Before the dawn of the internet and social media, creatives had to spend thousands of dollars getting their work printed in huge catalogs the size of miniature phone books that potential hiring art directors and art buyers would look at. Thanks to the internet, you can use social media as a tool to not only reach out to potential hiring art directors, but build a fan base around your work to create passive income. Here are a few key points when thinking about how to use social media to build yourself up as a freelancer.
One thing I hear from a few friends who are new to Twitter is that no one follows them. You might get a few people with the logic of “If you build it they will come,” but first you have to follow other creatives. You should especially follow other art directors. A few months ago I wrote about how to be personal while using social media and not turning away potential clients, but I will talk about a few of those points briefly here. Be yourself and try not to be disingenuous. By posting things on Twitter that aren’t about you but about your interests, you become much a more interesting follow. It shows that you can think about more than self-promoting yourself. So go ahead and post that link to the Viking ship that was found on the shore of wherever, and that Buzzfeed link of top 20 cutest Welsh Corgi moments. You should also join in on the conversations other people have, and not be afraid of having an opinion. Just know when to step back if the conversation goes from being a friendly debate to a heated argument.
Tumblr is a blog engine that relies on tags that boost the following of your art blog that you fill with beautiful images. Giving it tags that relate to the artwork you post with things like #painting or #landscape will increase the chances of it being seen by those who look for art or related posts about painting or landscapes. Now, while Tumblr is a blog hoster, there is also a social component to it. On Tumblr you can allow other users to ask you questions about when you are putting out your next print or asking you about your process. This makes you more accessible to your fan base, who in turn will be more likely to buy a print or a silk screened tote bag or even an iPhone case you are selling on a site like Society 6.
How you decide to organize your content is entirely up to you. I personally like to show previews of things that I draw which aren’t under NDA or contracts which give a publisher first publishing rights. I’ll post these on my Facebook fan page, and then supply links to my latest Tumblr posts. My Tumblr posts are usually about recent published work but I also show printed copies of things I’ve illustrated and lettered such as record covers, buttons and t-shirts. When I use Twitter, I like to post about things I am selling and about new work I’ve posted on Tumblr. I also chime in on random conversations that happen in my feed. So, why is it good to post different things in different places? It breaks up the “sameness” so you are not just posting the same content in all realms of Social Media. If you do end up posting about the same content in different places, it’s best to break it up over a few days (and over a few different feeds) so people can rediscover something you just posted about.
Social media is a widely used tool, which means that your content lives within an enormous pool of other people saying interesting things and posting cool stuff. It can feel daunting, but as long as you focus on staying true to you, posting different content in different places, and continuing to create great art, you will start to see a positive outcome. Remember that it is not enough to only post GOOD content, but content that is both personal and genuine.
Daniel Fishel is an illustrator and hand letterer who originally hails from the Keystone state but resides in Queens, NY. Daniel's has worked with a range of clients such as The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Nylon Guys Magazine, Arizona Iced Tea, Lands End, No Sleep Records and many others. His work has been recognized by American Illustration, the Society of illustrators and 3x3 Magazine.
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