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Tips for successful, guilt-free self-promotion?
January 29, 2014 9:43 PM   Subscribe

How can an artist/creative/designer self-promote without sounding like a sleazy car salesman?

I hope this doesn't qualify as chatfilter. It is one of those questions that are straightforward enough but can't be asked without an introductory rant.

So, not to sound like a cynical jerk, I just think that artists/creatives/designers who shamelessly (and constantly) promote their mediocre work on social networks are bloody annoying. Whenever I think of artists or creatives in general, there's always this mental image of a brooding hermetic genius who refuses to answer questions about his work and doesn't give out interviews. He doesn't have that many projects (comparatively speaking) but his work is always groundbreaking and forward-thinking, and he naturally develops a tenacious cult-following.

But hey, I need to be realistic. I need to promote my work and get out there, but how do I avoid the pitfall of becoming the very thing I detest? How can I garner countless “likes” on facebook and get thousands of followers on Twitter and get featured on creative websites and develop a cult-following and have a successful career in the creative world without being a narcissistic douchebag (excuse the language) about it all? Must I transform my facebook page to my personal advertising page? Do I need to get an agent to do all the marketing (like most big name designers/artists out there) or can I do it myself? I have a lot more questions but you get the picture.
posted by omar.a to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't think of promoting your work as trying to convince people who don't like your work that they NEED to check it out.

Think of promoting your work as getting the word out to people who would like it if only they knew.

Here are what I would consider best practices:

- Be open and sharing, not vindictive. Don't guilt people into checking out your thing, just put it out there for them to discover.

- Work on finding your audience. If you're a comics illustrator, get your work in front of people who are looking for new comics to check out. If you're a filmmaker, make sure to share your work with people who enjoy film.

- It's OK to share things with friends and family (and you'd be surprised at how supportive they can be), but don't expect your personal network to be the primary vector for getting an audience.

- Remember what your priorities are. Facebook likes are cool, but what does that actually mean for your work? Twitter followers are useful inasmuch as you use twitter to spread the word about your work or engage with fans. It's not about getting lots of likes and shares and followers. It's about selling paintings, or getting podcast subscribers, or bringing people out to your shows. Social media is a communication tool, not an end in itself.

Re the facebook page thing. Most people I know have separate personal facebook accounts and "Pages" to engage with their audience on only a specific topic. You may find it useful to cross the streams sometimes (for instance a lot of your real life friends want to know about your creative projects), but in order to avoid spamming people, getting a separate page for fans/your audience is best.

Re the marketing thing. This will depend on what level you're working at, as well as whether you want to take on marketing your work as a major task that you do. Professional PR people/marketing strategists are not cheap. I would wait to pay someone until you have specific goals in mind.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Wonderful, thank you for your answer. But what practical tips are there for this kind of self-promotion? For example, would being nice and helpful on Behance and helping other artists by critiquing their work help others see my own? Should I e-mail creative sites some samples of my work in the hopes that they publish them? Should I send out flyers to my neighbors?
posted by omar.a at 9:59 PM on January 29


Indeed people who try too hard in a very direct way are often a turn off. Maybe you could do it in a less direct way, such as having a blog about your field or about people in your field, or creating videos about something in your field that have educational or informational value. If you are seen as a contributor and an influencer and a thinker, people will look up to you, and certainly that might enhance your opportunities for people to know about your own creative work.
posted by Dansaman at 10:03 PM on January 29


The biggest hurdle to your marketing is the attitude that the process is something like this:

1. Make great art
2. Somehow people discover it or something????
3. Profit, or at least make enough to not die starving, or maybe die starving or whatever.

The biggest thing the artists I follow do is:

-They talk about the process. Some even livestream themselves drawing or whatever. They talk about what they're working on. They toss off sketches or works in progress on Twitter or Soundcloud or whatever. They have blogs where they write things about whatever it is they do.

-They are excited about what they do and want to share it with you. The mindset is less promotional and more "here's this cool thing I'm working on."

-They answer questions, they give advice, they make an effort to be people. Or are in fact people and just like participating.

-They are involved in the wider artistic community for whatever they do, be it trade shows or conventions or art gallery openings or whatever.

-They engage the press for this field and say "Hey guys, I have this new thing, and since you write about this thing, maybe you'll find it interesting."

-They make their work easy to get ahold of and link to it on their various feeds.

Because here's the thing: If I follow you or otherwise engage with your presence, I'm interested in you. I WANT you to tell me what things you have to buy or when your new book is out. That's the entire point of the interaction.

The wider thing: Make it easy to find and make it easy for people to spend money on it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:08 PM on January 29 [15 favorites]


Check out Jeremy Deller (?) won a Tate award and did a renactment of a miners strike, thoughtful but accessible.
posted by tanktop at 6:36 AM on January 30


I can only really discuss what I do but I totally know the people you are talking about. I have a singer friend who is just constantly all about where she is performing and when her album is dropping and I want to strangle her because her fb page is 99% promotion. She just got a day job as a car salesman so I may need to unfriend. Anywho...

I have a facebook page that is just for my craft business. I go there to do shameless promotion, some friends like the page. most don't and I'm cool with that. If I'm going to be somewhere specific I invite all my friends via an email invite or facebook invite but that is as intrusive I get with it, I never follow-up. On my personal page I'll post something new and awesome that I made that I'm super excited about it but that is because I'm super excited about it and I would post anything I'm super excited about on my personal page. And once per year at christmas I do a post on my personal page that I call my "shameless plug."

On my business facebook page. I post things I'm working on, places I'll be selling, shop updates, cool things I'm buying from other etsy sellers, awesome sales I heard about from other craft friends, funny blogs I think people who like my stuff might also like. I try to be me on that page as well just without anything about my personal life.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:07 AM on January 30


Chip MacGregor devotes alot of time to marketing and promotion on his blog. He's a literary agent, but I imagine much of the information is transferable to other art forms. Pay special attention to the posts by Amanda Luedeke, who writes a marketing post every Thursday.
posted by lharmon at 8:32 AM on January 30


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