It looks like I owe the fine folks over at artmarketingsecrets.com and the author Daniel Tardent some apologies....and an explanation.
In my last post, The Foundation of Your Online Art Marketing Strategy Is
..., I referenced "another art marketing blog." I intentionally did not name
the other blog because I didn't want to "stir things up" and mainly wanted to focus on the point
I was making. Articles focusing on SEO and Google appear quite often online and the statement I referenced could
have appeared any number of places, so I thought I could mention the idea
and then move on to my particular thoughts. The blog I mentioned was indeed artmarketingsecrets.com
. They have since responded with their reply to my post, Why Google IS an Online Art Marketing Foundation
. Since they have "outed" themselves as the blog in question, I do feel the need to apologize to them
for a few things and explain to you
a few things.
Apology Number 1: No Link.
Normally, when discussing something from another blog, it's customary to link
to the other blog. I naively thought by remaining vague about what prompted my thought, and not
linking would focus attention on my point and not on anything that might be perceived as a "slam." (their word). Unfortunately, they did
perceive it as a slam, albeit a "gentle" one. In any case, I should
have linked to their original article, Artist Website SEO: Don't Ignore the Pink Elephant!
I've also gone back and updated my original post with a link to their article. So for no link, I apologize.
Apology Number 2: Misquote.
Since I wasn't linking to them and didn't name them in the original post, I was hoping to just capture the "gist" of the thought. I wrote that the other blog stated, "Google is the foundation of your online art marketing strategy." The actual
quote is, and should have been, "If your online art marketing strategy is like a house, then think of Google (and other search engines including Yahoo Search and Bing) as the foundations of the house." Seems like the same basic sentiment to me, but it should have been quoted correctly. So for quoting Daniel incorrectly, I apologize.
Apology Number 3: Being too "nitpicky."
I even sort of admitted it at the time, but I can get kind of nitpicky over semantics. In my mind, a foundation
is the most important
element of a house. But, upon reflecting, I realized that not everyone may see it that way. After all, if you need shelter, the roof
may be the most important element. If you are tired
, the bed
may be the most important element. If you are hungry
, the kitchen
may be the most important element. So, when they said essentially to "think of Google as the foundation of the house." My mind immediately saw "think of Google as the most important element
of the house" (with "house" being a metaphor for online art marketing). They obviously didn't mean it that way. My bad. They clarified in their follow up post saying, "I think we were very clear in our article that we were referring to the importance of SEO as a foundation
in 'Online' art marketing." (Emphasis mine: In the follow-up post they clarified their thinking a bit further by changing the word "the" to "a" indicating that they intended to convey that there could be multiple
important foundations in online art marketing). Sorry for being a nitpicker.
Apology Number 4: Not being clear enough on my point.
They felt that I took their comments out of context, saying, "they took our comments out of context – suggesting that we were saying that optimizing your website for Google is the most important part of (all) your art marketing." Now I think we have a bit of a two-way mis-communication here, although it is my fault for not writing clear enough. Actually, what I thought
they were saying was that Google is the most important part of your online
art marketing. That is because the message I took out of context were the words, "the foundation" - mentally reading them as "most important." However, I think my point may have been misunderstood as well. They seemed to think that I was comparing their discussion of online
art marketing activities with offline
art marketing activities. (Probably because I started the post by stating making great artwork is the foundation of your marketing). I want to be clear on this point
: I was trying
to say that I don't think SEO is the most important online art marketing activity
or asset for most artists. For most artists, I think their most important online
asset is their email newsletter list, and their most important online activity is communicating with their existing followers via that list (and other channels). That's the point I was trying to get across with the statement, "If we're talking about online marketing that means telling stories
through the most effective online sharing mechanism I know of - email newsletters
." I am sorry that I was unclear and made an assumption about the word "foundation."
It seems to me, especially after reading Daniel's follow-up post that we are essentially telling artists to do a lot of the same things. We do appear to be on the same page, so I hope artmarketingsecrets.com will accept my apologies as a "peace offering." I did say in my original post that, "The information the other blog provides is good." And I would like to continue linking to their ideas to sharing them with our followers as I have in the past
Below, I want to provide an explanation. But first, I want to say that none of the following information is shared here due to anything that artmarketingsecrets.com has said and is not intended as any kind of rebuttle or criticism.. In fact, I suspect they probably agree with the following, at least with a lot of it. In any case, for some reason, I simply feel compelled to share why
I get so worked up about certain topics.
I do seem to get worked up over topics of focusing on SEO, and ranking well in Google. It's not because I don't think SEO is important. I do think it's important
. I even agree with their examples in their follow up post, especially the one about how it is important to rank well if you are in a narrowly defined niche regarding subject or style (they use the example "owl sculpture" as a small niche that an artist might want to rank for - I agree with that and have discussed this idea with artists in the past while helping them to try to rank for such phrases). So I asked myself: why do I get worked up about it?
Here's why: I've seen artists get literally obsessed
with SEO and Google. SEO can be a lot of work and take a lot of time. SEO "feels" like marketing. I've seen artists get obsessed with analytics and tracking programs. You can track traffic, sources, keywords and the like. It can eat up a lot of time. And watching those graphs with increasing traffic numbers feels like progress
(but it's not unless sales are going up too). I've seen artists get so obsessed
that I have wonder when do they actually work in their studios?
The problem is, that I can't think of any of the obsessed artists who sold a lot of work because
of their SEO obsession. There might be some, my little world certainly isn't all of reality. But none that I can personally remember.
But here's the kicker:
Over the past few years I've talked with several successful artists. Successful in the sense of selling artwork and making a comfortable living from the sales of their artwork. Not one
of those artists has had an obsession with SEO. In fact, none of them even really thought about search engines much at all. Mostly, they all thought about making great art. They all had either an email list or a snail mail list (or both) that they used on a regular basis. Some of them had a blog to share stories with their fans. Some of them did a lot of print advertising. These are the people I want artists to emulate....at least if they want to sell art....because these are the people that are selling art.
By the way, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com a firm that specializes
in SEO services has this to say, "I don't think SEO is a real solution for most live artists. SEO doesn't really get too many people talking about you." (link
So it gets really frustrating sometimes, when I see an artists spend SO much time on things like SEO and sell virtually no artwork, and when we dig further we find that those artists have not communicated at all
with their fans or worse, don't even maintain a mailing list at all! I've complained before that sometimes I purchase
artwork from an artist and then never hear from them again!
Then I watch people like Brian Kliewer sell 82 out of 100 paintings in 100 days
by focusing on two things - making great art and sharing it with his fans via email.
So, yeah, I get kind of worked up about it. In short, do I think SEO is important? Yes. Do I think other online things much more important?
A deeper explanation
As I wrote this post, it dawned on me that I kind of have a pattern.
I railed against placing too much importance on Google and search engine optimization
. I railed against Facebook
. I even railed against Twitter
once, and I'm practically a Twitter poster-boy these days.
Here's what I've realized: I don't like marketing techniques that put too much of your destiny in the hands of another.
For example - there have been businesses that have done very well by obtaining a number one ranking on Google for some given search term. And then Google changed their ranking algorithm and the sales of that particular business dried up overnight. (I wish I could find the link to this story - I read it a couple of months ago, I think in the New York Times). Then, I felt the same about Facebook - lets say you have 4,000 followers on Facebook and communicating that way becomes the cornerstone of your marketing. What happens if Facebook changes their terms in a way that is negative to you? What if Facebook falls out of favor with people and you have to start over somewhere else (remember Friendster? or, more recently, Myspace?). Same with Twitter. What if you have 100,000 followers on Twitter and they suspend your account for "suspicious activity?"
I'm not saying not to utilize these services
, I'm just sharing some of my deep-seated thoughts and fears about marketing. And have to admit to myself and to you, that I do seem to have a kind of knee-jerk reaction against marketing techniques that put too much control out of your hands. I will make a conscious effort to temper that reaction going forward. I'm afraid it can also put me at risk for overlooking important opportunities.
I think that having your own website is extremely important. You get to control it
. Sure, your web host could fail, but since you own your own domain, you can always set up shop again with a new host.
I think that having your own email list of followers is important. Again, you get to control it.
If all of your Facebook friends were on your email list and something happens to your viability of marketing on Facebook, no problem - you can switch to email. If your email service provider fails, no problem, you can just upload the list to a new service and keep on promoting.
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying, I do think that good Google ranking are important and Facebook and Twitter (and other services) are great communication tools.
I just want artists to realize that they need a "home base" a "hub" online that they control, and the "spokes" of Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc can be utilized to feed traffic back to that hub. In my mind, a hub consisting of a website and an email list is the most important piece of online art marketing (after acknowledging the importance of the work itself, of course).
So, I'm sorry I sometimes get thrown into a tizzy about things. It's just really important to me to help artists focus on the most important things first and the less important things as time allows.
I think that artmarketingsecrets.com agrees with these thoughts, or at least the gist of them. After all, their sister company
, specializes in creating websites for artists.
Thanks for bearing with my long soul-baring explanation.
Now, go change the world
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic