Extra Credit: After School Special Panel 2 Recap

The After School Special program is a series of three panels that present practical information about presenting, marketing and selling artwork online. The panel discussions are built on a partnership between SooVAC (http://www.soovac.org/) and mnartists.org (http://mnartists.org/). The After School Specials were designed to provide artists with a place of dialogue and conversation rather than a typical workshop. The idea behind this was to guide and showcase possibilities for artists think about in terms of their careers, rather than presenting a typical how-to or top ten list.

Our first panel featured, Jesse Draxler and Beth Bowman, both artists, alongside Allison Beattie from Fallon. They shared their tools, tips and topical information about online venues used to promote their work including their artist website and social networking platforms. The second panel featured Paul Schmelzer, from the Walker Art Center, Sarah Crist, from Fallon, and me, Kate Renee. We spent our evening talking about marketing what we have uploaded online on social networks and artist websites.

Interested in following along or recapping the material covered during our panels? Katie from mnartists.org has been busy live tweeting during each discussion. Follow #artistsprofdev to catch up with our conversation.

Paul Schmelzer (http://eyeteeth.blogspot.com/): Paul is the web editor and blogger for the Walker Art Center. He talked about the Walker Art Center blog and website and how he maintains its relevance to artists and viewers. The Walker Art Center’s website was remade a while back and was redesigned to have a news-like design. Paul shared during the discussion that most people do not visit museum websites daily, but the way the Walker’s site is set up, there is new content daily to help facilitate returning viewers. There is always something new to discover and read in the site which not only markets the Walker but creates a hub of conversation regarding art in general. Thus the Walker’s website has a high churning rate. Churn is the term for how much changes on your site. Keep content moving to have people return to your site. Include written, video, images, links and more.

Photo credited to mnartists.org. It was originally posted on Instagram.

It shows Jehra Patrick, Paul Schmelzer, Sarah Crist and Kate Renee during the panel.

Sarah Crist: Sarah is a Social Media Community Manager at Fallon and has worked for Totinos Pizza rolls and Cadillac. She had a great tip that she shared based on her experience with social marketing Pizza Rolls. While updating the Facebook page she posted a question to their perceived audience, moms. After multiple shocking responses, she discovered that her Facebook audience was not mothers, but pot-smoking partying college kids! She emphasized knowing your audience; do not assume who you are talking, marketing to or interacting with. Sarah talked about how to create conversations with her work through Cadillac. If you are interested in getting involved into a group of people or interests, join the conversation. Talking to online groups, viewers and fans can also help you discover your audience. Comment on blogs, send a message or a like a post or picture. She says collecting a social community requires traveling to other peoples accounts and interacting with them, not just viewing their page.

Kate Renee (www.katrenee.com): I spent most of my discussion focusing on my blog, The Suction Cup, www.thesuctioncup.com. Here were a few of my tips that I shared. Be consistent with blogging, decide when you are going to post and stick to it. Most people will read blogs in the evening, after a typical work day, or on the weekend. I chose to post every Monday morning; my audience is the working artist who has a day/office job. The purpose of my Monday posts is to have that blog post or article ready to be read by my viewers and readers on a Monday morning in the office. Whatever you choose to post on your social networking sites, post consistently. When you do post, share the link on all of your social networks, each network you utilize will have a different audience.

I was initially worried that a blog would only be about me, me, me. But after a year of blogging I have focused on a variety of topics and offered guest posts, interviews and other material to focus away from me and showcase other artists, tools, tips and opportunities. There is an endless amount of content you can post and share: websites, links, photos, updates, events, book reviews, opportunities, jobs, grants, giveaways, art, interviews, critiques, recipes, lists, multiple blog posts or series, how to’s, demonstrations, tours and more

While our panels offered many tips, suggestions and possibilities to our audience, we also thought to suggest that artists should not go home and do all of this at once! Take your time and consider what is relevant to your arts career.

Panel 3 will meet on September 18th. The third panel discussion focused on having an online presence through Etsy and build upon the marketing strategies talked about in panel 1 and 2 to discuss selling through this online platform.

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