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Monday, June 20, 2016

Artists Using Craigslist

I think that Craigslist is one of the most under used internet tools an artist can come in contact with. Most people think that Craigslist is on its way out. Its considered outdated and a bit mundane. But it is still the widest used and read classified tool out there. Artists especially are missing the boat by not using this tool to its fullest capacity. 

Tell me what other free tool is available right now on the internet that puts you directly in touch for no cost with your local art community? There are a few other sites and some miscellaneous facebook pages. You could use hashtags for your local community but a whole lot of other people are posting there also. Craigslist is reliable for two things. It has several artists and art categories and it targets locally.

So what would I use it for? 

  • Selling your work
  • Posting your skills
  • Getting your work critiqued by other artists
  • Critiquing the work of others
  • Special events you are participating in
  • Discussing artists problems
  • Name recognition
  • Promoting specific art
  • Promoting blog articles
  • Getting in touch with Movers & Shakers in your art community

These are just a few off the top of my head. And this is locally in your own community. By expanding out to other art communities you can press your advantage even further. 

Right now the only things I see on the Artists board are ads for shows, ads for employment and ads for rental properties for artists. Occasionally I may see an artist selling a piece of work or an item such as an easel. 

New Orleans is the third largest arts community in the United States. With that in mind you would think that Craigslist artists board would garner a good amount of daily posting. Sadly the post rate is about five a day. The graphic below is a recent screen capture of a typical week on our Artists board. Note that three of those posts (marked with red circles) are posted by me. 

I do note that in larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles, the post rate is higher. But the fact that no one seems to be utilizing this to its fullest extent amazes me. 

So why doesn't it get used more often?

I think part of it is a stigma that occurs all over the internet to not make a nuisance of yourself. Its the rules of internet diplomacy. But there are still ways to more effectively utilize this without gaining a bad reputation. 

For example, if you post the same thing 5 times in a row, that is bad etiquette. If you post something that is out of sync with the board your posting on, that is also bad etiquette. For example, you are selling your car and you post the sales item on the artists board, that is a no no. Posting too often can be considered rude also, so I usually limit myself to posting at least 12 hours apart on any one board. If our local board had more traffic I would push this up to perhaps every 6 or every 2 hours. 

It is possible to be polite and still gain more traction using this tool. In fact I am convinced that the more artists that utilize the artists board itself then the more opportunities that use creates for others. 

If your reading this then you know I am an art blogger. Craigslist is an excellent tool for promoting ones blog articles and something I rarely if ever see. When a new article is created there should be no reason we are not promoting it on both our local board and in other cities. 

Now not every artist is a blogger. But we are creators of art and in this day and age we should have an online portfolio. If you don't...well that's a whole different subject. But you should have one! For those of you who do, or those of you who photograph your work when completed, you should post that work for others to see. I am not talking about selling the work, but showing it. Again this applies to boards in other cities as well your home city. 

So what should a typical post always include? Above all it should include your artists name and an email address. It should include a photo even if your post isn't directly related to something photograph-able. If you have to use older photos of your work or something similar. I often fall back to either my blog logo or my studio logo as good choices. 

No matter what, you must be clearly identifiable and have a way for the viewer to interact with you further. 

Now there are some rules to remember. Craigslist has certain things built into it to stop spam posting. Most important is that there is a limitation on how many times you can post within a certain number of minutes. I can't tell you the exact parameters of this rule since I don't work for Craigslist, but a general rule that seems to work best is a 3/20 ratio. This means that you can safely post three times every twenty minutes. If you exceed that, the end result may be that your post is blocked from posting. Get blocked too often and you can get booted off their system.

Another rule is that on some boards you will not be able to post website addresses. You are safe on the artists board from this rule but if you post elsewhere you may run across it. 

There will always be trolls who will report your posts for absolutely no reason at all. This is a fact on Craigslist that you cannot get around. But if you are staying within the posted guidelines of a particular board, this will be minimal. 

Be creative. Utilize every tool you can online to promote your name and your art and above all, be kind and be helpful to others who might ask you questions. It will take time and energy that can be put to much better use creating art. But getting your name out there in your local market is just as important if you wish to make art your full time career. 

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