I like bold statements, so let’s start off with this one. StumbleUpon is the most enjoyable way to market your art online. Period.
It can also be pretty darn effective. Keep reading to learn the what and the how. . .
What is StumbleUpon?
StumbleUpon (also known as SU) is a free Internet Explorer and Firefox plugin that shows you “random” pages, photos, or videos from the internet whenever you push a “stumble” button in your browser.
Depending on your interests, StumbleUpon could show you websites about world politics, scuba diving, quantum physics, gardening, etc, etc. . . Your options are, quite literally, as infinite as the internet.
Joining is simple and free—when you sign up, you tell SU what you’d like to see and set up a profile page with some extra information about yourself (if you want to). You can also set a filter to keep adult content from showing.
For artists, you might choose to see websites related to painting, photography, fine art, and design. . . the more similar your StumbleUpon interests are to your OWN artwork, the better SU will work as a marketing tool—but I’ll get to that later.
How does StumbleUpon work?
Once you’ve joined, just press the “stumble” button to see a new, random page. If you like the page you land on and you think others will too, you can vote it up. If you don’t, vote it down, or just ignore it and stumble upon something else. The more you vote, the better StumbleUpon gets at serving up pages that you’ll like.
(A quick word of caution—StumbleUpon IS fun, and as a result, very addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
StumbleUpon is also a social network of sorts (with nearly 6 million users as I write this) and like most social networks, other StumbleUpon users can befriend you or become a fan, and vice versa.
They might find you through your profile page (which contains a list of all the websites you’ve liked) or they might stumble upon something really great and see who it was that found it first.
But that’s not all that befriending someone does, and here’s what makes StumbleUpon so different: when someone becomes your fan, they’ll start seeing the same pages that you’ve voted for. So if you like someone’s art blog, at some point SU will show that blog to your fans because they’ve already said that they like what you like.
So how can I use StumbleUpon to market my art?
First off, you should know that StumbleUpon works like an avalanche. In an avalanche, all it takes is one little tiny grain of snow to set off a chain reaction that spreads across the whole mountainside. SU is the same way—all it takes is the right person voting for your art, and you could have hundreds of visitors at your site an hour later.
Who is that right person? Well, it could be you!
(By the way, I’ve seen this phenomenon firsthand with some articles on EmptyEasel. The spikes in traffic below are from a surge of Stumblers coming to EmptyEasel two different times over the past month.)
But back to the point—say that you’ve been stumbling for about 6 months. You’ve voted for over 300 great art-related sites, and you’ve got twenty-five fans. You then decide to vote for your most recently finished painting. Hey, YOU like it, maybe someone else will too.
Once you vote for your painting, there’s a good chance that your fans on StumbleUpon will see it too. If a few of THEM vote for it, all their fans (who may know nothing about you) also have a good chance of seeing your painting. Maybe a few decide they like it—suddenly you’ve got more people visiting your website than you’ve seen all month.
The key here is NOT to spam StumbleUpon by just voting for your own art. That’s a good way to never make any friends, or even get banned from SU. Instead, just be a decent member of the community and vote for artwork or artists that you find online. Once you’ve proven yourself as a person of good taste and you’ve got a following, THEN vote for one of your paintings which you think your friends will like.
That’s really all there is to it!
Now an invitation. . .
For the past few weeks I’ve been playing around with StumbleUpon, just testing the ins and outs of the system and doing research for this article. Originally I wasn’t sure if I’d stick with it or not (I’ve been horrible at keeping up with my Facebook profile) so I waited until I was sure about StumbleUpon to set up a “real” account.
Amazingly enough, it’s been so much fun I haven’t been able to quit. Today I set up an EmptyEasel Stumbleupon account, and I’d love to connect with as many of you as want to. Check out EmptyEasel.stumbleupon.com to befriend me; I’m more than happy to return the favor.
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