Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Word-of-Mouth Sunshine

The Los Angeles Times ran an article on the positive effect that word-of-mouth is playing in the success of the sleeper film Little Miss Sunshine.

It also points out how the major movie studio marketing game has changed. From the article:

Recommendations from friends and associates always have been a critical ingredient in building box-office momentum, just as negative word of mouth accelerates a middling movie's downfall. Yet the speed at which such assessments are transmitted has never been so fast, nor the effect — as Little Miss Sunshine is dramatizing — so profound.

Movie studios once felt confident they had at least two weekends to sell as many movie tickets as possible before toxic buzz would undermine their multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns. Hollywood executives now say that the proliferation of movie-related e-mail, Internet blogs and text messaging has reduced that window to mere hours, as the quick decline of last weekend's heavily promoted Snakes on a Plane proved.

It's a sad statement about the way things used to be, but uplifting to know that as consumers become more empowered communicators, quality movies, books, art and music have a better chance of rising to the top.

An executive from Fox Searchlight had this to say: "Instant communications technology has completely changed the role of word of mouth. Word of mouth used to be confined to cities. Now, thanks to e-mail, it crosses continents. It's revolutionized what word of mouth means."

Amen to that!


Sell Your Visual Art

Are you a visual artist or photographer interested in selling your images? In case you didn't know, there are web sites that can easily put your artwork on T-shirts, mugs, posters and more for no upfront costs.

The most prominent of these sites is In addition to clothing, stickers, magnets and housewares, Cafe Press has also gotten into producing books and audio CDs for its vendors.

Another site competing in this category is, which also creates custom T-shirts, mugs, cards, prints, and even real U.S. postage with your image.

These sites offer a good way to get your feet wet selling your visual creations online. They make it easy to set up a sales page and process orders for you. However, note that if you seriously want to make decent money -- especially if you start to build a fan base and steady sales -- you will be better off producing your own products in bulk through a traditional printer and taking orders on your own site.

The profit you can make through Cafe Press and Zazzle is generally not enough to sustain a full-time artist -- unless you are really racking up huge sales numbers. But if you are a novice at online sales, they offer a no-cost, easy way to get started selling your art online.

Happy selling!


Three Simple Marketing Words

Here's a fresh idea that I think will give you a healthy perspective on your creative career and marketing activities.

While reading an article I came across a phrase that caused alarm bells to go off in my brain. I was so inspired, I wrote down these three simple words so I wouldn't forget them:

"Recognize your uniqueness."

In the article (sorry, but I forgot the original source), the phrase was meant to motivate people to take a look at their own talents and qualities. As I'm sure you're aware, people (perhaps you?) often don't give themselves the credit they deserve when it comes to their individual attributes and accomplishments.

But it also occurred to me that this is exactly what effective marketing is all about -- only you must shift the focus away from yourself. In other words, self-promotion is about inspiring other people to "recognize your uniqueness" as an artist. And it's the "uniqueness" aspect of that effort that makes all the difference.

Many creative people make the mistake of simply trying to get the general public to recognize them as a "writer" or a "musician" or an "artist." That's a start, but it doesn't complete your ultimate mission, which is to connect with the fans who are most likely to be blown away by the specific type of art you create.

So when you promote yourself, always ask if you are communicating who you are clearly enough that people will immediately "recognize your uniqueness."

However, there's another all-important side to this equation. For you to communicate your uniqueness, YOU must have a firm understanding of it yourself. If you are fuzzy about the kind of art you create, how can you ever convey the essence of who you are to others?

That's the problem with most of the shoddy marketing campaigns that litter the promotional roadway. Artists are sometimes too close to their own creations. They assume people will just "get it" on their own. But that's not always the case. Music fans, readers and art lovers need solid clues. More than clues, they need clear descriptions, obvious indications, and specific details about what you do and how they'll benefit from it.

So from now on, make sure you help both yourself and others "recognize your uniqueness."