people who are familiar with HTML and CSS will be pleased to discover that Shopify allows you to edit both, giving you a lot of control over the design of templates.

Because Shopify is a hosted solution, you don’t need to worry about buying web hosting or installing software anywhere; the idea is that pretty much everything you need to build and run your store happens ‘out of the box’ (that said, you can customize a Shopify store to meet more individual requirements through the addition of apps – more on which later – or using custom code).

Shopify is a software as a service (‘Saas’) tool – this means that you don’t own it but rather pay a monthly fee to use it. As long as you have access to a web browser and the internet, you can manage your store from anywhere.

There are other options and these comparisons might help you make a decision:


What about shipping charges? Online shopping breaks down most often over shipping charges. Imagine this: A customer sees a great price for just the product she’s been searching for. After entering the information on the electronic order form, she is startled to see a huge shipping fee tacked onto the price. The result? By barely lifting a finger, the shopper clicks off the site and goes elsewhere.

Some online companies absorb shipping charges; others include them in the listed price and offer “free” shipping. All the major postal carriers have websites that allow merchants to calculate the shipping charge for any item, based on weight and location.

Shipping efficiency and pricing can be major competitive advantages or hand grenades in an online store’s shopping cart. Try to make a profit on shipping charges–your store is more likely to lose the sale than gain the margin.

Customer Service: Because customers expect to be able to contact a company with questions, special requests or problems related to ordering, online businesses should offer an e-mail address or phone number for customer service inquiries. Not only is customer service a great way to build loyalty, but it’s also a valuable feedback mechanism–customers are all too ready to sing your praises or call out improvements that need to be made to your product, service or image.

An important aspect of customer service is deciding how quickly the business will respond to customer inquiries and complaints (phone or e-mail). This response time should be realistic and consistent. If the policy says all phone calls will be answered within two minutes or returned the same day, that timeline becomes a pledge to the customer. Nothing frustrates an online shopper more than sending an e-mail to an address listed on a shopping site and waiting hours, days or interminably for a response. To keep customers on the site, businesses must keep them in the loop.


Accepting Payments Online

Cash flow can make or break a company, especially in its early stages. That’s why many online businesses often encourage credit card payments, although it’s also helpful to give buyers alternative opportunities to pay with checks and money orders. Offering a variety of methods for shoppers to pay online increases the opportunity for these buyers to pay in the method they prefer.

Accepting payments online increases revenue and cash flow because money goes into the account immediately. Even more compelling is that there are more than 1.2 billion consumer credit cards worldwide. Credit card payments aren’t returned for non-sufficient funds–and credit card holders tend to do more impulse buying than those who write personal checks.

Businesses have several options when setting up an e-commerce function and accepting payments online, which include:

  • Process payments through a merchant account. To accept credit cards online, a small-business owner must first apply for a bank merchant account and then find a way to process transactions. At a brick-and-mortar store, the processing takes place when a card is swiped through the card reader. At an online store, the processing is done when a shopper types in the credit card information, which is then verified by a merchant account processor.
  • During most online checkout flows, a shopper is asked which method of payment is preferred. If the shopper selects a form of credit card payment, he or she will be redirected to a secure page within the store to enter the credit card information. After the shopper selects “submit,” the credit card information will be sent to the correct merchant account, where it will be verified and either accepted or denied by the merchant account service provider.Merchant accounts may have drawbacks for some small-business owners, however. Most charge set-up, monthly and per-transaction fees. Additional fees may also be involved if a business owner has a pre-existing account for a physical store, and wants to convert that account to accept payments online. Moreover, some banks won’t approve small online businesses for merchant accounts, considering them high-risk operations.It may take 30 days or more for a merchant account to be approved and the integration process can be burdensome for business owners to do it themselves. Fortunately, the growth of online sales has given rise to an entire industry of merchant service bureaus that will grant a merchant account and everything else needed to accept online payments.
  • Integrate an online payment service. If a business doesn’t have access to a merchant account or the fees are just too high, one solution is an online payment service, like PayPal . PayPal allows businesses to accept credit-card transactions and payments safely and conveniently. It also allows buyers to send payments directly from a bank account. When a buyer indicates the desire to use PayPal during checkout, that person will be directed to sign into or sign up for a PayPal account to then complete the transaction.For merchants there may be benefits for offering PayPal. There are no setup charges, monthly charges, minimums or gateway fees. PayPal charges a per-transaction fee, which ranges from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. PayPal also actively fights chargebacks on behalf of online merchants. If a transaction meets all of the requirements of PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy, then the merchant will not be liable to for the chargeback by the customer.
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • The Cash App
  • Google pay

  • Selling through Social Media: As we move more into using social media as the primary tool- rather than as a tool to drive traffic to websites, it is becoming easier to sell directly through your social media sites. There are a couple of pitfalls of course. First, until you have a large number of followers on Instagram, you may spend more time than you like negotiating sales via Direct Message.


Instagram Sales

Instagram has become a powerhouse for businesses around the globe. Scrolling through your Instagram feed allows you to get an up-close and personal view of products, places, and experiences that your friends recommend and share. Brands are taking advantage of the word-of-mouth marketing features offered by Instagram, and they have quickly recognized the platform as one of the best places to make money.

However, Instagram ads cost money. But it’s possible to sell on Instagram without ever having to spend any of your hard-earned cash. Creating an Instagram storefront that takes your sales up and away is easier than you probably think. You’ve already got followers, prospective customers, and loyal ones waiting to buy. You just have to engage with them. Here’s how you can sell on Instagram without ever having to spend a single dime.

No links make it harder to sell on Instagram If you’re new to marketing on Instagram, you may not know that links don’t exactly work on photo posts like they do on other platforms. That’s why it’s harder to sell on Instagram in comparison to almost every other popular social networking site. On Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, you can post links that accompany your images to direct users to landing pages or product pages where they can make purchases. On Instagram, you can post a pretty product image and a description, but clickable links that take users to your site can’t be added. Try and add one in and the link won’t turn into a clickable hyperlink, which might distract from the description or photo altogether. Talk about a huge mistake. That means that if users want to buy the items in your posts, they have to visit your site and find each product on their own. Most sites feature a long list of products, and most users don’t have the time or patience to sift through them all to find what they saw on your page. This is what makes it so tricky to sell on Instagram. In fact, Instagram only gives you one clickable link that you can place on the entire platform: the link in your bio. We’ll talk more about that later. Despite Instagram being a difficult place to make sales, it’s always been a great place to promote products.

An engaged follower on Instagram is actually worth more than an engaged Facebook follower by about $10. Luckily, there are ways around the link problem that let you unlock the value of engaged Instagram followers, like shoppable posts.

Sell directly through posts with a shoppable Instagram

According to Yotpo Instagram data, 72% of customers believe that seeing Instagram images of a product increases their chances of buying it. The same research revealed that as many as 38% of customers said that they frequently buy products that they see on Instagram. That means that it’s up to you to let customers shop your Instagram page with ease. One way to accomplish this is with shoppable posts.

#1 Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile

Instagram profiles are becoming the new homepage, as more and more consumers are turning to Instagram instead of Google to search for brands. This means you should be spending as much time and effort curating a beautifully-designed Instagram feed as you would creating your website.

Your Instagram Business profile should include:

Profile photo: Choose a photo that is on-brand (like a logo) which makes your company easy to identify.

A Well-Crafted Bio: Your bio should include a clear description of your business that speaks to your audience. Let them know exactly what you have to offer.

Link to shop: The URL section of your bio is the only clickable link you can add to your Instagram page – so make sure you’re using it! This is a great place to drive traffic from your individual posts and Stories. Creating a unique URL for this section will also give you the opportunity to track visits to your website from Instagram!

#2: How to Sell on Instagram Using Instagram Ads to Reach Your Target Audience

Once you’ve set up a Business profile on Instagram, you can then decide how much you want spend, where you’d like the ad to be seen and how long you want to run it for. Instagram allows businesses a variety of targeting options to best suit your businesses needs.

Running your own Instagram ad campaign isn’t that difficult, but it can be intimidating to many small business owners and influencers who haven’t done it before. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you think! The easiest way to run ads is by promoting posts you’ve shared on Instagram. Just select the post you want to boost, then hit the “promote” button once it’s posted. Instagram will automatically pull in a “similar audience” that you can share the post to, or you can easily create your own audience in the app by choosing an interest, age range, and the genders you want to promote to. Once you’ve set up your audience and budget, make sure to give your ad one last look over before hitting “Confirm.”  You can start with a small budget and run your ad for a few days to test things out. To track how your ad is performing, click “View Results” in the bottom left corner of your ad. Remember, Instagram Ads can take practice, so make sure you continue to tweak your boosted posts and audiences until you get the results you want!

The best Instagram ads for driving ecommerce sales includes messaging that clearly explains how to make a purchase.

How to Sell on Instagram with Instagram Stories Ads

These ads pop up in between Instagram Stories of accounts you follow and can make a large impact on potential customers: You’ll notice a small “Sponsored” tag in the top right corner and a Call-To-Action (“Learn More”) at the bottom of these ads. Again, adding an additional call-to-action at the bottom of your ad can also be helpful for those interested in learning more.

You have a choice in Instagram Ads to create either a video or a photo. Whichever you choose, make sure your initial clip is attention-grabbing. You’ll need to catch the eyes of those who quickly tap through stories.

Instagram Stories have become a great way for businesses to make deeper connections with their followers and show off their brand’s personality. In 2017 Instagram reported “one in five stories on Instagram gets a direct message from its viewers.” Instagram Stories offer you chance to connect with their followers on a daily basis, without cluttering up your feed

How to Sell on Instagram: Creating Instagram Stories With Product Links

Instagram Stories is exploding in popularity, and the feature has over 300 million daily active users A great Instagram hack to get around the algorithm is to take advantage of Instagram Stories engagement opportunities, including the polling feature or “Swipe Up” option (if you have over 10k followers).

#4: Building a Shoppable Instagram Feed

Uses Shopify. Shopify plugins like Shoppable Instagram Galleries makes it easier than ever for your business to make sales. Their Instant Purchases feature lets visitors add to cart and buy the liked items directly from images on your feed!


Selling on Facebook

There are a couple ways to go about this. You can set up a shop and get paid directly though Facebook- though this is in the early days. Or you can set up a shop page which links to your website or etsy shop. If you have shopify, there is a third party app which integrates all of these things. Set up shop: A Facebook shop lets you show and sell products to people right on Facebook. Your customers can buy your products directly from your Facebook shop without leaving your Page. Set up Payment: This feature is gradually rolling out to the US only. It may not be available to you yet. When a customer purchases a product from your shop, you’ll need to link a valid bank account so that the payment processor can deposit your earnings. Regardless, Create a business page

Best practices for your shop section

Build Trust Create a Page username. A Page username is a unique name that people can use to easily find your Page. Respond quickly. Fast responses to messages from customers can build trust and show customers you value them. They also increase the responsiveness rating we display on your Page. If potential customers see that you’re very responsive, they might be more likely to reach out, and view you more positively overall.

Encourage customers to leave ratings and reviews.

Add the address of your physical store (if you have one).

Increase Awareness

Don’t just add products to your shop, share them on your Page timeline regularly.

Don’t just share your products, add content. To make posts about your products stand out, add content and context to them. Are you sharing this product for a specific reason. For example, are you having a sale? Make sure you include that in your post so your customers understand.

This seems like an unnecessary duplication of processes though and I would recommend spending the $ to bundle this activity into Shopify

Plenty of artists sell plenty of art on Facebook, but selling art on Facebook and other social media websites involves more than loading your page up with images and waiting for sales to roll in. Not only do you have to make a good case for yourself and your art, but you also have to be active and consistent in how you get the word out, attract an audience and work to cultivate a loyal following. It’s not enough for people to simply know you’re there; they need reasons to come back for more… and more… and more. Here’s a list of tips and pointers to help maximize your chances for success, grow a fan base and sell more art:

* Make sure your art is organized into galleries of related works. Way too many artists dump all kinds of art into their photo albums with no curatorial oversight whatsoever. Dividing your art into groups, series or categories not only makes it easier for your fans to click right to the types of art they want to see the most. Even more importantly, well organized art is easier for people to understand… especially those who are visiting your page for the first time.

* Regularly update your page not only about your latest art adventures but also with fresh images. Posting new work and works-in-progress with reasonable regularity is a great way to show how productive you are and how serious and committed you are to being an artist. If you post updates or introduce new art only every once in a while, people won’t have much reason to take you seriously or visit your page because hardly anything ever changes.

* Make your entire page public. The reason you’re on Facebook is to increase the audience for your art. Don’t limit that potential by making sections of your page private, not allowing people to tag you, or otherwise restricting who can see, comment on, respond to, message or chat, or otherwise interact with you and your page.

* Your page should be much more than a place to show your art. It’s where you welcome people to your artistic life, introduce yourself and your art, and talk in ways pretty much anyone can understand, relate to, appreciate and get involved with. The better you do this, the more followers you attract. More and more galleries are paying attention to artists with large followings… and offering them shows. Followers have literally become the currency of social media and can play a key role in your success in both the online and gallery worlds.

* Think of your page as an illustrated ongoing commentary on your progression and evolution as an artist. Make it a good read… and a good see. Develop a consistent storyline or narrative. Focus on your art-related activities, on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it… like what you’re up to in the studio, your latest shows, recent sales, how you decide what to make next, the challenges you face while working on a new piece of art, where you go or what you listen to or read for inspiration, and so on. The best artist Facebook pages make people want to come back for more. Like a page-turner book or a great TV series, fans can’t wait for the next exciting episode or adventure.

* Consistency is really important whenever you post. Make sure everything connects up, that there’s a flow to what you write and show, and that no matter when or where on your page people join in, they can feel like they’ve got a grip on things and a sense of who you are and what you’re about as an artist. If your page gets too confusing, people will stop following you.

* Make sure your posts relate to your art and art life in one way or another. In other words, stay on topic. Posts on unrelated subjects or aspects of your personal life that have nothing to do with art should probably go elsewhere, perhaps on a personal page viewable only by friends and relatives. If you do decide to post off-topic, make sure you provide enough in the way of explanation so your art fans can understand.

* “Likes” are OK. “Comments” are better. “Shares” are the best. The lowest level of engagement is clicking “Like” and moving on. Not much action there. Commenting means more and lots of comments on a post often leads to an interesting discussion thread. You know what happens when a thread gets interesting? More people spend more time reading it which also means they’re spending more time around your art. You know what happens when a thread gets REALLY interesting? It gets shared. And “Shares” are what you want; that’s the highest level of Facebook engagement and the single best way for new people to get introduced to your work, by friends who share your posts (and art) with their friends.

* Get people involved with your life as an artist. Post images of your art along with descriptions or comments that encourage discussion and invite others to respond. Whenever possible, relate your art or artistic perspective to larger ideas, issues, concepts, beliefs, philosophies. Connect your art up with topics we can all appreciate or identify with, or experiences we all share. The more people engage with your posts, the better. When people comment on or share your posts, those comments and shares appear on their pages. People who don’t know you will be exposed to your posts, and if they find them interesting, will likely click over to your page. If they like what they see when they get there, they might “friend” you, message you or otherwise start to follow what you’re up to. This is the Facebook equivalent of the “ripple effect,” of expanding your circles of friends and contacts, and people’s awareness of your art. In the long run, it’s how you attract new collectors.

* Whenever you post an image of your latest art, say something about it. Briefly introduce it. This is essential, especially for people who are seeing it for the first time. Provide enough background information or explanatory so that people who like the way it looks, but who may not know you, will have a better understanding of what it represents and who you are as an artist. Descriptions or comments always deepen people’s experiences of your art. One to three sentences will do it in most cases.

* In addition to posting images of the artworks themselves, show them hanging or on display at various locations. This way, people can get a sense of what your art might look like in their homes or offices.

* Give people reasons to want to own your art. Present it in ways that make it more than just another pretty picture or decorative object. Is there a story behind it? What inspired you to make it? What does it mean or communicate or represent. Give it a significance and value that extends beyond the visual. Anyone can buy a good looking piece of art anywhere, but as for one that enriches, fulfills or has meaning beyond the visual, art like that is a lot more difficult to find. The more deeply people connect with your art and what it stands for, the greater the chances they’ll want to make it a part of their lives.

* Avoid the temptation to show too much art. Curate your page the way you would any exhibition. Sometimes it’s better to regularly remove older works and replace them with new ones rather than add and add and add. There’s a fine line between impressing people and overwhelming them.

* Mention prices every once in a while to remind people your art is available for sale. You’d be surprised how many artists never ever say a thing about selling or post about their art in ways where it’s difficult for anyone to figure out whether anything is for sale or not. Don’t inundate people with prices and sales pitches, but make it clear that if anyone is interested in buying anything, they’re welcome to contact you. Another good reason to mention prices is that many people are either afraid, embarrassed or too shy to ask. But if you tell them first and they see they can afford something they like, they’ll be far more likely to respond.

* If you have a page where your art is for sale like Etsy or Saatchi or FineArtAmerica for example, post a reminder every once in a while that includes a link to that page. Also have the page permanently linked on your Facebook page in your “About” section so anyone can click over to it at anytime.

* Return all emails and messages promptly, especially when someone is interested in your art. For many people, art is somewhat of an impulse buy. Take too long to reply and that impulse might cool.

* Facebook is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Your website is where you control the show, where you present your art at its absolute best, where there are no distractions, outside interference or reasons for people to leave and go elsewhere (like there are on Facebook). So learn how to link your Facebook posts and images of your art directly to pages your website so people can click over as easily and effortlessly as possible. If you can’t figure out how to do this yourself, contact your website’s tech support or the people who built it and ask.


SEVERAL DON’TS:

* Don’t post images of your art with no accompanying descriptions, explanations or text (this is the worst way to present work). Far too many artists post image after image after image of their art without saying a thing about it. I go to these pages and all I see is “My art” “My art” “My art” “My art” and all I’m thinking is, “Great… another artist is making more art.” Even brief descriptions or explanations deepen people’s appreciation and understanding of the work.

* Don’t post images of your art on other people’s walls or promote your art on their pages or their discussion threads unless they ask you to do it or give you permission.

* Don’t message people you don’t know and ask them to visit your page, look at your art, give you feedback about your art, or otherwise reply to you about your art… unless you have a really good reason.

* Don’t post images of your art and then tag other people so they see it. People do not appreciate this and often have to waste time removing the tags. Only tag an image when it’s relevant to the person or people you’re tagging.

* Don’t send emails or messages about your art to groups of people unless every person on the list will know exactly why they’re receiving them. If you’re hosting an event, set up an event page and invite your friends that way.

* Don’t add people to your page or group without first asking their permission. Instead, either invite them to join or follow you.


 

Health Insurance

Health Insurance: Now this is something that has changed a lot in the last decade. Not something you will have to think about too much yet. If you are under 26, you fall under that beautiful window of having health coverage until you are 26 through the Affordable Care Act. However, given the current administration, we may seem some drastic changes in the coming months and years. Please pay attention. I cannot tell you enough how important it is to have health insurance.

If you have a job with benefits- great. You lucked out. For many artists however, life as a private contractor means you have to pay your own insurance. This can be pricey. Since the Affordable Care Act, it has become easier to qualify for help with this. The Marketplace and Medicaid have really helped people from falling through the cracks. Most towns and counties have people to help navigate this system.

Don’t put this off!! Find out how much you can afford and get that insurance. I am speaking from personal experience. Before the Affordable Care Act, I got caught in a situation where I almost had to declare bankruptcy due to an unforeseen illness. My credit is still a mess. This has made it difficult to qualify for car loans, home loans- it even made it hard for me to get a job at one point. Almost a decade later, I am just getting back on my feet financially. Just a word to the wise….

Feeding the Habit and the Art of Rejection

Now that you have the tools, or at the very least, an idea of what questions to ask, it is best practice to set aside time, daily, weekly or even monthly to practice the business of art. Whether you are updating your website, reaching out on social media, combing through opportunities lists, photographing your work or keeping track of your receipts, if you set aside regular time to practice, you will not find yourself at the end of a residency, school or exhibition wondering what to do next.

The best advice at the end of all this is to to the hardest part, make it your priority: show up and do the work: Success, Drive and the drive to keep creating

Over your career you will receive more rejection than praise. You will not get into graduate programs, residencies, exhibitions, will not receive commissions and you will hear back from a fraction of the applications you submit. That is what it is to be an artist. Rejection is a part of the food we must eat in order to grow. Do not take these things personally! As you grow you will  learn your target market, where you fit in the conversation and find that there is plenty of room for your work. You will figure out where to apply, who to talk to and how to make your applications better- all the while your art will be growing!

The artist Arthur Gonzalez published a great book called the Art of Rejection in which he published the rejection letters he had received over his career, proving that we all go through it. My strongest advice to you is to use that artistic imagination or yours. Picture yourselves where you want to be and cast a wide net. You may find a grant or a show whose prospectus doesn’t quite fit with your work and yet with a little imagination… apply, apply, apply! No one will have the chance to interact with your work if you do not take risks. Apply to everything, say yes to as much as you can, and don’t take rejection personally. You never know who will be reviewing your application. Every single application puts your work in front of the eyes of more people, whether or not you get the job, or the show, residency or graduate school. Some of these reviewers will take note of your work even if it doesn’t fit the current application. I found myself spending a year teaching at Penn State because of one of these rejections. I didn’t get the job, but 2 years later I received an invitation to come work as a visiting professor. It’s all a crap shoot really and the more ground you cover by applying to everything, the more likely you are to land something great!

I have repeated this throughout this course and I will say it again. The more time you spend on the business of art, the more likely it is that you will find yourself where you need to be. You have a completed application now, use the tools you have developed in this course and apply for more!

Feeding the Habit:

There are so many variations an art career can take. This is not your typical field. There is no set way in which to “make it”. Find the way that is best for you.

So how do you support yourself while working towards a goal of living a life of art? There are so many ways to do it! They are all the right way. This is perhaps the best thing about our field. Some artists prefer to work within the arts in teaching and administration, to feed the habit of art making. These artists often benefit from access to studio space, housing, materials and the like. However, the regular hours required for these jobs are not right for everyone. Other artists work in construction, at seasonal jobs or in the service industry. These jobs often have irregular schedules and allow for large swaths of time in the studio. You may be able to work as a server or a bartender a few days a week and spend the rest of your time in the studio. However you end up doing it, it is important to keep in mind that you are working to feed the habit of art making.

It is so easy to lose your way, or find that you have not stepped foot in the studio for months, or to find that your job has taken all the creative energy you need for the studio. This is not a bad thing! It is OK to find that your artistic mind has been fueled by your day to day. If you discover yourself invested in something outside the visual arts but feel that your creative center is satisfied, that is OK. Art takes many forms, it ebbs and it flows. Your artistic mind needs time occasionally to refuel. If you are compelled to make, you will always find your way back.

I cannot tell you how important it is to be gentle with yourself. Artists seem to have a terrible habit for self abuse. It is so easy to find yourself feeling so good, excited and happy with your life the day an exhibition opens, and crippled by self doubt the next day. Part of your growth and success will be in learning how to ride that wave. You will learn how to take rejection and not take it personally! Artists are notorious for working themselves to the bone. That’s fine! You need to work hard- very hard, but you also need sleep, proper nutrition, exercise and a healthy inner life. Check out this radio show about the Habits that Harness Creativity for a little insight into your creative mind. You will learn to navigate this exciting life. Be good to yourselves, you are on the right track!