It is the end of 2018 and a good time to look back on the year. In Episode 35 of An Artist's Journey Podcast I am reviewing what worked in 2018. In art marketing that is. Well, in my experience anyway. What worked and what failed. Why I am over certain social media platforms and bullish on others. Most importantly what art marketing methods continue to deliver the goods year after year. These are the methods to focus on going into 2019. Let's take a closer look.
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[00:00:04] This is an artist's journey podcast. The podcast for people thriving and creating as artists. I'm your host. Malcolm Dewey and let's begin
[00:00:25] Hey everyone welcome to episode 35 of an Artist's Journey Podcast. Really good to be chatting to you again. It's been a while since my last podcast, about a the month I suppose. There's been a lot going on in my studio especially with preparing product reviews and painting demonstrations in the works so quite a lot of creative work going on. And with the mad dash for the end of year break I guess that really starts from around mid-December and we get involved in a lot of holiday activities with family and preparations.
So feeling that bit of pinch of last minute rush to get things done. But I thought it was also a good time to do a podcast on what has been working for me in the business side of my art practice as it were and marketing social media. All of those elements that sort of round of life as a professional artist. Many artists have said, and I do agree, that a big chunk of our time goes into running a business planning things for the future, attending to daily tasks, marketing what we are doing and then setting aside specific time to actually create art.
If you're doing art as simply a pastime or a hobby or just a passion project I know it sounds crazy to think that so much effort and time goes into business around art and marketing. But without those things we'll find ourselves really short and not even covering the costs of of keeping a studio stocked and functioning properly. So unfortunately or if you enjoy it then fortunately, you get to spend quite a bit of time with marketing. So what have I noticed from my point of view over the past year? Well let me just say I can't give any definitive views on all things to do with art marketing and social media.
[00:02:46] I can only really talk about my personal experiences and what I've studied and tried out and experimented with and there has definitely been a big change in 2018 and things that I'm going to have to take forward into 2019. Stop doing certain things and emphasize more on others. Let's start with perhaps the big elephant in the room and for me personally, Facebook has taken a massive massive hit. I find it less and less rewarding to work and market through Facebook pages. I know in some aspects this is old news. Facebook has been increasingly going to a pay to play approach but I think this year, especially in the last six months, things have seemed to have changed dramatically.
[00:03:47] And by that I mean consider one simple post with an image etc. The usual type of what's called a standard post on a Facebook page, has dropped off as far as organic reach is concerned even more dramatically than it did in 2017. I've got something in excess of 7000 followers on Facebook but if I put a post, which a year ago would have been getting on average about 60 to 80 likes and several shares and comments, now they seem to get around about the 25 to 30 likes. It's almost so consistent that one cannot escape the thought that this is a part of the Facebook algorithm at work.
[00:04:41] A post will just sort of shut down at that 20 to 30 likes. However if you do boost that and throw some money at it it will jump up. Obviously the more money you throw at it the more you are getting. The problem is that when I have boosted posts during 2018 I certainly get a lot more interaction and engagement. But still the conversion from the timeline experience and click through to my website, on the statistics, indicates very little movement in that regard.
So a boosted post might get a lot of engagement on the timeline. And on my Facebook page. But the amount of people going through to the website are, in my view, fairly insignificant when you consider that you're putting money behind it. That has continued to drop off. It's got to a point now where I can say that I'm quite disenchanted with the Facebook experience. I know many people say: "But you know everybody is on Facebook. If you just use the marketing or the advertising on Facebook more diligently and optimize optimize optimize. Keep on optimizing those adverts on Facebook.".
[00:06:05] Well I have done that quite extensively over the past few years and let's say two or so years ago that approach worked extremely well. But that approach right now has also taken a big knock. What I hear from a lot of Facebook users is they are not particularly happy with getting hit with so many advertisements in their timeline. Sponsored posts keep cropping up, keep cropping up and it's kind of like they don't even notice it anymore.
[00:06:38] Then you get writers and bloggers saying: "We've got to keep upping our game on Facebook and the market is there. We got to just keep tweaking things and we must learn more and take a course on how to do it better advertising and cetera et cetera.".
[00:06:57] It's got to a point where I've said listen I'm not interested in that anymore. It's becoming a distraction. It's costing a lot more. And the experience is beginning to leave a sour taste. So I have cut back on Facebook quite a bit. And certainly as far as throwing money at boosted posts or adverts is concerned, stopped that completely. And I do not intend to go down that road anymore.
It has actually, over the past three months, been quite a relief not to have that on my radar any longer. Not to sweat about how to optimize and tweak some sort of paid advert on Facebook has been a big big relief. It's freed up a lot of time and mental energy as well. I've been redirecting that into things that really work much better for me. We'll get into those a bit later. The weird thing is though that's now that I've cut back on Facebook a lot - 70 percent let's say. I still put the occasional posts on Facebook that I will put on other platforms as well. But I've cut back so much on Facebook.
[00:08:11] The result has been that now I'm getting these particularly annoying e-mails from Facebook. If I put a standard post with a photograph on my page I start getting messages from Facebook business and e-mails from Facebook business telling me to complete boosting my post. It's almost like they have started the boosting process for me and I just want me to click on a confirm the boost button. I'm thinking now hang on! I had no intention of boosting that post at all.
And now you're telling me you've set it up and it's ready to be boosted? I just got to click here and my account can be debited. That just smacks of desperation coming from Facebook. And I know that sounds weird. It is such a massive entity. Why are they trying to market to me so aggressively to boost my meager little post here and then?
Obviously they detect a downturn in activity from me compared to in the past and now want me to get back on track and get me in line again. Well as I've said I'm not doing that, but I find it particularly annoying and frustrating that they now pester me and are trying to twist my arm to get me to throw more money into the corporation. That makes me more determined not to and gets my back up and irritates me.
Why are Facebook behaving this way? Perhaps the volume of people that are getting disenchanted with throwing money into is prompting them (Facebook) to get more aggressive? Anyway to cut a long story short on Facebook, I am kind of putting that on the back burner and focusing on things that are working much better.
[00:10:09] But we can't get too far from the Facebook corporate stamp on social media today because it owns Instagram. And as I've said in the past I actually enjoy using Instagram because quality is much better. It's not as aggressive and in your face. I get a lot more stuff that is focused on what people are doing. And not getting bad news and finding out what everybody's had for lunch. Instead I'm getting more in-depth stuff.
More high quality content on the Instagram timeline. Also engagement on Instagram is significantly improved. For instance those 20 likes I would get on Facebook, on Instagram would be, let's say a hundred. So a big big improvement there. And then with Instagram the growth of Instagram Stories I think is interesting. And it's quite a fun challenge as well. I know that the whole concept of stories is growing pretty quickly but is still at an early stage. So that for me does make it interesting because there may be some benefit of being sort of an early adopter of the Instagram Stories format. I've been finding that putting a bit of effort into Instagram Stories does make the feed, or does make your Instagram feed, a little bit more interesting for followers.
[00:11:45] I'm getting also more comments from followers on stories. What I also like is that it is an outlet for stuff that isn't strictly aligned with my professional profile. For example in my regular Instagram feed I would more likely be putting photos of paintings that I'm working on or completed or step by step. Maybe a series of photos.
With regard to stories I'm more inclined to put in things that I might have been doing that are of general interest. Maybe going on a walk looking for subjects for painting. I will add a bit of video and photos of that experience of going out and looking for new subjects. So it's more, in my instance anyway, a way of getting a bit more personal stuff out there. And I think this falls in line with a general trend that we're going to see coming up in 2019 and onwards.
People are looking for more trustworthy social media. Stories can help you improve that sort of trust relationship perhaps a little more. That is something that I suppose will continue to grow. People are still finding it difficult to quite work out how stories is going to help a brand or a professional improve their business.
[00:13:19] I haven't figured that out myself although for me it's not a life or death situation. So I got some time to just play around with it. As far as how stories can convert into business and cash flow? I think some of the big brands have been doing that quite well. The typical large corporation could be Coca-Cola or Red Bull or any of those typical kind of massive entities. So you can have a look and see what they're doing and get a few ideas. I find that stories also works quite nicely with short videos. If you upload a one minute video to stories they will automatically chop it up into 10 second segments. That is quite nice as well because the first 10 to 20 seconds gets quite a lot of views and then it might drop off a bit.
[00:14:17] So you can sort of get your best stuff out in the beginning and those that are really engaged and interested will watch the rest of the video segments. Things like that step by step or process videos or photographs can also work well on stories. Just try and get the format correct. at least a square or the portrait format preferably will work quite well.
[00:14:45] Instagram video - the long format Instagram TV Channel - I put a few videos on there. But that's been a major struggle. Very often the video won't be accepted and I get an error report after uploading it for ages and ages. It's still seems to be a very tricky situation. Technically it's not just do the video upload despite using the correct formats and everything like that.
[00:15:16] It seems to be very very temperamental so I've put a hold on that until Instagram gets all of those technicalities sorted out. When Instagram TV videos becomes much simpler, I'll take that up once again. As far as conversions from Instagram to my website and to things like signing up for my email list et cetera.
It is quite hard to follow that. Checking out analytics etc. does suggest that there is not a whole hell of a lot of traffic going from Instagram back to my website. You know so what! It's not as if I am throwing tons of money at it. Anyway I have tried some boosted posts on Instagram with mixed results.
[00:16:09] Some have got me more followers. Some have got some conversions. Some have not worked that well. All in all the experience of testing out three, four or 5 sponsored posts on Instagram has been sort of underwhelming.
[00:16:27] I feel that Instagram is a nice outlet for some creativity and some fun and just to let off a bit of steam and enjoy a few good pictures from people I follow. So I'm not paying it that much attention as a source of income. We'll see how that goes in the future. Bottom line is keep on using and enjoying Instagram. Next up getting onto my more important platforms.
[00:17:02] YouTube continues to grow and as far as my social media is concerned YouTube is one of my fastest growing platforms. I've been putting a lot more long form video onto YouTube and that has improved following and improved time spent on YouTube. I have not thrown any money into sponsored videos on YouTube.
I'm not really planning to either but I've found that YouTube has enhanced my website and enhanced my blogging tremendously. It has improved the quality of my videos and my confidence on camera. Also a tremendous amount of this has spilled over into my teaching. My online teaching and DVD lessons.
It has improved that a whole hell of a lot to the point where that is a significant improvement on the bottom line of my business. So from my point of view I do endorse YouTube and creating videos on a regular basis but this doesn't mean every day. I try and aim for one new video a week. If you're a vlogger you will not be able to get away with that. You have to aim for once a day. But that's not my approach.
[00:18:26] I'm trying to produce long form videos that show me creating art or giving lessons. So there is more thought that goes into it. It is not quite as spontaneous. It has to be a certain quality and has to convey a useful lesson as well. The YouTube channel keeps on growing and has led to other opportunities as well where there are a few brands that want to work with me and want me to produce demonstrations or reviews of their products as well. So the opportunity to grow your influencer platform as it were? YouTube definitely will help that.
[00:19:10] The fact is that every business is having to aim at video and has to include video in the entire strategy whether the videos are there to explain how their business works or how their products work or why their products are great why their services should be used.
[00:19:31] All of those facets can all be improved through the use of the video. Of course a lot of brands want endorsement of their products by experts. So if you are proficient at using a product or service then basically you are an expert and a potential influencer for a business that produces the product or service.
If you build up your YouTube channel and start interacting with some of those services and manufacturers that you can endorse wholeheartedly and authentically you will find yourself starting to get interest from them and maybe they will commission you to do something for them. Whether they provide you with free products or pay you or both. That's all possible. So that's simply through the use of video and I encourage everyone, especially creatives and artists, to get into video.
[00:20:33] Don't wait to get into it. Just get into it. I've written about this in some detail in my books and articles on my website so you can find that or many other resources online about how to start getting into video.
But as far as social media is concerned the top channel for me is Pinterest. I've done previous episodes on this. I've written a book on it. I have produced a whole course on how to set up your Pinterest for creative business so you can check those all out. But the bottom line here is that Pinterest is the giant compared to all the others. If I get 10 people visiting my website from Facebook I get a thousand from Pinterest.
The comparison? Well they just don't compare. And that is free traffic I'm getting from Pinterest and there is no reason why you cannot do the same thing. I don't have thousands and thousands of Pinterest followers. It's not volume. It's simply putting useful information on your Pinterest channel and good quality pins. You will find Pinterest becoming your number one source of traffic in pretty reasonable time and not taking any money out of your pocket. Just a bit of effort.
[00:22:02] So get onto Pinterest, get a business account, check out my course on using pinterest for your business and just go for it. Pinterest should be big on everyone's strategy as far as I'm concerned. And it's not just things for women as well. To a large degree that has lessened over time. I know people that do computer programming and are getting most of their traffic from Pinterest as well. Male or female - doesn't matter. You can generate good quality traffic from Pinterest. I promote my new paintings and promote my blog articles.
The result is I'm getting a huge amount of traffic from Pinterest on a consistent basis. As far as applications that will help you with Pinterest? Obviously photo editing. You can use free versions things like Picmonkey and Canva. I do recommend picking one of them that you like and get the paid version.
The extra tools and effort will pay you back. So get a professional account with one of those and you won't regret it. Other apps I can recommend. I like using Tailwind. They have got some excellent additions to their services. You can use Tailwind for scheduling posts on Pinterest and on Instagram now as well. But for Pinterest they are excellent. You can schedule pins for future.
[00:23:38] You can put them on a smart loop system where your best pins are repinned for you. You don't have to do anything. And that consistent repinning results in consistent traffic over time. Check out Tailwind. I also recommend using a paid account with them. Well that leads me then from YouTube to Pinterest to blogging. Social media is there to amplify. But blogging is there to put the substance behind your name. Please, If you haven't started blogging, I do recommend it. If you are simply not interested in blogging or going give up on it within a few weeks then maybe you shouldn't.
[00:24:24] But if you want to build up your business blogging is essential. I have a previous podcast on why artists should start blogging. So I'm not going to rehash that except to say that blogging does work. It has opened new doors for me as an influencer.
[00:24:45] I'm getting approached by companies like international art brands that are finding articles I've written and or wanting to promote my blog articles. That wasn't overnight though. I started blogging in about 2012 with some real intention but it's only over the past two to three years that I really tried to put a lot more effort and quality into my blogging. I don't write every day.
I try to aim for an article a week but try to make it a long article and a really useful one. What I do recommend is that Google seems to want longer articles so nothing under a thousand words. Ideally you want one and a half to two thousand words now. In the past you could get away with under 500 words but now that's not enough. They're looking for what you call pillar posts posts that are going to stand up over time and be authoritative.
[00:25:48] So try and write that more consistently. Even if you do that once a month. Write one substantial post and then three smaller ones. That keeps working for you for years. And if you can get that on Pinterest as well and other social media then it's going to keep working for you over time.
As far as bringing video into your blogs or concerned, embedding a video into a blog article is really important. You can also create videos very easily using a service called Lumen 5. You can use a free account with them and using an RSS feed they pick up your new published blog articles and generate a template video for you. You can then make changes to it and change the wording etc.
They will put stock photos and stock video and create a minute video for you. Excellent quality. I really recommend it. It still takes a bit of tweaking to get the right thing together and you can import the video into your own video software. Something like Filmora. You can use Filmora more for free and you can then tweak that Lumen 5 template video a little bit more, add some music, things like that.
[00:27:23] Bottom line is within an hour, let's say, you will have a really good quality short video which you can put on your blog and you can put on Instagram and Facebook and all the other channels you may be using and drive more traffic back to your blog.
Bringing video in and repurposing content is also really really big and super important for 2019. Repurpose content. Go back and look on your statistics for your website and see which articles in the past have got a lot of traffic. Revisit that article. Plump it up with some new information add a few better photos to it.
Throw in a video and re market it and you'll get a lot more traffic that way with not that much effort. So think about repurposing or expanding existing ideas into something bigger. As far as curated content is concerned I have not found that to be such a fantastic way. Simply sharing other people's posts without it being part of a strategy. Maybe collaborating with someone else? That is really important if you can collaborate with someone and get reciprocal sharing of content, that's fantastic, but otherwise curated content doesn't do too much for my website or social media.
[00:29:02] So what does that leave me with? What I'm doing right now - talking to you on this podcast. Although podcasting is a part of my strategy I don't have the time to do a daily podcast. I would like to do a weekly podcast episode. A weekly podcast however, for an introvert like myself, podcasting has actually been a lot of fun and has opened other new doors for me as well. It's got me invited on to some podcasts. It's got me to meet new people when I've done interviews and set up new relationships with a few brands as well. I'm working with one or two now directly related to podcasts.
[00:29:56] I've even interviewed legal experts on copyright law for creatives and artists. Something I would never have been able to do if I didn't have a podcast. If you do have the gift of the gab and you are really a social person then podcasting, Well what are you waiting for? You should be doing it already.
If you are none of those things, but still when I give it a try, then you are kind of like me where you just turn on the recorder and go for it. Do the best you can. While it does improve you get more confidence and you'll also learn new things and as I said you meet new people. I rate podcasts very highly. It's still growing and that is something you can include in your strategy.
[00:30:47] Another option with podcasting is you can transcribe the podcast and there are services now that are doing it very reasonably. Using artificial intelligence and the results are pretty good. Getting better all the time. A service like T E M I. There's also Sonix. They doing good transcribing work. So transcribe your podcasts turn the transcription into a blog post or maybe a short e-book. You can repurpose a podcast In many ways. They are all top quality forms of content and that's important. So give podcasting a try. Very easy to get into it with some basic equipment.
[00:31:39] That is pretty much my findings for the year really and what I'm going to be focusing on more in 2019. 2019 is going to be pretty much centered on video, blogging and Pinterest and with podcasts thrown in there as well. All aimed at high quality content that can be repurposed in various ways. And social media? It's not the big deal that it used to be, perhaps. Now people want a more richer experience with you as an artist. A more authentic one and more honest. They want to get to know you a bit better and want to find out a bit more about you and not just how you are trying to make money.
[00:32:28] Don't forget education. If you can teach what you do then by all means get into that as well using channels like Facebook and your blog as a starting point. You can become an expert and a maker of really useful content. So content marketing still not dead. Still going strong. That's it really. And of course keep creating your art improve your art.
[00:32:59] Do the best work you can and pay attention to yourself, your health, your happiness and your purpose. If you've got those things in place and keep working on them then all of these other things slot into place. But ultimately your work and you as a person and your health and happiness and your family all of that is number one. Get that in line and these other things become easier to do.
[00:33:33] So I hope that something in there was useful to you. Maybe confirmed ideas you've already had or perhaps given you something new to try out and see if you can make it work as well. If you found this useful let me know. Give the podcast a like and share it out. Follow the podcast on your favorite channel. You'll find it on all the top podcasting platforms. Please also join me on my website. Send me an email. I'm more than happy to give you feedback or chat about art and creative work.
[00:34:13] Take a deep breath before we hit 2019 and a whole lot of new challenges lie ahead. So have a great time until we chat again. Cheers for now.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa