Who Controls Your Art Business?

by guest blogger McKenna Hallett

You don’t have a lot of say about your exposure when it comes to using third-party sites. Here’s how to take back control.


Social media


Have you been watching the changes? It was about a year ago that Facebook made a bunch of new rules and changes to their algorithm. Slowly, it was obvious to most of us that posting to our fans was no longer as fruitful. Got 500 or 5,000 likes? Want to reach more than, say 7% of them? Not happening now – unless you pay to boost.

Someone like me, writing this guest post for Artsy Shark, doesn’t have a lot of motivation to pay when almost everything we post is informational. Who would pay to invite people to see content that is free? For many who use Facebook, it’s been a long year of knowing that we are no longer reaching people who may really want to hear from us.

But, so it goes. We don’t own Facebook. They make the rules.

The newest and potentially most damaging rule starts this month.

As the Wall Street Journal stated in a well-distributed article on this subject, New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs, if you have been using Facebook to invite sales of your artwork, you will discover as January unfolds that your posts are going to be removed.

It’s still a bit of a gray area, but it appears that putting up a post with a photo of a new item and a link to your website and/or shopping cart will trigger the removal. They see that as an ad and expect paid advertising for such service. Having an open studio? Showing at an art fair? It’s all iffy as to your ability to “advertise” those events either.

This is the new world of Facebook. Some people will have no problem complying and making Facebook part of their advertising expenses, but I know for most of my clients, this is just not feasible.

It’s all about ownership.

Your fans decided to “like you” on Facebook, right? So you would think that you should have access to them anytime you post, right? They “LIKED” you! Can it be any plainer?

But as far as Facebook, Etsy, or eBay are concerned, you don’t own anything on those sites. You are a “user” and you signed a long user agreement to have a presence on their sites. It would seem obvious that if you sell something, you should have full access to the buyer and be able to sell to them again, right? They gave you money and they might want to give you more someday. They are “your customer” – you should have full control and access, right?

Not really. Not on Facebook, not on Etsy or Ebay, and not on many other sites.

Want to move your activities to another social media site like Pinterest, Google+ or maybe Instagram? Remember: Facebook bought Instagram, so what do you think the future might bring on that site? Ask yourself: How involved should you be or how much time should you invest where you don’t own? I am not saying that you shouldn’t use all manner of media! Use them all. But when you start spending money, rethink and regroup.

Get control of your own clients.

  • Get your own website (this can be free), shopping cart system (also can be free), and start building your email list.
  • You own those names. Your email list can never be taken away from you.
  • You control your engagements. The only way you lose that connection is if they unsubscribe. Internationally, that rate is two for every 1000 emails sent.
  • The people on your email list have given you permission to stay in touch. (Never send to someone you don’t know – that’s spam!)
  • You don’t have to pay to reach more people on your list. Emails have a delivery rate of 97% – not 7% (And it’s ironic that FB emails their notifications).
  • You can send an email and know exactly who opened or “clicked through”. In contrast, you have no idea who sees your Facebook posts.

Get control of your business.

If you don’t use email marketing, start by purchasing the Artsy Shark Success Guide to Email Marketing for Artists that I co-authored with Carolyn Edlund. Then, start using a professional email system. My favorite is Constant Contact. There are many out there, just choose wisely. This will need to be something you will use on a regular basis to be effective, or you will abandon it. If you have one and use it very randomly – start rethinking your marketing strategy and get on a schedule of at least one email each month. Don’t let your list get cold.

Start activating every tool possible (the e-course includes a guide to growing your list as part of the many bonus materials) to grow your list. And don’t forget to put out a request for emails on Facebook. So far, they don’t seem to mind that.


2014 promo photo with lei SQUAREMckenna Hallett is an email specialist and marketing guru for Artsy Shark. Visit her site to learn more about email marketing and why it is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. Don’t forget to sign up for her occasional emails for tips on making your email marketing more effective!




  1. This is good information. What about placing watermarks on the art images I upload on facebook, the watermarks being my web address? Will facebook detect these and eliminate them?

    • Wow…. gosh, Chris, that’s a great question! I guess you will find out, right? I am guessing that as long as it is not a “live link” it won’t be detected, but that would somewhat defeat your goals would be my guess. But, it will reinstate theirs: pay for an ad if you are in anyway “advertising”.

      This is going to be a game-changer for so many of us.

  2. Bravo Mckenna!! Love it!!!!

    Gonna share this post EVERYWHERE, as I could not have said it better myself. Producers need to wake up and realize that the only way you can really OWN their own site is to HAVE their own website. The rest as just marketing channels!!

    ‘Gift Rep Sandy’

    • Yes… it’s all about driving traffic. Why not drive it to your own site, your own shopping cart, and your email sign-up box!And get that email program going! Thanks for your support in spreading the news.

      My inbox is filling up with shocked people who are all in a “deer-in-headlights” state from realizing what this change means. For those who have ignored email marketing and don’t even have a program or a sign-up strategy for professional emailing, they need to start from scratch to stay in the mind’s eye of their buyers and admirers.

      So start already! Don’t lose sleep over this. Get your control where it belongs! Reach out to me anytime!

  3. Yes, have your own web site I agree, use newsletters, I send one out 1 time a month mostly have kept it short & to the point. Started posting on twitter & pinterest, flickr more often(updates on completed pieces. Noticing face books reach is drastically down this month, doing a contest right now to just see where the reach is and all arrows are pointing down. I think at the end of the month I might perhaps delete my fan page on there all together, waste of valuable time.

  4. Don’t give it up, yet! Do you have a sign-up link there for your emails? Start asking people to sign-up. Tell them you want to be able to touch base once a month and keep them in the loop. People WANT to stay in touch, that’s why they “liked” your page. You can post to encourage them to sign-up for emails.

    Just start using Facebook to get more subscribers and use your subscribers to get more going on your website and on the other Social Media sites that are still working for now.

    Good luck!

    • Yes, I had a actual newsletter tab on face book to sign up for newsletter, out of 1300 fans only got 9 to sign up for the newsletter, and encouraged sign ups by stating that I would give away 1 of my works free every month to one lucky newsletter subscriber.

      I ran a photo contest to win a $30 wristlet with winning photo applied to it, in 2 days only had 2 contest entries, did this to test my reach, very frustrating and a lot of time wasted setting up with app for it. I deleted my fan page on thursday & feel much better with it gone. Weird I had so many people before comment on my products, they loved but no bites on sales. I feel very freed I can now move onto other avenues to host my products, so all good!

      • Well, I must say, that is quite a testimonial to how poorly Facebook works nowadays. And no one who reads your experience will question you for saying goodbye. Those statistics are horrid!

        Facebook was never as effective as email for gaining customers – a “like” means nothing. People’s mind-set on Facebook is more about clicking around to the next shiny object. It’s a busy room!

        A person signing up for our emails is quite a different relationship! They are looking for that moment in their inbox to get an offer, some news, or just a hello with no commercial strings attached. An email just feels more one-on-one even if it’s a newsletter.

        I must pat you on the back, Linda – You may be part of a big trend to “just say no” to Facebook. Why work at something that never pays you back?

        Thanks so much for sharing and I am glad you set yourself “free”. While pure conjecture on my part, I have to imagine that google+ might get some love now?

        • Thank-you Mckenna, no longer aggravated & chalking it up as a lesson learned. Been focusing on twitter, google + some(need to post more) & posting works on flickr, they have a bunch of artist groups on there too, I want to join & check out & mingle (smile) And of course my newsletter.

          I enjoy reading your articles they are thought provoking & great insight into things, thank-you & look forward to more reads.

  5. This article certainly offers good insight! Thanks for sharing. I set up my Fbook business page back in 2010. Back then is would receive exposure with the natural flow of the sight, much like a person on Fbook. Once Fbook went public, they started to control the business pages and now a post will only reach 7 people or so unless I pay to “boost” exposure. My counter to this was to put more effort onto growing my Personal page and I put limited effort onto the Business page. Social media is ever changing and it is up to us to adapt the best we can to these changes. Articles like these are golden gems to keep us abreast of the changes so we can adapt.

    • I just checked your page, Barbara (Great Photography by the way) and you have over 600 followers so your reach of 7 people is really low. What a shame.

      I would add a line on your Fine Art America site to encourage people to sign-up for emails. You have the subscribe button on your menu bar, but it couldn’t hurt to make it call to action on that front page: “Stay informed and see my newest photos by subscribing in my monthly newsletter. Click “Subscribe” in the main menu above.”

      And thanks for including my article in the gem category. This site is filled with articles that have real impact on an art business. I am honored to be a guest here from time to time.

  6. Very worthwhile article. I’m just starting out. I had planned to rely on my website. I’ll be doubling down my effort s to get a good newsletter going. Thanks.

    • How exciting Stuart! In some ways, just starting out means no baggage and you can really set a clear path in your marketing efforts. Put email marketing at the top of the to do list and you will be fine. However, dip you toe into the vast pool of other social media outlets. Keep a few plates spinning at all times!

      And one thing I should mention: while I love and trust Constant Contact, I also have subscribed to several other email blogs from other providers. There’s a trick or two coming to me from many sources everyday. I need as much as I can get so I can be effective and helpful in my own blog and these guest blogs, too.

      So whatever provider you choose, visit Constant Contact and see all the videos, blogs and other free insights they share to the world. And then do the same with a few others. (or – shameless plug here – just buy our e-course by clicking on the sidebar ad!)

      Good luck and keep us posted on your progress, Stuart!


  1. […] Now that you’ve read about the new rules, you might be wondering what your alternatives are. Here’s a new post from ArtsyShark on this topic: Who Controls Your Art Business? […]

Speak Your Mind