Saturday, November 3, 2012

How To Play The Facebook 'Like' Game!

Let’s face it, for many artists PROMOTION is the least liked part of running an online art or photography business. It takes so much work and is nowhere near as fun as the creating process. But without it, your work has a slim chance of being seen no matter how talented you may be

For anyone who has been in the business for a while, you know that there’s a zillion ways to promote your art. Social networking is a vital part of the internet world. You can twitter, blog, squido, google+, share with your friends and family, just to name a few.

And then there’s the ever increasing frustration of using Facebook Fan Pages! With all the changes happening recently, pages seem to be going dead. What can you do about it? To get things livened up, sometimes you have to play the ‘LIKE’ game. 

This seems like a pointless game to play because you want REAL fans—customers who actually want to purchase your wares. When you start trading ‘likes’, you know that the fans you acquire aren’t really interesting in becoming your customer, they have their own business to run. So why play? 

Here’s the main reason: The more people who visit your page, real fans or not, the better chance you have of your work being seen. At some POD sites, the more your art is viewed, the higher up on the page list it goes, making it easier for your authentic customers to discover. 


So how do you play? What are the rules? 

How can you get the most benefit from it? 


Most everyone knows the first part: I’ll like you if you like me! The big question is though: Do I like people with my personal profile, or my business page? The answer: BOTH! Why? 

First, if you like a page with your personal profile it increases their fan count


If you aren’t willing to do this for them, they aren’t likely to return the favor. In fact, they might not even know you exist because 'likes' with a business page registers behind the scenes. If they don’t have notifications set up, or don’t know how to, you’ve just played the game for no reason. 


So if ‘likes’ don’t count with your business page, why do that too? Because when you like another person's page with your business page, it adds a link back to their page in your ‘likes’ box, increasing their exposure. 

For example: I liked 'The Camera Mom' with my page.


Then, when they return the favor, you get a link back to your own page, thus creating some free advertising for you! See, she 'liked' me back!

 


Now that you’ve done all your liking, how can you get the most benefit from it? This is where ETIQUETTE comes in! 

Rule #1: DON’T post on another business page saying: ‘I just became a new fan, please like my page. Here’s a link!’ Doing this is unprofessional. This person, like you, is running a business. Posts such as this are likely to get deleted and you may even LOSE a fan! 


If you want to leave a comment, say something sincere and meaningful about their work. How will this benefit you? If you leave the comment with your business page, it automatically adds a link back to you. This is known as ‘Silent Tagging’ and a benefit to both pages. Here is an excellent example of how this can be done:


The St. George Salon of Art, LLC was sincere in what she said. It also made The Camera Mom's day!


Another polite way to let a page know you are there is to take time to look at, ‘like’, and comment on some of their work. Don’t blast them with ‘likes’ (unless of course you are truly amazed at their talent and just can’t help yourself!) If this is done with your business page, these are automatic links back to you. Note: You won’t get notified if they reply to your comment when you use your business page, so you'll need to remember to go back and check. 


If you comment with your personal profile, it's a good idea to have a link to your fan page in the about you section. That way they know which fan goes with which business page. This is what my personal profile looks like:


I added the link to my page in the Work and Education section:

 

If you just can’t help yourself and you have to say it: ‘I liked you, so you just gotta’ like me back!’ Do it by sending a personal message through their messaging center.




Then comes the interesting part, maintaining the relationship! This can be really hard to do if you’re following several pages at once. Here are three helpful tips: 

1) Spend time looking through your news feed. The default setting is ‘Top Stories’ so you might need to change it to ‘Most recent’. 


Find status updates, photos, and links that interest you, then either like or comment on them. Don’t just start ‘liking’ everything down the list. Facebook now shows everything you like in other people’s feeds and can make you look like a ‘spammer’ even if you’re not. SO ANNOYING! (Hopefully FB will give the option to change what shows soon, because I really enjoy looking and commenting on others work!!


Another Etiquette tip: If you ‘like’ a link to an item or blog post, make sure you actually take the time to click on it


When the page owner goes to check their counts and sees no one has actually taken the time to view what they wanted to share, they’ll know you’re just a random ‘clicker’ and won’t bother taking the time to look at the things you have to share.


2) Make a list of pages you like to follow and remember to take the time to check in and see what they’ve been up to. When you really pay attention to what others are doing it can inspire you and help keep you up-to-date with what’s hot and what’s not! (A benefit for both of you!)

3) When a fan takes the time to like or comment on your work. Use the silent link back to their page to see what they’ve been up to.


When I saw this comment from Loraine Wheeler Photography, it reminded me to go pay her a visit. I just clicked the link and off I went!

 
When you take the time to do this, you gain REAL fans and a business relationship that benefits both of you. 



All that being said, you wanna play the ‘like’ game? I’ll like your page if you’ll like mine! 

And here's a link to the pages I highlighted in my examples. I'm sure you'll enjoy following them as much as I do!











Saturday, October 13, 2012

When In Doubt, Don't Just Throw It Out



Okay, I admit it. Not every photo I take is a masterpiece.  In fact, some are downright atrocious! Have you ever taken a photo you knew would be perfect only to find out that your hand shook when you pressed the shutter button, or your composition was a little off? Or maybe you didn’t even notice that big stinky garbage can in the background.

I don't want to call myself a pack rat, but some photos, even though they're terrible, I just can't seem to throw away. So what do you do with photos like that? Let them gather virtual dust in your digital archives? You can, but why not try to save them somehow!

Here's an example of what I mean. I took this photo over a year ago:


What's wrong with it, you ask? 1.) It doesn't look so terribly bad at this size, but when you enlarge it, you see just how blurry it is.


Not good! 2.) The original is covered with dirt, spots, and distracting elements. All those little black spots on the flower are actually bugs. If they were clear, that would be AWESOME because I love bug photos . . . but they're not, they are blurry little smudges. 3.) Now this is what really irritates me! The tips of the flower petals are cut off in the reflection. How I wish I had taken a couple shots of this scene.

But since I didn't, it's photo editing to the rescue! The first thing I did to try and save this photo was remove all those spots:


A lot of work? Yes, but it sure does look better! Next, I removed the distracting elements like the cut off lily pads in the background and that light streak across the flower reflection:

  
So, what was that third thing that bugged me? Oh yes, the composition. I really want to see the entire reflection. So I started reconstructing:

 
 I shrunk the photo just a little, and started cloning in the details.

Such a small thing, but now I feel much better about it. Now what?

Now it's time to treat this photo like any other (good or bad). Give it a brighten/contrast adjustment, check it for digital noise, and sharpen it a little:

  
Now I'm just loving it! But wait . . . don't you think I should check it out at full resolution first?



Man! Even after all that hard work, it still is a poor photograph. Does that mean all the time and effort I put into it is completely wasted? Not necessarily. When in doubt, don't just throw it out. Turn it into digital art. There are a variety of programs out there to help you with this. Among them are Corel Painter Essentials, Foto Sketcher (which is free!) and my personal favorite, Topaz Simplify, a plugin from Topaz Labs that works with both Photoshop and Paintshop Pro etc.

This part takes a little experimentation. Let your inner artist out and play around with settings, run the photo through a program or two, do a little dodging and burning to get the effect you want. That's what I did to try and salvage this photo:

 
Hmm . . . still seems to look like a photo. Well good! That's what I want. What I'm really concerned with is: Does it look decent at full scale? Let's take a look: 

Click Here to See Full Resolution
This image doesn't do it justice, but you can see it's better. For a more realistic view, you can check out different portions at full resolution here. Just click on the spot you want to see and a window will pop up with a closeup view.

Now let's see if all that work was worth the effort?

 
And there you go! Another photo saved from the recycle bin.

video

 If you enjoyed this post, I'd love it if you stop by my Facebook page and give me a little "like" to stay up to date with what else I've been up to! Feel free stop by my shops and have fun browsing:






Friday, January 27, 2012

ANIMAL CRUELTY IS A FELONY

 Hi, my name is Blackberry. Strange name for a cat, you say? I get that a lot. My adoptive family gave it to me when my sister and I came to live with them. We were just six weeks old. That was 2 ½ years ago. The family had such a hard time coming up with a name that would really represent me. Nervous doesn’t begin to describe my apprehension as I waited for the verdict. You see, I wasn’t the first pure black cat to be adopted by this family. The last one they referred to as ‘Polka-Dot’. I won’t go into any details, but when that boy would turn his back on you with his tail standing tall, all they could focus on was that bright pink…Anyway! Where was I? Oh yes, my name. I have what they tell me are ‘glorious white claws’ that remind them of thorns. Since I am a black cat with thorns, what better name for me than: Blackberry!

 
Life was fun as a kitten. Like many cats from my generation I learned a lot of my life skills on the computer. The first mouse I ever caught was on the screen. It was my dream to become a world famous hunter.  I would pretend to be a vicious black panther and pounce on anyone or anything that moved. 

 
As I became a teenager, the dreams of my childhood began to disappear. I knew I had to figure out what to do with my life. I played with the idea of becoming a model, but the only photographer in my area didn’t have the skill to keep up with my antics and could rarely get a good shot.


My sister matured faster than I did and settled down to raise a family. I admit it, I was angry. I didn’t understand how she could give up her freedom and all the fun we had as kittens for a pack of brats! That was a really dark time for me. I left home. Moving from the upstairs to the downstairs was a huge adjustment....That’s how my drinking problem began. I admit, it was a hard habit to break. I struggle with it to this day. Thankfully I have a wonderful support group that helps me close the lid on my addiction.


When my sister’s kittens were born I was amazed to see that all but two of them took after me. It took a while, but I finally learned to accept them. When I saw the love my sister had for those helpless little creatures, it got me to thinking seriously about my life. It ended up being a major turning point. 


That’s when I decided to become a therapist. I discovered I had a unique talent for helping humans deal with their pain. I just instinctively seem to know where a human is having trouble and I climb up and lay on whatever part is hurting. I generate heat that simulates that of a heating pad. The humans around me are always amazed that I know just where to go and just how to lie to provide the most relief. It is more than a career for me. I’ve genuinely grown to love all those I care for.

I live in a great area for a cat. There are so many big trees to climb and plenty of mice to chase. But there are dangers as well. Last week I was out having some fun and I wandered a little too far into enemy territory. I was running around reliving the dreams of becoming a world famous hunter when out of nowhere a blinding pain sliced through one of my front legs. I was too stunned to know what had happened. I just knew I had to get home. When my family let me in, I put on a brave face and went to lay by the fireplace. I didn’t want to worry anyone, so I didn’t say a word. No one knew I was hurt.

I’m a social cat and I needed to be with my family. I made my way to where they were and sat up in front of them. I wanted so badly to jump in my adoptive mother’s lap, but I couldn’t. Someone came to pick me up. I couldn’t help it, I cried out in pain. I tried to be my affectionate, social self but I couldn’t move. Everyone came, gathered around, and tried to figure out what was wrong with me. They could feel that one of my front legs was swollen and there was a small spot that was sticky where I had been hurt. Very gently, they probed the area and discovered what appeared to be a small cut near my joint. I heard someone say, “It looks like he might have gotten caught on a nail.”

They called the vet and took me in to be examined the next morning. The car ride was uncomfortable, but everyone kept telling me how brave I was. The doctor could see right away that my leg was broken and was almost certain she felt a foreign object in my shoulder. She took an x-ray to see just what was going on.

When the results came back, we were all stunned and horrified. I had become the victim of a senseless crime. I had been shot. The bullet was still inside, and my leg had been shattered. They couldn’t fix it. I was going to lose my leg and perhaps my life…


The doctor gave me some medication for the pain. Then my family took me home so they could discuss my future and what would be best for me. Could I live a happy life with only three legs? Would I be completely defenseless against predators? For two long days they deliberated. I was determined not to let it get me down. There is no use to worry about something you have no control over.

The pain medication worked wonders. I pushed past my awkwardness and went back to work. I have a patient who suffers from severe arthritis, so I put my own problems to the side and found a way to get into her lap to comfort her.

My family loves me, and they are determined to take care of me despite my newfound disabilities. I am going in for my surgery today. The doctor says I should pull through just fine. I’ve lost one of my nine lives, and I mourn the loss deeply. But I am a fighter, and I am determined to value and cherish the eight I have left.


Animal cruelty is a serious crime. In Washington State it is a felony, and a violator can face up to 5 years in jail and a fine of $10,000. Visit the links below to see what the laws are in your area and how you can report animal cruelty.


If you know an animal who is recovering from a serious injury, why not send them a card to let them know
you care. Their adoptive family will appreciate it more than you know.


Visit Greeting Card Universe to find the purr-fect sentiment: www.greetingcarduniverse.com
And stay tuned for updates on Blackberry's recovery.