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Selling our soul for new clicks

May 28, 2011

Finally! one more voice out there in the cyber wilderness counselling integrity, and just plain common sense in the face of all the hype about how to get seen and get your product sold.
His About me page sets the tone for the kind of straightforward approach you can expect from him:

Hi, I’m Jeffrey, and this is Pen vs. Paper, a blog about writing, work, media, technology, life, art, culture and anything else truly interesting.

This site is a labor of love. By that, I mean it’s not really for anyone. I’m not doing this to make money or impress people. I’m doing this because it makes me happy. This is my public journal. My open notebook. I share things here because I think they’re worth sharing. That’s really my only guiding principle.

On his blog penvspaper,  Jeffrey questions bloggers positioning themselves as experts and hyping up content just to get hits.  He writes:

The prevailing notion of ‘How to Use Social Media’ seems to be “the louder the better.”

For example: Position yourself as an expert! Advertise your Exclusive Private Coaching Program of Awesome! Learn these sneaky tricks to ensnare more subscribers! Write more how-to guides and top-10 lists! Find a Niche and a Message and promote, promote, promote! Louder, louder, LOUDER!

Oy. It’s like we’re becoming human infomercials.

Okay, truthfully? The problem isn’t the techniques. The problem is, when everyone’s shouting, it’s all just noise.

There’s nothing wrong with some healthy self-promotion, if that’s your cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with writing how-tos or running an exclusive coaching program or designing your website to encourage more signups.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with positioning yourself as an expert, as long as you happen to be, you know, an expert.

But where’s the substance?

Go visit his blog to read the rest, he’s got worthwhile things to say.

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9 Responses to “Selling our soul for new clicks”


  1. thanks for this site. this is one reason i love your posts craft wisdom. for me, creating an art piece is very personal and sacred. as a self-promoting artist (i wish to augment our family’s income through my art), i often find myself struggling with the temptation to ‘whip out’ any kind of painting, as long as it is the marketable, saleable thing. well, i haven’t gone that road, yet, and never will be. from experience, i find it most rewarding when a buyer sends me a note sharing with me her personal experience with my art. that’s when i feel most happy. i also feel good when some dollars get into my Paypal, but i can truly say, money can’t buy true happiness.

    • szoutewelle Says:

      thanks, Alpha, I really appreciate this. I so understand the dilemma between working from that sacred space and being aware of what must sell.

      I think my answer has been to see my studio as that sacred space, literally, and to withdraw there into my own little world and make what nourishes me-what I need to make for myself at that moment. Later, if necessary, I consider whether the work might be sold as a possible product. (Though I must say, that my more crafty work – felt brooches etc, is conceived as something to sell, I accept that and it doesn’t compromise me I don’t think. I still do what I want and not what sells best).

      I used to produce art work for craft fairs, 100 years ago when I was still living in Pittsburgh. It was good work, it sold, and as long as I was still challenging myself creatively it was ok. But I do remember when I tried to ‘crank them out’ how soul killing it was for me. I received no energy back from the work at all, and it was simply not what I think of as art, which always has to do with transformation, and doing something that really matters to you. Every time.

      I just stumbled on this post about originality but also some of the issues in this thread. http://bangphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/lacking-originality/

      By the way, I love the little mixed media collages of yours. I’d love to trade you some time if you like, maybe we could arrange that.

  2. The Meltemi Says:

    I try to have integrity, in my art and in my dealings with my public, the way I dress, the way I speak, what I write and so on.

    Integrity for me means striving to do my very best. By ‘best’, I mean all those activities involved in: making, exhibiting, marketing my artworks and being that best person, me the artist.

    Integrity in my art-vision. My creative process means being true to what I believe in while making my artworks. I strive to keep my unique art-vision at the front of all I do. I do not do the easy thing called plagiarism, emulating a selling artist, pursuing in copying a subject or style that’s selling like hot cakes for another artist.

    I have integrity for my materials. I Use only the best materials available each time I make an artwork. The Paints I use must have both quality and durable archival properties. When a collector buys my work, I want them to know its designed & made to give them many years of enjoyment.

    Integrity in exhibiting. Every time my art is exhibited. I think carefully about what I will show, where and when I want my work to be shown and what company I want it to keep.

    My art credentials could be raised by participating in only high-quality shows, perhaps I could be compromised by participating in shows in less esteemed venues. Again its the integrity of exhibiting my art in places that I am happy with and at a price that I can afford.

    My local art show participation supports a worthy cause dear to my heart: a fundraiser show for the local church, a favourite local charity etc.

    Integrity as a person. My art cannot “speak for itself.” I want to have a relationship my buyer or art collector. I respect them as fellow human beings. It is down to me to try to explain as simply and as far as I can what my art is about using simple everyday words. Yet It must never be me trying to educate them.

    I maintain integrity, even when someone seems to be insulting me or my work. I do not have to, or need to, respond. I simply let it go. Some people mean well, but just do not communicate well. Then other people may be listening & watching me, just waiting for an inappropriate response. I show them that I’m gracious and that I can rise above it. They are damaged people who can not celebrate my work or my successes, they may not even be artists. Then sadly there are those people who are envious of what I have achieved.

    Integrity in dealing. I deal honourably with buyers & art collectors. Lowering prices hoping to make a sale [any sale] during hard times could devalue my artworks that they have already purchased from me. They need to feel my work is still worth what they paid for it at the very least. I have Introduced some new smaller, simpler lower priced artworks that might just do the trick.

    Commissioned artwork integrity. This needs respect in that it is just as tenuous and scary for them as it is for me. I’m always afraid they won’t like the finished work, especially if this is their first commission. I guide them through the process gently and keep them informed by sending images of the work as it develops. A trick I learnt from Renault Motors, recently when buying a relatively, rare car in the UK, from them. It was eight weeks from order to delivery and in that time it was starting to take shape. There was a weekly report on just how far it had got. Then a daily report from the day it was ready for its final inspection just ahead of leaving the factory to it being ready for collection from the local dealer.

    Lastly integrity the person and the artist. It’s hard to making an artwork of from my very heart and soul then put it out into the world for all to judge. Everyone has an ability or a gift. I respect what other people can do. I know that my art and I have a place in this world. It’s down to me to do the best I can through my art to make the world a better place, I’m an artist and I have the best job in the world.

  3. theaxx Says:

    I so hear you on this and Jeffrey too! It’s getting to be like annoying advertising on the television isn’t it? I don’t mind if what people are doing is because they are deeply passionate about it, and their promotion is to get the word out about their passion… but it seems so many people are just ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ as it were, and ruining it for the authentic people trying to share something beautiful…

    Anyhow, we at least know how to ignore these people from years of watching television as training *wink and I just read the blogs and sites that inspire me and come from a genuine place.

    thea.
    xx

    Spoonful. x

  4. szoutewelle Says:

    thanks Thea, I agree totally.
    Actually, I don’t know if it is just me but I am sensing just the tiniest whiff of a turnaround in the frantic marketing trend. (Some)people are realizing that life is about more than products and selling.
    There are,as you said, those who genuinely share their passions in a spirit of giving and service. Bless them.


  5. […] good friend of mine wrote this very interesting blog post about the madness of self promotion, and she bases it on another very interesting blog post, about […]


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