Today I’d like to continue off of Zola’s work in Part 1 and expand on how artists can market themselves through channels like email and social media. We live in an age where interconnected-ness is a part of life. You might be an artist building ‘living’ sculptures in the middle of Minnesota, but it could be a wealthy Taiwanese businessman who discovers your work on a website and offers you an all-inclusive package to fly out to Seoul and display your work. This is impossible if you are not taking advantage of all possible online venues to display your work. What we’re going to talk about today are the different ways to present and market yourself online as an artist. Perhaps one day you will have a PR firm that can handle all of your marketing needs, until then you’re on your own. Since we have a lot to cover in regards to online marketing, I’m breaking this into 3 parts which will be spread over the next installments of the CF Marketing Guide:
- Establishing a marketing foundation.
- Diversifying your online presence and creating passive income with your work.
- Social media automation and Analytics (because knowledge is power!).
Building your marketing foundation
What would a pyramid be without a base? Probably just a small pyramid, but you get what I’m trying to say. Houses, skyscrapers, and even countries are only as good as their foundation and without the proper fundamentals in place, your unlikely to get very far. For artists and designers, your first plan of action should be to develop a portfolio website. Some of you might scoff at the idea of learning how to code, but I’d like to point out that the internet has progressed a great deal. Domain names are relatively cheap at anywhere from five to ten dollars (USD) and hosting can be as low as 10 dollars a month. Many of these hosting providers have one-click installations of Content Management Systems like WordPress so you don’t need to learn PHP or spend your invisible money on a developer who will lie to you about a “rock solid project timeline”. There are figuratively, thousands of portfolio templates you can download for around thirty-five dollars from places like ThemeForest. Setup is simple and each theme comes with a set of instructions on how to install, modify, and update them. As we indicated in Part 1, please only populate your website with high resolution photography that accentuates your beautiful work.
While you’re setting up your website, we can start another essential step – registering your social media properties. Social networks get a bad rep for being largely, useless time-wasters that provide little, real benefit to anyone. While I tend to agree with this idea, it’s important to recognize how you can use these social interactions to your benefit. Let’s talk about the major networks that have already proven useful to creatives:
Facebook: I’m going to assume that you already have a personal Facebook, to that end it’s important to make sure all of your personal information is updated with anything about your artwork and whatever it is you “do”. Delete any super-personal information within your about section and take advantage of the Facebook Interest fields by populating them with artists, books, and movies that are similar or relevant to your creative niche. Facebook also offers the ability to set up pages for your business. Take advantage of this by creating a page devoted to displaying your new work, updates about shows you might be in or just interesting relevant news. Facebook recently changed its algorithm so that it posts from people are given preference over posts from business pages. Whenever you post something on your Facebook business page, be sure to sure it from your personal account in order to get maximum exposure.
*Don’t forget to link your Facebook profile and page back to your Website, as well as the social media properties below.
Twitter: Someone once said that by forcing people to constrain ideas to 140 characters, that it would increase intelligence and creativity. That person is a liar and a charlatan. More on that another time. Twitter is a great place to find real-time conversations between artists and consumers. Artists who work at conglomerates like Disney participate on Twitter offering a rare insight into the daily lives of people who you previously would not of had access to. You can utilize twitter’s search functionality to do a search for your particular genre of art and see who is talking about it and who is producing similar content. You can use this to begin connecting with people as well as keep up with your competition. Twitter just implemented a new profile system so take advantage of this by updating your header image with a giant picture of your work. Below is a screenshot of the new layout:
Google+: G+ is a faffery, but I am obligated to explain how to use it because Google has made it essential as a marketing tool by integrating Google+ pages with search results and giving them preference over natural results. What is Google+? It’s a lie wrapped in the guise of being a well used social network. G+ does have some advantages over competitors that you should be fully aware of. Google has the option of letting you show that you are an expert in your industry by creating screen-casts about any topic in your area of expertise. When you make screencasts about whatever art style you work in, you’ll be promoted within Google’s search results as being the most relevant answer for any particular query in that niche.
G+ also has the hangouts option where you can find communities around your field and chat freely with other artists to see how they are promoting themselves and possibly collaborate on future projects.
LinkedIn: Less useful for artists, more useful for curators and art directors. If you’re like me, you’re not an artist but constantly need to pull up information about artists for gallery showings, projects, and installations. This is where LinkedIn shines. Curators can quickly find artists based on their location, experience, and previous affiliations. Though LinkedIn is not particularly great for artists, it’s important to know that people will want your C.V. and LinkedIn is an easy way to keep a digital copy of it. Make sure that your resume on your portfolio website matches up with whatever is on LinkedIn. No one likes an artist that can’t keep track of their marbles.
Tumblr: Instead of describing Tumblr myself, I reached out to esteemed editor and colleague Zola to get her thoughts on the website:
“I have absolutely no idea what Tumblr is. It’s like photobucket but without menus, right? People keep using it as their website but I don’t see HOW because there’s nowhere to put text.”
In a word: Pointless. Despite this, millions of contemporary artists still use Tumblr as a way to share work and connect with other artists. After some brief research, I concluded that Tumblr is a great space for specific types of artwork; artwork such as:
- Illustration: quite specifically drawings of girls, explicit scenes, or girls in explicit scenes.
- Photography: girls and girls in suggestive poses. Also – street fashion photography.
- Fashion: Tumblr pretty much explodes during NYFW, PFW, and IFW.
Tumblr loves all things beautiful and superficial – so if that’s your vein of artwork, you will find yourself in great company. Tumblr also serves as an excellent place for inspiration, it’s infinite scroll makes going from artist to artist a simple and addicting process. Just don’t hope to ever find someone in an archive to reference later (because no such thing exists).
Tying it all together
Now that you’ve created a website for yourself and set up the bones of your social media marketing, it’s time to bring it all together. Here is a list of things that you need to make sure match across all of your profiles:
- Your biography and resume
- Your credits and awards
- Your headshot (if applicable)
- Your logo, branding, and color scheme (if applicable)
All of your online properties should have links to each other. If people come across your work it’s imperative that they have easy access to follow you and spread the word about your art. Imagine – someone lands on your Tumblr but has no way of finding your contact information? Oh wait, we already know what happens. You end up in the rejected pile at a magazine like Creative Fluff because you thought being digitally elusive was in vogue. Stay tuned for the next installment of the CF Marketing Guide and as always, send your work to: [email protected]