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Digital Presence for Artists: Getting Started

It's no secret that many artists struggle to promote themselves online. Many artists I help come to our first meeting seeking help and admitting they feel their online strategy is either non-existent or perhaps they are just throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something will stick.

This article will provide you with the top tips to get started with your digital presence as an artist. You will learn how to streamline getting online and save time keeping up with the demands of social media to establish a solid online presence.

First, let's address the biggest misconception I hear from my clients and artistic friends.

"I don't have time."

If you find yourself muttering these words, "I want to show up better online, I just don't have the time."

I am here to tell you this is one of those limiting thoughts. Regardless of how busy your schedule is, if you are creating art, then you not only have the time, but you likely already have more content than you may understand, and you are ahead of many other brands or businesses that spend countless hours trying to create new content.

When it comes to showing up online, the biggest drawback and theft of your time is creating the actual content. As artists, we make passionately and, at times, rather effortlessly; anything we create can become content! Perhaps, the issue is not a lack of time but a lack of preparation.

The next argument I typically hear is, "posting is just so time-consuming it seems impossible to compete."

While I agree posting can be a time challenge, the technology we currently have access to can save us time and ensure we are spending more time creating and less time fretting about feeding the algorithm. This way, we can stay ahead and keep the algorithms happy while ensuring we don't burn ourselves out by trying to keep up.

As an artist myself, I always feel lucky to share my artistic endeavours online with others. Social media and the ability to have a personal website allow me to share my content with far more people than I would have been able to before the digital age. Creating content to share is as easy as snapping a photo of my latest work in progress or a finished creation. It's as simple as remembering to set up my phone to capture video to a photo of the work in progress. It can also be sharing an article or publication where my artwork was featured or shown, and it can be sharing public engagement content such as events I've been invited to speak at or shows where I have collaborated with other users.

So keeping reading to learn more about creating a workflow to make social media work for you and not the other way around.

Get Prepared To Create Content

To move away from the 'I don't have time' myth, take a moment to prepare your creative space. This can happen quickly if you have a studio or space you regularly create.

  1. Determine the best lighting for a photo or video.

  2. Do you have a tripod or a friend/ family member willing to take a photo or video for you?

  3. Is your space cluttered and preventing you from wanting to share? Take a moment when you aren't feeling creative, and give the room a tidy, even if it's only one small area where you will take a final photo or progress shot.

  4. Are you comfortable being in the photo or on camera? This part can be challenging for many folks, and hey, sometimes I get creative and realize Im still in my pyjamas, haven't brushed my hair and would not be okay posting a photo of myself in this state. This is 100% okay; however, head back into that space and take a picture of yourself with your artwork when you feel good. Part of being on social media is folks getting to know you; I suggest getting used to this while your following is low; as your account grows, so will your confidence. With the rise of 'stories' (read more on those here) it's important to include yourself on your social media accounts.

For those who don't have a specific space to create, it may take more intention to remember to snap photos or videos of your progress actively. Seriously, I understand remembering to pull out your phone, find good lighting, and stage a space may impede your creative flow and feel unnatural to your process. Try to make it a habit to do this at the beginning or end of each creation session.

So now that we have determined it may not be time, that's the issue, but intention. Let's dive into a few more tips to help you prepare to get online quickly or optimize the assets you already have.

Where do I start with my digital presence?

Knowing where to start is a common issue that stops many of my artistic clients from taking the first steps or optimizing the assets they already have. Looking at our online presence, even just a tiny piece of social media can become overwhelming quickly. Where do you prioritize your time? What platforms should I be on? Why haven't I seen any growth? If you ask yourself these questions, you are not alone.

When it comes to 'where to start,' it does not have a one size fits all answer. This will depend on your goals for being online and what audience you are trying to reach.

However, I can tell you that content and distribution are crucial to standing out online before making any decisions on platforms, websites, optimization and content, and inventory what you have.

As you are an artist, you are a natural-born creator. You may have everything you need already and don't know how to link it all together, perhaps you have it linked and need it optimized, or you have a few things but need extra help getting started.

I recommend all artists compile these items before beginning to structure their digital presence; preparation is the key to saving time and money in the digital world. If you already have a presence, use these tips to review your current assets.

  1. A solid brand name - I don't mean you have to brand yourself as a business, but you should pick a name you want to create under and use this same name throughout all of your online platforms. Before you dive in and decide on your 'brand,' be sure to do your research; if you are trying to create as {First Name, Last Name - Art}, but there are already several other people throughout the world with the same name, it is going to be harder for you to stand out online. Don't confuse this with using an alias in your practice; this is just the name under which you will begin to establish your digital presence. You can still very much just be you. This should be a website domain name or social media handles (if you are unsure of what a 'handle is, check out this article on social media terminology).

  2. An artistic statement - This piece can be very challenging for an artist. Part of the appeal in the art world is who the artist is and why they create what they do. This part should not be skipped to stand out; knowing why you create is crucial. I recommend starting with the extended version. Open a notepad or grab a piece of paper, and do a brain dump.

Consider these key questions:

  1. What is my artistic history? How long have I been creating in general? How long have I been making professionally?

  2. What is the primary medium I enjoy creating with? Are there multiple mediums I use? When I create with these mediums, what does it make me feel connected to?

  3. What emotions or feelings do I hope others will see within my work? What emotions or feelings do I connect to within my artistic practice? What is my driving force behind this creative passion?

  4. Has your work ever been shown? If yes, list all the places. If no, where could people view more of your work (You may not have an answer to this yet, and that is 100% okay.)?

  5. What aspects of your life influence your artwork? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

  6. Where do you live? Where have you lived in the past? Do these areas influence how you create? Do you think others would enjoy knowing any personal details about your life?

Once you have a draft, you can begin to parse information that may not be relevant to the overall understanding of your creative process. Your website will hold the most information about you, while different social platforms may only allow you to capture others' attention with a minuscule 155 characters.

3. A logo - Your logo does not need to be elaborate; it can be a thumbnail photo of yourself, a wordmark, or a professionally designed graphic. However, as your digital presence is connected, users need to recognize you from platform to platform. A logo can make it easy for folks to know they are following the proper account or have landed on the correct website. *Certain Wix website hosting plans come with the ability to design a free logo.

4. Photos of your artwork - the quality of the images you put online will powerfully attract followers. As an artist, you likely have many photos of your artwork or past artwork just waiting to be photographed. If you have past photos, ensure they are clear and well-lit. Getting professional images of your artwork can be costly; thankfully, our smartphones now have incredibly powerful cameras. As you sort through your past photos or prepare to take new ones, I recommend creating a new folder on your device and adding the clear, well-lit images into this folder; this will make scheduling your posts much more accessible.

5. Have Evergreen content - this is content that does not age or contain trending information; as an artist, much of what you create will be evergreen content. This means that you can re-post this content year after year. For example, if you have photos of art you created years ago, you can repost these images as a walk down memory lane. A photo you posted six months ago may be so far down your feed that users will still engage and find the content fresh and exciting when you post it again.

Once you have compiled your assets or started taking inventory, you are ready to build your online presence.

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