I did a good thing! Who knew a Google alert would lead me to the Laramie Mural Project. And here’s how it happened.
I have no connection with Wyoming but when I clicked on their mural link, I was drawn in. I liked their website – their home image takes up the entire screen. I’ve been paying attention these days to website design as I’m in the process of creating new and easier-to-edit templates for both my sites. I noticed the picture of the unfinished mural and I always like to see the progression of a project. This got me clicking to learn more.
I learned that Laramie is trying to beautify their town with murals with help through the Laramie Main Street Alliance — a partnership between the town of Laramie and University of Wyoming. I believe that murals can beautify a town by adding character and interest and increase community pride and involvement as well as bring economic vitality — all from artwork. This got me clicking more. I went to their Kickstarter page. I had attended a business conference with the founder of Kickstarter on the panel so I was interested + ever since we went through the process of applying for Living Social’s Mission Small Business Grant, I’ve been interested in ways to fund business projects. I have another in mind and I’m thinking Kickstarter may be a good testing ground.
I really liked what I saw — the murals and how easy it was to use the site. I thought the write up they did for each level of backing were clever and captivating. You’ll have to go to their Kickstarter Campaign site to check these out further but here’s a visual taste of the murals. They have a lovely assortment of styles and are very rich with talent. They expressed the big, wide open country that I think of when I think of Wyoming, of where I have only passed through once while in a car on a family trip. I must have been about 10 years old.
OK, I was sold!
The great thing with Kickstarter is you don’t have to spend much or you can spend as much as you want. I donated $15. I wanted to contribute something but I have no association with Wyoming otherwise, but believe in the mural project’s mission and like most of the murals. I also wanted to test Kickstarter’s platform for business. It’s one of the few fundraising sites that really does cater to artists and their creative projects; whereas, other Angel Investor type sites are primarily interested in start-up technology companies. Kickstarter as a business concept appeals to me.
Checkout was easy and used my amazon account. I was so satisfied with the process that I used their smart marketing message that came up at the completion to share with your friends. I shared on Facebook, which then gets tweeted to our 795 followers.
This was a great business lesson with marketing and charitable giving all mixed in. I felt good and even more so to learn this on the Laramie Main Street website, that they have reached their $15,000 goal but the more they receive, the more they can do. I like it and I’m glad that any donation beyond what they wanted will be well spent:
We have reached our $15,000 goal on Kickstarter!!! But, if you are still interested in donating, know the more we raise, the more we can do. Additional funds will be used for more murals and educational material like an audio guide or walking tour of public art downtown. Our Kickstarter page for the Laramie Mural Project will be up through July 21st.
I plan on following up on their mural progress because I want to see their completion and maybe even go visit.
Since there were only 3 more days left for fundraising for this project at the time of this writing, please go to Kickstarter to look for others and perhaps do a good thing.
Here are some other murals that artists from this project have painted.
I’ve been doing a little website optimization lately and I was encouraged to see that we have a high website grade from Hubspot’s free website grader tool. I think Hubspot is a great resource, btw. We’ve been getting free webinars packed with valuable information that is jam packed with the most-up-to-date tools to use. The founders are Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, who met at MIT. I follow Dharmesh on his Linkedin Group OnStartUps for a community of entrepreneurs, another valuable resource. I would highly recommend looking into their services.
Here’s our website badge. We received a 90 our of 100. That’s not bad at all. The grader goes through your website’s strengths and weaknesses so you can highlight or increase the former and improve the latter. Very helpful.
We think it is important to check your analytics as much as possible, because without having a tracking system, you do not have figures that give you accurate information. We use Google Analytics for this reason + bitly for our Twitter to help tell us where people find us. How they search for us as well as what posts they retweet. Hubspot also had a Tweet Grader and we received an 86 out of 100. I was surprised to see that Ashton Kutcher is not one of the top twitter users, but Justin Bieber — his fan site is.
We use sitemeter to keep track of where people come into our blog (entry links) and where they exit (out links).
I was curious with what has happened with Written Images, a print-on-demand, one-of-a-kind, individual book creation with a compilation of digital art randomly assembled through a computed generated algorithm when ordered. Wow that’s a mouthful!
Here’s the original concept that I first learned about on Trendhunter, which I love as a resource (in my sidebar). The artists have been selected through a juried process and the Written Images project has started their printing with start-up money through Kickstarter, a cool crowdsource funding site for artists. I’ve looked into it as well.
It’s a concept that I’m interested in as my company, Casart coverings does digital printing of custom wall covering as print-on-demand.
We’re getting ready to unveil some pretty cool concepts in new designs and a new Signature Color collection so stay tuned here via our press warehouse and you may want to fan and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s an artistic opportunity and call for artists announcement for the Festival of Arts in Wayne County, CA:
The Festival of the Arts is seeking proposals for 2011 public art competition for murals and sculptures. The prizes are $5,000 for best mural and $2,000 for best sculpture for the Festival of the Arts, successor to last year’s Festival of Murals. Mural proposals are due May 27 and sculpture proposals are due June 15.
Social Media is related to art for me because it is how I discover new avenues in which to write about things in my blogs, meet others, and in doing so, help promote my business.
I hosted the EWES (Enterprising Women Entrepreneurs) — my business group last week. It had been rescheduled due to the snow. The fact that we had a large group despite the inconvenient travel means (the snow pile up is still limiting parking on my street) is a testament to how traditional networking is important and maybe folks were just going stir crazy being housebound. I didn’t fully count but there was a large group (for my house) of talented ladies in attendance, including Mary Douglas Drysdale and Jennifer Sergent (DC by Design), both of whom had not been to my home before so I was trying to be more tidy than usual.
After the introductions, where there was a lot of valuable feedback for what everyone was doing, there was limited time for me to give my talk on InternetNetworking: Social Media and How it Can Help Your Business. Fortunately, I had notes and here they are summarized. Hopefully they will be a useful foundation to follow + in posting them here, this article also helps to link all of these avenues together. Making the connection is important. I will continue to update as we add more links.
Initial Steps to Internet Social Networking & Web Presence for Business: • Think every bit of printed marketing material can go digital — Static (becomes) => Dynamic
• Actual physical presence through networking events => Social Online Networking through Social Media
It’s all about sharing, discovery, learning from others –>exposure 1) Business card=> website & pic wk portfolio, customer reviews > direct contact 2) Meet & Greet & Cocktail parties => Facebook Fan Page 3) Resume => Linkedin (professional Facebook) 4) Twitter for business (see below) — like blogging on speed 5) YouTube — way to be personal & instruct. demos — post your work in action
Within each of theseTOP 5 online social media outlets, are tips for better social interaction, exposure, and larger marketing pools than just present physical networking provides.
––Using my website, blog, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. as an example for all these points below—-
• Blog — makes your rather static website even more dynamic with a minimum of 3 posts or more a week to substantially drive and increase traffic to your site. This takes time and commitment, so don’t jump in unless you’re willing to do the research & commit. (Resource for first time bloggers = About.com)
• Brand yourself *with a favicon that shows up in the browser url icon (ours is a our blue butterfly)
• Tracking Plugins: Sitemeter, Alexa, Technorati, Blog Catalog (Blog Rankings), BlogTopSites — further track and help you monitor dynamic blog and increase SEO and help you get found through internal searches.
• RSS feed so people can subscribe and also email subscription box
• Links to other blogs (Blogroll) + within posts thru text and pictures
• Use Trackbacks w/in each post to let others know you’ve linked them
• Comment on other blogs (using your blog url and website email)
• Link Within installs software to link each posts to visuals of other posts
• Sociable = icons or widget/ buttons that folks can click on to tag/post to be recognized on other Social Networking Sites (too many to list: StumbleUpon, Delicious, Kaboodle, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, Newsvine, Mixx, YahooBuzz, …..over 95+
• Google Friend Connect — *uses a gravatar (avatar icon) to visibly follow blogs, get noticed, see who others are following, follow them; they will follow you
• eBlogger account + others to show your gravatar (visual) when commenting
Being in the Interior Design Market we’ve also joined /added these Social Networking sites:
• Stylehive — Connecting Stylish people with Home & Fashion
Note: through my ArtIsEverywhere blog for www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/: • a marketing co. in Chicago wants to hire me as their art agent for series of upcoming events for their hip client. Who knew they’ve been reading my posts?
• A lifestyle writer has contacted me to be a part of her book on murals.
Our Group Page, on the other hand is fine but is outdated because we were primarily using our (FB) Fan Page for recent news: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=57790034921&ref=ts
• Need to have an account and personal and/ or business Page in order to administrate site. My sister, Casart coverings partner and Marketing Coordinator, set this up through her account and business page. I do not manage this, as I do not have a Facebook account. (There is just so much one person can do.)
• Where most folks will find you beyond Internet searches & Google
• Doing this allows anyone to become your “fan” and follow your posts
• The more fans the more popular and more people want to fan you
• Typically this is reciprocal — scratching each other’s backs
• Post photos and blog mentions + Twitter automatically — in one click–>Facebook
• When you fan other entities — all shelter magazines, you’ll hear news here 1st
• Way to get their updates and yours to them, as Facebook updates regularly
How to do it:
-Develop a FB Page NOT a Group. You want Fans not Members.
-A Page will allow fans a Group will not
-Suggest your Page to ALL of your friends
-Ask them to do the same with their friends
-Post as many pics as possible — visuals draw & keep interest.
-Fan other pages through your Page and they might reciprocate
-Respond to all comments left on your page => fans like this interaction
-Link your FB account to your Twitter account.
-Anything you post on FB gets tweeted => and saves time (Applications>Pages)
-Place an Ad on FB
-If possible use the gravatar/ icons for each social network. These visuals stand out + brand.
3) Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/companies/casart-coverings-llc http://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyspencer
• Professional version of Facebook
• Create Individual and a Company profile
• Post job experience on personal page, make public (excludes contacts)
• Area to post what you’re working on + Facebook, Blog + Twitter posts
• Updates get sent to all contacts weekly
• Connect with others you know, get introduced to their contacts
• Search for others in your field
• Search and learn about companies
• Search and post jobs
• Join groups through other contacts’ info and searches and comment in & follow forum discussions — this has been the most beneficial resource. Through it, and requests to link, I’ve been connected to a wallpaper rep and distributor.
• We had a surge in our website traffic recently due to 2 discussions, one on Architects & Interior Designers asking, “What part of the Design Industry are you in?” This thread was started in 2008 and has over 350 responses, all responses that I can search for marketing and since I posted, they now know about us. 2nd discussion on Interior Design asked if anyone was using Twitter to post their links so we could all follow one another, which we are doing 77 comments in 2 months and still going strong. I get notices when anyone posts something new. I send these to my sister who follows them on Twitter and Facebook and is able to review their contacts through these vehicles.
4) Twitter (http://twitter.com/casartcoverings)
• Allows you to “tweet” short phrases & links to bring attention to your business
• You can “follow” numerous others and they can follow you — bringing popularity and curiosity and exposure to your business.
• You can tweet others, even those you may not know by commenting on their posts. This is a less formal way to get introduced, directly.
• You get up-to-the-minute mentions of others are doing — important for us learning about what is going on with magazines and designers. It’s the “inside scoop” to what may have been otherwise a private email or phone conversation between parties “in the know.”
• These tweets can be set up automatically so they are 16 character teasers to your blog, which then gets folks to your website.
How to do it:
-Sign up for an account
-Tweet at least every other day
-Post urls (website addresses: http://….)
-Follow many and they might reciprocate
-Don’t tweet meaningless things – followers will drop you
-Try and use your actual brand name in your tweets
-Retweet something that you like.
-This tweets another tweet that your followers would like to see.
-Accept ALL followers except those that are clearly not in your industry or are in the Porn industry.
-Some follow just for numbers so be wary
5) YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/CasartCoverings)
• Even bigger now that Google took it over
• Where folks go to learn and or be entertained
• Film and post demonstrations, interviews, humor — things to help explain and personalize your business.
• Folks will see in a search + put link on website
• Folks can comment on what they see and rate your videos if you choose
— option to review before these are posted
• Tracking to see how many folks watch, their dynamic (by what the watch) & from what location they watch your video — all helps with marketing
A few other social networking sites to mention/ how they work:
Good overview explanation video: http://socialcreeper.com/
1) Wikipedia & WikiAnswers — we answer questions and this gives our url link exposure
2) Issuu — interactive catalog viewing of files. We have used on our Press page where folks can comment/rate and bookmark for others to see.
3) Delicious — interactive bookmarking site:
4) Stumble Upon — works the same way but for any media and a great way to “stumble upon” new discoveries based on what you find and like in your tagged items and subjects of interest. Can connect with others this way as well
5) email circulation and eNewsletters can be shared. Use your website+ as your signature
7) Google Buzz w/gmail = their version of Facebook. Like twitter w/followers
8. Surveys can be posted and encourage participation (survey monkey)
For my art business, I use:
1) ArtSpace through FauxForum = Like MySpace for artists
2) Photobucket = Sharing photo site and way to post these on ArtSpace
3) Slide.com = Videos from photos and to post on Artspace and share
1) MyFlashFetish — to search and add songs and share with others if you wish
2) SingingFish — same as above, another search vehicle and can post on ArtSpace
3) Fileden — has free storage for these MP3’s and feeds into ArtSpace
4) LastFM — great way to locate new music based on what others are finding
5) Pandora — another social media site for music lovers
Feedback is welcome. Have a blog?, please comment.
Note: With all these measures, our website traffic has increased over 75%. Hey, we’re patting ourselves on the back because we did all this without a marketing company. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but you can do it too. It makes marketing fun and a way to meet new people and learn new things. Discovery happens daily.
Finally, I’ll leave you with these popular YouTube videos by Socialnomics author, Erik Qualman about the Social Media Revolution and how it’s changing business marketing + I like the song, Right Here Right Now by Flatboy Slim. They are great examples of viral videos. Enjoy!
Being connected to others strengthens your energy and creativity to produce art. 9-11 is a hallowed day to remember that the connections to others are vital….Let’s not forget.
Here’s a quote I like:
“Contrary to how we’ve been taught to value independence and autonomy, this new scientific evidence is showing that we are at our best when we are connected with others. When we apply these findings to the secret, internal world of the artist, we see that the capacity to be creative is actually generated by the experience of connectedness with others.” (from Empty Easel).
Boy, are we finding this out and social networking not only energizes us but keeps us busy. We are on Facebook, where you can fan casart coverings and we do the Twitter thing and write a blog, Slipcovers for your walls (casartblog). Actually my sister and business partner, Lindsey, manages the first of these and we all three, including my mother and other partner, help with writing weekly blog posts. We had a fun one recently like Blue for Sex in the City?… There’s just so much one person can do and I do the art part, write blogs and manage everything else from creating the original artwork to print, web and production, as well as contribute to marketing ideas. It’s a lot to handle, but it’s very gratifying and I get new ideas everyday from the energy. I’d love to afford a staff of 20 though. We’ll get there but for now, being connected gives us inspiration and keeps us going.
Celebrating that we are a female owned and family operated business that likes being connected to others, “We are Family” by Sister Sledge seems the appropriate way to Kick Start Your Weekend. Funny that, as I’m in RI for my sister-in-law’s wedding, for more extended family fun.