Flickr can definitely reap big rewards in promotional terms with only fairly small investments of time on your part.
I know that posting to groups works because whenever I post an envelope drawing to even a single Flickr group, I always get a spike in my Diary Project numbers. I've had Google Analytics running over on The Diary Project for exactly one month now (I was using a less accurate site meter before then) and in that month I've had 89 direct referrals from Flickr. Posting an image to a group or taking part in a group discussion also often results in someone adding me as a contact, commenting on my photos or finding their way over here.
But that's not the end of the story...
Just this week I had a timely example of how effective Flickr can be when Jeffrey Yamaguchi from 52 Projects promoted my work without any direct contact from me. He had seen an envelope image that I'd posted to his What's Your Project Flickr group, investigated it and then very kindly blogged about The Diary Project.
Now, I've been meaning to write a press release about The Diary Project and send it to various sites but I hadn't quite got round to it yet - er, you know how it is!
52 Projects was on my list of places to send a press release to because I'd read Jeffrey's book and thought The Diary Project might appeal to him. Now, thanks to Flickr, I don't need to send a press release to that particular site.
It was the work of about 30 seconds to post one of my envelope images to the What's Your Project group, it was certainly much easier than writing a press release, looking up Jeffrey's contact info and sending an email. And frankly, it was also less intimidating: posting images to Flickr groups is brilliant for an artist who hates doing promotion because it doesn't feel like marketing. I don't know about anyone else but I always feel a bit embarrassed writing and sending out press releases about my own work (come to think of it, that's probably why I've been procrastinating on the damn thing for so long).
The Diary Project has already had 91 visits from 52 Projects and who knows, maybe some of those visitors will choose to link to the project in their own blogs. So, if we add those two sets of numbers together, you can see that Flickr has provided 180 visits to The Diary Project in the last month with very minimal effort on my behalf. All I did was upload my Diary Project images (something I had to do anyway) and then send a couple out to groups. I don't know how many images I posted to groups but it's unlikely to have been many since I only do it when I remember so it's a little erratic! My promotional investment was probably about five minutes, tops.
However, it is important to note that all the images had the relevant info on them; a concise bit of blurb about the project and a link to the project blog. Without that information, the envelopes are just more drawings amid a mass of art images: knowing the context of the project is what makes them stand out and having the link right there on the image is what encourages people to find out more.
I've had more unusual Flickr contacts too: Garrison over at Holiday Pad Magazine found this site earlier in the week when one of my non-art photos tagged with the word 'holiday' popped up on the rolling feed at the bottom of his site. He tells me it was my recent taxidermy photos that piqued his interest because he couldn't work out why on earth they were tagged as holiday pictures.
I guess you just never know what's going to attract someone to your site...
You know, I'd been on Flickr for about 6 months before I even started using groups. The first group I joined was a knitting group and it was another couple of months before I suddenly thought, 'hey wait, maybe there are some art groups...'
Up until that point, it had honestly never occurred to me that Flickr could be a promotional tool (I'm slow sometimes...) but using Flickr groups has revolutionised the amount of interest people take in my work, as well as massively increasing my own enjoyment of the site.
Well then, that's a fairly thorough round-up of Flickr and why you should use it. I hope it's been helpful and that you all come to grips with it a bit quicker than I did! I'll probably come back to it at some point but now the series is going to be moving onto other ways for artists to use the web. I haven't quite decided what's up next but I've got several pages of notes at this point and about 20 different topics to cover, including some thoughts that have come up in the comments. My notes keep expanding too, I thought the Flickr topic would be just one post but it seems to have stretched into five.
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