Easy Free Ways to Help Grow Your Art Business

A guest post about using social media by Ilysa Ginsburg

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard artists say that they don’t get involved in “that social media stuff” and don’t intend to. Every time I hear this I cringe. In my mind what they are saying is, I don’t want to improve my business and get new customers. When you look at it that way it seems silly, what business can survive without new customers and growth? I realize that social media has a stigma of being this total waste of time, and don’t get me wrong it can be if you use it the wrong way, but if used effectively it can help your business thrive. I know this because my business partner and co author of Polymer Clay Art Jewelry, Kira Slye and I started Polymer Clay Productions around 7 years ago and in all of these years we have spent very little on advertising, most of our business still to this day comes from our social media efforts.

People do not buy from people or companies they don’t trust, plain and simple. So how do you build that trust? Social media is one of the best ways to build the trust of your customers and gain future customers. People want to know who they are buying from, especially online. There are so many scams out there it’s natural to be fearful. Building a social media platform can change this; it can help people get to know you and what you or your company is all about and it can help them trust you enough to purchase from you.

I realize with all of the social sites out there it can be overwhelming and hard to figure out where to start. Let me just say you do NOT have to be on every social media site in the world, you just have to be on the ones where your customers hang out. If you are an artist chances are you will find your customers on Pinterest and Facebook. So why not start with those two? Pinterest is unbelievably powerful. We get more people referred to our websites from Pinterest than we do from Google–that alone is truly amazing.

Pinterest is a great place to share things that represent who you and your business are, and your likes and interests. You can also share the products you offer on your boards too. Basically you create boards that you pin different things you like to and that you want to share. Sharing is the key on Pinterest, you want people to follow and share your boards as each time your boards are shared that’s a possible new visitor that can find your website and perhaps become a new customer. Make sure to fill out your profile completely and include a link to your website. It helps to build trust as people will see the person behind the business and if they relate to the things you like or offer, chances are they will follow you and explore your link to your website. It’s free to join and use so really you have nothing to lose. You can check out their website and explore to see how others are using the site.

Pinterest even has an app for your mobile devices making it even easier to share. Sign up for an account and start exploring, create a board and start sharing and you will be amazed by the results. You still want to use keywords and things your customers will look for as titles of your boards, so keep that in mind. For instance, our show Polymer Clay TV is about sharing and learning about polymer clay so I created a board called “Beautiful Designs in Polymer Clay” and I pin polymer clay items that I think are beautiful. This is my most followed board. I used the keywords “polymer clay” so if anyone is looking for polymer clay items they will probably find my board. There are many keyword tools online that can help you find the right words that your customers are looking for. I like to make a list of possible keywords to use and refer to it when needed.

I like to think of Facebook more like a coffee shop where friends gather, it’s a place to update your peeps and share behind the scene goings on, work in progress, new products and services and let people know a little more about you and your business. You could spend all day on there but don’t! I like to say that 15-30 minutes is enough, don’t get sucked in and waste time that is not going to grow your business! Post lots of photos as photos get way more response than just a bunch of text. Share when you have new products or events and include a photo and tell people what’s so wonderful about your new product, service or event. Don’t be spammy and like a salesperson. Instead you want to engage people, so asking questions is always a great way to start. For instance, we just started carrying some polymer clay cutters that are so cool. So I made a few things with them and posted a few pictures saying “I am having so much fun using the new clay cutters in our shop. Here are some pictures of the things I made! Can you imagine the possibilities?” Instead of saying check out the new cutters in my shop which is too salesy, I have now shared some enticing photos of what I made and got them thinking about all the cool things they could make with them too. People will get to know you and your style, and the ones that it resonates with will follow you and start to trust you. Chances are they will then visit your website to see more of what you do and this can turn them into customers.

There are countless books on social media and I couldn’t possibly cover the ins and outs here but what I really want to convey is that avoiding the social sites is not an option in this day and age if you want to grow and sustain your business. None of them are hard and really they aren’t as scary as they may seem; they are a necessary part of running your business and can actually be quite fun and profitable to use. They can actually help you to get to know your customers better which is better for your business. Both Facebook and Pinterest offer stats and have mobile apps too. You can ask questions to find out more about what your followers like or need, you can try out new designs to see how the public responds and you can gain trust and maybe even meet some new friends along the way. It’s really a win-win situation, so stop resisting the social media sites!

If someone said to you I know a great way you can build your business and increase sales and all for free would you tell them your not interested? Of course not! So don’t ignore this. I am telling you that the social networks can do exactly that and for free! If it makes you a little uneasy, get some books and read up on the best practices. It’s best to read each social sites guidelines so you know you are doing things the legit way and won’t have any issues.

The social sites should not replace your website or blog. These are an addition to them. I know too many people who put everything on a social site and for one reason or another they were shut down or removed and lost their entire portfolio of work. Read the guidelines and know what is and isn’t acceptable and you shouldn’t run into any problems but by all means don’t make the social sites your go-to website.

I hope this motivates you to sign up and get started building your brand, building trust and building your tribe of interested followers and customers on the social sites. Start with one or two sites that make sense and build on them. Add links to your social sites on your website and add links in your newsletter so people can follow you. You will be surprised at how many do. Have fun with it and share what you are passionate about, it doesn’t have to be too personal, in fact, I rarely post personal things on my business social sites. I like to keep it centered on the business and my role in it. Of course I am part of my business so they are still getting to know about me but I don’t have to tell them every aspect of my life. Just be sensible about things and don’t share what you don’t want others to know and there should be no reason to fear it. People will only know what you tell them and you are in control of that.

So I hope to see you on the social sites. Make sure to let me know you found me on the Create Mixed Media blog!

U2255_COVER.inddIlysa Ginsburg is one of the authors of Polymer Clay Art Jewelry. To see more of Ilysa’s work you can visit her websites at http://www.emeraldearth.com or http://www.craftylink.com

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