Where’s your online home?
As an artist marketing yourself and your work online do you have a home or do you find yourself virtually homeless?
In other words, after you spend a long hard day schmoozing with your groupies on Twitter and Facebook and displaying your wares on Etsy, Amazon, ImageKind, and deviantART, do you have a place to come back to? You know, a place to call your own?
C’mon be honest, you can tell us. . .
In this day and age where you can’t shake a stick without hitting an online art gallery, blog, photo gallery, or music website all promising to promote and sell your art . . . why would anyone bother setting up their own website anymore? Why should any artist put in all that time and effort to create their own personal website or blog when everyone else can do it for you? After all, we’re busy enough writing, drawing, painting, recording, and creating our art. Why not just do what we do best and then outsource the rest?
Every artist needs a virtual space to call their own
Actually having your own piece of web real estate is not just a matter of vanity, it’s really about control: Control of your work, control of your message, and most importantly, control of your personal brand as an artist. When you have a blog or website, you are creating a virtual identity for yourself and your work. This identity is far too important to ever risk losing control of it as the ongoing Facebook debacle has proved.
The bottom line is that when you put your stuff on other people’s sites, it essentially becomes their stuff. Sure they may tell you that it’s still your stuff, but recent history has proven that these sites can basically do whatever they want with it. This is why it’s important that you not only have your own personal website/blog but that you actually own that site as well.
When all is said and done, it’s still their site and it’s their gallery.
It’s not enough to have a gallery page on redbubble or deviantART. Its not enough to setup an Amazon Artist Store for your band recordings and think that you’ve got your online bases covered. It’s not enough because when it comes down to it, it’s not really yours. When all is said and done, it’s still their site and it’s their gallery.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m certainly not suggesting that you shouldn’t waste your time setting up an Etsy shop, Lulu store, or deviantART gallery. In fact, I happen to believe that these are all great marketing outposts for artists and musicians to display and sell their work. My point here is that in addition to using these types of sites, you are going to need a website or blog of your own–that you alone control.
Renting vs. buying your virtual home
This is a debate that’s probably been raging in real estate circles since Grog first decided that he’d like to live in a larger cave but was afraid to buy because he didn’t know if his hunting and gathering job would force him to relocate in the near future. The good news here is that we’re not talking about physical real estate but virtual real-estate that you can use anywhere in the world. Also because it’s your personal brand, this website is not something that you’ll outgrow and be forced to leave behind somewhere down the road.
Renting a space is fine when you only plan on staying somewhere for a little while, however, unless your art is just a temporary diversion until you get that big promotion at Applebee’s, then you’ll probably want something a little more permanent for your online identity as an artist.
The good news is that once you purchase your own online space, you’ll have the ability to change it as you gradually evolve as an artist. Yes you’ll end up having to pay some money upfront to purchase your domain and find a reputable hosting company, but the long-term benefits for your brand will far outweigh the costs involved. We’ll talk more about the specific options that are available to you in the coming weeks, but for now I’d like to leave you with a few questions to think about. . .
- What do you want your personal brand to say about you and your art?
- What are five words you would like people to think of when they think about you as an artist?
- How would you like to be known as an artist to others? By your band name? Studio name? Business name? Or your personal name?
- Will this name possibly limit you down the road as your art naturally evolves? (Give it some real thought and don’t pull a Lady Antebellum)
- Is this a name that you could see yourself using twenty or thirty years from now?
Are you ready to get serious?