Social Media: Blogging: Get Writing

Now that you have ideas and topics for blog posts it’s time to get started with the actual writing.  Where do you begin?

I like – make that love – to start with various stages of a technique that’s called Free Writing.  In fact, I’d say that I start most of my writing projects – even my blog posts – this way.  If you’ve read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron you’ll be somewhat familiar with this.  She refers to it as “The Morning Pages” – every morning you sit down and write three pages about whatever is on your mind.  Bare your soul and make room for creativity.  Free Writing is somewhat like that but a bit different.  It’s more creative and the outcome is often the beginning of something you will use.

Free Writing, by definition, is really quite simple, as you will see. It can be an amazing basis for inner discovery.  You can find new ideas for your art and yourself.  It can be a great place to gather your thoughts, or (as in the case of the “Morning Pages”) it can simply be a place to unload.  Free Writing is also known as Stream Of Consciousness writing. Here’s how to get started.

1. Get your favorite writing implement(s).  You can even use a crayon if you think it will open your creativity. I type rather fast so I like to use the computer.  Sometimes I start to get inspired in a cafe or on public transportation so I carry my iPhone and something to write on just in case.  You can use a sketch pad, an iPad, paper, whatever you like.  Just make sure it’s fun and comfortable.

2. Get into your most comfortable spot.  An armchair in your living room or den. I know some writers who can’t write at home so they go to cafes and coffee bars.  Some writers create a special place in their homes for writing – even if it’s just a desk in a quiet spot overlooking a beautiful landscape.  It can be a place dedicated to writing in your studio.  It has to be a place that you look forward to going to because you’ll want to do this again and again.

3. Set a time limit – 10, 20 or 30 minutes.

4. Start Writing.

There are two rules to follow. Don’t worry they’re not hard and fast.

• You are only allowed to pick up your writing implement to make space between words.  If you feel stuck say it.  “I don’t know what to write about? What should I write? I’m stuck.” Just keep going and I promise something will come out of it.

• Do not worry about grammar, punctuation or editing.  Don’t let that impulse to self censor get in the way.  Editing will come later.

• No one else has to ever look at it.

You don’t have to have a topic in mind to start writing but in the case of blogging you may want to.  For example: Pull out a painting or drawing and write about it for that set amount of time.  Whatever comes into your mind about it is okay.  Even if you don’t like it – maybe this will help you figure out why.  You’ll be amazed at what comes out.

After you finish and take a bit of a break, read it to yourself (preferably out loud).  This can be empowering because you will see that you can write and write well and that’s the key to great blog content and great blog content is the key to getting followers.

Social Media: Excellent Example Of A Blog Post

I want to share this excellent example of a blog post from Linea – the publication of the Art Students League Of New York.  It’s one of the Art Students League’s most popular instructors speaking about the three most important tools in her studio.  It’s fascinating. It’s compelling.  Read and be inspired!

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 6.06.18 PMhttp://www.asllinea.org/tools-of-the-trade-art-sharon-sprung/

Social Media: More Ideas For Blog Posts

The content of your posts should be compelling and engaging.  I cannot say it enough so I want to give you even more ideas and inspiration for your posts.

Answer Common Questions About Your Art
Do you hear the same questions again and again – when you’re at a gallery, on email, on Social Media – about your art. This could be your place to provide the answers. When someone asks the same question the next time, you can simply refer them to this post on your blog.

Make An Announcement
It could be an upcoming exhibit, an event, an achievement, even something that’s important to your career.  A milestone.  Put the announcement in the “Subject” and elaborate in the text area.

Host a Question and Answer Session
Interview a viewer of your art, interview a buyer or collector, interview a teacher or a mentor, interview an artist that inspires you, have someone interview you.  Then post the results to your blog.  A TIP: Use an app on your phone that will convert spoken word to text. Turn it on when you are interviewing someone.  It will save you work when transcribing the interview later.

Review An Art Tool Or Supply
Believe it or not, spelling out why you like a particular art supply will give tremendous insight into your working process. As I’ve said again and again, this is actually quite fascinating to someone who has no idea how it’s done.

Review An Exhibition
The artists point of view is quite different from the critic or art historian.  The inspiration or not, the technique and a unique understanding of what it’s like to put tool to medium, I find, is more down to earth and interesting. TIP: Speak in your voice about this – don’t worry about competing with ArtNews or using Art History terms. You are appealing to your audience who will look at a suddenly academic sounding post and probably say “What happened here?”  Be yourself!

A Case Study
Are you doing research for a particular piece or project?  Outline it here – you can break this up into progressive posts.  Keep your audience engaged – waiting for the next step.

Problem/Solution
This is wide ranging.  Do you have a possible problem in making your art that a new tool or technique would solve?  Write about it.  See who comments and you might get more ideas.  Find a problem outside the scope of your art that you think your readers will respond to and give a possible solution. TIP: Avoid politics or religion unless that is the main content of your blog or your art is political.

Frequently Asked Questions
This one can be broken up into several posts.  Similar to the Questions And Answer but more targeted and direct.  From you to the reader.

Should Ask Questions
Are there questions you think viewers should be asking about your art?  About your concept?  Is there a dialogue that you hear when you’re at an exhibition of your work, or online?  Is there something you are not hearing and wish you should?  This is the place to address it.

A Checklist
This is somewhat self explanatory, however you can make this about you or about something your reader should take into account.  Perhaps a checklist that you complete when your finishing a work of art.  Perhaps something someone should consider when they are displaying your art.

Define Your Art
Define your concept of your art overall and/or a particular piece.  What do you want to convey to your viewer.  Remember that a work of art is a dialogue between an artist and a viewer.  You can enhance that by writing about it here.

Profile
Profile a fellow artist, an arts professional, someone that inspires you or have someone write a profile about you – this falls under the guest blogging category.

Crowd Sourced Post
Bring together several people by sending out or asking a question and having them answer in 100 words or less.  Compile and edit it and post it.

Link Round-up
Curate and link to websites that inspire you or with information that you think would be of interest to your readers.  Give the title of the link and a one sentence description. Then link those words to the website.  For example: Miriam Schapiro – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  TIP: Do this on Fridays to coincide with Twitter Recommendation Fridays and make sure you Tweet about it.

Quotes
Find quotes that you think will inspire your readers and/or inspires you and post it.
I.E This world is but a canvas to our imagination Henry David Thoreau  TIP: A good place to find quotes is: BrainyQuote: www.brainyquote.com/

Best Of The Web
Find websites that you think are outstanding and review them.  TIP: Don’t forget to link to them.

Pick Of The Week
Pick one of your own works, post a perfect image of it and describe your inspiration for it or the concept of it.  This also works for art that inspires you.

People To Follow
This is similar to a Link Round-Up but it’s especially important to link to other blogs and bloggers.  Fellow bloggers will get something called a “ping” when you link to them.  This is a notification and they will most likely link back to your blog.

Story Post
A story about you related, or unrelated to your art, a reminiscence of an art class that you took or what happened in your studio today.

Survey
Choose a trending topic – in the art world especially  or in your world.  Survey your following – your readers, your email list and on social media.  Compile the results and post it.

Prediction
Do you predict something will happen in the art world, your world or the world at large?  Write about it.

Collector/Buyer Showcase
Profile someone who has purchased your art and is ecstatic about it.  This will, perhaps, inspire a closer look at your art by other readers.

I hope that these inspirations will keep you blogging repeatedly.  When you get writer’s block come back here and look for inspiration.  Keep on blogging and tell us about your blog in the comments here so that we can follow it.

Blogging: Inspiration For Your Posts

The most important question when blogging is how to keep your readers engaged? How do you make an impression on them and keep them coming back for more? The answer is compelling content. Sharing information that your readers will not only want to read but need to read.

Mostly what I see is artists posting images of their work and if they do write it’s in a descriptive, narrative format. Narrative means a story or report in a sequence of written or spoken words. There is nothing wrong with writing that way. In fact, I encourage you to make it the main content of your blog.

Tell stories about your art, how you made it, what inspired you, what compels you to make art. What message are you trying to get across in a particular piece or in the overall content of your work. Write about both.

Is there something else that you connect with your art or that you are passionate about in general? Visit Altoon Sultan’s blog for a wonderful example. Something that you love and are excited about. That you want to share with the world with your point of view. Remember that if you don’t love what you’re writing about, you won’t be able to sustain it on a consistent basis.

Help your viewer get to know you from your perspective. Always write in first person, from the “I” or “Me”. You will draw them in, fascinate them, keep them coming back for more and they will spread the word. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool there is, after all.

Remember, that there are a lot of poorly written blogs out there and if you write well, post compelling content, it will be easy to get ahead.

Here are blogging formats that are popular for you to consider.

• Photos Of Your Art
By all means post photos of your work. Visuals make all the difference and it’s why people come to your blog after all. They want to see your work and learn about it as well.

• Why You Make Your Art
Tell them what compels you to make your art. Believe it or not there are people out there who don’t know what the driving force that inspires an artist is. What is your driving force?

• A Day In Your Studio
Describe a day in your studio, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. This may sound mundane to you but to someone who is a fan of your art it is utterly fascinating. 

• Reviews Of Exhibitions You Attend
Reviews are one of the top posting formats in general. Have you been to an exhibition? What did you like and what didn’t you like. Please don’t try to be like an art critic in the New York Times. Remember that the artists point of view is quite compelling. Tell it from your point of view, in your own words.

• How-To
This is another top posting format. Readers love tips and it’s a perfect format for an artist who wants to teach. You can show them, virtually, how to do a certain technique. You can even do this as a list format. (See below)

• Step-By-Step Art Workshops
Imagine doing a virtual art workshop. Wouldn’t that be amazing? You can write this or you can do it via video. Video is actually becoming more and more popular as a way to blog. A blog done exclusively via video is known as a vlog or vlogging. 

• Interviews
Interview an art world professional who likes your art – a gallery owner, juror, critic, curator, etc. You can also interview a buyer/collector and ask them why they love your art. Make it brief. No more than five questions. You don’t want to tax their time and blog posts should be relatively concise.

• Lists
Probably THE most popular type of blogging format. They’re easy to read and don’t take up much time. Use numbers or bullet points. “Top Ten” is a popular format. 

• Answering Reader Questions
Ask your readers to send you questions and then you can answer them one by one. It will keep the content and inspiration flowing. You’ll also find out what your audience wants. Think of it as customer service.

• News
This can be about you or your world. Is there something in your part of the art world that is interesting or is news? Share it. A good example is NYC’s 110-Year-Old Art Store in Danger of Closing on the New York Observer website.

• Guest Blog Posts
Ask someone to write about your art or a review of an exhibition – and their point of view is something that you agree with. This is not only good PR but it boosts readership because they’ll be sure to want to tell their friends about it. If you are asked to guest blog and it is relevant to you and your art do not turn it down. It’s also great PR, it builds credibility and the blog that you are writing for will post links to your blog and to your website.

The thing to remember is consistency. Consistency in your voice, your content and in posting. If you can keep a regular blogging schedule it will definitely help. Consistency and persistence are the keys to success!

Social Media: Anatomy of a Blog

Before I give you tips about writing for your blog I thought it would be good for you to be familiar with the terminology. Here is a glossary of commonly used terms….

About/Profile Page
A page on your blog that is your biography and why you are writing a blog. You can use your bio or artist statement combined with a statement about what you are writing about. WordPress links to something called Gravatar.

Archives
A listing of your posts in reverse order by date.

Atom Feed
A means by which readers can subscribe to your content and view it via a feed reader. (See also feed reader and RSS Feed).

Backlink or Trackback
A reference link used to notify another blog when you have linked to them on your blog. They usually appear in the comments section of a blog post.

Blogging Application
A program or website that allows you to create, manage and post on your blog. Examples are: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, Moveable Type, Tumblr and LiveJournal.

Blogger
A person who writes content for a blog.

Blogging
The act of writing and publishing blog posts.

Blog Host
A company that provides the space to host your blog. (See Blogging Application).

Blog Roll or Links
A list of links of blogs that you like or recommend. They are usually linked to a blog topic or other sites that a blogger enjoys. There is a widget that will show them in the sidebar.

Blogosphere
The online blogging community made up of bloggers from around the world.

Category or Label
A way of separating blog posts that will make it easy to find your posts. You can add a widget to the sidebar that has a linked list of your categories.

Comment
An opinion or thought in response to a specific post. Comments are what make blogs social.

Comment Moderation
Something I highly recommend that you turn on behind the scenes in your dashboard in your blog. This allows you to approve comments before they are made public. You can avoid negative comments and trolls.

Dashboard
The primary page where you will manage your blog. You will post, see your statistics, moderate comments, change your settings, design the theme or template for your blog and more.

Feed Reader
A tool used to read RSS and Atom Feeds.

Footer
The area of the blog on the bottom of your blog where you will put a copyright link, contact information, comment policy, etc.

Gravatar or Avatar
Gravatar allows you to create an image and a profile that follows you wherever you are on the web. So if you comment on another blog your Gravatar will show up as an icon next to it. I recommend putting an image of yourself, similar to a head shot.

Header
The place at the top of your blog where your blog title/logo, subtitle, graphics and possibly the navigation bar will appear.

Home Page
The first page that the visitor to your blog will see. This is not necessary and not common but it is possible to create a page on your blog that makes an impact.

Page
Some applications allow you to create pages on your blog. This allows you to categorize your posts and your content. It can make your blog look like a website. In fact, it is possible to create a website on WordPress. This is something I do not recommend. It will function like a blog – in that your content will be added chronologically and it will be Search Engine Optimized for a blog. You won’t be able to meta-tag it the same way.

Ping
A signal sent from one website to another to notify that the content has been updated. They are usually used when one website links to another and receives content from it. I’m sure you’ve seen feeds from Twitter on websites on the side. You can also do this with your blog.

Plug-in
Third party tools – created by web developers – that enhance the functionality of your blog. Some charge a fee (which can be one time or function like a subscription).

Post
Content that you will create and put on your blog, appearing in reverse chronological order.

RSS Feed
Which means Real Simple Syndication. A means by which readers can subscribe to your content and view it via a feed reader. (See also Atom Feed and Feed Reader).

Sidebar
A column that appears on the left or the right of the main column that allows you to put widgets or content that enhances your posts.

Tag
Keywords that categorize your posts and are read by blog search engines, making your posts searchable.

Template or Themes
A pre-designed format that allows you to create content without any knowledge of website design. You can adjust colors, typefaces, sidebars and more.

Troll
Someone who makes negative comments or posts on the internet for the express purpose of insighting an angry response. (The best way to handle them is to ignore them and delete these comments from your blog or social media).

Widget
A tool that allows you to add functionality to your blog in the sidebar, particularly in WordPress. Examples include: Categories, Blogroll, RSS Feed, Atom Feed, Links and Social Media Buttons.

 

 

 

 

Social Media: Blogging: An Introduction

In 2011, Technorati.com (a powerful blog search engine) was tracking 120 million active blogs. That number has been growing at a rapid pace daily. There is an active audience for blogs and people will want to hear from you. They will be interested in what you have to say and want to hear more.

The word Blog is a combination of the words Web and Log. The blogging format was originally created for a single author to create a daily log of their activities. Almost like a diary. Today major companies and news outlets have what are called multi-author blogs. The New York Times has a Blog called ArtsBeat among many others. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art has “Met Blogs”.

There are smaller blogs that referred to as Niche Blogs. Blogs that focus on one thing and do it well. Such as a neighborhood, a celebrity, a featured item or an artist. A good example of a neighborhood blog is We Heart Astoria: Delivering the Inside Scoop In and Out of Astoria. They combine this with active Social Media accounts and have 5,842 followers on Facebook as of this post.

The reason that there are so many blogs is that it is easy to start one. The only thing you need is a computer and access to the internet. You don’t need to know fancy internet code such as .html, .CSS or JavaScript. It’s as easy to use as a word processing software such as Microsoft Word. You can use code if you know how but you don’t need to. You can choose a design simply by choosing a theme and customizing it. You can create posts in text, audio, video or post images. There are blogs that are nothing but video and those are called Vlogs. There are also blogs that are nothing but audio and those are called Podcasts.

The difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is interactive and a website is static. People can and will comment and leave feedback on your blog. You will answer and suddenly a whole entire conversation has started. If you use good etiquette your commenters, followers and readers will tell their friends about you, link to your blog and tell other bloggers about you.

Those bloggers will link to your blog and you will link back. This will increase traffic to your blog exponentially. If you link your blog to your website – and you definitely should – it will increase traffic to your website as well. The most important thing a blog will do for you is to increase your exposure and your readers will come back for more because they can see who you are in a wonderful way.

A blog is a unique creative outlet. Remember always that you are an artist because you have something to say visually. Here is your place to put that into words. To let the world know, and those critics that matter, just what that message is again and again. Tell them what you like and don’t like, what inspires you, what you’re working on. You can simply tell your readers what you’re working on today, or what happened in your studio. You can review exhibitions you’ve gone to, giving your readers an artists perspective.  Believe me, that will fascinate them.

There are some things you can do to make your blog really visible and really good looking. In the coming posts I will go into that so please stay tuned.

Email: What to Do if Your Email Has Been Hacked

No discussion of email would be complete without addressing the issue of hacking. This is when someone takes unauthorized control of your internet based account and starts doing unlawful things with it. Usually they send emails in your name. Sometimes those emails ask the recipients to click a link taking them to a website and enter information that allows the hacker to take control of your account.  They can get information that will allow them to go as far as sending similar emails to your contacts, identity theft or sending a virus that will shut down your computer. So beware.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN HACKED

1. Make sure your security/anti-virus software is up to date.

2. Recover your account. Go to your account and try to log in. You will most certainly need to change your password because the hacker has changed it. You can do this by using the “Forgot My Password” feature and it will help you change your password.

3. Change all, and I do mean all, of the information that is associated with logging into your account. Your password, your security questions, your pin number if you have one. Changing your security questions, especially, will prevent the hacker from taking control of your account again.

4. Check your “Sent” box. This will allow you to see any mail that the hacker has sent to your contacts or anything that is unfamiliar. Delete those emails immediately.

5. Send an email to all of your contacts letting them know your email was hacked. If they see any strange emails from you not to open them and, most certainly, do not click any links in the email. Not only will this alert your contacts to the fact that your email has been hacked but it will alert the hacker that you’re on to them.

6. This final step is not necessary and it may be hard to find a way to do it but report that your account was hacked to the email or social networking platform you are using. This will allow them to investigate and perhaps prevent it from happening again.

PREVENTING HACKING
There are several steps you can take to prevent your account from being hacked.  You should make this part of your daily business practice of making art.

1. This one should be a no brainer but don’t ever, ever share your password with anyone and I do mean anyone. Even a trusted best friend or a family member. Yes you can trust them in just about anything but do you trust them to know exactly what to do with the information. Don’t take that chance.

2. Be on the lookout for Phishing attempts. No reputable company would ask you to change your password in an email. Not even a financial institution, an email company, a social networking company. They have built in ways of asking you to do that right on their websites. Do not even open suspicious emails, especially if they have an attachment – they could be SPAM.  If they contain a virus it will open up automatically and “infect” your computer.  Even if there is not an attachment there could be a virus.  Spammers who use commercial email services can see who opened their emails and what action they took – if any.

3. Keep anti-virus software up to date always. Hackers are discovering new ways to get in all the time. Anti-virus software companies are constantly on the lookout and finding new ways to prevent them just as fast.

4. Take extra precaution when using public computers – in a library or a cafe. Hackers can store something called Malware (which stands for Malicious Software) in public computers. This will allow them to capture all of your information. Please, please, please do not ever do any banking or financial work on a public computer or a computer that doesn’t belong to you. It is a sure fire way for someone suspicious to conduct identity theft.

5. If you are using your own laptop in a WiFi Hotspot – especially one that is not password protected – be cautious. Hackers can get into your computer through WiFi. I’ve even heard of cases where hackers drive around neighborhoods in cars looking for WiFi spots that aren’t password protected. If you are using a wireless modem make sure that it is password protected. Most modems are now coming with built in passwords so it’s not as much of an issue.

6. Never click on ads in search engines – especially if they say one thing and the domain address/URL says another. For Example: if you see an ad for Target, check the URL. If it doesn’t begin with http://www.target.com you know it’s not an official Target website.

7. Always sign out of your accounts, especially when you are in a public space. If you are doing financial work – like going on your bank’s website – don’t just log out of the account – quite the browser. Some people advise shutting down the entire computer but I’m not 100% sure of this. Again, please keep your financial work at home. Don’t go on your bank’s website in a public space.

CREATING STRONG PASSWORDS

1. Use 10 characters or more. 16 characters is ideal.

2. Do not use information that is close to you. Such as the name of a relative, pet, the year or city you live in. Use something that is not easy to guess.

3. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and punctuation. For example: iLWoprqba@9548.

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

Firewalls
Most computers come with a Firewall built in and/or it comes with anti-virus software. It’s a computer based program that protects your PC. It automatically monitors incoming and outgoing traffic to your computer as a virus preventative. It also prevents hackers or other people from seeing what you’re doing.  This is based on a set of precepts set either automatically by the software or by you.

Anti-Virus Software
This is software that you will have to purchase but it’s well worth the investment and it’s well worth it to take the time to update it when it asks you to. It repeatedly scans your computer for viruses and removes them when it’s detected. It will also prevent them from coming into your computer. The two best anti-virus software programs are McAfee and Norton Internet Security or Norton 360. Some Anti-Virus software will come with a Firewall for extra protection.

FROM THE HACKER’S PERSPECTIVE
Why would someone want to hack your email or your account?  What is the motivation behind it? The most common answer is simply for sport – to get a cheap thrill. It can also be for unlawful reasons – such as accessing bank accounts, identity theft or information gathering.  Hackers are usually sophisticated software programmers.  You can receive a legitimate looking email from a hacker.  It will come from a trusted email service provider or a company.  It may even have the logo and usual format from the company. Such as clothing1@target.com or info@paypal.com

Hackers usually send out a huge broadcast of emails, so they’re not just targeting you. They are looking for anyone who is uniformed enough to open the email and take action. Even just opening the email could cause a problem – a virus could open automatically onto your computer and do one of several things.

MALWARE/VIRUSES
The technical name for a virus is Malware (short for Malicious Software).  It is a general term for hostile or intrusive software.  In addition to the internet or email this can come from being in a Wifi Hotspot or a public computer.  The types of Malware that you may come across include: Worms, Trojan Horses, Ransomware, Spyware, Adware and Scareware.  Here are descriptions of the different types of Malware.

Worms
Software that spreads across a network of computers – without attaching itself to software or an email or an in company message.  It replicates automatically again and again and again.  This has been known to shut down entire companies or even sections of government.  Chances are that you are only on a network of one computer – yours – so you won’t have to worry too much about this one.

Trojan Horses
These are similar to Computer Worms but they don’t self replicate. Typically they are used to cause theft or loss of data and could possibly cause harm to your computer.

Ransomware
Malware that restricts access to the computer that it infects and demands a ransom to be paid to the creator in order for the restriction to be removed.  Some forms of Ransomware simply lock the system and display’s messages intended to coax the user into paying to get the computer working again.

Adware
This is exactly why you should avoid click ads on Search Engines.  It’s advertising supported software that will generate ads in your name.  When you click that ad in the Search Engine the hacker will gain access to your computer.  It will also generate revenue for the hacker.

Scareware
A virus that produces frivolous and alarming warnings and threat notices. They are most certainly fictitious or a useless Firewall or computer registry cleaner. It will also try to increase it’s perceived value by bombarding the user with constant warning messages.

I hope that by telling you about the different kinds of viruses it will send the message home that protecting your computer is key to your success and can save you thousands of dollars.  Sometimes computer stores will charge a ton of money just to recover files.  This is also why you should never leave anything on your computer’s hard drive.  Always use a Flash Drive/Memory Stick.

SOCIAL MEDIA HACKING
One more tip to prevent hacking on your Social Networking accounts.  Be a warm contact always.  This is good not just to prevent hacking but for your business.  A warm contact is someone that clicks like, comments and posts.  In other words, is active. Hackers are looking for cold contacts.  These are accounts that were set up and never touched again.  The hacker will take the same actions that they do on email with the exception that they may tag your contacts in photos you didn’t post, or post something on your timeline.

If you do find a friend who has been hacked inform them immediately and then unfriend them.  The hacker can access your account through them.  As soon as the person resolves the issue you can get back in touch with them.

If your Social Networking account has been hacked follow the same steps as you would to recover an email account.

Hopefully none of this will ever happen to you and if you take the precautions I’ve mentioned going forward it won’t.  I can tell you that my computers have never been hacked and I’ve been working on computers – mostly Macs – for over 20 years.  Besides the fact that hackers don’t seem to be interested in hacking Macs there are great preventions built in.  PC’s are also prevalent in offices, companies and government offices.  Hackers will get far more results with a PC. Therefore, if you own a PC please constantly update your anti-virus software and get total control over your Firewall.

If you take just one thing away from this post, it is to be vigilant and to always be on the look out.  Make preventing viruses and hacking a daily business practice of making art.

 

Email: What Not To Do

These are a few things you will want to avoid doing in email because they are either highly unprofessional or just downright annoying to your recipient.

DON’T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS – This is the equivalent of screaming and it’s very hard to read. It’s the number one complaint that I hear. It also usually says to me that the email sender doesn’t know what they are doing quite yet.

Don’t Say Anything on Email That You Wouldn’t Say In Person or On the Phone – It is the coward’s way out. Also remember that email can be saved and printed out. If it is deleted it can be retrieved from the server later. (I’m sure you’ve heard of cases of AOL pulling up an email from the deep dark past of a person in a court of law).

Don’t Send Flaming or Emotional Emails – Do Not ever forget that email is just words. Even the best punctuation cannot convey what body language or a voice on the phone can. Be very clear and concise. If you’re not sure how what you’re saying will be perceived then don’t send it at all. I’ve had emails misinterpreted and illicit “flamingly” negative responses. Think before you Click “Send”.

Don’t Discuss Confidential Information on an Email – As I said above, remember that it can be saved, printed, easily shared and hacked. Pick up the phone or arrange a meeting.

Don’t Click “Reply All” Unless Your Message is For Everyone – Take control of this. Make absolutely sure you are replying to the sender only. Otherwise, you’ll be annoying everyone else in the email group with an email that simply says something like “Thanks! I’ll be there.” Whey it’s not necessary to see that. The other mistake that is made is that a very personal response between the sender and the recipient is seen by all. Make sure it’s only seen by you and the sender.

Forwarding For the Sake of Forwarding – Maybe you think that all of your friends will think it’s cool and you just click on Forward without a message of any sort. I’ve had friends who I’ve had to remind repeatedly that I’m way to busy to look at every cartoon, cute photo, interesting quote or whatever (use your imagination) that they send me. Remember it’s not communicating. Communication is a discussion between two people. Forwarding is not a discussion.

Don’t Forward Chain Emails – These are emails that ask you to take an action and saying something like “If you don’t forward this to all of your friends bad luck will befall you.” Don’t fall for it. It will annoy everyone you send it to and it’s just not true.

Don’t Open an Old Email and Just Hit Reply – Make sure you change the subject pleeeaaasssee. Make sure the subject concurs with the text of an email. Perhaps you are looking for an old email address the only way to do it is to pull up an old email and then hit reply. I guarantee you that there is always a way to change the subject which means there is no excuse for not doing it.

Don’t Click Reply All and Then Write “Remove Me From This Email List” in the Subject – That’s so embarrassing for the sender and completely not necessary. At the bottom of a commercial email you can click “Unsubscribe” or Mark As SPAM in your email server or you can just send a nice note to the sender asking them not to send you group emails again. This can also hurt your reputation. Suppose some of the people on that email list are critics, jurors, etc? They will think that you are not a nice person and difficult to work with. You will also, most certainly, burn a bridge with the sender who you may want to continue communicating with.

Don’t Use Re: Re: RE: Too Much – if you just keep replying to an email going back and forth with someone it will just keep adding a RE:. Eliminate a few of these or change it if the content of the email has changed.

Don’t Leave the Subject Blank – This is extremely annoying because your recipient won’t know what the email is about. Service Providers can also mark an email with a blank subject as SPAM. 99.9% of the emails I receive have subjects but if they don’t and they are from someone I know, I usually assume their account has been hacked and delete it. Even if you just put “Hi” or “News” in the subject it helps but please be more creative and to the point than that.

Don’t Say “Urgent” or “Needs Immediate Attention” in the Subject – Especially if it doesn’t. Email Service Providers may also interpret this as SPAM.

Don’t Use a Really Long Subject – Keep it short and to the point. I had a friend who would do this when email first became widely used. She would write the entire email in the subject and leave the text area blank. I would miss most of what she said. Then she got more control over it but would put most of the email in the subject and then repeat it in the text area. I knew her and would laugh and pick up the phone. Imagine if I didn’t know her what my reaction would be? Either that the sender was really nuts or unprofessional and I’d delete it without opening it at all.

Don’t Use Texting Lingo – i.e. Ur or Gr8. First of all this can be cause for miscommunication. Not everyone knows what it means and it is, once again, highly unprofessional. I’ve asked senders not to do this repeatedly and on the third ask I usually block them.

Don’t Use Emoticons – These are those smiley faces or symbols that are fun but not to be used in a professional email.

3967_IconsExamples of Emoticons

One last thing I want to share with you can send emails to a group of people by using CC: or BCC:

BCC – Blind Carbon Copy is an email sent to multiple recipients who can’t see each others names and can’t respond to them. (They can respond to the original sender, however…that would be you). You might do this to discretely let somebody else in on a conversation, to send to an email list without sharing everybody’s email or involvement with everybody else or any other situation where you or a recipient might desire a bit of privacy.

CC:  – Carbon Copy – this is like Blind Carbon Copy only the recipients will be able to see and respond to everyone.

By the way, if you don’t have one already here are a few of our favorite email Service Providers.

Domain Associated Email – this is the best for professional use. Think of it this way – every time you send out an email you will be sending a free mini-ad for your website. It also looks far more impressive and professional. Most website hosting packages will come with a certain amount of domain related email addresses. If not you can certainly purchase one easily.

Gmail Gmail is email that’s intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun and they give you 10GB of storage. I also find that creating folders is easy and their SPAM Filters are just right for me.

Yahoo Yahoo makes it easy to enjoy what matters most in your world. Not as easy to use but still widely popular

MSN – This used to be Hotmail. It’s good and far preferable to AOL.

AOL – America Online. I have always found the AOL interface to difficult and “antiquated” to use. In fact, I sent one of my clients an image that I’d edited carefully and AOL completely changed everything.

Overall I find Gmail to be the easiest to use of all of the Email Service Providers not associated with your domain name. You may choose to use an Email Service Provider for your personal email and a Domain Associated Email for your professional. This should make your life far easier and set you up for great online success!

 

 

Email: Doing Business Day to Day

I am assuming that by now you know how to use basic email. That you have a good server (such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, or an email attached to the domain of your website). You know how to compose, send, reply, forward, file, archive, etc. What you may not know is that there is an etiquette that you should keep in mind as you communicate for professional purposes – and it’s a good idea to keep them in mind for personal email as well. Some of what I tell you will apply to how you conduct yourself on Social Media as well.

Did you also know that some people spend up to two hours a day checking and responding to emails? Sometimes they just delete them because they are overwhelmed. Setting up the right systems and using the right protocols will ensure that you don’t become one of those people.

These guidelines should keep you organized and you will get results….

Set Up Different Accounts for Different Purposes – I have a personal and a business account. This is so that I don’t get confused and that I can take a day off and still interact with friends and family. It really makes a difference.

Set Up a Time of Day to Respond to Email and Social Media – the number one question I get from people just starting with email and especially Social Media is that they will be overwhelmed with the amount of time they will have to spend on it. Choosing a time of day that you check and respond to email and social media will keep you from being overwhelmed and you won’t spend as much time doing it.

Clear Your Inbox Daily – If you don’t you could easily become overwhelmed fast. Make sure that you take an action with every email that comes into your box as soon as possible. I set up files for emails I need to save or want to look at later. Most servers will have an option to create a file. You can usually find the ones that you don’t need to read without opening them. Click them and click on delete. Then find the ones that will need quick attention and read those. Lastly, go over the ones that you need to spend more time with. Your ultimate goal should always be an empty Inbox.

Check Your SPAM Folder – there is a folder somewhere in your email account that automatically stores all SPAM. All email servers now have SPAM Filters. Some are stronger than others and some allow you to determine how strong that filter is or to turn it off. Never-the-less always check the SPAM folder – at least once a day. You don’t want to miss an important email that was wrongly determined to be SPAM by your server.

NEVER/EVER Reply to SPAM – SPAM is usually sent through bulk email services or some kind of automated service. That means that they can track who opened the email, what they clicked on, where they’re from (in general terms) and more. Opening one SPAM means that you may suddenly see a lot more. SPAM may also have a virus attached that may automatically activate when you open it.

Compose a Signature – most email services will have a way for you to create an automatic signature. You should include your name, your website, blog and social networking pages. Some will actually have a way for you to insert the logo of the social networking platform and have it link to your page and some will allow you to insert images into your signature. Please do not include a street address or a phone number in your signature. You don’t want that to actually wind up in the email of someone you don’t know that well.

Use an Engaging Subject You always want the recipient of your emails to not only take action with your email but to open it and be excited about receiving it. Make sure that your email compels them to do just that. Use something engaging, funny and/or to the point.

Respond As Soon As Possible As I said in today’s world wide web – especially with smart phones – email senders will expect a quick response – usually within 24 hours. Don’t let an email go for more than 24 hours without taking some kind of action.

Keep Your Emails Short and To The Point – Again, in today’s world (the world wide web that is) attention spans are very short. Make sure that your email is direct. i.e. Dear Mr. Smith, I am writing to you because….” Especially if it’s a business person, curator, gallery director, grants manager, etc. If you do have to write a longish email try to keep your paragraphs short, to 3-5 sentences maximum. I know I don’t have to tell you that those sentences should not be run-on sentences. Use punctuation to break it up. If you’re not sure what to do, see my prior posts on grammar and punctuation.

Be Judicious About Punctuation – don’t use too many exclamation points or question marks. Doesn’t it look amateur and unprofessional???!!!

Use Spell Check – Always, always use spell check and then check it again yourself, especially if it’s an important email or stressful situation. Sometimes reading it out loud or to a friend helps to put it in perspective as well. Remember that computer spell checkers are not human beings.

Set Up Templates – If you find yourself answering the same question again and again you can use a template for an answer or a part of an answer. I usually compose the email in Microsoft Word (or another word processing program) and then I copy and paste it into an email. I customize it – adding the person’s name or changing some other detail.

Check Any Links That You Include Before Sending Them – imagine receiving an email with a link and when it’s clicked on takes you to a strange website or the link it just dead – it doesn’t open up anything. Wouldn’t that be frustrating? (Actually, I usually Google or Search for it on the internet. It’s an extra step that I have to take, however, and it can be annoying).

Write Something in the Text Area When You Send Attachments – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten emails with attachments (even from commercial galleries) and nothing in the text area. I usually assume that it’s SPAM or their email has been hacked. It’s probably a press release but I can’t take that risk and I certainly can’t take the extra time to download and open a .doc (Microsoft Word) or a .pdf (Adobe Acrobat Reader). It’s cold and highly unappealing.

Make Sure That Your Attachments Load Quickly – When you do send attachments – let’s say it’s a curator asking for images or a resume or an artist statement – make sure they load quickly. If they are large files there should be a way for you to compress them. By the way, in most cases images should be 72dpi for sending on the internet. (See the first posts on this blog about Digital Imaging).

Make Sure Photos You Embed Into the Text Area of Your Email Load Quickly – there is nothing more annoying than sitting at your desk, with 5,000 other things to do, while the email takes forever to open up and load. Make sure that you are not sending a Camera Raw or 300dpi photo that is 21″ x 18″. It will surely take a while to overload and may even freeze the recipients computer completely.

Use Auto-responders – take a good look when you first set up your email account because some may have an auto-responder already set up. You want to disable it. Should you go on vacation or need to be away from your desk for a number of days, you will want to use this feature. You can say something like: “Thank you for contacting me. I am out of the studio and will be back on …you pick the date.”

In the next post I will cover the things that you shouldn’t do so please stay tuned!

Social Media: Email: Building an Effective Email List

So now that you understand email terminology and have decided to begin using a commercial email service you will need people to send those emails too. Building that list is easy and it will grow quickly if you make collecting emails a part of your daily business practice of making art. Here are some ideas of how to go about it….

First let’s talk about Content….

Create Remarkable Content – engage your readers to the point where they just can’t wait for your next email. That they will be on the edge of their seats. TIP: Remember that you are sending an email to one person, an audience of one. Address each recipient as if they’re receiving an email from a friend.

Keep Your Content Simple – make sure it’s easy to understand and that there is one direct message or call to action in every email. Also keep it visually simple as well. Your website should be visually simple too. Make sure they are visually compatible. TIP: Be specific and don’t worry about being cool, using texting language or emotions (those funny symbols like smiley faces). Spell things out, be clear and concise and you’re sure to watch your email list grow quickly.

Send Emails Regularly – Your email subscribers will expect to hear from you. That’s why they subscribed to your emails in the first place. Don’t worry about sending SPAM. If you are asking people to subscribe then you will not be sending SPAM no matter how frequently you send it. If you don’t send email enough you may lose people and you may actually get a lot of bounces from invalid or no longer used email addresses. Remember that you always want to keep your emails and your list fresh.

Use Short Engaging Subject Lines & Vary Them – write something that will make them want to open that email. The trick is to make it sound good without sounding like SPAM. Email servers are very cognizant about subjects and will make a quick judgment. You also want to excite your subscriber. Make it fun and make sure there is something cool for them just waiting inside that email.

Now let’s talk about ways that you can capture those email addresses….

A Form On Your Website – commercial email services such as Constant Contact will have code that you or your website designer can plug into your website. It will create a little box with the words “Join My Email List” above it. Most people just put this on the home page of their website. They are missing a huge opportunity. Make sure it’s on every reasonable page of your website and make it easy to see.

Build a Page On Your Website Specifically For Subscribing – that You can send people to specifically to sign up on your email list for use on your print materials, that you can link to on social media and more.

A Form On Your Blog – see above but…. You can use the same code on your blog that you used for your website. There is usually a way to put .html code into your blog instead of a straight post. You can also ask your designer to do this. Some commercial email services will have different formats for blogs. Take a look at them and be sure you are using the one that best meets your needs.

Sign Up Form – When you capture someone’s email you have an opportunity to ask a few other questions. Never ask more than three. Remember that this isn’t a survey. You are trying to find out what they’re interested in. You can ask what kinds of emails they want to receive. Events, Announcements, Press Releases or Newsletters or All of the Above. You can ask what kind of art they like and how they found you. Use your imagination here but don’t overwhelm or chase away a potential subscriber with questions that might seem too invasive.

Collecting Emails Offline – There is nothing like face-to-face interaction. You should carry a small notebook with you everywhere you go and write people’s emails in them. Commercial email services such as Constant Contact have APPS for your smart phone that enable you to collect emails on the spot.

Print Materials – put a “call to action” in all of your print materials. For example you can use this sentence in 10 point type on the back of your postcard at the bottom. Join my email list. Visit: http://www.theartist.com/email.html

Voice Mail Message – believe it or not this is very effective. Don’t forget that the phone is a very important means of communication. You can create a greeting that says something like this…

“Hello. You have reached The Artists Studio [Your Name]. Please leave your name, number and message after the beep and I will get back to you as soon as possible. By the way, have you joined my email list yet? If you leave your email address (specifying upper and lowercase letters) I will add you. Thanks for calling. Have a nice day!”

Encourage Forwarding & Sharing– besides creating remarkable content you can add incentives for subscribers who forward your email and get people to join your list. Such as a free epostcard of your work or a screensaver of your work. Also make sure that those buttons to share your email are in every commercial and day to day email that you send.

Create An Offer – you can create an epostcard or a screensaver and send it to everyone who joins your list. You can add this offer to the Join My Email List form on your website.

Create a QR Code – I’m sure you’ve seen this everywhere. It’s a funny looking symbol/square that when you scan it with your smart phone it will take you to a place for more information. You can create this code and have it link to that page on your website where you can capture emails. You can then use this symbol on all of your print publications, your website, emails and anywhere else a phone can scan. You can find plenty of websites that will generate them for free online.

Sample QR Code

Sample QR Code

Social Networking – Post an invitation to join your email list on your social networking pages from time to time with a link to that web page that you’ve created specially for capturing subscribers.

Pinterest – Speaking of Social Networking…Link Images in your Pinterest account to that page on your website that you created specially for capturing subscribers.

Statistics – Watch the statistics in your commercial email service. They will tell you things like who’s opening your emails, who’s forwarding your emails, what they clicked and where their from. They can tell you even more but that depends on the service you choose. This information will tell you how to create better, more engaging emails.

Always remember that a subscriber is giving you gold! They are giving you permission to email them in exchange for their privacy. Treat that person who is subscribing like a really trusted and precious friend. Communicate with them that way, keep their trust and, most of all, get them excited enough to take action.


TARGETING YOUR EMAIL LIST

WHO SHOULD BE ON IT

Viewers, Buyers and Collectors

Fellow Artists
(Note that other artists are connected to
all of the above and may forward your email to them).

Arts Professionals
curators, gallery owners, arts consultants, art dealers

Interior Designers & Architects

Corporate Art Buyers

Business and Professional Contacts
Arts Council Professionals, Arts Organizations, etc.

Centers of Influence
Mavens, Connectors, people who will forward your email sand spread the word about your work. These are people whose followers trust them emphatically because they are “arbiters of fashion, culture and/or taste.”


OUR FAVORITE EMAIL SERVICES

constantcontactwww.constantcontact.com

Free Trial lets you send emails to up to 10 contacts for 60 days
They are the most popular commercial email service
because they’re been doing it since 1999 and they offer
many options such as social media integration, paypal integration
and more.

mailchimpwww.mailchimp.com
Tip: Mail Chimp is free until you get 2000 contacts

Social Media: Email: A Glossary of Terms

I’m sure you’ve seen those beautiful emails that look like mini-websites. They compel you to click on something, take action, scroll, read, look and in some cases watch video. They can even compel you to purchase something without leaving your email server. You wonder how you could send one of those beautiful emails because it would be perfect for your art. Wouldn’t it?

Scroll to the bottom, the next time you receive one of those beautiful emails. You will see a number of interesting things – in the small type. You will always see an “Unsubscribe” button, a “Forward” button, information about the sender, social networking buttons, and usually a logo from a commercial email service. Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and MailGen are the most popular.

Besides enabling you to send those beautiful emails there are a number of advantages to using a commercial email service. The primary one is that your emails will be likely to get through a SPAM filter in an email server (like AOL, Gmail or Yahoo), the email you use for day to day communications.

Before you start using a commercial email service there rae some things that you will want to know, so here is a glossary of commonly used email terms.

Opt In/Subscribe – when someone gives you their email address voluntarily.

Opt Out/Unsubscribe – when someone asks not to receive emails from an email list. There is usually an automated way for them to do this in commercial email and that’s usually referred to as Opt Out.

Subject Line – a line of copy that will appear before the recipient opens the email. It will inform them what the email is about and entice them to open your email. It’s important to be catchy without being SPAMMY.

Attachment – a file (such as a .jpg, .doc, .pdf, etc.) that is attached to an email but not in the text area of the email.

Block – an action by an email service provider or recipient that won’t allow your emails to go through. This is usually because the server perceives your email as SPAM (this is why it’s important to be catchy without sounding like SPAM); or the recipient (for some strange reason) has set your email address up on a blocked list.

Bounce – an email message that is not delivered promptly or at all. There are a number of reasons as to why this can happen. An invalid email address, the recipient has a full inbox, the email server perceives your email as SPAM and sends it back. When this happens you will probably get an email that says Mailer Daemon in the subject line. You can ignore it and just delete it. If you’re using a commercial email service you will be able to track how many bounced and how many times. I recommend removing an email address from your list after it has bounced three times.

Click Through/Conversion – when someone takes a desired action in the commercial email that you sent. Such as clicking on a link, making a purchase, forwarding your email, etc.

Content – the information, text, images, video, etc. that appear in the body/text area of your email.

Digest – a shortened version/synopsis of an email newsletter that replaces full-length articles. There will be clickable links, often with a brief summary of the contents. This is usually sent to inform your recipients of a blog post or from a Social Networking Group.

Email Address – a combination of the username and a domain name }
(such as theartist@mywebsite.com)

Email Filter – a software tool that categorizes, sorts or blocks incoming email, based either on the recipients preferences, the sender and how they conduct themselves in the email content (does the server perceive it as SPAM?).

Email Server or just Server – the company that allows you to send private email such as AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Optonline, etc.

Email Newsletter – an email with news about what you are doing and/or editorial information that is sent on a regular basis. Monthly, quarterly, etc. TIP: Recipients find these very interesting and engaging.

Footer – information in small type at the bottom of an email. This information can include an unsubscribe button, forward button, social networking buttons, information about the sender and a logo from a commercial email service.

List Fatigue – a condition producing fewer and fewer returns from a mailing list whose members are sent too many emails. Don’t worry, I’m almost 100% sure that this won’t happen to you, even if you send emails three times a week. Remember that your subscribers asked to be on your list and are therefore interested in you and your art.

List Management – how your email list is set up, administered and maintained. A commercial service will make this very simple and easy because it will be automated – and most likely take care of itself.

List Owner – that’s you! The person who has spent the time and the effort to build a dedicated email list.

List RentalWarning! Please Do Not Ever, Ever Do This! Do not spend money to rent a list (I guarantee that you will be wasting your money) and Do Not Rent Your List to someone else. Your email list is like gold. It’s precious and your subscribers are counting on you to protect their privacy. Don’t ever violate that trust. You also want to ensure that the people you are sending your emails to will be interested and engaged.

Privacy Policy – this should be made 100% clear to your email recipients all the time, on your website, the bottom of every email, when your subscribers Opt-In to your list.

Signature – a line or two of information found in the closing of an email usually the sender’s name. Signatures can also include information, such as your name, art, a branding message or a call to action (which is a conversion).

I want to stress again that with a minimal, ongoing dedicated effort it is so easy to build your email list for free that it is not necessary to rent an email list. In fact, it is considered a nefarious practice to sell one. Don’t worry, there are tips for building your email list in the next chapter.

Email

Social Media: Email

Email is THE most important form of Social Media out there. It enables you to communicate with buyers and turn them into collectors. It is also an essential marketing tool for artists. You can create marketing emails to send to a bulk list that not only look beautiful but keep people interested in what you are doing. The next series of posts will focus on email.

Let’s start with a little bit of history first:
The earliest electronic mail (email) goes back to the beginning of the 1960’s. It was a simple text, black and white message that existed on the same computer. There was no internet or even networking capability within an organization or office then. It was a file that was “appended” with messages from one author to another who were using the same computer and the same file. By opening that file the user could read what others had appended to it.

The first actual email, resembling what we know today, was sent around 7:00pm in the autumn of 1971. It was a test created by a programming engineer who had been chosen by the U.S. Defense Department to create ARPAnet. ARPA net was a precursor to the internet that allowed people within the U.S. Defense Department to communicate with each other.

By the end of 1972 Tomlinson’s two email software packages had become an industry standard and he first used the @ symbol in an email address. When he was asked why he used the @ symbol he said “The ‘at’ sign just makes sense. The purpose of the ‘at’ sign indicated a unit price for example 10 items @ $2.99. I used the ‘at’ sign to indicate that the user was ‘at’ some other host rather than being local.”

Email has gone from the early days with black and white text only to the addition of a choice of fonts, colors and backgrounds. You an also add images, video, audio and links. You can even send an email that looks like a mini-version of your website.

So let’s address some terms that are commonly used in email:

Email Bombing
The intentional sending of large volumes of messages to a target address. The overloading of the target address can render it unusable and can even cause the email server (such as AOL or Gmail) to crash.

Email Bankruptcy/Email Fatigue
This is when the user falls behind on checking their email and becomes overloaded with information. Very often they wind up deleting a series of emails based on what’s in the subject, just to get rid of the bulk of it.

Email Spoofing
An email that looks like it’s coming directly to you from a trusted source such as your bank. There may be a link in it which is called Phishing (see below).

Flaming Email
This occurs when a person sends an email with angry or antagonistic content. The term is derived from the term incendiary to describe how heated discussions on email can get. A flaming email can almost literally leap off the screen right into your heart. Emails can be perceived as Flaming even when the sender didn’t intend it to be that way because body language and voice intonations are not present. There are ways of saying things like “Lol” (Laugh Out Loud) and :-) for a smiley face to indicate something funny or a joke. Please don’t use those in professional emails. Just be very aware of what the recipient might see in your email communication.

Phishing
An email spoof or message leading you to a website that asks for your information. The source may be a spoof that looks like a trusted source (such as your bank) saying that they need to update your information. Don’t fall for it! No bank of any worth would do that online. If you do fall for it you may be asked to submit your name, address, phone number and Social Security Number or Bank Account information. It’s the beginning of identity theft.

SPAM
Spam is unsolicited commercial (or bulk) email that is of no use to the spammer. The cost of email is minimal so spammers may send out millions of email messages each day. This can lead to information overload. Most email servers will have a spam filter. Make sure that it is on the lowest setting. The filters aren’t perfect and they can block an important email. Most emails will also have a spam folder or bulk mail folder. Make sure you check that daily to be sure you aren’t missing anything.

I want to give you a brief, entertaining fact about the use of the term SPAM just for fun.

The term SPAM originally came from the meat produced by Hormel Meat Packing Company in Austin, Minnesota. It was first produced in 1937. The President of the company at the time came up with a really tasty recipe for Spiced Ham. Thus the name SPAM. In the first year of production SPAM captured 18% of the market. By 2002 more than six billion cans of SPAM have been sold with 44,000 cans per hour coming out of the factory. This means that a can of SPAM is sold every 3.1 seconds. Unbelievable!

So how does Hormel feel about the use of SPAM to imply something so negative? Hormel’s “official” position is as follows:
“We do not object to the use of this slang term to describe Unsolicited Commercial Email, although we do object to the use of the word ‘spam’ as a trademark and to the use of our product image in association with that term. Also if the term is to be used, it should be used in all lower-case letters so to distinguish it from our trademark SPAM, which should be used with upper-case letters.”

Back to the serious. On December 16, 2003 George W. Bush signed the CANSPAM Act into Federal Law. This was the first law setting national standards for the sending of email. It requires the Federal Trade Commission to enforce it. I will discuss marketing and bulk emailing in another post but note that you should have a visible “Unsubscribe” button in all of your marketing emails. To boil down the rest of it into simple terms the CANSPAM Act states that those sending emails have to be honest and forbids the use of false header/footer information.

This should begin to help you understand the use of email and some basic terms. I’ll begin to address using email in your communications and marketing in the next post so stay tuned.

Social Media: An Introduction Part 2

Most people think of Social Media as Social Networking. Social Networking is one of only a vast range of tools at your disposal. I will break it down into simple terms in a minute. What they all have in common, however, is the ability to interact. To have a two way conversation. There are places on the internet where you will not have that ability, a website is a good example and on Social Media you can also turn off the ability to have that conversation but this is not something I recommend. On a website you might be able to click a “Like” or “Tweet” button but you won’t be able to comment or post, directly on that website.

Here are categories of Social Media:
• Social Networking – a platform, similar to blogging, where you can interact with people, create relationships and enhance the ones you already have. Facebook , LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.

• Blogging – short for web log, this is a place (like this blog for example), where you can write articles, post photos and videos and people can comment and share and repost your articles on their blogs. So far I have found that WordPress.com is the best platform because it has automatically built in functions and widgets that will share your posts on various Social Networking websites. I also like Blogspot.com, otherwise known as Blogger.com but not as much. It’s run by Google and has good search engine visibility but there aren’t enough widgets or built in things. I have had more traffic and comments on Word Press in a month than I had in three years of being on Blogspot.com

• Micro-Blogging – Twitter.com is a good example. You have a set amount of space (140 characters – spaces count as characters – on Twitter for example) to post. An original idea is to post several consecutive posts on one topic. I did a Twitter class on Digital Photography for example.

Photo Sharing – websites like Pinterest.com, Flickr.com and Instagram.com It’s almost like a photo blog. You will post photos and people will comment or in the case of Pinterest.com, they will “re-pin” onto their boards.

• Video and Audio Sharing – this is a website where you would post audio or video and you would get comments and feedback. People will also share your posts and put them on their “Channels.” YouTube.com is a good example of Video Sharing. SoundCloud.com would be a good example of an audio sharing website.

• Podcasting – Audio or Video that you create and post – different from Video and Audio Sharing – that people listen to or watch, like listening to a radio show. It’s usually a series of informative recordings. These are available through a website or a platform like iTunes.

• Article Sharing – These are websites where you can post articles that you’ve written about different topics. They will be shared and re-posted and commented on. A good example of an article sharing website is hubpages.com

• Business Rating Websites – These are websites where users post information and reviews of existing brick and mortar businesses. Yelp.com is a good example.

• Crowd Source Funding – These websites work in conjunction with Social Networking websites to help you raise funds for certain projects, such as Kickstarter.com, Rockethub.com and GoFundMe.com. Some are all or nothing websites – raise all the funds or you won’t get paid (Kickstarter.com is one of these) – and some are get paid as you go (Rockethub.com and GoFundMe.com are get paid as you go websites).

The statistics of user numbers for these websites is huge! I will share some of this in future posts. Before Social Media, however, Word of Mouth marketing meant that one person could spread the word about you and your art with 20 people over a period of time. With the advent of Social Media – combined with mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids, iPads, Kindle Fire and more – one person can share information with 2000 people in a matter of minutes. This should give you a fair idea of the power of Social Media.
In future posts I will show you how to maximize your use of Social Media to get positive feedback and word of mouth about your art.

Social Media: An Introduction

By now you have heard that Social Media is an essential tool that every artist must use in order to be successful. You may be overwhelmed by it. What is it exactly? How can I use it effectively as an artist? What is it for? Will I make money with it? These are questions almost everyone asks.

What Is Social Media?
Put together these two words and you will have somewhat of a definition.

Social
This refers to our instinctual need to interact and communicate with each other. We like to be in groups of like-minded people to share ideas, thoughts and experiences with.

Media
This refers to electronic, digital and paper platforms that we use to connect. This includes magazines, newspapers, fliers, brochures, postcards, phones, television, computers, mobile devices, video, social networking and more.

The thing is that when you put these two words together they refer to media that is specific to creating personal interactions and communications that may or may not lead to various types of relationships. This is now specifically a term that refers to digitally based media.

The prime reason that social media is so effective is that it is built on a 2 way interaction. As a pose to a one way communication. A one way communication is advertising – a newspaper ad, a radio ad, a billboard. It presents your message to the world. The response some advertising might be seen as an invasion. Especially if you’ve ever heard those ads for car sellers with guys screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s annoyingly effective but most of us want to turn it off and will walk in there with a not so favorable review that we’ve determined before we even walk in the door. It might even keep us away.

Social Media is a “conversation” that runs from real time (like Live Chatting) to being available when people have the time (Social Networking, blogging, pod-casting, email, etc.)

One of the prime keys to success with Social Networking is listening and responding. For example on Facebook simply reading the Newsfeed and clicking “Like” and “Commenting.” Being what’s commonly known as a “Warm Contact.” Opening accounts and leaving them static not only alienates your audience but they are ripe for hacking.

Word of Mouth
This used to be person to person and meant that one person would communicate information about you and your art to 20 people because all of their interactions were face to face, or voice to voice (phone). With Social Networking the average person can reach up to 2000 people in a matter of minutes! You can maximize this by staying true to yourself, doing everything with complete integrity. If you don’t, people will see it in a heartbeat. It may surprise you how fast that can happen.

You will create relationships, build trust and be really THERE when people are ready to view your work, because you are listening and communicating in a direct, immediate way. You can turn followers or contacts into buyers and buyers into collectors. They will follow your artistic life, be fascinated by it and spread the word about you. They will even attend exhibition receptions. They will “Like”, “Share”, “Favorite”, Re-Tweet”, “Forward” and more.

That said Social Media is not a magic wand that you will wave and it will take care of itself. It will take a few hours to set up your accounts and then a few minutes a day or a few hours a week to keep up on it. It’s fun! You will create relationships! You will meet people that share your likes and interests.

Before you approach it, however, you should have a strategy and I will address how to go about that in coming posts. Stay tuned!