Introducing ‘I vote for art’ [dot com]

The real reason for abandoning this blog over the last 12(ish) months has been, as I hinted, because of a small web business that I’ve launched.

It’s called I Vote for Art. You can check it out here :: http://www.ivoteforart.com/

In a nutshell, it’s an online store that sells modern styles or art. Visitors to the site can where you can buy the artwork, and vote for their favourite artwork too.

The site was launched back in May, so has been up and running for a little while now. But rather than try and convince you to buy artwork, I wanted to share some of the learnings I’ve had in launching it.

The idea really stemmed from a combination of my interests – I have been talking about starting my own business for years now, I’m a web addict, and I really enjoy contemporary art, especially illustration and pop surrealism. In retrospect, selling affordable art online might not ever make me much money. But I get so much enjoyment out of running the site, that it has all been worthwhile.

Of course, I’ve tried my hand at using different social media to launch and promote the site, including:

  • A blog, Art Dabble – where I publicly dreamt up, and planned ivoteforart. I also have a blog for the website, but haven’t used it particularly well yet.
  • Flickr, where I release new artwork, and connect with artists all over the world.
  • More recently, I’ve set up a Twitter account, and am playing with that.
  • A terribly neglected myspace page, and very amateurish YouTube clip (see below).
All of which take time and energy. I think the key to doing it effectively is to focus on a small amount of social media channels, and do them well … rather than spread yourself too thin. Right now flickr is the best tool for what I’m doing. Although increasingly I’m making great connections with people through Twitter. So I’m sticking with those 2 for now.
A few other things that I’ve learnt so far:
  • Even though everyone tells you that it takes time to build a business, and not to expect sales overnight, you still hope that you are an overnight sensation. But overnight success never happens, so you move on pretty quickly from that.
  • I didn’t expect to meet so many people (online and in person) as I have. I feel as though I’ve met a lot of great new friends in the process. That’s been cool.
  • It’s much more rewarding to actually try out online marketing using social tools than it is to just theorise about it. When you start your own business, no matter how small, you actually get to start doing. That’s great. And you know, it actually works.
  • I still work full time. Which is good and bad. Good because I still have a job that I enjoy if the business doesn’t take off. Bad because I don’t get to spend anywhere near as much time as I would like to (or need to) on ivoteforart.com
  • You can make a lot of progress by being friendly and personable. Send personalised, one to one emails and you’ll be surprised how effective it can be.
  • Artists are great people, but not too crash hot when it comes to reliability. It often takes months from contacting an artist to actually getting their work onto the website.
  • Google Analytics is addictive. I waste way too much time checking web traffic stats.
  • Regardless of success, it’s nice to be able to say that you’ve started a business, rather than saying, “I’m thinking about starting a business”. Anyone can think about it. Not as many people actually do it.
Anyway. I’ll finish this post off with the YouTube video I’ve just created using iMovie. A glorified Powerpoint presentation? Perhaps. But at least you get to see some of the artwork.
What do you think? 

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