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How Being an Accessable Artist Makes You Money - Part I

If you’ve ever heard of Blog Talk Radio chances are you know all about Artists Helping Artists: Selling Your Art On-Line with Leslie Saeta.  The show focuses on how to market and sell art, along with interviews with artists, gallery personnel and others who share knowledge and experience in art business.  The show is very casual and laid back in presentation but does have some genuinely good advice on how to make the possibility of selling art a much more frequent event at your website.

I've been a belated listener for a few years now and one of the coolest things I discovered from the show dealt with how to integrate your social media, your art website and real-time sales leads between the two.  Ms. Saeta had a little plugin application on her blog that allowed a user to contact her to ask questions on how to purchase art, pricing and other information, live.  The plugin had a simple GUI (graphical user interface) and could be moderately customized through CSS to match your site’s or portfolio’s style.  Above all it was clean and looked professional.  I actually used it to contact Leslie right after a show.  I quickly followed suit and added it to my own art website.  Then Google stepped in with reportedly, a $100 million dollars.

To the dismay of hundreds of libraries, schools and thousands across the entire blogosphere, MeeboMe quickly and quietly announced that they were shutting down July 11th, 2012.  You can read the story in full from

This left a vacuum.  Many users, unaware of the closure found their websites broken, riddled with 404 errors, and much more importantly, lost potential art customers who didn't want to go through the trouble to send email or friend requests via Facebook.  As cruel as it might sound, your art presence needs to be immediate and accessible in today’s foul economy where the difference between making a profitable connection is literally measured in seconds.  A visitor typically won't get beyond a meager 2 pages deep at your site if they've stumbled across it organically from a search engine or another linked source.  If a visitor already knows you as an artist from a gallery or exhibition, congratulations!  Since initial contact has already been made and they know where, when and how to purchase artwork the battle is half won.  The quality of your artwork must do the rest (along with some selling finesse).  If there's anything to retain here, it is that high quality work begets success and buyers. 

When the MeeboMe widget was taken off market, this blog fortunately or perhaps tragically so low in readership, wasn't effected. But I still loved the idea of having a potential customer free to contact me, ask a question and receive an immediate response. That speaks volumes. It speaks to dedication and seriousness to your work and your willingness to connect on a personal level.

There are more than a few options to integrate a chat box into the blogging or site platform of your choice.  WordPress and Blogger have several ready to go straight from their layouts. One could alternatively use one of the many social IM programs like AIM, iChat, Yahoo Messenger, GTalk, ICQ or Windows Messenger but many of these are user specific in nature - a person must already have that installed on their computer to use the service to contact you.  Most of those plugins are proprietary in nature and cannot be customized or retain embarrassing and unprofessional advertisements. Chats can also be made from scratch using Java, Javascript, and/or XML pretty easily but connectivity becomes a very complicated problem once you step outside of the rooted site.  We need a solution that is useful beyond sitting at one’s desk all day hoping for an inquiry that may never come.  MeeboMe was straightforward, easy to use, easy on the eyes, universal and had the ability to connect the customer to the artist at any time, in the studio or on the go.

The requirements are clear: minimal site impact, universal, professional, some custom styling, reliable, mobile and free.  More to come in Part II…