Pinterest for textile artists: Defining goals
My recent article Pinterest for textile artists, the basics caused quite a debate in the comments section. It was intended as an introduction to a social media platform which I think is ideal for textile artists; it seems not everyone agrees! Whilst I acknowledge that Pinterest is not ideal for those of you who are concerned about copyright abuse, I think there is enough interest in the significant benefits of the site to warrant further exploration. So, in this article we’re going to dig a little deeper and start to think about getting the most out of Pinterest as a marketing tool for you and your artwork.
On a side note, in the interests of objectivity, I’m also preparing an article which will focus on the downsides of the way Pinterest works – I think it’s important to see both sides of any story. For the time being, if you’re concerned, perhaps you’d find the following site, recommended by textile artist Arlee Barr useful: http://pinterest-out.blogspot.ca.
But for now, let’s talk about how to proceed once you’ve set up your Pinterest account. Some of this article may sound a bit business-like and cold for creative minds, but it’s important to remember that your online efforts should lead somewhere. What’s the point of spending hours and hours online if it never results in new sales of your work? You may as well stick to the more traditional methods and there’s nothing wrong with that if you want to keep your focus purely artistic. If, however, you would like to reach a wider audience of potential buyers, perhaps it’s worth thinking like a business-person some of the time?
Before diving straight in and pinning every image that appeals to you to a multitude of random boards, it’s important to define a basic strategy. Who are you trying to reach? What are you hoping the people you connect with will do in response to your boards and pins? How do you shape your Pinterest content to appeal to your ideal client?
Define who you are targeting
Do you know which type of people your textile artwork appeals to? Who are your most loyal fans or most consistent buyers? Who do you enjoy working with?
Try to think about the people who leave regular comments on your blog. Do you have access to metrics about customers who bought your most recent book or attended a recent exhibition? If not, think carefully about the people you’ve communicated with who have converted into buyers.
Of course, your followers won’t fit neatly into one demographic. The people who buy your artwork might be different to those who are interested in reading a book you’ve written about embroidery or print, for example.
In preparing this article, I’m trying to follow my own advice; thanks to a recent survey, I know that our audience here at TextileArtist.org are mainly textile artists or artists working primarily in another field who occasionally employ textile techniques, with a few art enthusiasts thrown in for good measure. Of course I can break that down further with a bit more research to discover what type of textile art the enthusiasts are mainly interested in, which techniques the artists use etc. This will give me a good idea of 5 or 6 groups that the TextileArtist.org Pinterest page should be targeting.
Try and make a short list of the people you think you should be targeting.
Here are a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless:
- Proven buyers of textile art
- Other well-established artists
- Gallery owners
- Textile and art students
- Training institutions, such as art schools
- Hobbyists and crafters
- Young artists looking to expand their range of inspiration or knowledge of different techniques
Try to find out as much as possible about each group. What age are the people who generally buy your work? Are they mainly men or women? Is there interest in art academic or purely for fun? If you use a mailing list client such as MailChimp or AWeber they can provide some basic information on the demographics of your current list.
Once you’ve created a profile of the groups you’re trying to attract, it’s time to explore what they actually want.
What does your target audience want?
When pinning, think about the various groups you identified. Ask yourself, will my potential audience find this image useful, educational, inspiring?
This strategy has been perfected by big-brand companies; Uncle Ben’s has various boards showing how their rice can be used in different meals all aimed at a family-led audience, Fifty-plus.co.uk has various boards targeting fashion for older ladies. But, how do we apply these principles to art? It’s tricky and can’t be as neatly categorised.
When coming up with various boards, think about targeting them specifically to your various groups. If one group you’ve identified is young textile students, you might suggest various sources of inspiration or books for them to look at on a board aimed at exactly that. If your buying audience are mainly women over 50 who are interested textile art inspired by nature, you could pin the work of other artists who create work in this realm.
It’s most important to remember that your audience will primarily be fans of your work, so look to pin images that are related specifically to what you do to give them what they want. In the previous article, I suggest different ways of engaging your audience in your process and what inspires you.
You can attract new followers by pinning the work of other artists whose work has a natural affinity with your own. Each artist’s strategy will be different, but it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes mind-mapping or brain-storming ideas for your boards.
- List the groups you are aiming to engage.
- Under each group-name, brainstorm boards that might appeal to that group.
- What type of images could be pinned to the various boards?
Finding focus in the social-media circus
Every week a new social-media platform pops up; business-people and artists alike are feeling increasing pressure to have an online presence everywhere! Of course, if there is only one of you (and I’m assuming in most cases, textile artists don’t have the luxury of assistants), it’s impossible to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and the plethora of other social media sites and keep the output high-quality and targeted. As Nicky Perryman pointed out in the comments of my first Pinterest article, this can distract you from your primary objective of being an artist!
It’s important to get the promotion of your work in context and be focused, otherwise you can spend 12 hours a day flitting around Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and realise that you haven’t actually left any time for artistic exploration, experimentation, research or creation.
What is your goal when using Pinterest?
First of all, take a deep breath and think about the actual goal of any social media activities. In most cases, it’s fairly simple: to drive traffic to your website in the hope of gaining interest, engagement and ultimately sales (whether that be for a book, an event, a workshop, an exhibition or a piece of work).
Your personal website (or the platform you use to sell your work) should be the main focus of your online marketing strategy as an artist. It is at the centre of your work and the best place for people to learn more about you, engage with you and hopefully lead them eventually to make a purchase of some sort. Social media marketing has become increasingly important, but what is the point of it if the people you are engaging with on these platforms never actually click through to your site?
Pinterest is no different. In a later article, I’ll talk about how to track Pinterest traffic, sign-ups and conversion in order that you can see which strategies are working well and which aren’t. That way you can do more of what’s effective and less of what isn’t. But for now, let’s just keep in mind that any use of social media is a means to an end, unless you are doing it purely for the enjoyment itself. Keep your simple goal in mind all the time.
Having said all that, before people are likely to click through, it’s important to engage with them and build some trust.
How to achieve that goal
Don’t be afraid to show a sense of humour and let your opinions be heard. Pinterest is all about interest! What are your personal values and how are these reflected in your work? I love the way that Cas Holmes has made her passion for recycling and re-using unwanted objects part of her work and her life; this is an ideal topic for Pinterest and a great way of engaging like-minded people. You can also make use of pinning videos to further your exploration of how your art bleeds into your life or vice versa. Pinning things that you are passionate about can be contagious.
Rather than just pinning images of your own work, why not try thinking about other things your ideal audience member would find interesting and educational? Could you link back to tutorials about a particular type of print or stitch technique you’ve used yourself in a piece of work? Is there an online interview with an artist who has similar sources of inspiration to yourself? If your work is concerned with nature, what other pieces of information might relate to an audience attracted to this as a subject matter? Providing value will make you far more popular and trusted than simply self-promoting at every opportunity.
Once you’ve provided value and shown personality, you will find it easier to build a bigger audience faster and then you can do well-timed promotion of your own work. It’s far more likely to be effective once you’ve proved yourself as someone worth engaging with.
What works well for you on Pinterest? Let us know by leaving a comment below.