Launch Your Art Career Like a Pro

By Carolyn Edlund

Way back in the 1970’s, a book called Dress for Success hit the bestseller lists. The book made headlines because it taught (and proved) that to become successful, we should act successful. Want to become a manager? Dress like one. Show the world that you are ready to assume the next step in your career. People who followed this advice achieved success more quickly and in greater measure because of it.

Let’s translate this into how it pertains today towards your career as an artist. I’m not suggesting you get a new wardrobe – but consider this: The way that you portray yourself to the world is going to have a major effect on how you are respected and treated. Because the internet is the primary way in which you show your work to the world, you must have a top-notch web presence to get noticed and be taken seriously. So, even if you are just starting out, launch your career as if you are already a professional. Some basic steps to begin:

1.  Get your own domain name. This is essential. Is your online gallery limited to your MySpace page? Do you blog on Blogger but not on your own site? Getting your own domain name (a good idea is your name plus a keyword pertaining to your area of expertise) shows that you are serious and you have arrived – and it’s crucial for Search Engine Optimization. Want to find out what site names are available? Go to Bluehost, and click on “domain check”. Create a great domain name to launch your web site.

2.  Use a professional email address. This means your email address is yourname @yourdomain.com. Using Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. in your professional email address screamsamateur. This is true for any type of business. People will notice, and this gives them the impression that you are not serious or established.

3.  Create an impressive website. You don’t have to break the bank to make your website look great. You need a host (Bluehost or SiteBuildIt are good options), and you can use their templates or download WordPress or other blogging software onto your site to set up your pages yourself if you want to blog. Look at lots of artists’ web pages to get ideas of how you want yours to look. Get professional help if you need to – it’s a great investment for your career.

4.  Get LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the social media site where professionals of all types go to see and be seen. Artists have a good representation on LinkedIn because they are businesspeople, too. Open a free account, and set up your profile (upload your photo, that’s important). Take the time to craft a professional resume. Even if you don’t have a great deal of experience, list your accomplishments, your education – and your goals. Look at other resumes to get ideas. Then connect – with lots of people in the art world and in other businesses. Join Groups, involve yourself in discussions. This will help you establish yourself.

Professional marketers know that Perception is Everything. The internet is the “great equalizer” because it gives small companies the opportunity to appear and promote themselves online as if they were really major players, and smart businesses do that. If art is your career, then you are in business, too. Launch your career by looking like a professional. Dress yourself for success!

Comments

  1. i think this is an awesome post. too many times i look at artists websites, and i think they are doing themselves a great disservice by having an unprofessional or unimpressive presence on the internet. we’re so accustomed to “googling” someone or something in the first attempts to get to know more information and you know what they say about “the first 10 seconds”. i think it works online as well, only the time frame is that much shorter. having a professional web presence is essential, and having a domain name which includes your own name is just as important, both for the ease remembering and the added seo benefits.

    and now, even with wordpress(.org), you don’t have to have a site which “looks” like a blog, or which you can incorporate a blog on a page separate from your portfolio. there are themes which require little to no web programming knowledge, and basically operate on drag and drop configuration. my site is on wordpress and you’d never guess.

    in the end, it seems hard, but makes a huge impact and is worth the effort.

    although linkedin, i have to admit, i’m struggling with.

    • Hi Natalie, and thanks for your comment. I agree with you – the impression your website gives visitors has a matter of seconds, so you need to make it a priority to be professional, as well as easy to navigate and full of great content. I have a couple of wordpress sites, and yes, you would never guess.
      Don’t worry so much if LinkedIn isn’t your thing. Do what you can do well and work on your LinkedIn connections when you have the time and interest.

  2. do you have any recommendations or articles for arts to use linkedin? i would love to see something from an art professional’s point of view regarding its use and networking opportunities.

    • Natalie, my suggestion is to go to your LinkedIn profile page, and click “Groups”. You can select up to 50 groups to join, where discussion and networking takes place, and many of them involve the arts. Start introducing yourself and get involved in the conversation. I have seen referrals and connections being made in those groups often. Invite others to connect to you and build your own network.

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