First off, I have to say that I am a newbie to the online business world. It’s been approximately six months since I’ve opened up my online shop. My business is primarily handled online, as I have not participated in any arts and craft fairs yet. I have some of my prints available at Rosewater Gallery and Gift in Asheville, NC and I’ve been working behind the scenes to set up more consignment deals and possible shows in the future. The bulk of my marketing is through social media or via email to my Monthly Magic subscribers.
I had a love/hate relationship with social media and technology in the past. Several years back, I was in a very lonely stage of my life and constantly checking my facebook page and email in order to feel a connection. I always felt let down or unsatisfied after I logged off. At this time, I made a key decision to delete my facebook profile. I was off of all social media outlets for close to 2 years. During that time, I allowed myself to sit with my loneliness, rather than try to avoid it. It was a turning point for me, and I was able to get to the source of my feeling of disconnection. It had nothing to do with how many “likes” or friends I had on facebook. This turned out to be one of the happiest time periods of my life.
I rejoined facebook when I signed up for an online art course that had a facebook group page. I was able to go on facebook with more intention during this time, to share and engage in an artist community. It was quite fun and I slowly embraced the many positive aspects of social media.
So now after launching my online business, I am coming to a new place with my relationship with social media and technology. It’s become my primary tool for sharing my art, and for that, I am grateful. But because I am relying on my sales to generate from online marketing, I’ve once again become glued to a screen. In general, I feel this is not good for my focus and brain (and also my neck and shoulders as I am looking down at my iPhone screen too much!). I’ve also found my ego tied up into who likes my art and who doesn’t. Actually, last week I posted a painting that felt like a huge breakthrough for me and the response was underwhelming. That really affected me to the point where I forgot about the true importance of how much I loved the process of creating this piece and how I grew from facing my fear of painting people. When I realized what was happening, I decided to go ahead and take a technology fast this past weekend. It was a tough habit for me to break, but got easier by day 2 and I ended up having both a very productive and peaceful weekend.
As with all things, it all comes down to finding the right balance. I’ve decided balance for me will involve more in person sales and connections. This means I am working on arranging opportunities to teach workshops and to participate at arts and craft shows. Anything that will have me in direct contact with people. It also means practicing some intention and awareness when I post online, as well as taking more technology breaks.
On another note, at least in the art world, I am still not convinced the online route is the best way to go. It certainly helps to have a web presence, but the online art world is so saturated at this point. There is a small chance that an image of yours will get seen by the right person and will go viral…but there is so much talent out there. For most artists, it’s a matter of volume, time, and persistence when it comes to generating an online following and getting discovered. For a rare few, it’s a matter of luck or perhaps fate that gets them online success more quickly. I listened to a podcast last week with a very successful artist and illustrator, Lisa Congdon, and in general she shared this same opinion.
Success is also relative to the individual. At first, success for me was just that I found my artistic voice. Then success was that I found the confidence to begin sharing my work online. I thought the next step to success was making more money from my work…but I am learning how difficult this actually is and was starting to feel discouraged and disillusioned. Now I am working with Creativity Coach, Rose Candela, to really get to what success means to me. I am redefining my business goals in terms of intention. So far, I know success means much more than just making money to me. It’s about feeling connection, fulfillment, freedom, and value. Ultimately, I don’t have to wait until I reach external goals in order to live with these qualities. It starts within, it always does.