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SEO Website Audit

Marketing Artwork Through Social Media

October 17, 2012

Hi Jill,

My situation might be a little different from those of your other readers. I have a WordPress blog on which I've posted a lot of my art, and would like advice on how to use social media to promote it.
Photo Credit: kevinclark
I belonged to LinkedIn for several years when I was a technical copy editor; then illness caused me to retire; then LinkedIn was hacked and several thousand passwords were compromised, so I quit. I joined Facebook a couple of months ago, but frankly, it feels like a huge cocktail party where thousands of people are milling around with martinis and exchanging a brief word here or there, but no one ever really communicates. So now I've joined Google+, but can't even get it to use the right photo of me! I have a Twitter account, too.

Can you please advise me on how to sort out all these resources and use them to promote my art?

Thanks much!


++Jill's Response++

Hi Kate,

I can't really answer your question from my own professional experience as I don't do much social media marketing (SMM) for clients. I do some SMM for my own SEO business, but mainly I use social media because I enjoy it. That said, if I were in your situation, what follows is how I would approach it.

What are your goals?

First and foremost you need to know what your goals are with wanting to promote your artwork in the first place. Is it to sell it online? To gain possible customers who want custom work? To gain traffic and eyeballs to your blog? To brand yourself as an artist? To promote your own art gallery? Your goals may be any of those or some combination or perhaps something I didn't mention. Whatever they are, they will help determine how you might embark on your new social media marketing journey.

It doesn't sound like you are very much involved in social media right now, which could make things harder. Partly because you just may not be a social media kinda gal and partly because you may have to start from scratch in building up online friends and followers

Start with Facebook

Because you're promoting something visual, Twitter probably isn't the best place to start. Facebook is much more of a visual medium, with tons of photos and pictures posted and shared every moment, so I'd start there.

The first thing you should do is decide if you want to promote your art on your regular personal Facebook account or if you want to do it on a separate "business" page. Either way, you probably should add a "Page" to your profile for your business (the artwork) just in case. The more you get into Facebook the more you'll figure out if using your personal page or the business one is the best for you. For instance, I have a High Rankings business page, but I mostly just post links to my articles and then also share them via my personal account. I probably could do it all through the personal one as that's the one that has most of my followers, but I wanted to keep my options open.

Creating your business page

You'll find the link to "Create a Page" by clicking on the "More" link that is under the timeline:

Create a Page on Facebook

From there you can click the box on the next page that says "Artist, Band or Public Figure." Next you'll have to choose a category, which in your case is probably "Artist." Add the name you'd like to use and agree to the terms and you're done. Regarding the name, I would suggest something like "The artwork of...." with your name there. (Depending on the type of art you create, it could also be "The Paintings of..." "The Drawings of...," etc.) But if you already have a company name or something else that you use for your artwork, you could put that as the name. While you could just put your own name, it might get confusing with your personal page and your business one if they were the same.

Create a custom cover photo

Facebook allows a nice big banner that goes across your page for a cover photo. As an artist, you'll probably want to create your own unique one, either based on a current piece of your work or something new that you create just for this purpose. You'll also need a smaller "Profile Picture," which will be the one that gets shown anytime you post something or comment somewhere. That can be a photo of you, a logo, a piece of your work, or whatever you want it to be.

Fill out your business profile and post stuff

You'll probably want to fill in other profile areas as well. Minimally, be sure to post a link to the blog with your work. Now all you need to do is post stuff! While you probably want people to see what you post, you'll be tempted to try to get "likes" and friends as soon as possible. However, you're kind of at the chicken-and-egg stage here. People typically don't want to like or friend pages that have nothing there. So, I'd at least upload a few of your images. Rather than just uploading them, however, be sure to comment on them as well. Explain what they are, why you created them, and any other relevant information.

Invite people

With at least a few things uploaded, it's probably safe to invite your friends and relatives to like your new page. Presuming that you have some Facebook friends on your personal account, start by inviting them to like your page. They're going to be your best supporters when you first start out. With some really close friends or relatives, don't hesitate to ask them to share some of your work on their own Facebook pages as well. They'll most likely be happy to help. With "Pages" you'll also have an Admin Panel. You can go in there and click the "Build an Audience" button at the top and get an option to Invite your Email Contacts:

Invite Email Contacts on Facebook

You'll then be presented with different email options. But be careful – don't go around spamming everyone who ever emailed you. Some people (like me) really do consider stuff like that spam. So use it judiciously (if at all). You can also run Facebook ads to gain more likes, but that's a whole other ballgame, which I know even less about! It may be something you'll want to look into more in the future once you've got your page better established.

Network with others like you

The next thing I would do is see what other artists are doing on Facebook. A Facebook search for "artwork" or even just "art" or "cartoons" or "paintings" can turn up thousands of others promoting their creative works. Check lots of them out and those whose art you like for real, you should like them on Facebook as well. I'd suggest also commenting on some of their work as the mood hits you, and even sharing some on your own page if you find them to be awesome enough. This can help you build rapport with other artists. Think of it like networking in real life – perhaps like at a gallery opening, only it's all done online. I'd suggest spending a certain amount of time every day doing this sort of online networking.

Post your coolest work

At the same time, you should also be adding more of your own artwork to your page. For the most chance of getting comments, likes and shares, it seems that anything highly amusing, amazing, breathtaking, strange, or otherwise just plain different do best. Another thing I've seen other sites do that is fun and can generate lots of comments is caption contests. For that you'd post a piece of your work and ask people to either name it or fill in the blank for a caption. People will usually do it just for fun, but you could offer some token of appreciation to the commenter who gets the most likes on their caption if you want to try to spur more action.

The thing to understand is that all of this will take time. Don't expect tons of followers, likes and comments right away. But if your art is really cool, that can go a long way.

Check out Pinterest

After you feel comfortable with Facebook, you should probably start learning about Pinterest. I can't help with that one as I'm still at a bit of a loss as to its appeal. You're in luck, however, because my friend Jennifer Cario has written a couple of posts on using Pinterest:
She's also working on a book: Pinterest Marketing: An Hour a Day that you may want to buy when it comes out in early 2013.

Ready to start selling

If one of your goals is to sell your artwork, there are places beyond Facebook that you should also look into. For instance, you could set up an Etsy shop.  They can even integrate it into your Facebook page, like this one I ran across. As far as what you'll have to pay, from the info on the Etsy site: "It costs $0.20 to list an item for 4 months, or until it sells. Once you sell your item (congrats!), we collect a 3.5% fee on the sale price."

You should also look into (a former client of mine). They match people who are looking to buy stuff with artisans who can create it for them. You can showcase some of your current work on their site for only $1 per year plus a 10% Co-Marketing Fee when you sell something.

In addition, if your artwork would work well on T-shirts or mugs, etc., you may want to check out CafePress.

All in all, it could be quite an exciting time for you! Just remember to be patient and spend some time every day on this new venture. Eventually social media marketing will be old hat, and you'll be showing other struggling artists how to get involved!



Photo Credit: kevinclark via photopin cc

Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of Jill Whalen High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 Julia Hidy said:
Hi Jill and Kate,

I'd also recommend that Kate drive traffic from Pinterest and Youtube to her blog. At her blog, she needs to collect their email addresses. She can offer a small 3-10 page e-course .pdf to get people to give over their email addresses. That way, she will have a way to market to people who are impending or are alreadly fans. Fans will buy her work more readily than complete strangers.

In using Youtube, Kate, you could use the camera on your laptop and record a 1:00 to 1:30 video on the reasons you did the piece of art and your inspirations. You can also then embed a link from the Youtube video back to your blog, and collect their email address there. Think long-term customers...

Also consider posting an e-book onto Kindle with links back to your blog embedded into the ebook. You can price your e-book at $2.99 and earn 70% for each sale. You'll also been seen as an 'expert' in your area. If you do register for the KDP promotional program, make sure that you don't sell your book anywhere else but on Kindle for the full first 90 days since you'll have granted Kindle exclusivity for that period.

Since ebooks are going to become all the more colorful and interactive with superior displays on tablets and Kindle HD, you can create an 25 page ebook - ten images - one page of image with one page of 1,000 or less of text. That's 20 pages. By the time you add your front matter and back matter, and a linkable TOC, you'll be up around 26 or more pages. Do your e-book document in MS Word (or equivalent), convert using Calibre (free on, check on the Kindle Emulator, and make sure you keep your file sizes per image VERY small -- since you will get charged a small fee for all the bandwidth of the downloads. If you can keep your entire ebook under 1mb, including the images, you'll be laughing.

Have fun and keep looking for answers. Good things will come to you easily and quickly.
 Jill Whalen said:
Great advice Julia, thanks!
 Steve & Sally Wharton said:
Great, informative post Jill. Thanks! Your topic and examples are fairly timely for us. A couple of weeks ago, we were in Whistler, BC and checked out the Mountain Galleries location to view some of Linda Wilder's (Impressionistic Landscape Artist, Canadian) work displayed there.

Not only did we get an education, but the Gallery host showed us their Facebook page. It might be a good example for Kate to check out (

...if we're not allowed to post the facebook url for Mountain Galleries (e.g., it doesn't show in the preceding sentence of this post/comment), please just search for them on Facebook. They have physical locations in Whistler, Jasper, Banff, and Woods Hole.

Their Facebook site is very active with lots of postings, artist info, graphics of the art, etc etc.

Hope that helps!

Cheers, Steve & Sally - Seattle
 Matt Mikulla said:
Hey Kate and Jill. I'll add some thoughts.

I have about a decade experience in the fine art business and as an artist. I currently work in internet marketing as an SEO specialist.

I'm currently building up my art business again and helping my girlfriend through the process.

I would definitely focus on Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube like others have mentioned above.

Create an Etsy account and also consider Art Fire. I know some folks that sell frequently there and it has less noise.

Also consider setting up an ecommerce shop on your site. Since you already have a WordPress site I would look at the ecommerce plugin Woocommerce -

They have both free and paid themes that will get you off the ground immediately. Connect your Paypal or other merchant account. Plugin your social media links. You can even hook in your Mailchimp account for capturing newsletter emails.

Woothemes handles all this out of the box.

If you invest time into social media you probably want to send folks to your site first and your Etsy shop and other properties after.

Also, you might want to read some of Lori McNee's social media marketing for art tips too.

Good luck!
 Jill Whalen said:
Thanks, Steve, Sally and Matt! I'll be sure that Kate sees all these great comments and advice.

You guys rock!