We got back from Art Unraveled last week after a wonderful adventure. I came home with a little clutch of business cards and Moo cards and info scribbled on the backs of bits of paper, and I sat down over the weekend to go through them while I tried to track down some other artists–just doing it all in one fell swoop.
I found empty Etsy shops, defunct websites (“This site is for sale!”), Facebook profiles where no updates had been posted since 2010. Broken links, abandoned Twitter accounts, contact info that no longer works. I spent an hour yesterday trying to track down one artist. I’d begun to fear the worst–that something horrible had happened to her–when I finally got a response to an email. Why had everything been abandoned? I still don’t know; all I do know is that if it hadn’t been a Sunday when I had a little time to pursue it, I would have given up long, long before making contact.
So here’s the reminder: if you’re doing what you’re doing just for fun and don’t really care anything about making contact with anyone beyond your circle of close personal friends, don’t worry about it. All you need to do is let them know if you change your phone number, and you’re good. But if you’re trying to make wider contact with people you meet online or at retreats, or with editors or podcasters or whatever, then you can’t do this. You can’t start something and then abandon it. I know this: I have an abandoned MySpace page out there somewhere, and a blog I never update. I have one of those empty Etsy shops, too. It haunts me (when I remember it), but I rationalize that it’s OK because I’m really, really easy to find on Twitter and Facebook and my personal blog and here. I also promise that someday–someday soon!–I’ll get in there and fix/delete/re-set. That’s no excuse, of course; don’t be like me.
When you start setting up blogs and Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts, it’s tempting to do it all at once, get everything set up and then jump in. If you’re even the tiniest bit uncertain about your ability to keep up with it all, though, wait a bit. Start one thing at a time and see how it goes. It’s not going to do you any good to start it all if most of it is going to be so overwhelming that you can’t keep it up. Pick one thing you’re pretty sure is manageable, set it up, and keep it current. If something happens and you have to leave it for a while, let people know: put up a notice, write an explanatory blog post, something–don’t just quit and make it look like you were suddenly abducted by aliens. Sure, things happen, things that are beyond our control. Everyone understands that. But just leaving it all hanging really is a last resort. If you do eventually resurface and return to the land of the living, people are going to wonder if you’re really all that reliable for the long haul. They might be just the tiniest bit wary about working with you, fearful that you’ll vanish in the middle of the project. I know this because there are people out there who do that. Nobody wants to work with them ever again. Trust me–if you’re trying to get your name and your work out there, you don’t want to give the impression, ever, that you’re maybe just the teeniest bit flakey.
So think about what you can handle and what would be Just Too Much. When you have Moo cards or business cards printed, include only information that you’re pretty sure will remain valid; if you know you’re going to change ISPs and that your primary email address will change, set up a gmail account and use that email address. It will stay the same through the switch, and your cards will still be current.
Sure, it can be hard to keep up with everything. So start slowly and do only what you can handle without getting overwhelmed. Make yourself easy to find and then go from there.
And good luck!
Visit Ricë’s other blog at Notes from the Voodoo Cafe.
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