Artists frequently admit to me how frustrating it can be to promote themselves online. With so many artists competing for the same work, getting noticed can be a challenging task. As the editor of Psdtuts+, I have had the opportunity to interact with some exceptionally talented artists and designers from all over the world. This proximity to so many artists has given me a unique perspective, and over the years, I have been able to make a lot of observations about what it takes for artists to increase their visibility and to raise their online profiles. In this article, I wanted to share several reasons why you might not be getting as much attention as you should.
You Don’t Contribute to the Community
One of the most important tasks that I perform as editor of Psdtuts+ is to recruit new authors for the site. As you can imagine, I connect to artists in as many ways as I can. This often means following them on Twitter, liking their Facebook pages, or visiting their websites. By connecting to so many artists, in so many ways, I have noticed a common theme. Artists that contribute to the design community the most are much more likely to have large followings than artists that do not.
Before I go any further, it is important to discuss what "contribution" means. Artists that contribute to the design community do more than just post links to their work, they teach, they inspire, and in many cases, entertain. People may originally follow artists because they are inspired by their work, but ultimately, they want to learn from them. An amazing portfolio will open the door to a large following but if you want to walk through that door, then you will also need to give a little back to the design community.
This doesn’t mean that you need to give up your day job, but in your spare time, try teaching your craft, sharing your inspiration, or just writing about what’s on your mind. If you do that, you are much more likely to build a following than you would if you just spent your time designing.
You Don’t Blog
A blog is your home base. It is the glue that will hold your entire online profile together. A lot of artists tell me that they don’t blog because they think it is a waste of time. They tell me that there are so many design blogs out there that their voice will just get lost in all the noise. That is simply not the case. There is no such thing as too many design bloggers. The more voices there are, the better it is for the community.
If you’re not sure what to blog about, try blogging about what you know best. If you’re a digital painter, blog about digital painting. If you’re a photographer, blog about photography. If you’re passionate about a particular topic, write about that. Your voice and perspective is important, and the louder it is, the more likely people are to listen; that will help you to build a larger following.
You Don’t Participate in the Community
If your design blog is the glue that holds your entire online profile together, what exactly is your online profile made of? Your online profile includes your website, your blog, all of your social media accounts, and even the comments you leave on sites like this one. You should be using all of those tools to engage with people in your field.
How do you do that? Guest posting on other blogs is a great way to get your name out there, when you comment on blogs, leave thoughtful and constructive comments. You should also be active on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Engage with others, reply, retweet, and share what you see with the community. These are all actions that will help you become more visible and more popular in the community.
Your Portfolio is Not Social
These days, it just isn’t enough to have a website, a blog, and participate in social media. You also have to post your work to social portfolio sites like Behance, Deviant Art, and Dribbble. You might have the most amazing personal portfolio website in the world, but if your work isn’t on any of those social portfolio sites, it is going to be hard to find. To increase your online exposure, you really need the visibility that sites like that offer. While it may take a lot of time to maintain all those sites, the potential for new fans and new client work, makes it all worth it.
While having a large online following can really help an artist promote their work, it’s not the most important thing in the world. Ultimately, your work will speak for itself. If you have amazing artwork in your portfolio, people will notice. If you’re looking to increase your online profile, however, consider making a few changes to the way you work. Spend some of your free time on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, write a tutorial, blog, or publish more of your work on social portfolio sites. Over time, all of those actions will help you to raise your online profile, and potentially, build a bigger following.