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I do not think entering groups and/or contests, in and of itself, is going to lead to direct sales to any significant level vs using that same time to advertise outside FAA.
There is always going to be someone come along and say they made sales from a contest or from groups and yeah, I get that. I am not saying there are NO sales from groups, I am saying compared to the same effort spent outside FAA that effort is gong to give you a lot better results.
I joined about 200 groups and entered dozens and dozens of contests in the first 2-3 years I was here. I tracked the sales the best I could. I failed to make any direct connection between groups and/or contests and sales. When I stopped doing groups and contests I did not see even the slightest dip in sales. Not even the featured art or contest winners or places saw any sales that I could relate to those groups or contests.
After a year or two of not belong to any group I came up and a marketing plan using groups to promote outside FAA.
I joined 50 groups or so and I posted to them only when I did new uploads. I posted the same image to as many of the groups where the image was appropriate. As soon as I had three or four images with two or three features each I would put together an album on Facebook and promote the album as these images have received special recognition at FineArtAmerican, home of 500,000 of the world's greatest artists. Or wording similar.
I think the same thing could be done with entering the contest and winning or placing in the top three of the contest.
I suggest that joining groups and developing a marketing program around them is the way to go. Just joining groups and thinking that alone is a marketing program, IMHO is not worth the effort.