I have a Tweet that has sparked a lot of dis­cus­sion on Twitter :

“Show me an artist that’s on social media and I’ll show you an artist who’s not in the studio.”

Twitter LogoIf you’re like most artists I know who have done well at engag­ing in social media, you’re ask­ing your­self the ques­tion, “How do I limit the time I spend there, and get back into the stu­dio where I belong?” Many folks feel sucked in or bewil­dered at the scope and time it takes to research, develop and main­tain a social media engage­ment strat­egy. Time is our most valu­able com­mod­ity. It’s limited.

After a few months of work­ing, learn­ing and try­ing out some things on Word­Press, Face­book, Twit­ter and Google Plus, here are my prac­ti­cal tips for being in the stu­dio AND engaged in social media at the same time. Poof. Magic.

purpose quote - Eleanor Roosevelt1) PURPOSE :: Know why you’re on social media.

Like any busi­ness or art exhi­bi­tion, there is intent and a plan. Know WHY it is that you’re blog­ging, tweet­ing, face-booking or on LinkedIn. I have sep­a­rate rea­sons for all, but am clear on the pur­pose of each one as it relates to me as a per­son, and how I use it for my arts prac­tice. And NONE of them are for com­mer­cial sales. I love social media because it con­nects me to my col­leagues, my friends and my fam­ily and to meet new folks who can offer a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life. It allows me to learn, to grow and to offer my own knowledge.

Facebook Logo2) SET A TIME ::  Get a cal­en­dar and USE it!

Pur­pose­fully sched­ule your social media time and stick to it. I use sev­eral elec­tronic “assis­tants” to help me do this. I use iCal to set up times to work on blog­posts, Twit­ter, etc. Things is a great project & task man­age­ment tool for the Mac, and I use it to set tasks that I need to accom­plish within the var­i­ous social media plat­forms. Ever­note is a huge helper and I use it to orga­nize arti­cles I want to read later and my own blog­posts among many other things such as elec­tronic finan­cial receipt fil­ing. I also use some add-ons that allow me to sketch ideas on my iPad and save them into Ever­note for later use.

egg timer3) LIMIT YOURSELF :: Set a Timer!

Once you have deter­mined when you’re going to engage in social media each day, week or month, actu­ally SET A LENGTH OF TIME and stick with it. I use the Clock func­tion on my iPhone and set the timer. When it goes off, I’m done! I wrap up the arti­cle or the time I’m on Twit­ter and get back into the stu­dio. I do the same for almost every task in my office. Set­ting a timer allows you to for­get about it, and know ahead that you’ve allot­ted the time and space for cre­ativ­ity, office work and social media.

Mad Men Secretarial Pool4) HIRE A CHEAP SECRETARY :: Use Social Media Programs

There are many effi­ciency pro­grams on the mar­ket that get you orga­nized to deal with your work on social media. I use sev­eral — Hoot­suite and Twee­t­Ad­der are the biggest ones. I like Hoot­suite because I can quickly see in one glance, the var­i­ous hash­tag streams I’m fol­low­ing — who to respond to, what inter­ests me and yes…you can post to sev­eral social media plat­forms from inside the client itself, although I don’t always rec­om­mend this. Twee­t­Ad­der allows me to set up my Tweets ahead of time and to share what I know or have cre­ated with my Tweeps.

know thyself5) KNOW THYSELF :: Get some reli­gion! Keep Your Best Cre­ativ­ity Time Sacred

I know that my most cre­ative time is in the morn­ing, and so I usu­ally block 9 — 1 every day for stu­dio work. By the time the late after­noon rolls around, I’m fried, kids are home and there are lots of fam­ily things to attend to.…like din­ner! When I need a break dur­ing the day, I’ll check in on Twit­ter and Face­book. Usu­ally mid-morning, at lunch and then later in the evening when fam­ily chores are done.

Wordpress logo6) GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION :: Blog­ging IS cre­ative work

I’ve set a cre­ative goal for myself in the past year to write. I spend a lot of time at the easel think­ing (and talk­ing) to myself, and so get­ting those thoughts into writ­ing has been a crit­i­cal and cre­ative goal. I set two major times a week to write. Not every­thing makes it into the blog, and per­haps some of it…shouldn’t make it into the blog, but just the act of con­sid­er­ing it as cre­ative time, I’ve given myself per­mis­sion to do it. Erika Napo­le­tano (@RedHeadWriting) wrote a great blog arti­cle on this. Read it.

Da Vinci - Battle7) ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE :: Be a player!

There’s really no point in engag­ing in social media unless you’re going to be social. I’m a self-diagnosed intro­vert, believe it or not. I really don’t like par­ties, crowds of folks and feel much more comfy in small groups. Rela­tion­ships are impor­tant. Build them. Sched­ule your time to respond to Tweets and DO IT. Just don’t “set it and for­get it”. It’s not about sell­ing as some would have you believe. It’s how we inter­act with each other. Artists spend a lot of time alone…in soli­tary con­fine­ment, so to speak. Engage with oth­ers. Be open. Learn. You’ll be amazed at what is inter­est­ing and what folks are doing.

Just Say No 8) SAY NO! :: Set bound­aries (and goals) — for your­self and others.

Once you’ve set your time to engage in social media and your time to be in the stu­dio, respect that! Respect your­self and your cre­ative process by hon­our­ing the time that you need to be in that space. Set­ting those kind of bound­aries and say­ing “no”, not only to your­self, but kindly to oth­ers teaches you (and them) that this is impor­tant and why you are doing what you are doing. Tell your kids, col­leagues and your fam­ily that this is time that you need to cre­ate or to be on social media. Explain to them why. Trust me — they’ll get it.

Gandhi Live and Learn9) LIVE & LEARN :: Stop talk­ing and start listening!

I’ve seen amaz­ing arti­cles, blogs, ideas, pho­tos, jokes, thoughts.…all by “click­ing through” on links in Face­book and Twit­ter. I’m not in this just to spout out what I think I might know. I’m here to learn and lis­ten. Don’t just let it all pass you by. It might spark a thought, a new friend. Heaven knows we could all use a lit­tle more “friend” in our lives. I’ve met some very cool folks through Twit­ter and social media that I would have never met oth­er­wise. Some I’ve even had cof­fee with and hosted at my stu­dio. Y’all know who you are and I’m grate­ful for that in my life. WOW. Now THAT is the power of social media. Expand­ing your fam­ily, meet­ing new folks, car­ing about what hap­pens in the world by being con­nected to others.

Isn’t that what art is all about?


Seth Godin: The first thing you do when you sit down to the computer

Alyson Stan­field: 5 Minute Social Media Tasks for the Week 

  • Janis Querido

    The writ­ing is as delight­ful as the artist — be sure to make time for both!

  • Becky Joy

    Very good points made here. I have backed off from social media a lit­tle lately, try­ing to find where it fits in. I felt over­whelmed by the work involved and felt that my art was suf­fer­ing. That has to come first and fore­most in my life. The rest is sec­ondary. Thanks

    • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Jan­ice Tanton

      I would say you’ve hit the nail right on the head where pri­or­i­tiz­ing is con­cerned. It is really easy to get pulled into a space where you are con­cen­trat­ing had on the social media and neglect­ing the stu­dio. And why not.….it’s a fun place.

      Find­ing the bal­ance that works is the golden jack­pot. Thanks for your com­ment, Becky!

  • Alyson Stan­field

    I’m curi­ous to know the dif­fer­ence between Hoot­suite and Twee­t­Ad­der. Which do you use for which purposes?

    • http://www.janicetantonblog.com/ Jan­ice Tanton

      Hi Alyson —

      I use to keep an eye on all the streams that inter­est me — “Home Feed”, Men­tions, #5DailyGratitudes, Sent, DM’s etc. Also, it’s very use­ful for post­ing to Twit­ter, FB, and Linked In all at once. I find that inter­face is eas­i­est for me. It also has a very hand sched­ul­ing tool that allows me to sched­ule tweets for blog­posts. I also use it to reply and retweet. When I take a break from the easel, I just check in on this pro­gram and see what’s hap­pened while I’ve been busy creating.

      I use to auto­mate selected tweets. There are a ton of things in this pro­gram that it can do, like “auto fol­low” etc., but I don’t use those. I find it most handy for adding tweets that I would like to have recur. As folks are on Twit­ter at dif­fer­ent times, and I want to retweet blog posts so that I have the best chance of expo­sure for that infor­ma­tion, this works well and catches peo­ple who are on at dif­fer­ent times and in var­i­ous time­zones. It saves me a lot of time. I can then refer back to Hoot­suite (on the go or when I’m in my office) and respond in as real a time as pos­si­ble to men­tions, tweets and requests. Saves me a lot of time.

      Both together, help me to save time and be able to orga­nize well.

      I’ve never explored Tweet­Deck, but I find that Hoot­suite and Twee­t­Ad­der work hand in hand for me so far. I love the engage­ment, incred­i­ble infor­ma­tion and shar­ing that goes on in social media and Twit­ter for me, is one of the most open, trans­par­ent forums for this. Fil­ter­ing out the “noise” is key and Hoot­suite helps with that because you can cre­ate the streams you want to watch.

  • Jo-Anne Gazo-McKim

    Thanks Jan for the great tips. I’ m just start­ing to expand my social net­work­ing and try to engage in it when I need breaks from doing my art. I too am begin­ning to enjoy the inter­ac­tion that I am hav­ing with other artists. I par­tic­u­larly enjoy Google +.

    • http://www.janicetantonblog.com/ Jan­ice Tanton

      I’m glad there was some­thing use­ful for you, Jo-Anne. Tak­ing the time for your artis­tic prac­tice is the num­ber one thing. Every­thing after that is “extra”. I do find that when I’m tak­ing a break, set­ting the timer is a great reminder. I like Google+ too. Very nice inter­face. See you around soon!

    • http://www.janicetantonblog.com/ Jan­ice Tanton

      I’m glad there was some­thing use­ful for you, Jo-Anne. Tak­ing the time for your artis­tic prac­tice is the num­ber one thing. Every­thing after that is “extra”. I do find that when I’m tak­ing a break, set­ting the timer is a great reminder. I like Google+ too. Very nice inter­face. See you around soon!

  • http://twitter.com/AllisonReeceART Alli­son Reece

    Great Arti­cle Jan­ice!
    I too, like Becky Joy, have reduced my time on social media. It’s a needed ser­vice for us artists to get our art out there, but can be too time con­sum­ing. I found ways to spend less time on social media and more time paint­ing and mar­ket­ing via sched­ul­ing tweets, posts, and just sim­ply chang­ing my sched­ule. It’s easy to get sucked into social media or over­whelmed, if one’s not care­ful. I think as an artist, you really have to see what is pay­ing off with your art. Yes, I blog, but I have to make the art to blog about first. It def­i­nitely helps find­ing the right social media apps to make best use of one’s time. And the next best sug­ges­tion, say­ing, “No” and set­ting bound­aries to sit­u­a­tions or peo­ple that can drain your time and energy.
    Good post!
    Alli­son Reece/Artist
    Alli­son Reece Fine Art Orig­i­nals

  • Becky Joy

    Good arti­cle Jan. This reminds me to set that timer. I don’t use it often enough.

  • http://twitter.com/gerrisayler Gerri Sayler Artist

    As some­one who just pulled her head out of her artis­tic cave only to dis­cover the rag­ing social media feast, your post calmed me down. I’m feel­ing over­whelmed by the pos­si­bil­i­ties that I see, but also worry about how much time the ramp­ing up of new skills will take away from stu­dio time. Really really good advice and could not have come at a bet­ter time for me. Thanks

    • http://www.janicetantonblog.com/ Jan­ice Tanton

      Truly Gerri, hav­ing done the due dili­gence and learned what I needed and what would help me over­all to MAKE bet­ter art, there are things that you can use in social media, but the key is to get the time down. That won’t help much on the learn­ing curve but do NOT panic about it. Stu­dio time is the most impor­tant. I’m spend­ing much more time there now, and less on the blog and SM, but I know that there is a bal­ance some­where in there.…still work­ing on find­ing it! 😉

  • dorothy

    per­fect advice!
    see ya later — going to paint!

  • Rita Kool­stra Beeldend Kunsten

    Very nice!

  • Cathy

    I am used to spare my most time on social media sites and shar­ing my con­tents, mak­ing friends. But i get less attrac­tion. Now i got what i was missing.

    Thanks for the lovely topic and information…