This is Part One of two articles about how to build your online branding presence as an artist and why it is important to do so and to be easily found as an artist in 2014.
In this post I will talk about choosing your business name, branding and building your website. In Part Two I will talk about Social Media and how to use it effectively as an artist (without spending all of your precious studio time on Twitter).
If you are reading this, I am assuming you are an artist, crafter, graphic designer, or maybe musician? Someone who makes something that they would like to share with the world and (probably) make money off of? Is that correct?
Some of you may be artists who are just beginning their business, others may be artists who have been making and selling art for years but are ready to have more of an online presence. Some of you may already have websites, social media profiles and others may not.
Before you keep reading! Answer these questions:
1. Are you an artist?
2. Have you made art in the last month? year?
If you haven’t… get off the internet(PINTEREST!), leave your house, pick up your camera/paints/drawing tablet, go to your studio and MAKE ART! First things first. If you aren’t making art, working on your online presence and branding will be a waste of time.
Go make art, then come back when you’ve got something to show people.
I’m going to talk about how best to develop your online presence so that you can be easily found by current customers and new customers. I understand as an artist you are probably super busy with a job or two, your family, making your art and more, so social media and your online presence might not be the biggest priority to you.
I am going to show you why it should be, and the minimal amount of things you should be doing. So, don’t worry!
Have you ever gone to a craft fair and saw a necklace you really liked but didn’t buy. And after the fair was over tried to track down that artist and it was impossible? Often times craft fairs or shops will list their artists on their websites, sometimes even link to their websites, but if that artist doesn’t have any online presence, how are you supposed to find them?
I’m hoping by the end of these two articles you will be able to create a website (maybe with some help), social media profiles and online branding that will make you and your art easy to find.
Your Business Name
Before you create a website or social media profiles, or before you go any further with the ones you have, you need to think about your name or business name.
Why is this important? Because the internet is huge and worldwide. You want your business name to be unique, easy to remember (spell and pronounce) and easy to find.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing your business name:
- If you are using your name as your business name, is it a common name? Google it. Are there other artists with this name? Are there famous people with this name? If so, do you have a middle name or initial to differentiate yourself?
- Is the domain name available? Try it! www.yournamehere.com If someone else has snatched it, can you vary it? www.yournamedraws.com or www.yournameart.com
- Is it catchy? Recognizable? Easy to spell or pronounce?
- Are the twitter/Instagram names available? Try searching @yourname if you don’t already have those accounts.
One good thing to remember when creating Instagram and Twitter accounts is to make your @name the same on both. If someone takes a picture of you or your art and tags you on Instagram and then tweets the same image, you want it to also tag you on Twitter. If your name isn’t the same on both, it will tag someone else, or a non-existent account.
- If you have choosen a business name other than your own name, google it. Does something else come up? Another business? A movie? If something popular has the same name as your business, it can make you hard to find in a Google search.
- Definitely remember copyright. Don’t want to worry about that later!
Choosing your professional business name carefully is important.
You want to be:
- Easy to find;
- Easy to remember, spell and pronounce;
- Not competing with another business or artist;
- Not competing with something inappropriate – Like an adult film star;
- Make it simple – There is nothing worse than having an elaborate website that is hard to navigate or unfinished (because we both know you don’t have to time to do all that).
- Content is more important than design – You are an artist not a web designer (I’m assuming if you were, you wouldn’t be reading this). Even if your website is just your name and contact info, that is much better than a complicated “pretty” website with no information. The reason you are creating this site is so that you can be easily found and contacted and to show people your artwork.
Now that you’ve choosen your business name, it is time to create a website.
There are many ways to create a website, and you don’t have to be a coding wizard to do so.
You can use different blogging platforms such as wordpress.com, blogger, tumblr, etc. Or if you would like to have your own domain you can use wordpress.org.
There are many themes available for wordpress that make it easy for you to create a good looking simple website.
Here’s my advice for you when creating your website:
Content your website should include:
- Your name/business name
- Your contact info, or a way to contact you (such as a contact form). If you put your email address put it as yourname [at] gmail.com – to avoid spam.
- Links to your social media pages – Emphasis on the ones you use the most, but you can add extras if you want. If you have incomplete social media accounts with no content that you never post on, don’t bother linking to them now.
- A CLEAR description of what you do. NOT “So and so is inspired by form and function and blah blah blah”! Tell people what it is that you do or make. “So and so makes furniture using reclaimed materials.” or “So and so is a painter, photographer and designer.” or it can even just be a subtitle under your business name. “Photographer. Web Designer. Tree Hugger.”
- Where you live. “So and so makes furniture using reclaimed materials and is based out of Toronto.” This will help to make you easier to find. If people see your work in the city you live in, it will confirm that you are the artist they are looking for.
- Images of your work (and you!). Post current images of your work and use watermarks! Especially as a digital artist or phographer, but even painters and crafters should use watermarks too. These days it’s too easy for someone to pin your image, post it on their website, or on tumblr without linking back to you. If you use a watermark (with your business name or website address) it will make it easy for admirers of your artwork to find the original source.
To summarize, when branding yourself online make sure you:
- Google your name, or business name;
- Keep your name consistent over all platforms;
- Link to all your social media profiles on your website as well as on every other profile – You want your twitter followers to find you on Facebook too;
- Keep it simple, post good content and keep it current.
Now that you have a business name and website you can direct people here when they are interested in your artwork through;
The websites and social media of places or people who promote, hang or sell your art;
Your mailing list & followers.
It is very important when promoting yourself as an artist that you are easy to find, and easy to get a hold of in the place people are most likely to look for you – the internet!
Take the time tonight or this weekend to do a little research about your business name and get going on your website! And then come back next week for Part Two where I will talk about social media and how to make the best of it as an artist.
I would love to see your websites (and art!) so give me a comment down below. And if you have any questions or need help with your branding or website building feel free to drop me an email, tweet at me, or comment here!
And let me know below if you would like to see more about online branding, or some links to helpful articles!
P.S. My friend Alison has started a podcast about art called “What It Looks Like” and released the first episode which you can listen to here. Alison is also an artist from Saskatchewan who is now living in Toronto. I am looking forward to hearing more of her podcast!
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