A couple of months ago, when I joined various online 'communities to sell my greeting card designs, I began to be aware of a whole new world of 'promotional activities' to bring customers to my online 'stores', such as the four 'f-words', favouriting, fanning, friending and following! I will resist the temptation to climb on my soapbox and declaim against the way that our English language is falling into misuse, such as adjectives and nouns being turned into verbs, when we already have perfectly good verbs at our disposal. It would be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide and I'll leave John Humphrys to have a field day on the subject - though I must say I am encouraged by the fact that my spelling and grammar checker underlined the words 'favouriting and 'friending' in red!
What concerns me is that these activities can eat up enormous amounts of time, time we could otherwise be spending painting, drawing - or doing the garden! And I'm not very sure how effective these strategies are when it comes to attracting buyers of our creative endeavours. I can understand that the more activity we can generate around our online presence, the better chance there is that our art will be seen and, possibly, bought. But how does having a 'fan club' of other artists and designers actually boost one's sales? Surely we need to be getting our work seen by non-artists, 'the man on the Clapham omnibus?
Of course it is encouraging to receive compliments on one's work - I think most of us need some reassurance at times. But I sometimes think that we run the risk of cheapening our praise if it is handed out too freely, almost automatically. When I am teaching my struggling readers, I do try to create a supportive atmosphere because many of them have suffered a great many knock-backs and their sense of self-worth has been dented. But I am careful not to shower them with accolades for every little thing that they get right and they know that when I do praise their work, it is praise worth having. Children are not fools and they know instinctively when they have done something praiseworthy - and vice versa. Similarly, if I have complimented someone on their art, it is because I really like it!
Sometimes all this 'fanning' can become hilarious! The number of emails I receive since I signed up to GCU and Zazzle has increased dramatically, mostly such things as notifications regarding threads on the forums or comments on my 'store wall' - occasionally the holy grail of a sale accomplished! Keeping up with all these is another drain on my time, but one email, a few weeks ago now, made me laugh. It was one from Zazzle, telling me that my fan club was growing. Fan club? What fan club? I knew about facebooks' 'fan pages' but had no idea that Zazzle had fan clubs too. But here I was, not only being informed that I had a fan club, but that it was growing!!! What excitement as I followed the link to find that I had............one fan!
I shall go along with all this 'promoting' for now; it's still early days and it seems to be the thing to do. But I shan't let it stop me watching Wales play in the Six Nations from now on! I only managed to catch the last half-hour of their first match against England and although they lost, the commentators commented that they did begin to play better in that final 30 minutes ie when I started watching. And last Saturday, I only squeezed in the final ten minutes. But what a ten minutes! When I turned on the television, Wales were so far behind against Scotland that I almost didn't bother to watch - but then things started to go their way and Sizzling Shane started to sizzle and, in the last few seconds, led Wales to a victory that won't be forgotten for a long time. I think I must have sent some 'positive vibes' to the Millennium Stadium and I shall make sure that I watch the whole of the rest of their matches, come what may!
I've also stolen a few hours away from the computer today to make another St David's Day greeting card, using the same watercolour pencils and watercolours method that I used for the Irish leprechaun and the Froggy Valentine. I'm begin to like the way this combination turns out and, once the drawing is done, it's quite quick - you can't hang around with watercolours in any case - and that's an advantage in these busy times.
My friendly dragon, both English- and Welsh-speaking, is available in the Zazzle marketplace and will hopefully be appearing soon in my GCU store, when the reviewers have approved him, which seems to be taking about a week at the moment.
Here he is wishing you a Happy St David's Day (March 1st) in the meantime -