How to Promote Artists in Pamlico County
This article is in response to a question I proposed in Natural Pamlico, a Facebook group I created last year that’s a companion site to the Sunrises and Sunsets of Pamlico County group. If you’re reading this and aren’t a member of the group my question was this,
Should local photographers be allowed to advertise their services in the group? I would only allow photography related services since this is a photography related group.
My vote would be yes but I want to know what you all would like to see in your group!
The response was a resounding yes but there was one no that really got me thinking. The commenter said,
My opinion… When my phone dings for Natural Pamlico, I want to see something new not a bunch of weekly ads to take my photo, and not old rerun photos to regenerate sales. Might need another group for the “services” and sales.
It was the old rerun photos comment that caught my attention but I wasn’t certain why so I let it simmer in my mind. I was out on a bike ride when the answer became clear.
How to Sell Art
People love to buy but hate to be sold. It’s a timeless adage that’ll ring true for eons. We’ve all been privy to hard sales tactics. The resulting purchase is rarely satisfying because we didn’t buy the product, we were sold the product.
Creating something that generates sales is an amazing feeling. The highlight of last year was watching all those Sunrise and Sunset Calendars fly off the shelf. I didn’t have to sell any of them. Everyone who purchased one wanted to. I didn’t have to use the group page to push the sales either. All I had to do was write a post that said the calendars are in and here’s where you can buy them. The sales took care of themselves.
I don’t believe anyone comes to either group to find the latest offerings from local photographers. They come to share and view the astounding natural beauty of Pamlico County. Opening up the door to self promotion and advertising would have tarnished what we’ve created.
Creating a viable platform
My consideration for allowing sales within the group came from a member comment. They were interested in the photo the user had posted and wanted to speak with them in a private message. I thought to myself, “Shouldn’t the photographer name their price in a public comment so others who might be interested can see the price of admission?”
I value the communities that’ve evolved from these two groups and I take the responsibility of administering them seriously. The bulk of the group was in favor but clearly I had some internal reservations myself, hence the question.
When I was building the website that would eventually become VisitONC.com I knew there would be components that would take years to develop simply because they’d be dependent on the site being established with high quality content that drove lots of organic traffic to it.
One of those components was a space dedicated to local artists. I’d spent enough time on Instagram to know there are some talented young artists in Pamlico County. I didn’t have intentions of making anyone famous or even making anyone a lot of money. My intention was to create something that got people in the community involved, provided an outlet to sell local artwork and to do something that could give a kid a much needed boost of confidence.
I sold my first print for $10 on eBay. It was an eerie image of writing scrawled on the side of the Garland Fulcher fish house. That confidence boost was worth way more than the $10, and at the time, a huge boost to my morale.
How to Buy Art
If people want to buy, but don’t want to be sold and you’ve got no place to feasibly sell your art, then how are people going to buy it?
My experiences over the last year taught me the art that people can relate to is the art that sells. I sold a print of a Sunset Over Cornfields, Arapahoe, NC to a lady in the midwest. She saw the image on a Facebook post and it reminded her of where she grew up in Indiana. It didn’t matter that my image was taken in North Carolina because in her mind it might as well have been Indiana.
Promotion is the key to sales. You have to get your work in front of the people who are going to buy it but you can’t use a hard sales tactic or else they’ll feel like they’re being sold to. So how do you promote your work without selling it?
You don’t. I do.
Enter the clarity I received on my bike ride. If I let members try to sell their products and services in the group I’d be setting them and the group up for failure. We have a majority that wants to have the option to purchase and a plethora of talented artists whose work is worth buying. All we need is a place and a promoter.
Enter the VisitONC.com online gallery, the definitive resource for purchasing fine art created in Pamlico County, North Carolina.
How this works
Since I have a vested interest in the success of VisitONC.com it behooves me to create the highest quality authority content I’m capable of creating in order to generate a large and engaged audience. People are going to come to the site because they love the content. They’re going to always see high quality content so when they see the work of our talented local artists their minds will be primed to purchase.
They will want to buy your art.
VisitONC.com’s goal is to capture the spirit of Oriental and Pamlico County while providing an informative resource for tourists who we hope one day will become residents. In my mind, the spirit of the area can’t be fully captured without embracing what I see as an underground artist community.
Rarely do I go into something knowing how it’s going to end up. The do it first, do it better, do it right approach may not be the most efficient but its served me well so far.
My plan is to create an online gallery for VisitONC.com. I will be reaching out to artists I think have marketable products and featuring them on the site. In their featured post I’ll provide links to the gallery where people can purchase their work. So long as I don’t have to be involved with fulfilling orders I will do this at no cost to the artist.
Why for free? Because quality content is extremely valuable. Allowing me to feature them and their work they’re affording me the benefits of promoting high quality content. I also think this will generate a lot of quality advertising opportunities for the site. People love to share content that their kids or family members created. Each time they share their kids print, they’ll be sharing VisitONC.com too. The “share” is the gold standard of social currency. Plus, sharing content isn’t a hard sales tactic!
In time I would like to see the gallery become synonymous with a style of work found only in Pamlico County. I’d like to see people from all over the country buying from the online store and I’d like to see local artists get recognized because they were seen on VisitONC.com.
The next steps
Creating this gallery will take time and since it’s a long term strategy I will have to prioritize paid gigs before it. This is where I embrace the do it first mentality. I’ve reached out to a single photographer who wants to be my test monkey. Their work will help me create the best platform for achieving my objectives. Over the course of getting the first person set up, I’ll no doubt figure out at least 5 other ways I can do it better. Once they’re featured and listed, I’ll just keep repeating the process with new artists until I get it right.
To the members of the Natural Pamlico group, thank you again for your feedback. It never ceases to amaze me what people can achieve when they work together. I look forward to working with many of you in the future to see if we can ensure the success of this online gallery and create an opportunity for real and meaningful change in peoples’ lives.
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