Simcoe Arts Community

April 20, 2011 in The Coffee Shop Lounge by Robert

Our No-Cost Offer to Artists Will Always Be There

As a member of the Simcoe Artists Community Hub, you will always have the offer of building a no-cost website with no hosting or domain fees. That means a website that will allow countless pages to be added, dozens of images to upload and videos for artists to embed into their site.

Also, artists can create blogs and create links to connect other sites. Simcoe Artists also includes video training, online tutorials and one-on-one and group training. Leveraging social media and Google ranking are also available at no cost.

Challenges the Hub Faces

Challenge 1- No Activity

One challenge is the perception of no cost = no value. What people don’t pay money for; they usually don’t make time commitments compared to something they actually pay for. Ultimately that has created a volume of members that don’t publish any content. We are constantly removing “slug” websites that members have created then abandon.

Here’s a current list of SimcoeArtists.com websites we think are cool!

    [site-list]

These websites are listed on our members page and are approved by our administrators, but are a small portion of all sign ups.

Challenge 2 “What is the Catch?”

The trade-off for a no-cost website is artists adding content to their hub site and (hopefully) engaging others. There needs to be a reason for people to be in the hub in the first place, and that requires content. That is what we ask for in return for no-cost… publishing activity.

In order to make the hub a place worth visiting, it needs to provide quality content. Artists who join then do nothing with their site do not add quality to the hub. Also, artists who just upload an online catalogue of their art galleries are missing out on creating a connection with their audience.

Is The Hub Supposed To Make Money?

If the hub is providing a whole lot of these services that would normally cost companies a lot of money, how does the hub make money or is it not supposed to? The hub does not want to make money off starving artists. Artists have the ability to promote their websites and the products on their sites without any costs.

The hub has a long-term goal of becoming self-sustaining through sponsorship advertising as the main revenue-generator. And, just like all other members in the hub, we provide premium services for those ambitious artists who want to take their site to the next level. For the marketing artist, there are premium services that do not take away from no-cost services because they are important as well.

We need to let members know that the main thing we really want in return for no-cost websites is for artists to add content to their sites regularly (minimal 1 page per month). This will help to engage people that visit the hub. We provide the direction and training (at no cost) to artists that want to know the best ways to do it.

Premium Websites with Costs Associated

For artists who are ambitious and want to maximize their website’s potential, we do offer premium services that have a cost associated. It is only those artists that want to go above and beyond these offerings that have the opportunity to actually purchase extra features and services that are available.

Websites that have premium elements are sites that would include:

  • Custom designs (built for higher conversion based on a planned strategy)
  • Shopping carts
  • Extensive Analytics that include monitoring, re-optimization and custom reporting
  • Premium sites that have no advertising or artist’s spotlight on them (for those who insist on having no ads displayed)
  • Premium Training for maximized results
  • Premium Widgets and Plugins
  • Other custom integration

Artists Have A Few Choices

  1. They can build websites with minimal content (3 unique pages) and engage others in the hub as they see fit without paying a dime.
  2. Artists can take advantage of all the no-cost services and training that are available, build good-looking sites and pay for a premium service or two that are available.
  3. Artists can also help get the word out about the hub and make it a better place for all.

Response to the Hub

We currently have a few members who are really taking the bull by the horns and working on their sites. Google is given the hub up-front exposure because we have active members and no dead sites. If you want more attention to your art, plan on publishing a website that speaks to your work. Otherwise you are harming your own reputation by having an empty website.

The hub has caught the attention of the bigger social sites like Twitter who have it on their radar. Prominent arts groups have also responded to it in positive ways.

The hub is here for the artists of Simcoe County and it is up to the artists to define the direction the hub will take in the future.