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Q & A : How can my friend get his watercolor notecards out to the public?

How can my friend get his watercolor notecards out to the public?

Shameless Self-Promotion Online

By Chris Dunmire

Q: I have a very good artist friend who paints very tasteful and captivating notecards. He's English, so most of them feature areas in and around London, including the famous Henley-on-Thames and the Thames river in watercolors. It has a rather calming effect on a lot of people! He sent me one of them once and I thought he just bought it in a card shop. When he told me he made it a few years ago, I told him he should consider getting them out to the public somehow. He doesn't know where to start and neither do I. Would you have any suggestions or pointers for him? He is really quite talented. — Victoria S.

A: Victoria, do you know how many artists would love to have a friend like you? Not only do you possess an appreciation for your English friend's artistic talent, but you are a great motivator and agent helping him to move to the next level in his artistic career. And I bet his cards are just breathtaking!

So how does your friend get his work out to the public and begin promoting his watercolor cards to the world? It seems like a daunting task, doesn't it? But guess what? It's not! Years ago it was a heck of a lot more difficult for unknown artists to find promotional opportunities in galleries and stores, but today, thanks to the Internet, a worldwide audience and potential customer base is only a click away. That is, when one has their own Web site.

Of course, there are lots of other things involved in establishing oneself as an artist — online or off. But because having a Web site is such a fundamental self-promotional tool in this day and age, I'm going to discuss this as a primary starting point for your friend and briefly explain how he can use his site for his artistic endeavors as a dynamic portfolio, an online store, and a worldwide networking tool 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Web Site Can Function as...

A Dynamic Portfolio or Product Gallery

The graphical and textual nature of the Web is a perfect platform for artists to showcase samples of their work online to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. Think of it like a PowerPoint presentation. Thus, with a click of a mouse, a visitor can view a presentation, parse a gallery of artwork, or browse a virtual shelf of products in a few minutes and learn anything about the artist he wishes to share. Plus, the site can be updated with news, information, and product offerings whenever he chooses.

This kind of Web site is the most simple and cost-effective to design and maintain. If your friend knows basic Web design and image editing, he can take this project on himself. Otherwise, he should consider hiring an experienced Web designer to do the work for him.

An Online Store (E-Commerce)

A Web site can also function as a online store, allowing visitors to browse products, add selected items to a shopping cart, and pay for them through a virtual checkout. So if your friend wants to sell prints of his cards, he can simply showcase them on his site with quantity and price, and allow visitors to purchase them online. Once a transaction is made, he can ship the cards to his customers or make them available in a downloadable form.

The design and development requirements associated with e-commerce Web sites vary, and will cost more than a simple stand-alone portfolio Web site. Other considerations are international shipping costs, local and state laws, and online merchant requirements.

A Networking Tool

Whether your friend's Web site functions as a portfolio, online store, or both, it will promote his work around the clock to anyone who visits. Plus, the instantaneous nature of e-mail and other information sharing creates an open channel for communicating with promoters, buyers, sellers, and other interested parties.

The cool thing about the Internet is that people from all over the world interested in watercolor painted Henley-on-Thames notecards will find your friend's talented offerings without ever having to visit London or physically meet with him. Additionally, other watercolor artists around the world may wish to network with your friend and pool Web site resources.

Victoria, I certainly don't want to minimize the other work your friend will have to do to promote his work to the public. Having a Web site is just a start, but once it's online, he'll find it an invaluable tool for self-promotion.

Finally, a key element that works hand-in-hand with having a Web site is Web site promotion. Nobody will know about his site unless he tells them about it. The easiest way to getting the word out is by putting the Web site URL (the on every piece of communication he gives away. This includes business cards, e-mail footers, card samples, and anywhere else it will tastefully fit. Then he should get himself into major search engines and directories such as Google and Yahoo! and find related Web sites or businesses to reciprocal link with to benefit from cross-promotional networking. (See also: The benefits of Social Networking Web Sites.)

It's almost a given that once your friend follows through with the above steps, his work will not only be out in the public, but he'll discover that interest in his notecards will come from places he'd never imagine. In fact Victoria, when your friend gets his own Web site up, have him contact us and we'll gladly link to it from this page to further help promote his captivating notecards to the world. •

Helpful Resources for the Next Step:

How-to Greeting Card Writing
Information and resources for learning how write greeting cards, or break into the business of writing for major greeting card companies.

How-to Web & Graphics Design
Resources for beginning and advanced Web site design instruction. Includes information on setting up a Web site, HTML and WYSIWYG editor tutorials, graphics programs how-to, and design tips.

How to Add Your Web Site to the Google Directory
Google indexes Web sites in their directory for free. Read how to add your site and learn other valuable tips for Web site design and promotion.

© 2005, 2009 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

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Updated 11/25/09