Sunday, February 04, 2007

What's the future for Daily Painters?

Red Tulip #1
5" x 5" coloured pencil on HP paper
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The Daily Painters website seems to be experiencing growing pains which may yet prove to be terminal. Here's a suggestion - how about developing it into a website and a group blog for artists who post a painting a day? Some of you may appreciate the irony of that question........

The original Daily Painters blog was for displaying daily paintings by people who ostensibly produced a painting a day. It 'mutated' as it grew and more people had more opinions about what it should be. A big debate was had with artists who painted on a daily basis but who did not produce a painting a day. Suddenly it was no longer a 'painting a day' blog.

Overall, a lot of people signed up to join and there are now a few hundred members. However only around 100 paintings get posted each day. So that's a lot of people who aren't posting on a daily basis.

What "Daily Painters" has now got is a complete mix of people who produce a painting a day (pretty much) and a range of others who don't. The latter includes daily (professional) painters, semi-professional painters and hobby artists. Nothing wrong with that - except to me it seems a bit confused. Artists with a range of talent and abilities producing work in pretty much every genre, format and media.

Current arrangements are set to change. An announcement in the associated Google Group last week indicates that the owner proposes that, after a date later this month, all members should be invoiced a monthly membership fee (described as a 'low' US$29 per month/US$348p.a) in order to be a member of the group and invest in its future.

I'm very puzzled by the overall business concept, strategy and financial plan behind Daily Painters. On the basis of the current proposition, it's difficult to see what makes the Daily Painters site distinctively different and worth the suggested payment. Its development to date suggests it won't be unlike a number of other sites in the near future. The current proposition is that membership should be limited - presumably to avoid looking like everybody else. However I'm none the wiser as to how and why the site will be different (and presumably much better given the size of the proposed payment) than a number of other sites.

Most new internet products which rely on others to get it off the ground, generally have a beta period during which time people contribute to the development. In return at a later date if fees become payable for the product the beta group of early adopters generally get a free ride - or at least a significantly discounted fee. Not surprisingly the apparent lack of recognition for early adopters is resulting in a number of people indicating that they will walk away once a fee starts being charged. This number may well include a lot of the better known members who have a significant following - mainly generated elsewhere - and sell well.

For what it's worth, here's my two pennorth on what might be the options for the future:
  • the "Daily Painters" site continues pretty much 'as is' and current participants pay a very small monthly fee to the owner to cover the cost of hosting and a limited service re maintenance of site. There is no investment in SEO other than that which all members contribute on a co-operative basis. In other words, the site offers additional exposure but does not set out to be major income stream for the owner.
  • A small group of professional painters - who paint on a daily basis - and/or 'popular' painters develop a new group with joint ownership of the new website and service. This group may then admit a small number of additional painters who meet whatever criteria they care to set (maybe eliminating the hobbyists?). Such a group would expect their followers to follow them to the new site. Except what's the angle? You want people to buy your work for serious prices but show them other people's work? If it's a proper gallery arrangement then the site and service should be primarily funded by commission and the work should only be shown on that site until removed from that site. That way everybody knows whether or not the site contributed to the sale. Such a site might well have the potential to offer a viable alternative to e-bay but it may also be very difficult to lure people's work away from established means of selling work. There would have to be some sort of cost advantage - in the short and the long run.
  • The Daily Painters website begins to look like every other hobby painters site - except it has a much smaller number of members and a much lower number of hits. I'm not sure what the attraction would be for the owner - although participants might well value the better exposure that their work gets on a site with smaller numbers. However this could still produce lots of work for the owner and the financial model probably needs to be based on a listing fee.
Or back to where I started. How about a blog and an associated gallery website and Google Group for people who do actually produce a painting a day? This makes the site distinctive and automatically sets criteria for membership. Each member makes a commitment to place a minimum number of works for sale on the site each period - and pay an amount which is low enough to make the site an attractive place to post work.

I wonder..............

[Amended 05.02.06 to include links omitted in error yesterday]

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Linda Blondheim said...

Katherine, I left the Daily Painters this week because I felt the cost would not be a wise investment for my resources. I admire Micah and feel he is a terrific person, but there was really no advantage to paying to be a part of the group. I have an active web site and 2 blogs, so I don't really need the Daily Painters site to show my work. I think for emerging artists, it is a step toward more exposure.

I wish them the best of luck, whatever they evolve to.

Linda Blondheim

Katherine said...

I think what Micah has developed as a resource (the website gallery / the blog and the Google Group) is a terrific resource for artists being able to communicate their work. I enjoy looking at the art each morning and have found a lot of new artists as a result. And I'm not signing up for e-mails from everybody or adding everybody into my feed reader so I'll miss seeing work from those who leave if they haven't already made it into my feed reader. (You're in there Linda!)

Seems to me the total package has got to work for ALL parties (owner, artists and the viewing/paying public) for it to work really effectively.

Julie Oakley said...

I wouldn't pay money to have my art put on all that horrible black. Why do so many painters think it enhances their work?

Katherine said...

Just a reminder - all comments are moderated and all links get checked before comments are posted.

This post is NOT an invitation for all alternative site owners to spam me with their offerings. I don't take adverts. Any owners suggesting their own sites either via e-mail or as a comment on this blog will find me using the Google spam button.

I'm happy for people to suggest alternative sites which might offer the same sort of service as Daily Painters - but only if you give an opinion of the site and your own experience of it.

I'm emphatically not interested in knowing about every last on-line gallery site on the internet as I'm of the opinion that my readers do know how to use a search engine!

(You may be thinking by now that i'm getting rather a lot of spam as a result of this post - and you'd be right!)

Chuck Law said...

I agree with Linda's viewpoint about the Daily Painter Site. It's been a wonderful venue for meeting and viewing other artists and their work, but I never generated a sale as the result of showing there. I do sell from my blog, through other sources. I also felt a bit off kilter as a member since it is called "Daily Painters" and I produce works regularly, but not "daily". I'll be watching with great interest what happens to the Daily Painters. The newness of artist blogging is really exciting. I'll wager there are plenty of growing pains ahead as well as unforseen rewards ( I hope). Facinating.

Jeff Hayes said...

It's a strategy that is puzzling, to say the least, and has left a lot of us scratching our heads. By his own statements, the owner seems to only expect about 25% of the 300 active and 100 waitlisted participants to buy in. It's my guess that if he'd requested a lower amount - like $10/month, he'd have gotten much, much higher buy-in - financially, he might have even been in the same ballpark than he will be with the current plan... without alienating as many people as he has. With a business like this, your real commodity is the artists who participate, and any plan that starts right off by excluding (and upsetting) 75% of your current market seems ill-conceived to me.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I really enjoyed the concept of the daily painters blog when it first began -- but my eyeballs got bigger as the site did. I started to doubt its efficiency as small, easily viewable gallery as the membership blew up to 300 artists in a short period of time.

I think that Micah's a bit mistaken in writing off how much his site draws from the already established reputations of the more experienced aritsts. You know, the ones who will be leaving instead of paying $360 a year?

I for one decided to leave today after running a few experimental daily paintings that relied on just the DP site to sell them -- and bombed thoroughly. Why would I pay for that?

Ed Terpening said...

I too am dropping out of Daily Painters, and had actually been considering so for a while now.

I find the disparity in quality a problem, and agree some kind of jury process was overdue. I know some successful, well respected artists that don't participate in "group adds", and I consider DailyPainters a group ad. if you can't control the quality of participation, you could end up with your art advertised beside work of low quality, and any brand manager in Marketing will tell you that your brand will suffer as a result.

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