The Way Back Letter Machine

Two Things I’m doing to promote my art with less social media.

If you try to figure out how to run an art business today, the big message is to get your ass on Instagram and get rich quick. In fact, as soon as you start posting about art on Facebook or Instagram, you start getting ads from people who have figured out how artists can make 6 figures their first quarter of their first year in business. Seriously?

My Online Art Gallery

The problem is, these people who are selling this line of caca doodoo are not making money doing art. They’re selling their “secret to success” to artists who are desperate to quit their day jobs and become full time artists. This is an age-old get rich quick scheme that used to take place through direct mail that came to your actual physical mail box, or laid wait in the backs of magazines. One such ad said Draw Me, and showed a sketch of a chipmunk named Winky, or a girl with a 1960s hairstyle, saying you could win a scholarship to art school if you could draw that picture. I did it when I was 12. Luckily they wrote back that I was too young.

Nowadays, the free courses that proliferate on Social Media are funnels to get you to take another course for $1,000 or $5,000. I took some of those courses in 2020 and 2021 when I got laid off my real job in the nonprofit sector during Covid. There is some good info in some of them, to be fair. The thing is, they’re all selling the same stuff, and it’s not art. They’re selling marketing courses. They’re all saying some version of “you can make a fortune with very little effort in hardly any time by giving money to us”. Yeah. Maybe there was this one guy this one time before Instagram cranked their algorithm down so tight that no one can get any organic traction anymore that made the big time. But it’s not happening now. Before I got kicked off of Instagram for posting cat videos on Facebook (yeah, that happened), I had been stuck at roughly 1,737 followers for months. I could not get the needle to move even though I’m incredibly awesome and posted amazing stuff. Yes, I know that’s not many followers, relatively speaking, but they were all organic, and were gained with about a year of daily posting, often multiple times a day. So many posts! But you used to be able to get tens of thousands of followers that way. Now you can only get those numbers if you buy them, and Instagram will limit your reach if you buy them. So, real, genuine artists trying to make a living are screwed.

The good news for us is that an artist doesn’t need a million followers. An artist needs a few collectors, especially if they are collectors who will share you with their friends.

So what what’s an artist supposed to do?

Intermission: Click Greg the Raven! He’s available on my website as of the time I’m writing this.

Greg the Raven, original oil painting, is available on my website at

Well, first of all, we don’t have to stop doing Social Media entirely. We just have to stop trusting those fellers completely with our businesses. Put SM in the back seat, and use it as a back up for your Apartish work. We can use it to enhance the other things we are doing. Which means we gotta figure out other things to do.

I’m terribly sorry to break this to you, but we need to start spreading our wings into the IRL world of person-to-person contact. Yikes, right? PEOPLING IS HARD! I’m not saying it isn’t. I’m so good at being at home with just my husband and my three cats it’s freakish. Well, no, it’s awesome because I’m happy. But it’s not going to sell my art. I’m a borderline Introvert/Extrovert, but the capital “I” is taking over more and more. Introverts are finally getting their moment on Social Media, I know, I know, but really this boils down to whether we want to do art for a living or not. Not all person-to-person stuff means you have to meet a stranger who isn’t receptive to what you have to offer. I’ll bet we can still do some of it from a little distance.

As I told you in my last posts, my husband has been going through some medical crap, and it’s turned out to be way more involved than expected. For the next couple of months I’m going to be sticking close to home with him, so I’m not going to go gallery hopping or schmoozing with the big kids in the Pittsburgh Art Scene. Mostly I need to figure out who the damn big kids are, and where they are, and what they have coming up. That’s something I can do from home.

Thing One: So, amongst my things to do is web searching to learn more about the Pittsburgh art scene. This will set me up to visit some galleries in the New Year.

Thing Two: My next experiment is launched. I ordered snail mail stamps from the post office that say “Thank You”, and I ordered printable greeting cards. I’m going to paint something for the New Year, print it on New Year’s greeting cards and send those suckers out to every one of my customers and anyone that comes to mind that might become a customer, or might know someone that might become a customer. This year I anticipate sending about 100 cards. Recipients will get a free print on a greeting card, a personal, handwritten message from me, and a discount coupon good throughout 2022. Can you stand it? How about if I provide 2 discount coupons so they can share with a friend?

I’ll let you know how it goes. The very worst thing that can happen is they’ll get something personal from me, which will genuinely come from my heart.

Onward and Upward,

Aunt Kellie

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