Monday, November 30, 2009

Art Magazines

Picked up a few art magazines over the weekend. I don't get them all the time, just on occasion...but there's something kind of scary to me. I see so much beautiful art and art I'd like to do in addition to my portraits, and hope I have the time to learn everything I need to be able to do what I want to do.

I really wish I started doing this way earlier in my life....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pet and children's portrait website, totally had to redo!

I was really proud of myself for listening to online advice and cleaning up my pet portrait and childrens portrait website: I was told my site was too chatty and that I really ought to just have the art and let it speak for itself.

WRONG! What I did was erase my search ranking for "pet portraits". And it didn't look like me, sound like me or be like me. (I think I hear a Bob Dylan song here...)

So I spent 3 hours of precious art time yesterday retooling it and turning it back closer to what I had before. Questions and answers. It worked for me for 7 years and despite some bad advice to "adapt or die" and not rely on what worked in the past because the art world has supposedly changed, I think my "old reliable" spruced up a bit will do the job I want it to.

I found that I was getting hit, but just bounced right off. The text mixed with some "teaser" portraits already has worked to keep visitors on my site longer and the longer they stay there, the more likely to buy or refer me.

Last night, I became convinced that I ought to do a Facebook Fan Page, and some really generous fellow artists have been really helpful answering quesitons and showing me examples. But that is going to have to wait a bit. This morning, I start a big new commission of 2 dogs and I got the deposit for another one yesterday. I know from past years that this time of year can be crazy and I want to be in the position to be able to take and finish anything that comes my way.

Incidentally, my 2 small sizes are going very slow. Not one order for an affordable 5 x 7, and only one for the 8 x 10, which was my most popular size for the first 5 years I did this. Now, my most popular size is my 16 x 20! So I think what it says about the economy is that lots of folks have been hit really hard and can't buy anything at any price that's not a necessity. And those not hit? They can afford to buy exactly what they want and feel that if they're going to do this, they're going to do it up right.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lept, where I lept to!

So...more than a month post-launch, what's going on?

I made my first priority doing some children's portrait samples. I only have 3, but did already get a gift certificate order for Christmas. I have a portrait of my son playing hockey on the board, but (YAY!!) animal commissions have knocked that off my front page.

I did some life drawing workshops, really worthwhile and fun, but I feel at this moment that every minute before Christmas counts so probably won't go back til after that.

Now, tucked in between my commissions (2 of which I got as a result of twitter), I'm hoping to do small and mini acrylic paintings..for two reasons. I think they may sell on ebay and then be a nice promo for me AND I want to paint better. I am hoping to be able to paint reliably. In other words, I've done some paintings that turned out great. Then, I did some that turned out horrible. I don't know enough to KNOW what to do, like I do with the colored pencils. I almost don't have to think to know what color to do next. I want to get to that in painting so I can be more creative and not thinking so hard on the technical end.

I am worried about after Christmas, of course. So I am continuing to market like a crazy person. Next post I'll talk about how I'm tracking what works by using google analytics on my pet portrait site:

Right now, though, I am TRYING lots of things and time will tell what is worth it and what is a waste of time and resources. Some worked successfully for me 3 years ago before I took that horrid day job, some are brand new:

1. Twitter
2. Printing and placing business cards and flyers all over town.
3. Mailing flyers to out of town vets who request via twitter.
4. Printing and distributing bookmarks with my dog portraits on them along with dog quotes and just my website at the bottom with "The Dog Portrait Art of Robin Zebley". I have made and sent out thousands to rescue and retail dog events.
5. Craigslist.
6. A newsletter to former customers.
7. Chatting in the etsy forum.

Craigslist used to work for me. Now, the Flaggers remove anything in the pets forum that isn't related to a rescue. None of the other categories has brought me any inquiries so I think that resource is beat and not worth it.

I am thinking of doing google ads.

Mostly, though, what is important is to produce. I can't work more than 2 hours straight without getting sloppy and unable to "see", if you know what I mean. So I've tweaked my daily routine. More on that in another post, but for now, fellow artists, I hope you're also doing more art! Art is in the air, and it's a beautiful thing! Robin