A lot of artists and photographers overlook a very valuable and inexpensive tool that can be a great means to promote both themselves and their art. That tool is called YouTube. Let me tell you that I love video production. For a few years I owned a small video production company which gave me the opportunity to learn how powerful a tool audio and video can be as a promotional tool. One thing I did not see a lot of and still don't is artists taking advantage of this as a means to market themselves. So let's talk about how we can use YouTube to promote your artwork or business.
Producing a video on YouTube has never been easier. Create a YouTube account, upload your video and even use the YouTube video editor to publish it. That's all there is too it at it's most basic level. I know for some of you producing a video, if you have not done so before, sounds kind of intimidating. The reality is it is quite simple to do as long as you have a good outline to follow.
There are different formulas you could try. When you setup your YouTube account you might create a YouTube account to show off your latest completed painting. You might also want to create videos in which you introduce any new signed and numbered sets you offer. Perhaps you could create a behind the scenes videos where you share with others some of your techniques or show footage of you engaged in producing the original work. No matter the videos you create they all are promoting you and your art. Best of all, people tend to assume you are an authority on the subject you present which further enhances your appeal to potential collectors or fans of your work.
As I am sure you know, producing a video requires a camera and some software to edit the raw video footage. As for a camera, there is nothing wrong with using your iPhone or Android phone. If you have a relatively new digital camera it probably shoots video as well. Of course if you are like me, you may find this as an excuse to buy a new toy in the form of a high quality digital video camera. You can use the on-board microphones but audio is probably not going to sound crisp and without any background echo unless you are outside or in a room with good acoustics. That is okay. Just as long as your audience can hear what you are saying without any difficulty.
As for software, unless you have the time to spend to learn how to use a program like Apple's Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier Pro, stick with the basic video editing suites that are included on your computer such as Apple's iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. I believe these already have a built in YouTube publishing option so getting your video up there is even easier than you might think. Learning to use these programs are realtively simple as well and you can always find some quick and simple tutorials on YouTube. Another option is to use the built in video editor that might be on your phone if you shot the video with your iPhone or Android phone. I am not a big fan of these since you may find you are somewhat limited in scope to what you might want to achieve. Finally you can always use YouTube's built in video editor. I must admit I have not used it myself but it does offer some nifty features such as closed captioning, text and titles as well as royalty free background music you might want to incorporate at the beginning and end of the video. And don't overlook the hidden gem of being able to monetize your videos. It may not make you rich but you might find it gives you a little extra cash down the road for something fun.
So let's take a look at an example video outline and how you would use it to promote yourself:
A good formula is to start with a short personal introduction about yourself and the type of art you create. Below is a sample script you might use as a template.
"Hi! My name is Mary Schultz, a fine art photographer based in Northern California. A decade ago I retired from teaching and took up photography as both a hobbyist and artist. My favorite subject matter is landscape photography. Now that I am retired I have the opportunity to travel all over the Northwest to capture beautiful imagery in nature and share them."
You can make this simple introduction as elaborate or bare bones as you like. It might also be nice to show some framed prints of your work in the background or even flash some of your artwork as stills across the screen. Don't worry if you get flustered and feel if you have to re-shoot the introduction. And if you feel it gets a little too wordy you can always edit out some of it later with the software I mentioned above.
Introducing the Art
Now we get into the main content of the video. Let's assume you had decided to opt for the formula in which each time you offer a new signed and numbered edition you want to promote that series as a new video. Start off by showing the print to the camera. Keep it on an easel as you describe the content of the image. If you have the help of someone operating the camera for you ask them to zoom in on the print you are holding up as an example so that the fine details of the print are visible. If not you can always shoot that part yourself either before or after and insert it into that part of the video during the editing process. Don't be afraid to pickup the print. When doing so, wear white gloves. Not because you need to but because it creates the impression that you are handling something of value and something you believe needs to be cherished. It's important that you also pick the print up off the easel and rotate it around a bit. Maybe even showing the back. This is helps in online sales anyway since the brain perceives photos and art as 2 dimensional when viewing online so when you can show it at various camera angles it gives it more dimension and tangibility, thus making it more of a valued commodity. It allows the viewer better picture themselves touching and owning the print you are showing.
Include details on how the print is packaged, show an example of the certificate of authenticity and other details that might be important in the sale of the print. Discuss the texture of the paper, the type of inks used and how the print was produced. All these details can only enhance the quality and content of the video. Don't worry if you don't sound scripted. Sometimes a scripted video seems less authentic anyway if you don't have much experience in front of a camera.
Should you include the cost of the print? That is a tough question to answer. Maybe if the price is relatively low but you might want to keep the price listed in a separate place such as your website. This gives the viewer a reason to explore your site and maybe even look at other works you offer. Should you go into detail as to who produced the print? Maybe only if it provides more credibility to the product. Some people may be adverse to the idea of you producing the prints yourself at home and assume that the print is cheap if done that way so I would probably leave out mention of that aspect unless you are using a reputable color lab that produces your print. Photographers, DON'T say you had the print done by Walmart or the Walgreens down the street if you use them. While they may produce a decent looking photo print in some cases, the general public may have a hard time understanding why you are charging $50 for a 8x10 glossy that they know only costs $3 to make. Remember, you want to use the video to beef up the value of the print, not diminish it.
End your video with information such as how to order the print, flash phone numbers and your website across the screen. For instance you might end it like this:
"Thank you for taking the time to view my latest piece called 'Autumn Gold'. This and other prints of my work can be ordered online at 'mywebsite.com" as well as on at 'XYZ.com'. For questions visit my website 'mywebsite.com'. You can also e-mail me at ''firstname.lastname@example.org' or call me at 555-555-5555."
Include other pertinent contact information and make sure you supply more than just one means of contacting you. This is probably a topic for another post but limiting the means people can contact you may mean limiting the amount of sales you do since not eveyone likes to use email and not everyone likes to talk on the phone.
Most important is flash these on the video so people can see them. Keep them up while you are talking. Some people are more visual when it comes to remembering things so it helps for them to see these means of contacting you.
If you are like me, you may find producing videos can be a lot of fun. They are easy to share on sites like Facebook and embed on your website so don't be surprised if it does not take long for them to rack up some views. Keep in mind that a video allows you to give a personal testimony describing who you are as an artist as well as the artwork you are promoting. If you are not comfortable in front of a camera and feel that you are going to stutter, loose your train of thinking, don't worry about it. You can always edit out those things you don't want to include or which you think will paint you and your work in a better light.