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Fine Art Web Site Promotion
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Using Current Technology to Promote a Fine Art Web Site
Pictures at the bottom of the page

Introduction
I have 30+ year background in photography and have spent much of that time selling my photographs at fine art shows around the country. In the past, to remain successful and continue to earn a living selling fine art photography, Iíve been able to come up with bodies of work that transcended the art shows and have successfully sold in other markets, like posters, puzzles and greeting cards. Recent advances in technology have changed my marketing techniques and now Iím able to promote myself much more successfully using web sites and the Internet and can earn a much higher percentage of my income through these new venues.

Overview of my photography background
In the mid 1970ís I photographed rock concerts and sports. I became the staff photographer for the ABA New York Nets basketball team and a contributor to the NBA programs. I was focused on treating photography as a career and made sure to build as large a portfolio of published pictures as I could. I started doing art shows which allowed me to market my personal photography and earn enough of a living to quit my ďday job.Ē I also picked up a stock agency to market my personal work, but the art shows became my passion and Iíve been marketing my art through that venue ever since.

Technology advances has changed marketing possibilities
In July 1997 I purchased my first computer and my life changed. I had always been one of those who disliked changes and was afraid of computers, not seeing their real potential. Then we had a good summer of art show sales and decided to take the leap into the future. The more time I spent working at the computer, the less steep the learning curve became. I Eventually started working with Chris Maher who later became my partner, in creating my first web site. That was BermanBears.com for my successful teddy bear and baby animal line of photographs that people used to line up to purchase at the art shows.

Believe it or not, the most successful line of photographs Iíve ever sold at art shows turned out to be a dud on the web. Iíve sold under $1,000 worth of prints since putting up that web site over six years ago. What did I learn from the experience? I learned that depending on the type of images, putting the pictures in front of people on a weekly basis could be much better for sales than having them on the Internet. I also learned that by not hanging the work in the booth, people have no frame of reference when seeing the images on the web. I had already stopped selling those images at art shows when we first started building the web site, which turned out to be the main reason why it never worked.

My next web site was BermanArt.com for my fine art photography. It did much better and generated an average of a sale or two per month when I was doing art shows on a regular basis. People see the work hanging in the booth and visit the web site after the show, or use it to show their spouse. I learned something important here also. The more you promote your web site in your booth on a weekly basis, the more successful your internet sales can be. Make your domain name into your booth sign and put cards out where people can take them without feeling intimidated by having to ask for them.

Bringing the past into the present
Getting back to those sports photographs I took in the 1970ís. As technology changed, I now had a way to market those basketball images that sat in a box in the basement for 25 years. I started scanning the film in April 2003 and put up a web site at BermanSports.com to sell prints. I started running auctions on eBay to make people aware of the photographs (and web site) and the sales started from day one. Iíve scanned over 400 slides and find that I can make good looking prints up to 20x30 from the best images. In the first year I sold approximately 2000 8x10 prints and get an average of three or four orders a week. In preparing my web site I listed names of all the players from each picture on the page with that picture and put a search box at the top of every page. Iíve used alt tags under all the images and put relevant key words in the header and between the title tags, the most important place for words on a web page. Last time I checked, I come up number one (or within the top five) on Google for most of the players I have photographs of. With a minimum investment Iíve made it into an extremely successful cottage industry. I print postcards to send out to all the people who have purchased my sports photos offering a discount for a month to celebrate the anniversary of the BermanSports web site. The postcard is an annual event and hopefully will become collectable. I even offer the remaining cards for sale on eBay and the web site.

Using new technology to create and market fine art
Chris Maher and I wrote an article on shooting digital infrared, which appeared in Shutterbug Magazine in early 2002. That led both of us to explore different avenues and come up with successful bodies of photographs. Chris started working with models and created a body of nude infrared photographs which can be seen at InfraredDreams.com and I started experimenting with color filters and created a body of color infrared photographs at AlternatePhoto.com. Iíve found that the strongest color infrared images are architectural abstractions and have put together a body of work that is getting me into some of the best art shows. In a slightly more commercial slant to my technique, I photographed some x-rays on a view box at an orthopedic surgeonís office and discovered that the resulting images had far more reaching appeal. To capitalize on the interest theyíve generated, Iíve set them up on their own web site at ColorXrays.com.

Mixing old techniques with new technology to market fine art
I'm experimenting with time proven marketing techniques to promote my ColorXrays.com web site. Besides my Internet presence, I had postcards printed with a strong image and web site URL on the front and tried sending them out to orthopedic surgeonís offices throughout the country coordinating with the locations of the art shows I was doing. I also created a free screensaver of my color x-ray images that promotes the web site. The orthopedic industry is just the tip of the iceberg of the medical field and that there might be no limit to the amount of people who would be interested in purchasing my photographs, if I market them properly. I've also put a mailing list form on the web site to take contact information of anyone interested in future purchases. In the first mailing of 1400 postcards, which contained 400 targeted to the locations that I was doing my first two shows with the work, the result was uninspiring to say the least. Not one person showed up mentioning the card and I only got a few web site sales. But the pictures do sell successfully at the shows and have generated other opportunities for me. I still try and do as many high profile shows as I can get accepted to, but have stopped taking contact information as I feel it's more work than it's worth.

How the Art Shows give me exposure that the Internet doesn't
The remainder of those initial postcards are being used instead of business cards as a give away in my booth. The fact that people can walk away with a 4x6 color image (and web site URL) has opened up doors for me that were previously unavailable. I connected with the Florida Chiropractic Association after the Winter Park show and they made me their 2005 featured artists of the year and are using my photographs on the cover of their magazines and trade show brochures in exchange for giving me advertising space in their magazine. I've also found that adding larger than normal photograph sizes to the availability page on the web site has generated follow up sales of very large photos, larger than I carry to the art shows.

When I ran out of my X-ray postcards, I figured out how to get unlimited free color business cards (again using my strongest images) from the trim area around my prints that I have made at Costco.

Print Promotion
Not one to let a promotional opportunity get away, I've taken the initiative to try and reach other markets through free editorial placement in a few publications. I do most of my printing at my local Costco on their Noritsu printer which uses Fuji Crystal Archive paper, I had been approached by a regional manager last year about the possibility of them writing an article about my sports photographs for The Costco Connection Magazine because they like to feature people who Costco has helped their business grow. Not wanting to wait any longer, I wrote the article myself and submitted it in January. The piece describes how I get my sports photos printed at Costco and how I market them on my web site. Within two weeks they called to tell me that they are profiling my BermanSports web site on the Members Connection page in the April issue.

Another opportunity presented itself in Art Business News. I read in the January issue that they were asking for submissions to their Emerging Artists section. I prepared a set of samples of my color infrared photographs with a cover letter and sent it off. I just opened the March 2005 issue and found that they used one of my images on the contents page and did a half page profile using three images. The best part is that it's the issue being given out at Art Expo this week so it will be circulated more than any other issue that they publish this year. It will also make a great artist statement to hang in my booth at art shows and an impressive addition to my art show resume, for the shows that request it with their applications.

Conclusion
Iíve found that I love the technology for the opportunities it has given me. Not being afraid of it, I open myself to learning something new every day. Iím also hoping that people reading this will understand how proper marketing can give you more of a chance of being successful at earning a living from your art. Some bodies of photographs can promote themselves on the Internet and require little work to be successful and others will need to have more costly promotion techniques used such as postal mailing besides web site promotion. To sell successfully, you need to determine what is necessary to reach your target audience.

Images


Florida Chiropractic Association
trade show brochure cover


Art Business News
 Emerging Artist Profile
 March 2005

Front of promotional postcard for my color xray photographs
Larry Berman's color infrared x-rays
also used on the promotion postcard
with the web site URL along the left

Chrios Maher's black and white infrared nudes
Chris Maher's infrared nudes

Teddy bears skiing by Larry Berman Cat in a bird cage by Larry Berman

Examples of my best selling art show images that never took off on the web

Sports photos by Larry Berman
Successfully Internet marketed
sports photos from the 1970's


First Annual Sports Postcard

Web site content © Larry Berman, Chris Maher, or the originating artists

Chris Maher
PO Box 5, Lambertville, MI, 48144
.

Larry Berman
PO Box 265, Russellton,  PA  15076
412-401-8100

Web Site Design by Larry Berman and Chris Maher