I've been getting into watercolours this last week. It is a tough medium but I'm starting to get the hang of it.
Inktober has hit in Australia. Here is my first one. "Poisoned"
This is my first ever ink drawing for Inktober. It was definitely a challenge, but I really enjoyed exploring what I can do in a limited timeframe and with little to no experience using ink.
Like Jake says "better finished than perfect". While I can see there is definitely room for improvement, I am happy to have finished it.
Ok, I really geek out when it comes to marketing (its my current 9-5), so this post was a lot longer than anticipated, however I think there is a ton of useful info.
I've actually been speaking to a number of artist friends who have asked me the same question.
Here is a bunch of things I have found work through my own experience, and also talking to other successful artists.
Based on what you want to achieve (selling prints), you need to ask yourself "Where are my target audience hanging out and engaging in work similar to mine?"
Quick overview of the popular methods of promotion online
To cut to the chase, my experience and through speaking with other artists is that Twitter isn’t the best platform for artists to promote their work. There is too much noise and the people on there aren’t as engaged as they are on other platforms.
In regards to Facebook, it can be a hit and miss for artists. It depends on your audience, and how they interact with similar art to yours. Often the case, promoting your art on Facebook is a “pay to play” situation.
I wouldn’t bother with SEO at first until you start to make a name for yourself and people are searching for you online.
Instagram, in general, is one of the better places for artists to promote their work, and eventually guide people to your website where they can buy stuff. It is orientated to the visually minded, which is what your audience will be. Its based on developing relationships, which is also what helps artists sell a piece.
There are plenty of other platforms and social media sites out there that could help. But I guess it comes down to which one.
How to choose
There are so many options out there. Already you are off to a good start by knowing what you want to do – sell prints online.
However, you probably don't know where to start. Here's how you can find out no matter what art style you have.
The next step is to find artists who have similar styles to you and are successful online.
Once you have found these artists see what they are doing that is working. Look at their overall marketing strategy, and take note of what they are doing in each post. If you do this for a number of successful artists you will start to see patterns that you can take on and try yourself.
To expand on this, contact the artist directly and ask if you can have a quick chat with them. You can ask them questions about what works, and what you should avoid. Again, you will gain a lot more clarity about what you should do and what should work.
The mindset you should take on
After doing the above, you will have a very clear idea what you want to do and how you should go about it. AND you will still have a 100 more questions as a result.
The trick here is to take on the mindset of experimenting. You are never going to have a marketing plan perfect the first time. I’ve been marketing for 10 years, and I never get a marketing plan perfect the first time (if I do, I wonder what is wrong that I’m not seeing). The key is to experiment.
For example, let's say you have chosen to promote yourself via instagram. You know this hashtag thing works, but you are not sure which hashtags are best. The solution: choose the top 20-25 you think will work and use them for a set period of time - lets say 2 weeks if you post daily. At the end of those two weeks, look at how you went. Then, change 5 or so of those hashtags, and use that new combination for two weeks. You can compare which combinations of hashtags got better results for you. By continually and systematically experimenting, you will refine the effectiveness of the hashtags you use.
Another example of experimenting on Instagram: Test different types of content to see what engagement you get. You can try a direct front-on photo of your piece. You might also try a photo of your piece on your desk, surrounded by the mediums you used to create it. You might put up a time lapse of you creating the piece. Try them all and take note of what works, and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to include works in progress. It tells a story….which brings me to my next point.
Its not the art (on its own) that sells, it’s the relationship that the customer has to the piece
Building relationships with your customers is what sells art. This is why “buying followers” doesn’t work – they are either bots, or not that engaged.
So how do you build a relationship with your audience? Through stories. Creating a new piece? Take photos as you go, documenting the process and your experience creating it. Have two character designs that you love but can’t pick which one to use? Throw it to your audience and conduct a poll.
By telling a story and encourage follower interaction, your art becomes something that the audience becomes invested into. In some small way, its their journey too. When it comes time for you to sell this art, they want to have a memento of this journey. They love it more, because it's not just a picture, it’s the hours you put into it, the love and precision. The story behind it. It’s also the input that they may have had in the process too.
So that should give you a massive amount of insights, and hopefully actions you can take to refine what you should do to get a ton of engaged followers.
My last point is it takes time. Promoting yourself online, particularly in social, is a marathon, not a sprint. Online marketing is like a heavy fly wheel. At the start it takes a lot of effort to get any movement, however if you are consistant and smart in your effort, the fly wheel will move faster and faster and gain momentum. It will eventually get to a point where to keep up the momentum, the effort involved is minute, however it will take a while to get there.
I have a ton of more tactical stuff, but as an overall strategy, the above will see you go far.
The name is Nathan, I'm 32, Aussie, and getting back into drawing. I discovered this forum through the podcast. One of the best! Really enjoying it. Can't wait for more.
I use to draw heaps as a kid, but stopped for 10 years, studying computer science then pursuing a career and business in online marketing. Fast forward to about 1 year ago, I read The Artists Way on the recommendation of a friend. From there I've gotten obsessed with drawing again. Still very much a beginner, but started an Instagram a couple of months ago to share something that was once very private for me. (I think I surprised many people)
Anyways great to be here. See you around the forum
Day 2: Tranquil
I originally struggled with this drawing. I didn't want to do a typical 'tranquil' landscape of mountains and water, or someone meditating which (according to Google image search) everyone relates to tranquility.
For me, tranquility is finding peace and enjoying the little things. I wanted to capture that in this artwork. It was a lot of fun.
Another quick update. Inking done. Thoughts so far below.
It was great to get this part of things done. I plan to scan it into the computer and do the colours in photoshop. Do some touch ups as well.
All in all, I'm not sure on this peice. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I just interested to see what it looks like when its done. A couple of reasons for this:
I think taking on one of those differences would make the peice enjoyable yet challenging, however taking on all three has meant that I haven't been able to just lose myself in the piece. It's been a slog.
I'm going to finish it. But the lesson I've learned, is not to bite off too much that I can chew.
I would love to hear your feedback. Anything you like, or things that can be improved? Cheers
Here is my quick feedback after a quick look through your site.
3 second rule - Homepage
I could tell you do some sort of art. I would add some text that actually says what you do and a call to action. A call to action would be something like "View portfolio", or "enquire to hire" or something - you need to decide what you want a brand new person to your site to do. For someone who is new to your stuff, directing them to your portfolio would be a good start.
Doesn't exactly align with your homepage. Your first paragraph is about websites and social media, the last sentence is about illustration. I would put more focus on illustration.
Your site has a mixed message.
I can see you have included your website design and branding along side your illustrations. It sends mixed messages. I would have this site be 100% illustration, and set up another that takes care of the website design stuff.
Eg, if I was someone coming to your site for webdesign, I would be turned off - why? Becuase it looks like an artists website rather than a webdesigner.
Hope that helps.
Oh man, Ink is not as easy as it seems. I had some issues mixing the ink wash over some ink pen lines I did. Seems like the ink from the pen is water soluble...hence when there is a slightly different colouring on the floor of the "cave".
Bummer. Oh well, that's the whole point of inktober - to learn something new. Seems like I'm feeling the learning part of it. haha.
Oh and a special shoutout to everyone that followed me on Instagram. Loving the support.
Oh man, I'm loving this thread. It's great to hear everyones take on different social media and the way people are approaching it. (The relationship between Behance and Art Directors is really great to know!)
It's also interesting to hear what people are struggling with. Hopefully, I can help with some of that stuff. I've got a bunch of things I want to cover regarding social media. I'll separate them into different posts to make it a bit easier to read.
The first thing I want to cover is the foundations. Like art, marketing has its foundations. The main two can be put down to knowing who you are (branding) which I mentioned in @smceccarelli branding post here and knowing who you are trying to reach (your target market).
The way you would go about getting your art in front of Art Directors and Publishers will be very different to trying to Kickstart your own book. And which social channels are best, and how you use them will depend on who your target audience is.
So in this post, I want to address target audience and how it will can turn your social media effort from a shotgun approach (spray & pray) to a targeted sniper approach. Which will save you a bunch of time, and money, if you chose to go down to the paid advertising approach.
Firstly, many mistakes people make is they think that when they come up with a target audience, they think they are addressing a crowd. Even though you might be putting your message in front of hundreds, or thousands of people, the key is to market as if you were talking to one person. Your ideal customer, also known as Avatar in marketing circles.
Your ideal customer is someone who shares traits to you, gets your work, likes similar things that you like, hires you/buys all or most of your art, gets other people to hire you/buy your art, and is someone you want to make more art for.
The idea of creating an ideal customer, is instead of trying to communicate with a faceless mass of people, you create value and communicate with a specific person. It is easier to chat to a friend and form a connection, rather than trying to do that to a crowd.
So how can this apply to social media?
Part of understanding your ideal customer is understanding where they spend their time, how they like to communicate. If they are an art director, it looks like Behance is a place they hang out to find new talent. If they are an interior designer, maybe using interior design related hashtags or reaching out to interior design blogs to get your work featured on there might be a good strategy.
This can also apply to Facebook. Many times when people use paid advertising they will list some of the peoples interest as "likes Disney" and "Female", "25-35". You might reach a lot of people, but your message is broad, so people likely won't relate. However, imagine if you had a specific person in mind that you were trying to reach. Lets call her Jane. Jane is 33, female, loves disney, pixar, also loves "Kubo and the Two Strings" (which is great, because thats very similar to your style), lives in LA, has 2 kids aged 5 and 8, is interested in promoting healthy choices to kids (so follows Jamie Oliver's Kitchen Garden Project on Facebook). If you were to put those attributes into your paid advertising filters, and create an ad specifically communicating to Jane, you might not reach millions of people, but the people you do reach will be VERY interested in what you offer and will be more inclined to reach out to you, buy your product, or sign up to your email list. (This is a very broad example of Facebook Ads but you get the idea.)
So how do you come up with your ideal customer? We are going to use what we are all good at. Using a creativity and imagination to create a character
Likely as you go through this there will be some big holes. That's actually a good thing. It highlights things you don't know yet. Go and find those things out, it will uncover potential gold mines of information that you can use to reach out to people. (Imagine if you found out that most art directors will attend and likely hire artists who show their work at 1 specific event - and it's in your local town!)
In the past, I've actually reached out to someone who fits my target audience and asked some of these questions to them. Those conversations have been amazing. I always come from a place of "how can I give value to this person" and it has always had good results.
Once you have written down all this info, write a description of you ideal customer. Just like you would be describing a real person (hint: they are), or a character description you might receive.
A good idea is to print it off and post it up where you can see it. Use it to make decisions:
The benefit of this is you will have a good understanding of who you are who you are talking to. You will have a better understanding of what you can do to reach and communicate with them, but even more importantly, you will know what you shouldn't do. We all have a limited amount of time, so knowing the most effective place to put your effort, can greatly increase your chance of success.
Btw, this is not just a once of thing. As time goes on, you should continue to understand your ideal customer more. Just like getting to know a friend over time, you will know more and more about them as your relationship deepens.
If you can do the work around both Branding and understanding your Avatar, you will have a good foundation to filter through the different tactics and strategies to get your where you want to go.
Hopefully, I have been clear with this. It is a broad topic, and the idea of doing the ideal customer actions above might seem obtuse, but it is something that will benefit everything you do in your quest to market yourself. Feel free to ask questions if I haven't been clear on something.
A couple of tools I use for social media marketing, particularly if you are time poor, or like automation.
I use Buffer and Tailwind to schedule out social media posts. If you are time poor, these are awesome. You can book a time once a week/fortnight/month, to focus specifically on the content you want to share in the world. This is great if you target audience is on social media at a specific time, but you are at work/asleep/doing art. Here is a quick review of both.
This is my goto for Instagram and Pinterest. The interface is awesome for both of these accounts and you can link between. They give suggested posting times, based on the interaction of past posts, or niche trends. The Instagram tool also gives you relevant hashtags you can use. You can also save a group of hashtags that you use consistently. I've found this hugely useful. It also provides tracking information. There are a ton of other really great features too. The Instagram tool allows 30 free posts before you have to pay. It's $15US a month for the Instagram tool, and $15 a month for their Pinterest tool (total $30US). Cheaper if you pay yearly.
Buffer is another scheduling tool. I use it for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+. It also does Pinterest and Instagram but I prefer Tailwind for those social media. Like tailwind, it does give suggested times to post. It is free up to 10 posts, but if you want to schedule ahead it will cost $15US a month. Cheaper if you pay yearly.
Note: Instagram only allows for the automation of single image posts for business accounts. Videos, slideshows etc aren't available yet to scheduling software. Tailwind has a good workaround - you can still schedule a post with the description and hashtags, and instead of automatically posting it up, you can have it message you everything. You can then log into Instagram on your phone, copy and paste the description and hashtags, then replace the static image with the video/slideshow etc. It's not purely automated, but it definitely helps.
Want to post something on Instagram, and automatically have it posted to Flickr? Automation software can help with that.
Automation allows you to essentially create a program that is triggered when you take an action (eg post on Instagram) and then take an action (get that post, and put it on Flickr). It sounds complicated, but the below suggestions make it really easy.
The two best are IFTTT.com and Zapier. Both have limited free tools available, and you can pay for for the advanced stuff. For what most people here would use them for, I wouldn't bother paying.
The way I use this, is for syndicating my content to places that really aren't worth me actively posting to every week, but if a small handful of people find me there, I might as well automate it.
And these programs aren't just for social media. If you find yourself doing the same action again and again, see if you can automate it using these tools. It could save you hundreds of hours and headaches.
A word of warning
If you do use these programs always double check that it works according to plan. This software is great, but it isn't perfect. Check the results of all your automation to make sure it is working the way you want. Particularly for the first couple of posts.
Also, I don't recommend automating your main social media accounts. You still want to have some personalization for those. The scheduling software should be enough for those.
If anyone else has some tools they look, feel free to let us know (I geek out about these things)
There are two things to I want to address when it comes to discipline: Will power & Habits
Many people think, if I need to become more self-disciplined, I need to have more will power. This is true, however, it is unsustainable. Will power is a finite resource and should be treated as such.
Most people have a full tank of Will power when they first wake up. But throughout the day things will drain your will power reserves. Cold day, but still need to get up to go to work? That takes will power. Choosing to pack a healthy breakfast, instead of that piece of cake left over from the day before? That takes willpower. By the end of the day, your will power reserves are depleted, so those good choices are harder to make, and you give in to temptation or what is easy.
So use your will power wisely, and where possible, use willpower to create good habits. (More on that in a second). Notice when you use will power, and ask yourself how can I avoid this moment so I don’t have to exert willpower?
So for example, the night before, I set up my sketchbook and computer, so all I have to do is pick up a pencil and draw. Picking up a pencil takes less willpower than setting up my sketchbook, finding and opening up reference images on my computer. I get that all done the night before.
Another example of this is healthy eating. I would prefer to exert 1 bit of willpower at the supermarket and buy only healthy food, than having to battle myself throughout the day, every day, to not eat those biscuits. If I don’t by the biscuits in the first place, then I don’t have to exert the willpower to not eat them (I love choc-chip biscuits!)
Creating good habits, and eliminating bad habits are key to success. Once you have developed a good habit, over time self-discipline becomes less and less involved, and it actually becomes uncomfortable to NOT do it. (Ever gone to bed and not brushed your teeth and not being able to sleep till you do - that's an example of a good habit in action)
A book I recommend for developing strong habits is Switch by Dan and Chip Health. In it, they talk about the Elephant and the Rider and the Path they take.
Here is a good video on it. Watch this first before continuing on.
Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to do. I find it easy to just follow through a course, or preplan how I’m going to tackle a new piece. Even if it is dot points of basics things to do, just the process of thinking how you are going to do something helps.
You need to be emotionally invested in what you are doing and reward yourself for doing something good. Know what your big audacious goal is - it should be personal and an emotional investment for you. Connect those little actions to getting yourself closer to your big audacious goal. Even if you don’t like doing something, connect how it fits into getting you closer to your goal. If it is really tough, do it first thing in the morning (when willpower is at its highest)
This is your environment. Like the examples I gave for will power, these are shaping your environment for you to actually do what you want to do. Have your environment push you to achieve your goals. Eg, if you have kids, get up at 5am when everyone is asleep, so you don’t get interrupted when drawing? Set your drawing environment up before bed so its easy to just draw. I use to have a coffee machine with a timer, it would start brewing at 4:55am, so as soon as I wake up, BAM! Coffee. I do personal work in the morning before my 9-5, because I know I won’t have the energy/willpower to do stuff in the evening. I can sit around, relax and do nothing if I want and not feel guilty.
Your environment also includes the people around you. Surround yourself with people that encourage you. Get your S.O. on board. Get an accountability buddy to lift you up when you fall down. Get a mentor to help guild you (or at least a course that helps you grow). I have an art mate who mentors me and keeps me accountable. We talk monthly. I also have other mates who I talk to weekly who are always encouraging me and holding me accountable and making sure that I’m enjoying the process (which is something I often forget). Everything around me is driving me forward and keeping it FUN.
If your path is smooth, it makes it so much easier for the rider and elephant.
The Key To Habits
The main thing about building a new habit is consistancy. Many people go all in and say, I’m going to draw for 2 hours every day. This is going from 0-100 and requires a ton of willpower to get this habit started. More than likely, you will quickly burn out.
A better habit to create initially is to draw for 5 minutes each day. This is easy. And the thing is, you can draw anything.
When I first started drawing regularly, in those moments that I couldn’t be bothered drawing anything I would still open up that sketchbook, put a timer on and literally scribbled for 5 minutes.
It's not what you create, its the sticking to the habit that is important.
The crazy thing is that after that 5 minutes I usually kept drawing, but if I didn’t feel like it, I stopped after five minutes. Not guilt. I kept the habit.
I still keep this habit, but now I have put aside a 2 hour block for drawing. If I don’t consistently draw for 2 hours all the time that’s ok. (Sometimes I use it for going through tutorials if I don’t want to draw), but I always make sure I at least got that 5 minutes in of actually pencil/pen/paint on paper. (Don’t try this drawing for 2 hours daily - this habit took months to build up to.)
And yes, I’ve gone to bed with that itching feeling of needing to draw if I haven’t. I will then get up and doodle something for 5 minutes.
Lastly, don’t beat yourself up.
You are going to fail. Period. You will fail multiple times. However, don’t beat yourself up about it? Miss that 5 minutes drawing on that day? Bummer. Just make sure you do your 5 minutes the next day. (Don’t be tempted to “make up lost time” and do 10 minutes the next day. It snowballs and makes you feel guilty as hell - which the elephant hates and avoids).
Just keep on going. If you take a small number of steps each day, in the future, you will look back and see that you have walk MILES. Consistency is the key.
Anyways, that's my brief take and experience with self-disciplined. Hope it helps.
Further reading if you are interested:
In my job (digital marketer) I work with different CMS's all the time with my clients. My number 1 website builder I recommend is Wordpress. It's easy to use, highly flexible, and probably the best for SEO.
While I know many other artists use Squarespace, I would choose Wordpress over Squarespace. I avoid Wix and other CMS's altogether.
hehe, something I can help with.
Firstly, we all know personal branding is important (so we've been told)...but why?
Before you start to reach out to people and tell them why you are worth hiring/buying from, you need to be clear who you are:
This message should be clear, and it needs to be consistent. Whether its
When coming up with your personal brand you want to be able to make it as easy as possible for the rest of the world to spread your work. For your work to spread, your personal brand needs to be Remarkable. That is people need to be able to remark on your work/brand. IE. 'Worth telling others about.'
A personal brand is designed to make it as easy as possible for other people to describe what you do. People are going to talk about what you do anyway, however, if you aren't clear in your message, they will get it wrong, half right, or wont get it at all.
If you aren't clear on what you do and what makes you unique, how do you expect others to?
So in short, the way you should think of a personal brand is:
The reason people say "create an anchor statement" is one sentence is easier to remember (and share) than a whole convoluted story.
So how do you come up with all this. Here are some things you should ask yourself:
What is your background? List unique professional talents, insights, defining moments in your life, what you respect in others, unique perspectives you have, expertise, what people come to you for advice about.
What are your values? List core values, what you are passionate about, beliefs, loves, hates, character traits that are important to you, what you stand for
What is your body of work? List what you have already created, what you are proud of, what you have learnt, stories/messages you want to tell, themes/genres etc that show up, what do fans know that are going to get, what fans will never find, unique attributes, why they should seek you out over others
What is your legacy? List what people can be sure of when they hire you, why you want to be known for, your impact on audiences, unique value, where you want to be in five years.
Go through all these and write and go into as much detail as possible. Start to look for patterns and repititions in what you write. List down the patterns and repetitions. What are the themes of the repititions and patterns. What is consistent throughout what you have written?
Hone all this down till you have a small group of words and phrases that sum you up. Bring it all together to create a susinct sentence that you want other people to use to describe your and your work.
How does it feel to you? Does it feel right? If you think there is something missing, then go back and fine tune things. Once you are happy with it (or if you are a perfectionist - 90% happy with it) then you are done. You have your "anchor statement". Your personal brand in a nutshell
Here is my entry. BIG sister.
I'm happy for my image to be posted on social media. My social handles are:
This was a toughy. New medium. Different style. Totally random subject matter. But learnt alot
@Ben-Migliore Hey mate, did you read my reply on the other post you are refering too?
The other thing I can hear, is there is a lot of "shoulds", "have-to's", "need-to's" in what you have written. It tells me something about your state of mind, like you have no choice in the matter in improving.
You don't have to do anything. A good idea is to find what works for you.
Try something and assess if it works. If a new habit, or way of doing something, works for you, then keep it and keep going. If it doesn't, then that is ok, let it go, and maybe come back to it another time.
My immediate feedback I have for you is to breath and don't be so hard on yourself (We are not machines).
Assess where you are right now (which you are doing), but don't forget to focus on what is working for you, and just not what isn't working for you.
Continue to do what is working for you, and refine it as you go.
Then change what isn't working for you, and move it in the right direction. Start with baby steps. Again, you don't be tempted to go from 0 to 100. Take it one step at a time. Re-read what I wrote. Create and improving your art is a marathon (not a mad-crazy dash). Pace yourself and have some compassion for where you are right now. And don't forget to have fun!
Some beautiful work! I adore your style. There is some great feedback here.
I'll throw my 2c in here to. Firstly, I'm going to come from a marketers point of veiw and give feedback on your website based on your goal of becoming a freelancer.
1. Your Bio
You need to start thinking like someone who is coming to hire you.
(This one sentence needs to apply to everything you do when marketing yourself)
What will they want to know and see. Firstly, you need to be more confident and actually present yourself as being a freelancer and illustrator (you are - you just haven't had any jobs yet). Instead of saying "I'm hoping to become a freelancer etc" say something along the lines of "I am a freelance illustrator that specialises in creating indepth, and imaginative worlds for children (or whatever you goal is). If you are not sure what to say, I'll give some more tips below.
2. Have A Clear Call To Action - Contact Me Page
Let's say I'm looking to hire. I've seen your stuff, I love it, I want to hire you. What do I do next? People want to know how to contact you. Make it as easy and as obvious as possible. Don't hide it in your Bio or about me page. Make it obvious, and easy to find.
3. Get A Professional Domain
This is a little more complicated but is something you should heavily consider. Having a site imanartist.blogspot.com, or imanartist.wix.com doesn't look as professional as imanartist.com. As someone who has hired people from their site before, these little things make me more confident in my decision. Wix should allow you to port your current site to a specific domain of your chosing. There will be some cost involved with hosting etc, but its usually $10 - $20 a month, possibly even cheaper.
When You Are Not Sure What To Do...Steal
If you are not sure what to put in your bio, or what your contact us page should include, look at those who are already succeeding. Who are the top illustrators getting all the dream jobs you want? Look at their website. What do they show? What do they say? How do they describe themselves? How do
they describe their work? Take this as inspiration and apply it to your own website in your own words. You don't want to worry too much about any bells and whistles on the site (so long as it is clean and well presented), but you do want to look at the words and information they include.
Anways, I hope that helps. Its a different perspective to a problem, but it should be useful
I was looking on my computer. I see it now. It wasn't obvious in the 3 second ruie. Maybe move it front and center. Have a line of text outlining what you do, then below it have a button that says view portfolio.
I can see why you put your button to the side (I'm guessing to show off the pictures?) however think of the home page as a digital business card that people land on and then find what they want - make it as easy as possible for them.
Yes, have those images - it gives the impression of what you do, but I'd put the button to your portfolio in the middle to direct people to where you want them to go. The portfolio is for showing off you work.
Hope that helps and clarifies things.