Allow me a moment to go on a tangent and hopefully, you will be able to pick out tidbits of wisdom.
Hopefully this wisdom will aid you.
Hopefully this aid will pay off for you.
When most aspiring artists set out on their journey to try and make a living off their skill, they find themselves overwhelmed by all the noise already out there and all the other established artists’ marketing. They also get told that you can’t make a living doing art or things about there being no financial gain in living as an artist and more negative things that discourage and that harm.
I know, I’ve been there. Truth is, you can make a living off your art and you can have a financial income from your art.
Others have done it before and you can too, it just takes a lot of hard work, smart thinking and a backbone.
What’s important to note about going online, is that the internet has brought about a massive change in how information is shared and how easily it has become accessible.
It’s also important to understand that there is nothing unique or original. What’s unique, has been done already and was no longer unique after the first time it was pulled off.
What’s original anyway? Most of the things we see online today, are adaptations of things we saw when we did research for our projects. Those things we drew inspiration from, were most likely adaptations of other things that were adaptations.
Don’t let this discourage you though. Go out there, make noise, be your wonderful self and be all you can be, because the world is a sad place already and you are an artist and you can make it brighter.
That’s right, you are an artist – you have a skill that is not fully understood and oftentimes, overlooked. And that is to your advantage.
You, yes you, you beautiful person. You can make amazing things, you can solve complex problems and you can make people see things they never knew existed. There’s even some rules of the internet because of work artists have done. (cough – rule 34 and 35 – cough)
It’s also with the change of our understanding of human psychology that we are able to create marketing material that resonates with different people, enabling us to market to a far more specific group of people, rather than trying to appeal to the mass market from the get-go.
It’s also important to know that you can do a lot with very little to almost no budget online – this part is important as that is what this post is about, but for the sake of writing this post, I added the fluff as well to make the post appear more valid and to make it seem like I know what I’m talking about.
In actual fact, no one really knows for a fact what will work online today and still be relevant tomorrow. It is just the nature of the fickle world of digital marketing.
The trends change as fast as day turns to night and we are always trying to stay ahead of some game set in motion by some or other entity, when in actual fact, there is no game. I don’t even know if there is an entity.
But enough of that, here’s what I do know and I hope that the tips I share here will help you. I also want you to know that these tips are kept broad and intended to be a small starter to help you get going, by spending no money on boosting posts and without engaging in complex marketing campaigns.
This does not mean going outside and mixing with all the other kids in adult bodies.
No, this means you should find a social platform or two or three, but for a start no more than two and be active on those platforms.
Whether you choose to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Artstation, DeviantArt, linkedIn or any of the other platforms out there – it really is up to you.
A good way of choosing your top platforms, is to experiment with the ones that sound most appealing to you and then narrow it down. Just like you do with your art, you lay down all the broad strokes, insert all the thingamabobs and then you reduce. You remove the fat and trim the excess meat and you craft an art piece that has the focus purely on the subject matter.
The exact same counts for your social media presence. Don’t spread yourself all over all the channels, it will cause you to lose out on valuable time you could have spent on one or two platforms.
Think of it like specialising in an art form, when you try and draw and do all the things in all the styles, you’ll never be great at any of them.
Reach Out. It’s okay to ask for help.
(But only accept help from those who’s opinion you value)
This one is more about groups and forums, be active on them, post your work, engage with the people online and build a reputation. Build a reputation you are comfortable with, because your reputation will help you resonate with the circles online that you want to mix with. It’s important to note that nobody should tell you that you are wrong for being into some genres, just because they are not mainstream or socially acceptable.
Do engage in these groups. Share your knowledge and tips and do ask for feedback, peer reviews are great for these things and they not only show your character, they also show your growth.
This will come back to you down the line and help you get more work because the ones hiring are usually active in the groups for this type of content ad for people like you.
Groups and feedback from peers are also goood for your art growth becase sometimes, your eyes grow numb to an art piece because you’ve stared at it for too long – post it to a group and ask for specific feedback.
Highlight the areas you are struggling with, point out what you are happy with and make sure to be open and have a mind of receiving. The moment you put your artwork up and ask for feedback, that is what you’ll get – good as well as uncalled for comments. This is why you need a thick skin.
Come at me bro!
This is one I live by everyday and hopefully, I practice it too.
As much as we experience people giving us feedback, shooting down our ideas and giving us constructive criticism to help us build our art better, the same is to be said for digital marketing.
Leave your ego outside, there’s no room or growth if you’re ego is in the way.
Get to know your peers on a somewhat personal level, because a piece of feedback highlighting negative points about your work, from a peer who you know personally and who you know means no harm, will not sting.
Be candid, speak freely and openly with each other, speak your mind and be honest.
Challenge me directly. I really want this one to sink in – allow people to challenge you directly and be able to defend your work with logic and sound reasoning. “IT’S MY STYLE!” Does not count as justification for something being wrong.
Be specific in what you put out online as you need to think of what you are saying about your work and your brand.
Do you want people to associate you with lewds or with fan art?
Do you want people to associate you with AAA games and being a source of inspiration or do you want them to associate you as someone who knows what they are doing and is always willing to help?
Small things like this affect your reputation online and will either build or destroy perceptions of you and here in these realms, perceptions matter a great deal.
You’re not the hero
This one is important – you are not some protagonist about to embark on a journey and save the world. You are an artist, a side character to the hero.
Your hero, is your audience, your clients and your customers. Think of yourself as the wise old shopkeeper or the old hag who gives the hero the thing they need to complete their quest.
You need to understand this because the moment you realise that your art is now your business, you become like a sellsword – except you have dignity and honour among thieves.
Steal like an artist
This line is used a lot and I am using it here as well, steal.
Take inspiration from your peers and take to heart what they do, because you need to do it as well.
Copy things you see happening online, participate in trends and jump on bandwagons – the good ones at least.
Participate in contests and make sure you understand the Terms & Conditions of each contest, before signing your hard work away.
There are no new things to do online and you CAN NOT control going viral.
If you do go viral, good for you, if you don’t, oh well.
Some extra wisdom from Neil Gaiman
Watch this speech by Neil Gaiman in 2012 “Make Good Art”
If anything – be consistent in your frequency of posting.
Post at the same frequency all the time. If you post once a week, don’t miss that once a week deadline.
If you post twice a week, do so and keep the momentum rolling. Your audience will develop an anticipation of waiting from your work to drop, just like you wait for the next episode of your favourite series to drop.
And don’t you think even for a minute that your work is not worthy of your audience. They are there for a reason and the biggest part of that reason is your work and you.
Don’t feed the trolls.
Someone’s maliciously breaking down your work and saying mean things?
Dump their ass like you would dump a cheating ex.
The moment you give in to what the trolls are saying, they win and you lose all credibility. Engage only with the fans that build you up and the ones that provide solutions along with their criticism of your work.
Lastly – Be awesome
Be awesome, do the art you want to do, even if it is something others frown upon. It is what makes you happy and if you are not making the art you want to make, then what’s the point?