10,000 hours later…. now what?

I’ve been captivated by the 10,000 rule since hearing about it a few years ago. Simply put, if you put 10,000 hours into something you’ll become an expert on it.

Well, since I’ve been launched Art PR Wire (4,732) and Art Listings Professional (7,245) since 2009, I have posted over 10,000 posts. I’ve been aiming for this metric consciously and now must decide what to do next.

Read More

Some Art PR Wire & Art Listings Professional announcements: all things that post must pass

It’s close to four years since I launched artprwire.com and artlistpro.com.

Both were projects to research the growing online presence for contemporary arts. I am very proud that I was one of the first to explore social media as a platform for curating contemporary art stream , and I have learned a great deal that has influenced my career and my life – namely through the people and art I have connected with as a result.

At the heart of these two websites was my desire to re-invigorate my passion for contemporary art both locally and internationally. I wanted to expose myself as much as possible to current and past exhibits and see as much as work as possible from my limited geographical footprint. I ended up curating a “daily dose of contemporary art” on ALP to the tune of almost 7,000 posts so far. That number is the tip of the iceberg for how many posts, websites and submissions I considered over the years. At some points I can truly say, with pride, that I was totally sick of looking at art!

Also, with pride, I am very happy with the online audience I have built for both sites. They extend beyond the local and even national to a community without borders but unified by a love of looking at good work everyday. Like me. As an artist, I wanted to build a context to release my own work online and feel like I have managed to do that – as well I have become a fan of several artists and online curators I would never of known about otherwise.

But life changes all plans, as my success online has translated into career opportunities elsewhere. Below are some announcements for both sites.

ART PR WIRE

I started this free service as a basic art list that artists and galleries that lacked a marketing budget could utilize to make sure their invite info could be found online. It was and still is a problem for many to be able to effectively send out a press release that is fairly considered for it’s merit and not necessarily for the paid service it is using. In Canada especially, the arts scene is dominated by a commercial monopoly that has limited room and frankly a limited scope – a classic arts administrator mindset of marketing to each other instead of marketing to a wider audience. More about that below.

I actually used to phone up galleries and museums and invite them to submit PR to my website. I was met with a great deal of suspicion and derision, to say the least, and it was a little surprising. I stopped being so proactive and handed out cards at some art galleries and fairs, and as social media evolved beyond doubt then the arts started … later than almost every other industry… to accept that this was a valuable tool. Now I have international exhibits from a wide variety of professional venues and many of the PR submissions I post “go viral” – they get tens of thousands of views I get very good feedback from the galleries participating. This kind of international popularity is, in my view, a very valuable service and a unique channel for local Canadian artists and organizations.

Did I mention it was free? I may develop a paid component for some extra services but I am after the huge market of galleries that don’t engage paid services. The value is the audience data I collect, and the industry expertise I have in publishing such a service. I get gigs now with art magazines and galleries, and that’s what I wanted.

Announcement #1:

I have decided to abandon completely efforts to include local arts organizations. For example, I have lived in Hamilton, Ontario for almost three years and have, on numerous occasions, approached some local public arts organizations and galleries. As I do, I asked to be put on on their media list for PR and opportunities to cover events on my blog. To date, I have received absolutely nothing of the kind from these places. I also cannot access the usual media opportunities to cover these events for my blog and websites. I am invited to many large scale media events in Toronto, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles (for example) but not in Hamilton, Ontario.

I think it’s fair and fine to not utilize a service, but these organizations actually receive public money to operate and to not bother simply adding an email to your email list raises a lot of questions for me. I think what bothers me the most is the disservice this does for the artists involved.

Anyways, my new policy on this is that I will not cover local publicly-funded events unless I am invited as media – though I may still attend. I hope that sounds fair.

Announcement #2:

I am moving away from Tumblr as my primary platform for Art PR Wire and have switched to WordPress to host my content (check out artprweb.com). The reason is that Tumblr took down a post because of a DMCA complaint – one that was so blatantly frivolous and baseless I was shocked. They don’t have their communities interest at heart and I don’t trust them anymore with my content. It took a team of lawyers to get them to re-post the censored content, with an apology to me, and the associated image with that photo format post was forever  lost due their actions. Pretty disappointing and frightening that an intellectual copyright mark against me goes on a permanent record so easily and quickly . There is an opportunity to file a counter-notice against such a malicious complaint, but Tumblr demanded my personal address and full name so they could send it to this weird person harassing me. VERY disturbing and potentially dangerous for someone with a stalker or abusive ex, for example.

Announcement #3:

Though I strip the hyperlink in email addresses as a courtesy, my policy now is that what you email me is what I post on the website. I don’t have time to edit or format submissions. If you don’t want your phone number on a website, please do not include it in your submission.

Art Listings Professional

Announcement

I have enjoyed being an editor and publisher of a pioneering social media powered magazine about contemporary art. Somedays, I have posted as much as 20 works as a considered group in a curated stream. But now I feel ready to concentrate on my own studio work and consolidate my reviews, interviews and art postings onto my wordpress blog here at chrishealey.me. I am closing down ArtListPro as it currently functions and merging it with Art PR Wire. I believe this enhances the value for artists and galleries posted about on this network – but my giant online curated art stream project is coming to an end. It’s no longer as fun as it was and for the reasons mentioned above I am now deeply mistrustful of Tumblr’s ability to protect it’s community members and their legitimate content.

I will have other projects online, but ALP was special and I want to thank my fans and subscribers over the last few years for their encouragement and feedback. I hope you enjoy the format change to the best submissions of current art exhibits and events from around the world.

Christopher Healey (ArtListPro) gets interviewed by a blogger at an art exhibit: karma rebalances

Thanks Scott Simmons for that interview, it was nice to experience that and get to talk a bit about some of this stuff. Scott’s being doing video interviews for awhile as well, about 700 of them actually, and it’s neat to see some of the differences…

Art Listings Professional savaged by the Google Panda

In a sane world without the internet that sentence would make no sense, but sadly it does. If you don’t know what a “Google Panda” is, then here’s a Google search on the term.

I’ve known for awhile and read all about it, including remedies and strategies. This g-beast of a algorythm seems to target people who are  dubious content scrapers, copying content from other sites and relying on rss feeds from elsewhere to bolster ad banner click throughs. Illegal or legimate, they tend to have very little value to a user’s search results as they have no original content to present that can’t be found at the original sites. Makes sense.

My art project that is ALP probably looks like that to a robot, because I engage in essentially the same practices. To a robot, I exist solely on social networks and use other’s people’s content – 10 thousand people sharing a status update, or a re-blog, or the same tweet are not especially valuable information to a search query but very valuable to the original poster. Makes sense.

However, if you are reading this, you probably see sites such as ALP are valuable and distinct, and I used to enjoy a very high search engine ranking for my “main” website artlistpro.com. I don’t even have an advertising, though i think wordpress does for itself. It’s akin to banishing from society all curators for not making the art themselves in an exhibit.

Anyways, now, traffic has slowed to a dribble on the index page and my ranking on google has rather dramatically dropped.

Here’s where it gets interesting though (i’m feeling a bit smug) – I am going to “weather” through this unfortunate mauling because I am not going to change the ways i am posting information because there is nothing wrong with it. I am not going to request a manual re-verification either, as I am very curious as to monitoring the traffic and seeing how long it will take, if at all, to recover.

Am I bad publisher for this prideful stance? I don’t think so, because the way I built ALP is to build relationships between communities and artists utilizing many social platforms. This includes Art PR Wire. Three years later, I am a having a blast with folks on tumblr, twitter, wordpress, facebook and posterous! It’s almost, like … I don’t believe it… it’s almost like I don’t need google.

At least, I don’t need to sweat it because it’s a project, so my purposes and hopefully yours is to learn as much as possible. Amazingly the total amount of subscribers is growing because my posts, and the selection and order and publicity results for the artists, are valued and appreciated. Thank you, all of you.

So I hope it does get corrected, but there are aspects I could do better and as my injury heals, I feel closer to some long planned revamp of the entire service. That’s a hint.

I’m not “mad” at google – it’s kind of like a bad review from an art critic. In this day and age though the artist has the ability to steal the critic’s audience.

A reductionist process to an expressed truth posted

A contemporary blog project – I wrote an open and honest reflection of a negative experience with a personality that is not untypical for the arts industry in Canada. And not for the first time. However, I edited, censored and reduced it over a short amount of time so it reflects no real opinion with no details, but simply hints I share an opinion on a matter that my colleagues probably would too. Like them though, I now feel I am unable to critique and criticize openly because of my employment situation within the public arts system.

Canadian contemporary art is a small town, and  even though this blog was originally created to be an honest and open discussion about aspects of our art world I can no longer be honest or venture into “taboo” areas of discussion. The blog worked as a whole by being so frank and even a bit controversial – but now that I have gained from it, I have those gains to lose if I continue.

I have become self-policing in a thin-skinned and political environment. The ALP blog, therefore, cannot continue honestly and I will have to end it as it is.

An announcement of that in the next couple of days.

art to see this weekend: ALP Beta Test #2

We are attempting a new format for “Art to see this weekend” with a slideshow of photos with audio. Chris and Jen drinking tea and discussing photos from Chris’ recent visit to some of the galleries at 401 Richmond.

We continue with our “dumb critic” approach to discussing contemporary art – first impressions with little or no research on the art or artist beforehand.

directions http://g.co/maps/wt74u

Lost Secrets of the Royal @ A Space Gallery

soJin Chun, Louise Noguchi

Exhibition runs November 9 2011 – December 11 2011

http://www.aspacegallery.org/

2010-11 Scholarship/Fellowship Exhibitions @ Open Studio

October 27 – November 26, 2011

http://openstudio.on.ca/

Annie Dunning, Dil Hildebrand, Shannon Gerard @ YYZ Outlet

September 10, 2011 11:00 am – December 10, 2011 5:00 pm

http://www.yyzartistsoutlet.org/

Dana Holst @ Red Head Gallery

November 2 – 26, 2011

http://www.redheadgallery.org/

Ted Rettig, Sharon Cook @ Wynick/Tuck Gallery

October 29 – November 19, 2011

http://wynicktuckgallery.ca

10 tips for blogging art on tumblr

Hi tumblr – 1,000’s of posts later, and perhaps 10,000’s of views of art of all sort, I would like to point out a few practices I maintain on my tumblr blog. In other words: tips and tricks for blogging /re-blogging/finding contemporary art on social media.

10. No accreditation = no re-blog | Don’t do the artist / designer a disservice if there is no name or source attached. And trust me, nine times out of ten there is none to be found even if you perform a forensic link trace to find a name. I now move on – even if I really, really like the image.

9. Link up to a twitter account and auto-tweet your tumblr posts | The advantages of this should be obvious if you are interested enough in social media to be reading this post. Linking up with Twitter is an option is right there in the preferences section of each tumblr blog. *Tip – make sure you manually verify the content of each tweet from your tumblr posts, as sometimes this option will only show a shortened url with no description. However, the “Share on Tumblr” bookmarklet does a good job inserting the title into the tweet.

BTW – a tumblr / twitter combination for galleries and artists is a terrifically powerful, agile and simple communications tool. I highly recommend it, and you can embed both into a wordpress blog later on if you want to expand even more.

8. Cut and paste tumblr sources for reblogs into the bottom | I do this to make the information of the post more coherent when my content is shared on twitter, facebook and RSS. Having it at the top, while gallant and fair, confuses people (myself included) as to the title and artist name, etc, and can lead viewers away from your blog.

7. Ignore tumblr’s submissions email function and get a gmail account | If you are thinking of having a cool submissions based site like eat sleep draw, art PR wire or illustrativo, then beware the email that tumblr gives you for submissions. The /submit function straight of the tumblr blog works great but I found most emails to me never arrived in my submissions queue, and those that did most were truncated severely. Get a gmail account, and get submissions email there and then send that to the auto-post email that tumblr gives you in the goodies section for administrators to publish with.

6. Use the queue function to drip out content | Silly me – when I first started I published posts right away. The result was a massive block of immediate postings with long periods of inactivity in between. People are on and off tumblr at various parts of the day and if they are anything like me then most tumblrs will most likely view your post if it happens to appear in the stream in the dashboard. Right now, I have mine set to post one at a time every three hours between 8 am and 9pm – when most people are on the computer, period, and maintains a reasonable presence throughout each day.

5. Vimeo rocks, but Youtube is King | I appreciate Vimeo greatly when I have a video that is over ten minutes to post. Also, when I see a posting with a video on the Vimeo platform I tend to initially take it more seriously than Youtube.  However, what Vimeo has in quality it lacks in sheer traffic quantity and thus you should also be posting on Youtube. Also, facebook video is surprisingly robust and embeddable but does not have the sheer “find-ability” that uploading to videos on Youtube has, of course.

Did you know that the second most popular search engine in the world is Youtube?

4. Post about popular exhibits are less popular than posts about less popular exhibits | Confused? I’ll give you an example – I post about exhibits in Toronto all the time, and when I post about big exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario there is some interest and traffic with it. However, when I post about an exhibit at a small gallery with an emerging artist my traffic and reblogs spike. Why? Because the news about big shows with big ad budgets is everywhere, including with reviews by the somewhat lazy mass media art critics out there. But by posting unique, niche content such as smaller, more avant-garde artists and galleries is more valuable and rare comparatively and generates more interest – not to mention your tumblr blog URL being sent to everyone on that artist and gallery’s list.

3. Don’t follow everyone – follow the best sources | One mistaken approach to tumblr is to treat it as a social network – it is more of an exchange of postcards than a conversation. I followed lots of people at first, but got visually bogged down rather quickly with all the non-art postings. Now I am very strict about who I follow – generally people who go find, document and post interesting art from their areas or do some valuable research and writing about culture I will follow. You have to keep an eye on some people’s posts – often they blog a lot of art then slip into more personal posts. Keep your numbers manageable.

2. Permission-based blogging is actually flatter marketing | I have never had a problem with permission for posting people’s work. I always ask, or reblog with what I must assume has been permitted to be on the web. Artists work very hard on shows, and when somebody with a blog comes around and wants to post about it (like me) then almost always the artist is thrilled. Even though I am not a huge art media mogul (yet) it makes me feel good to validate such work and talent – sometimes some artists who are control freaks and do not understand the value of social media marketing will say no. That’s fine, because there are a thousand brilliant artists lined up behind them who desperately want their work and names to be shared.

For art listings professional, I post a lot of historical works and artists such as Picasso, Dali, O’Keefe, etc. When you post a review of a local artist’s exhibit in between names like those, then you add a bit of context for that artist and they usually are pretty happy to have such company.

I also work hard to not just post but “curate” the experience for the blog visitor. Posts, per block, are related to each other either formally or thematically and this seems to a be one of the keys to building a relationship with a larger and more serious online art community.

1. Post original content | If you reblog, then comment and add a some unique value to the post and reward those who come to your blog instead of where ever else that post is up at. More importantly, add original photos, videos and listings of art shows around your area and your tumblr blog will be picked up far more often in local searches. Those following you will greatly appreciate it and you will be re-blogged far more often as well. If you simply reblog, then your arts-based tumblr blog will never get noticed by very many people. Plus, you are more likely to be forming connections with people and being linked to is the foundation for high rankings on google searches.

Being ground zero for original content is the golden rule in the age of re blogging.

Let me know if you have more suggestions!