Professional careers all start somewhere. Where you are from makes little difference. You can enjoy a full-time vocation no matter where you live.
As a visual artist, you can enjoy a locally grown, highly successful professional fine art career without gaining national or international acclaim.
The stories of nationally known artists who made it big somewhere else are the stuff of legend. If you are an actor, you go to Hollywood or Broadway. Country singers go to Nashville and major visual artists break in New York. The reality is the careers of most artists, whether musicians, writers, painters or actors take place in some other place.
If you study how people use search engines to get information, you begin to understand there are distinct uses. For instance, there are coarse broad searches for information such as “visual artists” or “fine artists.” Then there also are more granulated specific or vertical searches such as, “watercolor artists” or “charcoal artists.” Local searches are more refined and could be for a term such as “fine artist Phoenix” or “your name Arizona.”
I bet you would be thrilled to top the list of local business results for a Google search in your area. It works for local legend Ed Mell here in Phoenix. Whether intentionally or otherwise, he must be following the advice found in this blog post, “Get Started in Local Search Without a Web Site,” as it appears he does not have personal Web site.
While it would be wonderful to have your name come up above the fold, (on the viewable part of the first screen), when a search query relevant to you or your art business were entered into Google or other search engines, you presume it is not going to happen. For the most part, you are right. Getting top ranking for broad search terms is not a reasonable Search Engine Optimization (SEO) goal.
When it comes to local search, you have a reasonable chance for a top ranking. Whether you succeed on your top of the fold ambitions or not, taking the time to try for such placement is a worthwhile exercise for you. These days with the traditional model of building a reliable dealer network showing serious signs of decline, it is incumbent on self-representing artists to gain more control over the distribution of their work. Local marketing supported by local search is one way to achieve such a goal.
Local marketing has always been effective for artists. It is true in many art towns that top local galleries tend to ignore all but a handful of the best-known local artists. While it may seem cruel or shortsighted, the decision is not so much snobbery as it is marketing perceptions. Although I do not know if the same scenario plays out in smaller towns or areas not known as fine art destinations, I suspect it does not.
The point here is becoming well known in your local market is a laudable and profitable goal. If you buy into the premise and promise of local marketing, you have to ask yourself how proactive you are in your area. I believe you can formulate a workable and affordable action plan to elevate your recognition and thus reward in your local market.
Regarding the first item, there are innumerable books and blog posts on getting gallery representation. The best book I have read on the subject is “Starving” to Successful: The Fine Artist’s Guide to Getting into Galleries by Jason Horejs. I believe so strongly in his information that I put an order page on this blog for it.
Last year, I published one of my most popular posts on getting publicity for artists titled Publicity is a Big Deal for Visual Artists and All Small Businesses. It contains useful information to get your own Do-It-Yourself publicity going. In the post, you also will find links to my numerous other blog posts on publicity for artists.
When it comes to local search, you should be active in getting listed everywhere possible. A successful deployment of this effort will help make you more “Digitally Distinct.” You can check your current level with the Online Identity Calculator here. Keep in mind that you can become locally digitally distinct without cracking the same level on broad searches. Do not despair if you rank low on the calculator, you have the power to improve it.
If you follow the advice here to raise awareness and sales on a local level, being easily found local searches will be invaluable to the cause. Your efforts should include submitting a listing to all the major search engines that offer local search, including Google, Yahoo, Ask, Bing and others. You can do your own research using a term such as “submit local search” to find the most important links.
You also should list in the local Yellow Pages and all available business directories. Search for “directory listings name of your town/county/region” and you will dozens more places eager to accept and publish your information. Doing this increases your Internet exposure and your “Digital Distinction.” In most cases, it creates a link back to your Web site or blog. These back links are an important component of SEO and will help with your Google Page Rank.
Mary Bowling is a consultant specializing in optimizing and marketing a wide variety of businesses and nonprofits online. She has written a number of useful articles on local search, including the one above on using local search without a Web site. To dig deeper, start with this article: Social Media and Local Search 101. Then look for the links below it for more great information in these articles such as these:
These are all things you can do on the smallest of marketing budgets. Get busy on them and make your 2010 bigger and better.