You’ve set up your website, created the perfect portfolio, and opened your social media accounts—now what? If you sit back and wait for potential fans and customers to fall in your lap, you might be disappointed. Because the truth is, no matter how beautiful and on-brand your website and social media accounts are, it doesn’t matter if they don’t get traffic.
It used to be that putting up a cool website, engaging on social media, and commenting on blogs was enough to get your name out there, but these days things are a bit different. In fact, many creatives get frustrated and give up too quickly after an initial burst of enthusiasm. They often wonder if they’re wasting their time on online marketing. And while organic growth is much harder than it used to be, there’s no reason why you can’t cultivate a strong online presence for your art. The trick is figuring out how to use your time wisely and effectively to make the biggest dent possible.
Remember, none of this will be effective if you don’t have a clear idea of your brand identity and your niche, so take the time to figure these critical elements out first and then try our tips for establishing your online presence.
Keep It Simple
When creating your website and social media accounts, think of a name that is clear and effective. You might try Googling your name to see what comes up. Ideally, your artwork would be top on the list, but perhaps you have a common name. For instance, it will be much harder to break through for “Amy Johnson,” than if you have a name that is decidedly unique. If that’s the case, “Amy Johnson Art” or “Amy Johnson Photography” might be all you need to do to make yourself stand out.
The same thing goes if you are creating a brand name. Do your research to make sure that there’s no one else on the market with a similar name and that it’s clear enough that people will be able to easily find you.
Curate Your Content
Not only will you want to get content out there, but you’ll want it to be carefully curated and this is where knowing your brand comes into play. Whether it's writing a blog or posting to Instagram, everything that you put out into the universe should feed back into your brand. Much as you do with a portfolio, make sure to step back and look at any stream of content you are putting out as a whole. Does the picture of your dog make sense in the middle of your work? Unless you’re a pet photographer, maybe not. Eliminate distractions and make it clear for whoever clicks to know exactly what you’re about.
And for maximum impact, make good use of hashtags. This is a good way to get your work seen by a wider audience, who can then click back and follow your work. It’s not always about the quantity of the hashtags, but the quality. Look at what’s working within your niche or what your competitors are using and test things out. Over time, you’ll see what works best for you.
It can sometimes seem pointless to post consistently if you aren’t getting a lot of feedback and are spreading yourself thin over too many social networks. But there’s nothing worse than having someone find your online profile and see that it’s completely stale. Better to have no account than have one where the last post was 5 months ago.
To that end, start out with one or two social networks you feel confident with and use them consistently. There are a lot of third-party apps, such as Buffer or Hootsuite, that can help you schedule your posts in advance, freeing up time during the week for other things. Give yourself a schedule and stick to it so people will see you are active and creating.
Optimize for SEO
If you want to attract people to your website, optimizing it for search engines is key. Ideally, your name will be at the top of the list when potential clients search for your type of art or creative service, and SEO is one of the easiest ways to make this happen. Part of the key to SEO is fresh content, which is why many artists take advantage of blogging. Not only will this allow you to write about the topic you want to rank for, but will keep your website active in the eyes of Google. New to SEO? Yoast is a great WordPress plugin that also runs free basic SEO training on their site.
Pitch to Media
Getting your name into the papers is a good way to generate buzz about your creative work. This can lead to links back to your website or social profiles or simply an increase in searches for your work. And the more media you have, the more likely it is for other like-minded journalists to also write about you. Where to start? Local media is a good place to begin, as it's often easier to make contact. It's these journalists' jobs to spotlight local talent, so they'll be happy to hear what you are up to. Create a list and send out consistent updates on what you have going on. Even just a few sentences with some high-quality images will be enough to put yourself out there. And don't get discouraged if the first few rounds go nowhere, you never know when you'll get a hit.
Engage with Influencers
These days, nothing makes a bigger social media impact than getting your work shared by an influencer. Do your research and see who are the social media influencers in your space. Whether it's an arts publication or an art-loving celebrity, a share on the right account can bring major visibility. Don't be afraid to comment and message others in your sphere, virtual networking is a must for getting your name out there. Hashtags can also help. For instance, My Modern Met uses #MMMexplore to find talented artists to share on our Instagram stream. Leverage your time by trying to get your work featured on a bigger platform and you'll see your visibility skyrocket.
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