TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 242 What’s Working Now with Social Media with Miriam Schulman


Miriam Schulman: Part of the reason I was so resistant about talking about social media in general in my book is because these tactics, even the ones that work, they change quickly. Things that work don’t work so well even six months later. So it’s very difficult to write a book that you want to be a classic, that I wanted this to be something that people can pick up five years from now and learn from it and put it into practice. And putting social media in there was going to be a mistake because it changes quickly.

Speaker 2: It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Shulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast, an Art World Insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Shulman.

Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there. This is Miriam Shulman. Your curator of inspiration and you’re listening to episode number 242 of The Inspiration Place podcast. I am so excited that you’re here. So we are one week away from the release of Artpreneur and I couldn’t be more excited. I just wanted to remind you how you can get your hands on the book. Those of you who do not live in the United States, you do not have to pay huge shipping fees. There’s this wonderful site called where you can order it there and it’s free worldwide shipping. And yes, you’d still be eligible for any book bonuses. Just hold on to that receipt number and enter that into and get all those bonuses that we’ve been cooking up for you. 

Those of you who don’t want to buy the book for whatever reason you have in your life or not wanting to have a physical book, the audible book is coming out. So I recorded it. You’ll be hearing my New York accent and yeah, I recorded it over two days. It was super, super, super fun and I can’t wait for you to listen to it if that is your favorite means of listening. And for anybody else who just wants to get it from your local library, hey, that’s cool too. You know, that actually helps me just as much as you buying the book.

If you go to your local library and request that they carry it, did you know that they’ll order it for you? Yeah. It’s amazing. The public library system is simply amazing. So you have that option as well. It will be in the stores, on the shelves or in your mailbox if you’ve ordered it by January 31st. I can’t wait. All right. 

Now on with the show. All right. Hey there, my friend. So the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about what didn’t make it into the book and why and lessons for you. So one of the big things that I really got a lot of flak about from the editors is why I didn’t include more things about social media, which by editors, I’m talking about the publishers, which actually really surprised me because when you go to make a nonfiction book, when you’re going to publish a nonfiction book, you actually put together a document. And the document that’s called a book proposal. And we’ve had a few episodes about that already, so I will link to that in the show notes. We did an episode with Linda Sivertsen. We did an episode with Alison Lane, who actually was helped me at the book proposal, but also we did discuss it during my interview of Candice L. Davis. I’ll make sure all three of those interviews are linked today in the show notes. 

So in the book proposal, you tell them the outline of your book, all the chapter titles. You give them three sample chapters. You also tell them your marketing plan. You tell them what size of your mailing list is, the size of your platform, how you plan to promote the book, all of those things. And in my outline, I didn’t have a single chapter that said, social media is part of this chapter. And with the chapter outline, what you do is you. You give a description. You give a paragraph of what you’re going to talk about in the chapter. And none of those descriptions had anything to do with social media. So when I got the comments back from the publisher, like, why didn’t you talk more about social media? I was pissed. I was pissed. But the other thing that I want to say is that the editor who gave me the most difficulty about it, she didn’t read the proposal. She wasn’t the one who was what’s known as the acquiring editor. So the acquiring editor is the one, when you submit the proposal, she’s the one who really decides. It’s kind of like in the name of her job title, she decides whether or not the publisher is going to acquire by buying the book, they’re buying the rights to publish the book. They’re giving you an advance. They’re doing all these things. And sometimes, depending on how senior they are, sometimes they need to get authority from a team or from their boss or whatever it is.

So my acquiring editor, she liked the proposal. I don’t know how carefully she read it. I think she liked the idea of it. She definitely liked enough of it to sign on for it. But she wasn’t the one who had given me the most pushback. It was a developmental editor who did not read the proposal, I think. And she said she had made some remarks that I think weren’t so nice. I hope she’s not listening. Actually, I hope she is listening. So it was like kind of like, well, so during the book, you can tell that I’m a woman in my fifties and she says, Oh, well, that’s why she doesn’t like social media. She’s old-fashioned. And I just thought that was hilarious because the truth is, the reason I don’t like social media is not because I’m old-fashioned. I think people who think social media works are the ones who are old-fashioned. The people who aren’t willing to pivot are the ones who are being old-fashioned. So I like traditional marketing over social media. It doesn’t mean I don’t use social media. As you know, since many of you who listen to me probably found me because you saw one of my social media ads, right? So many of you do. And then many others have found me because of the podcast just organically and many others have heard me on another podcast or perhaps a YouTube.

And there are three ways that you can build your audience. And I do talk about that in the book. So the three ways I talk about inside Artpreneur are organic. So your universe now, your universe includes things like a podcast or a YouTube channel or a blog, as well as your social media channels that you create. So all the places that you put content as well as all the places you interact in real life with real human beings. So it’s any way you interact with human beings, whether that’s online or in person, is your universe. And that’s only one way to find your ideal or collectors or your clients or your customers, whatever niche you’re in. The second way is through what’s known as earned, earned publicity, other people’s platforms. So that is when perhaps. You found me because you heard me on someone else’s YouTube channel, somebody else’s podcasts. Somebody else wrote an article about me. And by this we mean free. So that’s other people’s. And the third way, of course, is paid advertising. So how does that work? That’s when you pay for an ad on social media. Or perhaps you have a paid ad inside a magazine or a newspaper or somebody else’s blog. So those are three ways. Free, organic, free press, paid press, also known as advertising.

Those are the three ways. Now, does that mean that social media shouldn’t be used or doesn’t work well? Unfortunately, the truth is it just isn’t what it used to be. It really just isn’t. When I first started writing the book on Instagram, the statistic was that 1% of your followers saw your posts, 1%. By the time that I was in edits and actually realized I had to build a stronger case for why you can’t rely on social media. Because of the criticism I got from the developmental editor saying, Why aren’t you focusing more on social media? So instead of, now I talked about this in my discussion with Candace Davis back in your book. We’ll link to that. I think I already said we’ll link to that. So when I talked about it, then when you get an edit back, a criticism back, you have to decide, how do I want to address this? Now I can eliminate the thing. I can please the editor or I can dive deeper into what my message already is and make a stronger case for it. And when it came to social media, I decided to make a stronger case. Like I said, when I started writing the book, it was 1%. By the time I got the developmental edits back and was building a stronger case, I re-did my research, and the research showed that for the average Instagrammer and by the way, this was done in the spring of 2022.

So things have maybe have gotten worse since then. But when I got the research, the average Instagram or the engagement rate is 0.6%, so it dropped to half of a percent. And for an influencer and influencer, yeah, it’s better. It’s twice as much as the average person, but it’s still only 1.18%. So basically 1%, if you’re an influencer and know how much time influencers have to spend in order to get that kind of traffic. Now, one of the things, when I was researching the book, and I was really trying to find all of the data about what’s working, what isn’t working, what do I want to include in the book, what I don’t want to include in the book. One of the things that had come up was that a lot of artists were leaving Instagram and going to not Tik Tok. Twitter. Yeah, you heard me Twitter. And I did play with the idea of talking about that as an new option and I am so glad that I did not include that in the book because look at what the hell is going on with Elon Musk. And who knows if Twitter is going to survive Musk or not. I’m not even sure if that’s the point anymore. I am so disgusted by what Musk is doing over there with letting the hate fly and inviting anti-Semites to tweet on his platform, etc., etc., etc.

Just his non-ethical way of running his business, like eliminating severance packages for employees and the way the layoffs were done and all those things have so disgusted me that I don’t, I am so grateful that I did not include Twitter in the book because that would have been completely out of alignment with my values. And part of the reason I was so resistant about talking about social media in general in my book is because these tactics, even the ones that work, they change quickly. Things that work don’t work so well even six months later. So it’s very difficult to write a book that you want to be a classic, that I wanted this to be something that people can pick up five years from now and learn from it and put it into practice. And putting social media in there was going to be a mistake because it changes quickly and it’s a big investment for very, very little return. So just remember average Instagram are 0.6%, average Instagram influencer 1.18%. Honey, it’s just not worth it. Now, does that mean I’m not doing it at all? No, I’m still doing it. One of the things I think social media is good for is being social and building relationships with other people who have networks because I want earned press, I want to be on podcasts.


And one thing I did recently was when I was on the James Candle’s Show, which is coming out either this week or next week, that was a really good conversation. If it’s out by the time this podcast, I’ll just make sure we link to it. But one of the things that I had done that he really liked is I listened to his show, I reviewed his show, and then I shared his show on Instagram in order to connect with him. And he said, so few guests do that and he really appreciated it. Now, I had already gotten my book to my spot with him, so I wasn’t getting anything from doing it, but it was strengthening a relationship with the host, and I knew that we would have a much better conversation coming from that place of abundance and sharing and gratitude. And as a podcaster myself, as somebody who is a content creator myself, it takes so much work to create an interview. Now, whether that’s a blogger or a YouTuber or a podcaster, it’s a lot of work. And so when people do that for you, I like to show them just a little bit of gratitude in return. And if promoting their show is one way of doing it. There we go. It’s just it’s a no-brainer for me. It really is. So I do use social media for building relationships.

I do use social media for building relationships with people who connect with me. One thing I said in the book was not to program a chatbot, and to be perfectly honest, I have been experimenting a little bit lately with chatbots. I’m not sure how much I want to dive into it. So whenever somebody watches my master classes, I ask them to DM the word inspire and I see that come into my phone because I do have Instagram on my phone and I am the one who checks my phone. And when I see that they’re watching it, I wait an hour so that I know that they’ve finished watching and I don’t want to write back to them while they’re watching it. And I say, Hey, thanks for watching. Do you have any questions? So it gives them a chance to engage with me. Now, one of the things with the chatbot is I can have a chatbot automatically send the message. And so I talked to my team about it and we said, Yeah, I think this is a good idea because I’m doing it anyway. It’s something I’m doing automatically, but what I decided not to do, so I am sending the message. Thanks for watching. Do you have any questions? But I’m not giving them any buttons. So a lot of times if you’re engaging with a chatbot and DM the word whatever and something happens and people will give them the automated buttons, which are fine.

But in this situation I knew it was really, really important that whoever sent the word inspire and I send the message back. Even if the bot is sending the message back that they know that a real human is going to read their next message. And so I didn’t want any buttons under there. So I’m having a wait. If somebody writes back, I’ll respond to them. And it may not be right away, but that’s fine. I rather be that way for this example than something programmed. Now, as of publishing this podcast, I do have a bot set up if you want a free chapter, so you can see how that works. If you do me the word believe. I chose that word because the first chapter is choose to believe. If you DM me the word believe on Instagram and I’m @schulmanart over there, I will send you back. It will be an automated response and you’ll see how that works. Now, one of the reasons we chose to do that is because I was acting like a chatbot. I would tell people DM me this word, and then I had this like saved response that I would put in and people were accusing me of being a bot anyway because I was acting like a bot, I was just giving them back a canned response.

So in that situation we decided that it would be okay to program the chatbot do it. So we are experimenting with that. I do believe this is a great way to build your email list and you can see how that works by going over to Instagram. I’m @schulmanart. It’s schulmanart, dm the word believe. See what happens. And then also write me back and tell me what you think because I do actually check my message. So even though there’s a bot program there doesn’t mean that I’m hands-off on it, because I do believe that social media should be social. Now, what social media channels do I still recommend? So you’ve heard me say that I’m just not in alignment with Twitter, so we’re not using it anymore. I’m not deleting my Twitter account only because if Elon Musk goes under and somebody else buys Twitter, I want to still have my own Twitter handle. So there you go. I want to still be able to do that. I don’t want anybody to be able to take my Twitter handle and create a fake Twitter account using my handle. So that is why I’m leaving it there. But it will be dormant. We are no longer using it. For Tiktok and Reels, you may not have heard me say this, so if you haven’t heard me say it, I will say it again.

I do believe in the death of the scroll. What does that mean? So if you’ve been a consumer on Reels or TikTok, you’ll notice that before you even get to the end of that short form video, they’re already encouraging you to swipe up. And what that means is that they’re not really encouraging you to engage with the person who’s created the reel. And I’ve had clients who’ve had reels go viral with like 45,000 views and nothing really happened. They didn’t even get more followers. And TikTok, you can be a TikTok quote unquote influencer like millions of followers. And people don’t even know who you are because you can actually follow somebody on TikTok and never see their stuff ever again. So I really do not have a lot of faith in putting all that energy and time into creating the Instagram and TikTok reels, those types of videos. Where do I do see a good investment in time? I think YouTube. I think YouTube is where it’s at. So I’ve told people on some of the interviews I’ve been on that that is where I’m headed and I have been investing time in creating videos there. A lot of our podcast episodes actually automatically go over there and I wanted to make sure that those episodes that are really just audio only, that people understand that there are videos here as well.

So we may be retiring some of those audio-only YouTube podcasts because we are putting out now true video content and we want people to enjoy that content. So I’m going back-to-back episodes and taking some of my really good podcast episodes, adding visuals to them and creating new content from them, and that’s been really fun. Now, unfortunately, I’ve been guilty of doing a little bit too much of that myself. I really have to figure out a way to outsource that to a team person who can do some of this for me. But in the meanwhile, I think it’s really great creating visual content and if you are some sort of teacher teaching something visual, definitely go to YouTube. If you are selling your art, but you don’t want to teach techniques, ou don’t want to be an art teacher, don’t show techniques during those videos, create speed videos and do a voiceover of exactly what you would put inside of your email or your social media posts. Those would make terrific YouTube videos. So YouTube, great platform. The other platform that I still feel is relevant is LinkedIn, so I use that professionally to connect with people and know that if you post over there as an artist, you are posting to people who are professionals. So it’s a very different energy over there. I have never been trolled over on LinkedIn, which gives me a lot of hope that that’s a very positive place for people to be posting their artwork.

And I do know artists who use LinkedIn as their primary content channel. We did do an episode with Blake Jamieson. He is an NFT artist. He also used LinkedIn as his primary social media channel and got really great results, especially since when he first started, his art was for offices and then he moved more to doing kind of sports art. So it is a great channel. I definitely would recommend that.

I think Instagram still has its place. I just wouldn’t put a lot of time into it. If you post three times a week, that’s a lot. If you post once a week, it’s enough. So I rather spend your time doing other things, creating that email to go out. I even spoke to an artist lately who had a very, very small email list, less than 20 people, and she was spending her time sending postcards to get into galleries. I said, listen, And she was beating herself up because she wasn’t posting on Instagram every day. I said, You know what? I’d rather you post an Instagram once a week and stop sending out postcards and put your effort into researching in-person art shows. And this woman is in England where art shows are actually really good, much better than they are here in the US and the US.

Some of them can tend towards a flea market or craft vibe, and in Europe it’s much different. So I thought her energy would be much better spent really researching those opportunities and building her email list with people that she met at art shows who are collectors. So it’s very hard for me to say to her, Put your time into sending emails when there’s only 12 people on her list. And I didn’t want her to build her email list using social media. I wanted to build her email list using people who are genuinely interested in collecting her art. All right. So the one other thing that I do want to say about what’s working in social media before we wrap up is just know that whenever you show up on any of these platforms, remember how I said the most important thing is to be social. You want to be a real human. So that means your avatar, your profiles on all these sites, they’ve got to be a picture of you. You, not your dog, not a picture of your art, definitely not your logo. People want to interact with other people. They want to interact with human beings. They don’t want to interact with brands. So be sure your face is on your Instagram profile. It is on your YouTube profile, it is on your Facebook page profile.

It is on your LinkedIn profile, all these places. That’s one of the reasons why I used to have this elephant as the art for my podcast. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s really cute, actually. There’s this elephant painting and I got the idea because elephants can paint, or at least some can. So I had that as my logo and it was really, really cute but for the same reason that I know that you have to put your face on Instagram, I decided my face needed to be on the podcast art as well. So there you go. 

All right, my friend, I hope you got a lot out of today about what’s working right now in social media. A lot of it was about what isn’t working, but that’s okay too. If you want to learn traditional marketing techniques, that’s what I’m teaching inside the book, Artpreneur. It’s on sale. It’s coming to bookstores next week. It’s coming to your library. If you order it, you can order the audible version. You can order any version. I would love to have you be a part of my community and a part of my world. I want to make your 2023 the best year possible and for you to finally make a sustainable living from your art. So if that’s your dream, I invite you to join me. All right, my friend. I will see you next week. Same time, same place. Stay inspired.

[00:26:42] Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at on Instagram @schulmanart and of course, on


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