I recently finished a Masters degree in Digital Art. I’m sure I’m not the only person to finish a Masters and find themselves wondering what comes next. For two years I’ve had one focused goal, now attained. Really though, the whole point of the MA was to take me to the next level of being a practicing artist, to get me understanding the process of making the work itself (I blogged it here if you’re interested). Here’s the rub then. Now is where the real work is. Having supposedly learned how to make art, I must now make it. But not only must I make it, I have to do all of this other stuff that you don’t really do in the MA. Hurrah! If anyone else is having a similar post-academic malaise please, please do leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it.
Happily, when it comes to my photography website (one of a few things I have on the go), there are a couple of clear things I can do to make it more focused and effective. One is optimising the website for search engines; the other is diving into social media. I’ll handle these two separately. Search Engine Optimisation can come first then. That’s known in the trade as SEO. The Artists Web does a pretty good job of this anyway, but there are things we can do to help it on its way.
The first thing to realise about SEO is that search engines get all of their information from the text that site owners give them. This is a problem for us as artists. There’s often not that much of a need to include much text on our websites as the content is all visual. I tend to shy away from text myself; it often feels superfluous. This makes it difficult to include too much writing on my site. As it stands then, I’m giving search engines very few hooks to attach to my site. Even the titles are super-basic.
How can I fix this? There are a few ways. One is by having some simple explanatory text on each of my gallery pages. I need to give a bit of thought to the titles of my photographs. I also need to address the various form boxes that the Artists Web offers us when we make a new page. I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve never had time to use these when I’ve uploaded pictures. I’ve just wanted to get the things up there. I know. Tsk. Very sloppy.
Before I do any writing I have to give some thought to keywords. These are the words my site will target to get found by. There’s no point in using keywords like ‘photography’; there are hundreds of thousands of sites that will beat me hands down for that key word. I need to be more focused.
This is where I need to make a clear statement regarding what my photographs are about. I then need to craft my text on that basis. It’s likely to be a useful exercise in the wider context of my practice, I think, though only time will tell in that regard.
The problem here is that I’m setting out on a path that may well be difficult to return from. Many of my photographs are of quiet, desolate places. Should I market myself as a photographer of silence? Do | want to be bound by that in the future? I think the time is nigh for an experiment. There’s only one way of finding out how successful I’m likely to be here. That’ll be going ahead and trying it out.