Read This First
This document is an overview intended for artists outside the US who need to
take advantage of the Web to publicize their art. It is not an endorsement of
any particular artist, group, point of view, product, or organization.
overview, but is not a roadmap, guide, or checklist. The use of this material is
entirely at the reader's OWN RISK. It is your job to keep yourself out of
trouble. This material is NOT to be
construed or used as legal advice, and none of this content has been reviewed by
a lawyer. The reader MUST review the laws and regulations of their own country
as well as US statutes and the terms of service of the Web resources they use
before taking the actions below.
Actions have Consequences: Any actions taken by you, the reader -- and their consequences --
are completely the reader's responsibility. We will not indemnify or
otherwise compensate you in any way for problems or issues resulting from
actions you take as a result of reading this material.
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misleading or even imply things that may be illegal in your country. This
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We make NO REPRESENTATIONS that this material does not infringe on existing
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be liable for any indirect, punitive, special, incidental, or consequential
damages that arise out of the use of this material. Your sole
remedy for any problems arising from this material is to stop using it.
All that said, this is pretty good stuff. If you find an item that doesn't
work, is wrong, needs more explanation, is out of date, or is simply missing,
please email your comments and additional material (in English, please) to
might even use it to make an update. It could happen.
Think Before Doing
You wouldn't start a work of art without having a bit
of structure and a plan for completing it. Same idea applies here--please,
do not skip ahead and just "start doing." If you do, you'll just waste
lots of time and effort.
Set your objectives: the resources below can help you achieve a lot...at
low or even no cost (other than your time). But they do not let you defy
gravity. A reasonable objective is getting awareness of your art and producing a mailing
list of people who might want to see or sponsor your art or performance in the US. A more
difficult but achievable goal is collecting a few dollars a year in advertising
revenue (you get it, you don't spend it). An unreasonable goal is selling a
painting on the web, and a ridiculous idea is achieving fame and fortune,
whether in Hollywood or New York. Miracles happen, but we're just working on the
Define your audience: to have any impact or results, you need to focus on
people who might care. Audience definition should start with demographics: age,
sex, nationality, ethnicity, and educational level. Next move to preferences or
cultural basis: religion, cultural interest level, and artistic sophistication. Develop a
short description of two or three personas that represent your audience (e.g.,
30 year old Latin housewife in the US who's an amateur dancer with two kids),
and keep them in mind during your design and construction efforts on the web.
Choose a "home" country: as a general rule, you will want the home country
for your web efforts to be the US. Planting there gets you best access to 500
million English speakers. If you are really only interested in Spanish or other
languages, some of the resources below will work, but the specifics are likely
to be quite different and you'll have to look elsewhere.
Identify your cohorts: in the arts, it is usually more effective to work
cooperatively with others in your field, rather than competing with them. Of
course, there can only be one #1 most popular...but you're a long way from
having to worry about that. Right now, your goal is to build an audience, so you
don't want to splinter it. Get the enthusiasm for the general category going first, that way there's a
bigger pie for everyone to sell to. So...find other artists and performers who
have a similar audience so you can build on each other. There are over
500,000,000 web sites around the world -- you are much more likely to be visible
as a collective "movement" than as a set of individuals.
Choose a name: your parents already gave you a name, but for your web presence you
need to establish a memorable brand. This is just a name: you don't need to
worry about a logo or font. That said, it's surprisingly important to get the
name right the first
time...because changing it later is a real pain. Here's what your name must be:
Unique: this is the hard part. Use Google to find
out if the name is taken (many good ones are).
HTML-friendly: letters, numbers, "_", "-", and
".", but no spaces or other punctuation (including diactrical marks).
Memorable: "cubandance4you" isn't bad, but
"cubanrhumbawithgreatcostumes437" is ridiculous.
Easy to type correctly: generally avoid
abbreviations, misspellings, and acronyms. Keep the dashes down.
"Panama-intl_landscp_art" is a bad idea.
Isn't ridiculous in your target audience's
language: if you're targeting English, "mexicanbeisbol" won't do and
"mexicanshitballs" will only generate laughter.
Free of brands: don't do something like "cubandisney"
or "africanelvis" or even "mexicanjedi", as they are all copyrighted and trademarked
and you will be forced to give any of those up.
Identify your proxy: you are going to need somebody in the
"home" country (presumably the US) to act as your local agent for various tasks.
They should be knowledgeable about the web and computers and it helps if they
speak HTML. They MUST be over 18 years old and be trustworthy because they will
hold your success (and your money) in their hands. As a rule of thumb, this
should be a family member who is interested and wants to learn about the web.
Define a budget: there are three parts to this. Cash is the first
one--and keep this low. Do not buy advertising, no matter what. Your time is the
second dimension: this will be 40 hours minimum to start, plus a couple of hours
a month. Your proxy's time is the final key resource: this will be at least 40
hours, plus a couple of hours a month.
Prepare Your Content
There are two main areas for preparation: understanding the medium you are using
(the mechanics and the style) and creating the content that will really work
there. Typically, the preparation takes more time than the actual building, but
both take time. We recommend that you do the preparation/build cycle one medium
at a time, rather than jumping around, as the learning curve for any one medium
can be significant.
About copyright: whether or not your country has or enforces copyright laws, you
need to be aware of intellectual property rights. The core idea is that you are
not allowed to use the work of others without their express written
permission--even if you are not making any money. There are severe penalties for
theft of artistic expression, just as there are for any burglary. So, read up
about the copyright laws in your "home country" (in particular, how to
formally assert a copyright) as well as your own And in your artistic work, do not use
photos, artwork, music, logos, or trademarked names unless you have the
to do so. If you produce a work that includes Mickey Mouse's ears, Eminem's
loop", Albert Einstein's face, Homer Simpson's body, Chevrolet's logo, or even
just Elton John's name, you MUST keep that work off the web. The copyright
owners will come after
your proxy in the US, even if they can't sue in your country.
Unless otherwise noted below, you need to assert your copyright on everything
you produce and post on the web (scroll down to the bottom of this page to see
how we do it). Note that the copyright has
to be held by someone or some organization in your "home" country. That's one of
the things your proxy does for you.
Wikipedia: this is a wonderful resource for creating awareness and disseminating
information about your category of art. The text cannot be promotional in any
way, and you may not even be able to get your name in there. But if you are part
of a movement of school of art, this is a hugely valuable free resource. Here's
what you do:
Go to Wikipedia.org and do several searches with keywords that are relevant to
your art category.
See what's already there, and read the pages that are there in English.
Probably, there is already a page or two that is fairly closely related to
your art. If so, add new paragraphs, sections, and references to make the
article more applicable to you.
If (and only if) there really isn't a page that is relevant to your field of
art, create a new page and link it to the existing ones.
You will be writing (or adding to) an "encyclopedia article" about the artistic
genre, providing information for those who are interested. Generally, articles
should be no more than three printed pages...if they are, find a way to split
them into subtopics and create new child ("leaf") pages. Your new
child pages could be about a sub-genre of the art, a technique, or even a
neighborhood that houses the artists (think: the Greenwich Village in New
York or the Quartier Latin in Paris). The key to getting your article read is linking it to
other Wikipedia articles and authoritative external resources. This is where you
can make yourself more visible, particularly if there are photos, videos, or
audio tracks that you can point to. Note that the content you put in Wikipedia is not your
intellectual property, even though you wrote it. Wikipedia uses a Creative
Commons license that lets others use and modify your work without restriction.
Since anybody can edit a Wikipedia article, you don't control the content.
So, you'll want to go back to it every few months to see what others have added
to it...and add some more of your own as you see fit. You may find that one of
their editors has put a "to-do" banner at the top of your article, indicating
that it needs more references or tighter
language. In some cases, they may delete sentences that are show personal opinion,
political bias, or unsubstantiated claims. Take this feedback as a gift from the
community and use it to improve the quality and depth of your article. The
metric of success for Wikipedia is the number of viewers of and contributors to
YouTube: this is where the majority of your richest content will live.
Typically, the materials here are free samples--copyrighted, but not charged
for. The goal is to get viewers to reach out to you for more, to get the good
stuff that is not free. If you have a high traffic YouTube page, you can also make
money with the advertisements from others that appear on your page (using Google
start at the beginning. You'll need a Google account, and you might as we'll use
their free email as the way you interact with people who are interested. You should also set up a Google AdWords account, so you can
participate in AdSence and get some free web statistics. Then, you'll need to link that set up your YouTube
account, and link them all together. So...now you have the container for your
Set up your gmail account with your (organizational
or group) name that you defined above. Check your email at least once a
week, and if you have requests answer them!! Nothing is more destructive
to a web presence than a lack of responsiveness.
So, you'll need to edit some videos in the appropriate format
(typically FLV, but other formats may be better for your artwork) and
post them with relevant keywords. Once you've got a few of them
(each typically 3 minutes or less) you'll want to set up a YouTube channel devoted to
your genre of art. If your medium is film, this is obvious...but what about if
you do painting or music? You can post documentary footage, how-it's-made
segments, short interviews, snippets
of music, or even just a slide show. Just make sure that the content is all
yours (or it's licensed), it's interesting, and it's relevant to your audience! The metric of
success for YouTube is the number of views and the number/strength of comments
on your videos.
LinkedIn: this is the premier social network for professionals, and as a professional
artist you should be up there as an individual (using your name). In addition,
your organization or group should be up there (using your organization's name).
Make sure to fill out all parts of the profile section, include some nice art
work (yours, or something you have licensed), and links to other resources (such
as your Facebook handle). Once you have established your LinkedIn identities,
point them to each other and invite colleagues and any interested parties in the US to join your network.
For artists and performers, a larger network is always better, and there's nothing wrong with
having 500 direct connections.
Facebook: like LinkedIn, Facebook is a social network--but it is focused on
non-professional relationships. Follow the same steps as you did with LinkedIn.
For your organization's Facebook page, be sure to put up a short sample of your
work (typically a free video or two on YouTube). The metric of success on
Facebook is the number of follows, likes, and comments made on your page by your audience.
MySpace: MySpace is a social network explicitly focused on artists and
performers. Why aren't they first on this list? Well, they just aren't that
popular any more and they tend to be for "pure pop music". That said, they offer
a lot of resources for presenting and selling, and you can get started at no
charge. MySpace is very different in layout and operation from the other social
networks, particularly in how you present your content. The metrics of success
for a basic MySpace setup is the number of fans and the number of posts that
they make on your page.
Yahoo groups: these are another free and fairly popular web venue for
enthusiasts...the more obscure the topic, the better. You'll need to set up a yahoo
account (you'll get free email with it, but for security reasons it is not a
good idea to actually use it for anything). Once you have signed in, you can create
groups...which is a fine first step. But you have to drive traffic there, and
the two main ways this is done is by (1) cross-linking with other web assets you have already
created, and (2) by infiltrating other existing yahoo groups. You do that by joining
the group, reading for a bit to make sure that the group cares about your
artistic domain, and then making a subtle posting with a pointer to your new
group. The metric of success for yahoo groups is the number of visitors per
Twitter, Reddit, blogging sites, and the like: these will
probably not be very
useful to you, unless there is something very unusual about your art. They are
essential to flash mobs and similar performance art, but that isn't likely to
you at least for a while.
Build Out the Web Asset
There are three cardinal rules for building out any and all of the assets you've
Keep it simple--nobody wants to read a lot, and it is way more effective to
have 3 compelling, beautiful pages rather than 10 mediocre ones. YOU DO NOT HAVE
PERMISSION TO BORE YOUR AUDIENCE. For example, nobody cares where you went
to school or who your influences were.
Don't be perfectionist ...get something "good enough" out there, then revise
it next month when you have some distance from it...and have collected some
Building a web presence is a process, not an event. What makes the web work best is a small
amount of new or updated content coming every month. So start small, spending
time in 5 hour increments...building the value of your content in a drum-beat
that reinforces visitor interest.
Putting up the content is a different task from creating it in the first place.
Assuming you have slow internet service, you will need to use your proxy to do
most of the mechanics. Send him your content files as email attachments (use "zip"
files or Windows' compressed folders), and have them do all the work with the web assets mentioned above.
Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace in particular will be completely hopeless for anyone
working over a slow web link.
As mentioned above, I recommend doing the prepare/build
cycle one site at a
time. Revisit each site about two months after you first post it to make sure
things are still working and to measure results. BE PATIENT.
If you possibly can, log in to LinkedIn, Facebook,
and any other social network you are part of at least once a week! Respond
to anything that has been posted there, and put up some of your own
updates--even if it's just a photo of the glorious sunset and how inspired the
wine made you feel last night. Nothing is worse than a dead social network
Updating all your web assets with news items, quick blog entries, and
other posts should be done at least once a month. I like using Hootsuite for this, as
this free tool is a powerful and efficient way to update several social networks
SO FAR, YOU HAVE NOT HAD TO SPEND A DOLLAR--just your time. Assuming that the
measurements show that you are beginning to get some interest, you can spend a
URL--this is just reserving the web domain so that nobody else can use it. The URL
should be www.<whatever-your-name-is>.com...or if you are a non-profit, .org.
Getting the URL will cost maybe $10 a year from companies such as GoDaddy.com
PayPal--this is how you receive payment in the US. How you get the funds to your
country is a separate problem that I can't help you with.
Web site--this is using your web domain (URL) to actually host pages,
typically for several artists in the same genre. This costs at least $10 a month
(from companies such as SquareSpace), so you don't turn this on until
things really start moving. However, if you are really clever you can host
several separate web domains for one web hosting fee.* The metric of
success for your web site will be number of visitors and number of registrations
per month. The registration should be very basic: just name, email,
state/province, and country. Look
here for an example of how to do it easily.
Record the registrations in a spreadsheet via manual entry.
Moving to more advanced tactics
Only after you have done all the items above, you can look to these resources:
Community of interest marketing (three
worst web site practices, etc.
*For example, the page you are reading is hosted in a single web site that hosts
three separate domains (www.sfdc-secrets.com, www.taberconsulting.com, and
www.saleslogistix.com). If your web person is really clever, they can see
how we did it using just public web records. If they aren't that clever,
they'll have to ask some of their friends who are.
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