Guest Writer, Deb Trotter
When people ask me how I became a licensed artist - and I explain that I was discovered on my blog - I usually get one of two reactions. Either their mouths drop open, and they ask, “Really? I’m interested in licensing. Could you tell me more about that?”
Sometimes they respond with raised eyebrows and an odd smile - “Oh. So it was pretty easy for you.”
I realize now that I need to respond to the question in a new way. From now on I intend to say, “I’ve been at this for quite a while … creating, taking classes, marketing, networking, and blogging. It finally came together when a manufacturer discovered me by Googling ‘Cowgirl Art’ … and I came up at the top of the search engines.” That’s the real story.
The ‘real story’ is that working my way up the search engine ladder took a long time. I began by joining online groups, making friends, and doing collaborative projects. I took drawing and painting classes - as well as online classes in marketing, organizing, and networking. But blogging?
At first, I resisted. Did I really have time for one more ‘to do’ on my list?Luckily, marketing expert, Alyson Stanfield, convinced me that blogging could propel my career. She was right. I dove into blogging feet first, and before long it became a passion - opening up a world of possibilities.
WHAT I BLOGGED ABOUT
I came to realize that blogging was one of the best things I could do to market myself.
-First, I developed my brand and chose my business name, “Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”
-I also taught myself Photoshop so I could design my blog banner and my logo myself.
-I taught classes at art retreats and promoted them on my blog.
-I blogged about my love for the Wild West, Old West history, Cowgirls and Cowboys – and showed photos of my life in Wyoming.
-Most importantly, I used my blog to share my artwork – adding my titles, descriptions, sources, or inspiration along with the images.
-And I blogged consistently.
Fast forward … three years after I started blogging … I discovered art licensing, and it dawned on me that there might actually be a way to do what I loved and make some decent money at it.
I was just beginning my research when – out of the blue – I received an email from someone stating that the manufacturer she worked for wanted to discuss licensing with me. “We love your work,” she added.
When I asked how they had found me she answered, “Our art director googled ‘Vintage Cowgirl Art,’ and your blog came up at the top of the first page.”
I later discovered that the art they were most excited about was something I had posted on a whim, in the early stage of my career. At the time I had never even heard of art licensing. Moreover, I was completely unaware that each and every thing I posted could potentially change my life.
GREETING CARD COMPANY
I was discovered by a greeting card company in much the same way.
During our first phone conversation, the owner said, “Hey. I have to ask. How’d you manage to get at the top of Google?” I laughed and answered, “Through many years of blogging and hard work, my friend. And I have enjoyed every minute.”
I now have a licensing contract with his company, and have been happily working with him ever since.
My major advice to anyone interested in becoming a licensed artist? First, keep yourself and your art as visible as possible. You know what I mean by now … blog, blog, blog. Learn about SEO and keywords. And make certain your blog is attractive and easy to navigate.
Secondly - do your research before you make any inquiries to manufacturers. I wish I had been better prepared when I signed my first contract.
Take advantage of the wonderful internet resources available to artists. There are quite a number of blogs written by artists and art licensing experts. (I read them every single day.) Here a few that I would recommend:
Tara Reed’s Art Licensing Blog
Kate Harper Blog -
Joan Beiriger’s Blog
Good luck – and Good Blogging!
Deb Trotter's 'Cowboy's Sweetheart' Art explores the myth, humor, and nostalgia of the Wild West through the juxtaposition of digital collage, original drawings and photographs, and antique imagery. While Cowgirls are Deb’s favorite subjects, she also employs Cowboys, Lil’ Buckaroos, and other legendary characters in her paintings and designs.
In 2010, Deb created the 'Wild Spirits' Collection ... a series of whimsical, vintage & retro-inspired art featuring bodacious men and women, endearing children, sassy girlfriends, animal sidekicks, and wine-lovers.
Deb’s art has been published in a variety of books and magazines, and her one of a kind pieces have been sold in galleries, exhibits, and auctions throughout the Rocky Mountain West, Germany, and New Zealand. Most recently, Deb’s art has appeared across the country on fine leather products and greeting cards.
‘Cowboy’s Sweetheart’ and ‘Wild Spirits’ Collections are now available for licensing across all categories.
For more information, contact:
Deb Trotter Designs - “Joyous Art. Cowgirl Attitude.”
View Art on Website: http://www.debtrotter.com
Deb's Blog: http://www.cowboyssweetheart.typepad.com