Even Art Products Are Conversations

HughtrainTell me... Are you more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or a marketer? Are you more likely to make a purchasing decision based on expert advice or an advert? If your answers to the above were "friend" and "expert advice", then you probably already understand that recommendations are far more credible when they come from a third party.

It stands to reason then that you should probably consider why someone would talk about your work.

Remarkable

Your work needs to be Remarkable. Literally interesting enough that people would Remark on it. And people will tend to remark on subjects which help them connect with other people - unusual, funny, shocking, beautiful, arresting, admirable or some other quality which has a clear affect on the person who experiences it.

This is not a matter of how good your work is; it is about how much conviction it has. Conviction is more important that quality when it comes to ideas that spread.

Social Currency

It is useful to think of ideas that spread as "Social Currency" - they add value to social interactions between people.

Once your art product is a part of people's conversations, you have earned a very valuable form of attention, for virtually no financial outlay.

Accessibility

The next question to consider is how you wish to channel that Attention. Would you want them to contact you? If so, how would they?

The answer is that once you are a part of the conversation, you need to be accessible in order for people to act on their knowledge of you.

The Web

The internet can help here. Each mention of your work online leaves a digital cookie-trail which can be tracked to it's origin. Furthermore, each mention online remains there for other people to discover, and so you build momentum.

Blogging Blogging is a great way to build your presence online. A blog is simply a website that you can very easily create yourself, and then add content such as writing, pictures, videos or audio to.

You can create your own blog at www.wordpress.com amagama.com or blogger.com. These free blogs will give you an address that looks like: yournamehere.wordpress.com. There isn't much wrong with this, except that it's longer to type.

But if you would like a cleaner domain (i.e. without the ".wordpress"), then you can get a .com here or a .co.za here. Expect to pay around R100 per month for hosting. The two hosting services I have linked to here contain a section in their control panel called Fantastico, which will allow you to easily put your blog online. If you have any  difficulties, you can contact their Support staff and they will assist you at no extra cost.

Growing Your Network

The next step after creating your blog is getting people to visit it.

Search engines like Google are most helpful for this. When people search for words related to your work, you want to be as near to the top of the Search Results as possible.

Here are four ways to improve the effectiveness of your site on Search Engines (and add value to the people who visit it):

1. Content: Write well about your subject. Explore it from many different angles. The more you talk about it, the more likely you are to use all the words associated with your subject (which can then be found by people searching for them) 2. Links In to Your Site: The more links you have to your site, so your authority online increases. You can ask people to link to you directly (especially sites with related content) or list your site on directories (such as Amatomu.co.za for blogs or a directory specifically for your industry). Also, make sure that you link to your own site from as many other websites that you use - such as MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, or any other website you've set up. 3. Freshness of Content: New content is often more useful than old content, especially as you comment on news or developments in your work or in your industry. In addition to this, search engines "notice" that you maintain your site well and they rank you higher as a result. 4. Amount of Content: The more content you have on your site (around a particular subject, particularly), the more likely you are to be picked up by search engines. Furthermore, your site grows into a rich resource of information about your topic.

Relationships

Remember that relationships are built over time. When you first start building your online presence, it can seem like it is more effort than it's worth. However, as continue to engage with people through this medium so your network will expand and more people will join the conversation around the work you do. At this point, the work and time that you have put in initially will start working for you, and you will see better rewards on anything you do to build on it.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has". - Margaret Mead

By Dave Duarte, Huddlemind Labs *The Market for Something to Believe in, pic from Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void