Deep Thought Thursday: How much time should you spend on the computer

In anticipation of all of the grumbling I’m going to hear at Saturday’s art marketing workshop in Mobile when I talk about blogging, I’ll just throw the question out to you.

In order to promote your work effectively online, how much time should you be spending on the computer each day? Or, if you prefer, each week?

I’m thinking about Web site updates, blogging, tweeting on Twitter, being on Facebook, posting press releases, uploading videos to YouTube, emailing (oh, yeah, emailing counts!).

What would your advice be to another artist who asks about computer time?

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19 comments to Deep Thought Thursday: How much time should you spend on the computer

  • heehee. You mean I’m not supposed to have the computer on 24/7? (I do.) First, differentiate. Yes there are a lot of different tasks on the computer but these fall into different categories. Networking, admin, advertising, communications, “paperwork” (like accounting for example). Second, identify tangible goals. Daily blog. List 2 items online. Spend 30 min on forums or reading blogs. Update your web gallery. Reply to x,y and z’s emails. (If you’re feeling very ambitious then write down “clear inbox”.) Set a timer and have an hour a day for social networking. I consider emailing, web updates and press releases differently. Those are on the computer but isn’t my “social networking” time. Those are tasks in and of themselves that have deadlines and are on the to-do list as specific goals. They used to be phone calls, promotion writing/designing, and post. They just happen to be on the computer now. If in doubt, timer and to-do list. That’s a good solution too for someone who usually is in control but suddenly find they’re having an inefficient phase.

  • I also view my computer time as different types of activities depending on what I’m doing. There is the general business stuff like updating resumes and emailing art consultants and galleries about specific projects. These are done as an as needed basis. Then there is the general online networking/marketing stuff – like blogging, emailing and all the social networking stuff. I spend around 10 hours a week doing these things. Not just because I see some real returns on the invested time, but also because I learn a lot about myself when I blog. It’s much more than just marketing and networking for me.

  • This is a question that I’ve been asking myself lately as well as I spend considerable time at the computer. In addition to all the tasks you mention, I also create most of my artwork through the digital medium, so I suppose I spend much more time at the computer than most. But lately, as I have gotten more involved in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and social networking, I’m beginning to feel that perhaps I need to limit my time there. I generally allow myself an hour at the start of my day to check in, and then another hour or two at the close of day for most of my social networking activities.

  • Alyson, I don’t think you should tell them how much time marketing takes – they may all run out of the door and you’d be left with an empty room!! I like the post by Tina, nice scheduling. Computer time can eat up a lot.

  • How’s this for an answer: you should be doing so much online marketing that you feel guilty you are eating into your artmaking time. AND you should spend enough time making art that you feel guilty you aren’t doing enough marketing. It’s the old Push-me-Pull-you dynamic.

  • Tina and Dan answered well. If you want a concrete number, I aim for 1 hour daily, but it often turns into much more than that. BTW, I have an Internet friend taking your class in Mobile, her name is Anne Webb.

  • I agree whole-heartedly with Tina’s point about using a timer. I’m starting to do this since I tend to spend way too much time on the computer, either social networking, chasing rabbits or fiddling with our photo collection. And not nearly enough time actually typing in the blog entries I sketched out on paper at odd moments. I love Tina’s point about specific goals for that computer time, I will be trying that out! I am working on keeping my email in-box empty – everything goes into Filed, Action or Later. Later being the time-drain stuff like funny emails that I may want to read during down-time. It does make my email in-box less of a distraction.

  • Great advice, Tina. I love the timer idea! Goal setting is so important, too. One more key goal set: What you are hoping to accomplish with all the computer time? Is it increased name recognition, or direct sales or both or something else? Whatever the goal it is usually connected with building a larger community connected to you and your work. Quantify those goals and regularly measure how you are doing. This will help you determine whether your time in front of the computer is worth the time (for many artists, me included, about 10 hours a week or more) away from art creation or meeting people in the real world.

  • I apologize for the garbled state of my writing in my last post. I need to step away from the computer and get some sleep.

  • While tweeting on twitter yesterday I reached the saturation point of internet overload. I announced “Enough!”,and went off to paint. Recently, thanks to your book and blogs I have added Twitter, Facebook,gone on to 2 Squidoo lenses and opened an Etsy shop!The time spent setting up these things and the intensity of my learning curve is now easing off to maintenance time. Whew! I like Lyn Bishop’s hour in the morning and hour or two at the close of day schedule.It gives me a sense of bracketting my painting time, knowing that it is my time to paint and only paint.I’m going to give it a try along with Tina’s timer!

  • I say, if you’re feeling low, sit in front of the computer,( is ‘chasing rabbits’ the term for doing something fun & sort of productive ?) until you have a vague suntan & you kind of glow around the eyes a bit…the gamma rays or whatever they are called now seem to be a real mood enhancer…when you are feeling happier, wean yourself off this addictive light & seek out humans & or puppy dogs & gardens for reflection…

  • Thank you Alyson for a great question! One of my students just asked me this today! As I was ranting at them about Goggle alerts, blogs and so forth and they were groaning and said….no, no I want to paint! Welcome to the real world. It is 8 pm in San Francisco. I am updating my blog and sending out 1200 emails. This is the life blood of my career. I spent 3 hours today on the computer, putting together a proposal for a high rise condo project that will net me a goodly amount of money. Time wasted? Hardly! Before that I had a 3 hour online conference with paying students (the ones groaning about computers). My advice is to think about how much time you spend making art (or wanting to) and then double that, so you can make more art. Then take that number of hours and spend it on the computer. I don’t actually do any social networking on the computer at all because I view the computer as a work tool so when I’m ready to turn off, I turn the computer off. My new favorite phrase? “Sleeping is for sissies!” :-)

  • Sad to say but am on the computer working more hours a day then i spend with family. I am a developer for a large agency and try to work on the side as well. Life is getting to expensive and if you don’t put in the time then your family might suffer more then you not being there. You thought pain at the pump was bad before. One project I’m working on is to help not only local artists in my area but also my friend who is the gallery owner. Help me help them. http://www.umWell.com

  • 2 – 3 hours a day and then on-and-off for Twitter or for recreational Stumbling around! That’s the minimum, not counting days when you are building a new website, working on resumes, bios, newsletters. The computer IS my workdesk, so I can’t really separate the “art biz” time from the computer time. Thus we are back to the question: How much time does an artist need to spend promoting her work, organizing his “office”, creating new materials or product (like postcards, newsletters, etc. I think you wrote a book about this, Alyson!

  • Addendum: I am always looking for tools to make this computer time easier and more efficient. My latest tool is the Flock browser, seems to make it easier to have all the social networking tools and “friends’ lists all in one place for quick updates to teaching schedules, exhibits, etc.

  • I spend way too much time on the computer. BUT, with that said, there is no way around it. It is something all the time. If you had a store front, you would be doing the same thing only not on the computer. Such as looking for new ways to promote your store, what your competition is, who needs to know about your work ….you get the picture. I have fault the computer life long enough and have finally settled that it is our way of life now. It is our leg work and our “work of mouth” work. 90% push work, 10% acutal hands on creation work. I love it. I (think) I accept it. :)

  • Although I spend a fair amount of time at the computer (editing and creating work as well) ultimately I feel it may actually save time; especially if you compare it to writing/sending query letters, photographing slides, preparing packets, post office trips, schlepping portfolios and goodness knows what else. Not to say one wouldn’t do these things at all, but probably not as much. I’m feeling that participating in the internet world, whether it be blogging, emailing or updating your website, can give one a lot more exposure, and immediately. Come to think of it, I bet it ultimately saves energy as well. (!) Someone recently told me they googled me (and found my blog) to see what I’d been up to. And then they bought a piece of my work. This was very cool! Some days I spend an hour on the computer and some days it’s several hours. I do not have a set schedule for how long ‘x’ should take; perhaps I should. Tina’s and others’ tips are great. But here’s something I’ve noticed: If I leave my computer turned off for two days I’m usually really inspired to be with it again. :) PS Christine Kane (who I found thanks to Alyson’s blog) has a great post/YouTube interview about blogging benefits here: http://christinekane.com/blog/if-you-were-a-real-artist-you-wouldnt-need-a-blog/

  • Because I have a mindless day-job (checking ids at the gym), I could spend hours on the computer, social networking, and drifting around reading blogs. But the point of the day-job was that it also allows me to work on my fiber art. So, lately I have made a point of working on my hats first. Then, a few hours before the end of my shift, I allow myself to go online. Also, I only have dial-up internet available at home, so I tend not to go online over the weekend. That allows me uninterrupted time with my sweetheart in the garden, doing chores, or just being together.

  • Tina: Yep! I’m all for the timer. It really works. Lisa, Tina: I understand that you categorize online tasks differently. That makes sense. Lyn: I’m trying to avoid the email/online thing first thing in the morning. We can get so caught up in it. I’d like to structure my day so email is later on and mornings are reserved for stuff that really needs well-rested brain power. Jean: Yes, I’ve been known to scare a crowd of artists. Cynthia: Met Anne. Cool!