9 Tips for Artists to Reduce the Time Spent On Social Media

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 

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Janis Querido

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

  2. 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

    1. 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!

  3. Alyson Stanfield

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

    1. 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.

  4. 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 +.

    1. 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!

    2. 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!

  5. 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

  6. Becky Joy

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

  7. 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

    1. 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! 😉

  8. dorothy

    perfect advice!
    see ya later – going to paint!

  9. Rita Koolstra Beeldend Kunsten

    Very nice!

  10. 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…


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