“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman
In thinking about writing this post, I wondered if doing promotion or social media for an artist, writer or musician was truly different than it might be for any other entity looking to spread its gospel. The truth is that it is. And it isn’t.
There are universal truths, always in flux, that guide the world of social media. Stats, analytics, page views, downloads and user data. There are techniques, methodologies and constantly changing adaptations to newer technologies. These necessary evils do a lot to suck our time and creativity. If you are like me, the risk is always there of being led down a side road of information, seeking information on the web. After hours pass, you realize you haven’t written one word, bothered to open Photoshop or compose a single measure of your next song—your work lives on in your head.
Unless we have sponsors, commissions, record or book deals — or a silver spoon level inheritance — we have to work promoting as well as spend time creating. Dreamy-eyed passion is great until the landlord knocks on the door. I live in a hybrid world. I write for a living and manage social media for clients, so I spend an inordinate amount of time switching from a creative to career mindset while never leaving either. The sad reality is my creative endeavors tend to get shafted in the process. That said, how are we to balance the requirements to feed our muse, while meeting the demands necessary to actively build platform, or an audience with the fervor the digital age requires?
The most important concept here is one of sharing. In my business and in my artistic endeavors, relationships are developed through mutual admiration and respect. If you are on social media, you should be talking proportionately more about the work that inspires you, the books that mark you or the bands that read your soul better, than you should self-promoting. I’m a big proponent of self-promotion, but if all I ever see is buy this, watch that, look how great I am today, the chances are I become immune to your talents. Steff Metal said in her piece “Going Local: 5 Ways to Market Your Art in Your Community,” for my friend Drew at The Skinny Artist : “Hold Local Exhibits” (readings, concerts) “Network with the Local Arts Community,” “Schmooze with the Press,” (backstage passes for Target Audience Magazine, for example) and to “Team Up with a Local Charity.” These are all valid and well-proven methods that translate well into the digital neighborhood as well.
Here’s how: Find your niche community online and participate. Give and take. Give and receive feedback and encouragement. Many artistic communities online have competitions, exhibits, calls for submissions and the likes to encourage engagement. Share other artists work, and call attention to the other things in your life that are important to you and those in your community. Help spread the message for others and the things they care about. I can assure you that in doing so, you will amplify your own message and art infinitely.
You may also enjoy: The first rule of Twitter – social media tips for artists
As a person who does social media management, and who both personally and in support of my art, has followed specific methodologies that seem to work, allow me to share a bit of what I might tell a client. There is, after all, a science to what works and what doesn’t whether it is artistic, or business related. One of the things I personally have struggled with is promoting my art in environments full of other starving artists who aren’t inclined, nor have the resources to actually pay for my art. The communities are great for sharing and learning. No Not much for actually selling the work. I am learning to use an old school set of principles, loosely based on the work of Peter F. Drucker management that brings the client, customer, or the audience to the forefront. It looks a little like this, again, as presented by The Skinny Artist:
Who is your ideal customer? (Your target market)
Are they local, regional, or worldwide?
How exactly is your artistic product or service going to improve their life?
What are their alternatives to hiring or purchasing from you?
What do you think may be the best of connecting directly with this customer?
How can you set yourself apart from your competition?
What can you do today to build your online “brand” awareness with this customer?
By mastering this process, or allocating resources to have a professional work with you in formulating and executing this plan you can devote your time and energy to actually creating your art, and collaborating with your artistic community to grow in your craft, not social media, promotion or marketing which so easily can take you away from where your passions lie.