People who are marketing: is LinkedIn presence helpful?

  • Hi all,

    I've been developing pieces for my first portfolio in these past few months, and I'm starting to take baby steps into marketing my work to art directors and designers. I'm thinking of starting out by aiming at getting a few assignments from educational children's publications to get my feet wet.

    I'm working on building out at contact list of folks to market to, starting with all the publishers I can find, and I was planning to use a lot of google-fu and some LinkedIn snooping to try to dig up some names of individuals I could send targeted portfolio submissions to.

    So my question to those of you who are getting those first gigs is: how are you finding names of people to contact? Are you relying on contact via email at first? Are emails way less useful than postcard mailers, and I should just focus my attention there? Should I bother with trying to find art directors' names on LinkedIn, or is it actually a more vital resource than I'm realizing?

    I know everybody finds this cold-contact process uncomfortable. I'd appreciate any advice or encouragement. My site is (I have not yet figured out how to get it into my forum signature)

  • Howdy Valerie~

    Funny you should mention LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn daily to connect with folks in the industry. I'd love to chat with you about it over Zoom, as there's a lot to be said.
    But in lieu of face to face conversation and Q+A, here's what I'll tell ya:
    -Do LinkedIn AND a social media profile (facebook, instagram, youtube, whatever) if you can manage it. So far I've mostly focused on LinkedIn, but I know if I gave my facebook profile more attention, my services would be noticed more in turn.
    -Use LinkedIn for its data and info mining, which means using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which costs about $80/month after the free month trial.
    -Stay consistent! With your posting. Folks are very distracted when they go online. Post something that educates, entertains, or distracts them. Make your posts relevant to them. Post relevant posts CONSISTENTLY. That's how you make the algorithm work for you.
    -Use message templates when you're connecting with folks so that you're not typing out the same greeting over and over again and wasting your time.
    -Shoot to connect with 20-30 folks a day on LinkedIn if you want 10-15 of them to accept your connect request. The numbers will work in your favor and the chances of finding a client will increase with the more people you connect with. You're playing the numbers game there.
    -Have a very specific portfolio, and a very specific, client focused business tag line, so that distracted folks can look at your profile and decide then and there if you're relevant to them.
    -Post in groups that your target market is in. On LI, those include: "Childrens Book Authors and Illustrators", "Childrens Book Publishers", "Childrens Book Authors, Illustrators, Publishers", the like.

    Okay, that should be enough to get you started. It's POSSIBLE! Totally possible! To get work off of LI - there are service providers who get their work exclusively from LI. Worth it.
    Lemme know if you want to chat about this more in Zoom. There's a lot to be said.
    Hope this helps!

    All the best,
    Shani, The Art Bard

  • Pro

    @Valerie-Light I've never had a presence on LinkedIn, but I occasionally pop in there to find an art director. However I find that's not always necessary. A lot of companies now have a submissions page on their website with details of where and what to email. I've had great success with cold email using this submission information. Sometimes when they don't have that, I just go to the contact page and send a contact form asking to forward my request to the art department - and I've gotten a few gigs that way, believe it or not!

    I find that educational publishers often need a big quantity of artwork and because of that they often go through agencies. That makes it not necessarily beginner friendly despite that they're lower ladder gigs. Some of your local smaller presses and indie publishers might be an easier in 🙂 Also, do submit your portfolio to agents and agencies!!

  • SVS OG

    @TheArtBard wow! This is very informative! What type of jobs are you getting from LinkedIn?

  • @TheArtBard Wow, it sounds like you are an expert at making LinkedIn work for you. I am really impressed, and I will TOTALLY take you up on your offer to talk more about it. I am not someone who's super comfortable with any form of social media, so I'll take whatever pep talks I can get right now! I'll send you a message.

    I'm super curious, especially, to know what kinds of clients are focusing on LinkedIn to find illustrators.

    And, you're saying you're sending out 20-30 connection requests per day. That seems huge! It occurs to me that I have no real idea how broad a net to cast, or how big this industry really is. So much to learn!

  • @NessIllustration "I've never had a presence on LinkedIn, but I occasionally pop in there to find an art director."

    This sounds like more of what I'd considered using LinkedIn for. A friend of mine recommended finding art directors' names in the front of a book, checking LinkedIn to see if they still work at that company, and then just literally putting their name into a email and hoping your portfolio gets to some of them.
    Is this creepy, or is this good advice?

    And THANK YOU for this advice: "Some of your local smaller presses and indie publishers might be an easier in 🙂 Also, do submit your portfolio to agents and agencies!!"
    It seemed to me like I ought to get the feel for a couple of contracts on my own before I start talking to agents. Wouldn't it be super risky to give my work to an agent before I know how anything works on my own? Am I thinking about that backwards?

  • Pro

    @Valerie-Light Not creepy, that's what we do sometimes to get email addresses haha! Also sometimes if I have a company I'd like to work with but haven't found a name of a person to contact yet, I look up the company's employees on LinkedIn. You'll almost always find someone who's title is "art director" and then you can either contact them directly on LinkedIn, or do the email trick to find their email address.

    As for agents, it's true you have more chances of being picked up by one after you have a bit more experience, but that's not always the case. Sometimes they sign perfect beginners! I also wouldn't call it "risky". You have nothing to lose because you can submit to agencies multiple times. I applied to my agency 3 times in about a year before I got signed that last time. Also the first time around, even though no agent bit on my offer I did receive some good feedback! I was advised my work was more suited for a younger audience (0-6 years old) so I started targeting baby books, board books and educational gigs from then on. It was a big help!

  • @NessIllustration Hearing about how your path went for you is incredibly reassuring to me at this stage. Thank you so much for sharing your insight on how beginning marketing works.

    I just spent a few hours researching independent publishers like you suggested in your previous post, and I'm feeling so encouraged to see dozens more more illustrator submission pages than I've seen in weeks of researching the Educational publishers I'd been planning to start with!

    So you've helped me revise my strategy. I'm now thinking of sending out a round of 20 or 30 independent publisher submissions over the next couple of weeks, and then doing a round of agency submissions after that.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Hahaha, yeah, I'm still trying to seal the deal on a few of those prospects, but the folks who tend to be interested in what I offer include:
    -Game Designers
    -Art Directors
    -Authors (KidLit)/Scriptwriters
    -Film and Animation Creative Directors

    I court the prospects just as they court me and more often then not we're not exactly the right fit, but it's okay. To tell you the truth I'm still perfecting this system. There's a lot I would do differently if I had the energy to do so, but alas, tis where I'm at. Lots to be said about LI marketing.
    Thanks for the kind response!

    Hope you're well and keeping busy!
    All the best,
    Also - here's my LI profile for an example:

  • Pro

    @Valerie-Light I'm so glad to hear that you're feeling encouraged about this! YEs, this sounds like a very sounds strategy. Good luck!

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