This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's downtown San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office which he shares with his two feline assistants Kiara and Lilly. You can connect with Clint on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog at clintavo.com
Opportunities are often found by looking not at what everyone else is doing, but by looking at what everyone else is ignoring.
Somehow, a few days ago, that phrase typed itself as I was writing an article. And the idea has stuck in my mind and grown over the past few days. It's an important idea to consider further.
It's a similar idea to the old proverb about stock tips from a shoeshine man: by the time a stock tip appears on CNBC, it's too late. Nobody is ignoring that stock anymore. You want to find the stock that everyone is ignoring, or possibly even the one everyone hates and is dumping.
And, in pondering this phrase further, I can't help but think of a pattern I see a lot in tech.
The pattern goes something like this:
- a new platform appears
- a few early adopters figure out creative ways to use the platform and have amazing successes
- masses of people copy the early adopters and drown the platform in a sea of noise
- those masses of people feel like failures because they aren't successful like the early adopters were
- the early adopters have quietly moved on to something else
(or don't need to move on because they now control the attention of this platform).
- "something else" being a new platform or a new way to utilize the existing platform
Here's an example: when people first discovered Google and search engine optimization (SEO), there were a lot of success stories. The early success stores were so great that they inspired a myth that persists even to this day: that SEO is an easy and free marketing channel that will bring thousands of people to your website . But as more and more people learned about SEO, the search engines became flooded with less-meaty content and, eventually, spam. This is what happens when the early, innovative techniques eventually became known as "best practices." However, behind the scenes, some people continued to be successful with SEO. That's because those people had started using different techniques that others were ignoring. And, after each technique became discovered by the masses, the leading edge guys would (and still do) quietly move on to something else. To be ultra-successful with SEO today you have three choices: (1) to be a large brand with deep pockets and a huge lead, (2) to live in a small niche other people ignore (this is where most artists live on searches for their own name), or (3) you have to utilize techniques that are generally not well known.
It's not just SEO. We've seen this pattern play out over and over: Google Adwords were once a gold mine and dirt cheap. Facebook business pages had many early success stories until Facebook changed the rules. Facebook ads were once effective and affordable until they became expensive. There were people who became famous on Youtube. Heck, even Myspace was a great platform at one time, before it became filled with spam and then imploded.
This idea applies not just to platforms but to sales and marketing techniques. Think about this: Free shipping for online purchases used to be considered a huge innovation. Now, most people won’t buy online without free shipping.
Bringing it home to the art industry: Remember Duane Keiser, the artist? He got famous as the father of the daily painting movement with his blog A Painting a Day. He was even featured in an article in the New York Times. Nobody was doing daily painting in 2004 and it was incredibly successful for Duane Keiser. Now, it seems like everyone is a "daily painter" and there's really no innovative excitement around the idea anymore. 
The cutting edge becomes expected. Game changers become table stakes. And this has convinced me that often, the best marketing ideas are those that other people are ignoring. In fact, if you hear the phrase "best practices" get nervous, because that means you're doing something that has been done by so many people, so many times that somebody made a list of "best practices." Which means it's not an area being ignored.
The good news is that this just means you need to do things a bit differently. Well, you're an artist! Creative and different are what you specialize in!
When everyone else "zigs", ask how you can "zag." As I said on Twitter recently, while everyone else is asking how they can get more traffic to their website, you could ponder what kind of special party you can host for your best collectors. That's something most other people aren't doing. Doesn't an exclusive event for great collectors sound exciting and more likely to generate sales and interest?
So let's think of some creative and different channels most people are ignoring, or new, innovative ways to use popular existing channels. What areas and ideas to you think most people are ignoring? Share your thoughts in the comments and we'll do a follow up post exploring marketing and business ideas for artists that are different.
FASO Founder, Software Craftsman, Art Fanatic
PS - This article doesn't mean you shouldn't do some "best practices" marketing. It just means such things are "table stakes." You're expected to come up for a Google search on your name. You're expected to have a Facebook page. You're expected to have a website. This article is about the search, not for "table stakes", but for "game changers."
 The reality is SEO today is usually difficult and expensive and often brings a trickle of traffic, not a flood. We've determined over years of watching it, that SEO is not a good channel for most artists to spend much of their marketing time and money. Just make sure you rank for a search on your own name and, outside of a few very specific niches, that's all you need.
 Daily painting can still be useful as a challenge for artists to push themselves to grow and, even perhaps as a short term marketing push. But it's not the huge innovation that garners New York Times level attention that it once was.
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and relevant message. Enjoy!
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