Note: I will not be updating the comic next week. Instead, I will be in the Dealer’s section of Anthrocon all weekend; if you happen to be going, be sure to stop by my table (B07) and take a look at the original art for the comic, and I’ll have some neat freebies as well.
Fri 29 Jun 2007
Mon 25 Jun 2007
Note: Some of these tips are things I’ve tried and know work, but many more of them are things I’ve only seen other popular artists use. I’m posting this here as a something I can refer back to, but I think hopefully some of my readers will find this useful as well.
Popularity: You know those people, it seems like everyone knows who they are; they get lots of page hits, comments, feedback, and general communication. They seem to be elevated in your community because of that, and a lot of times people see it as quite an enviable position. Well, I’m going to tell you the ’secret’ to being popular, though it’s not so much a secret as common sense.
First, it’s important to define popularity. It’s really nothing more than everyone knows who you are. A lot of people, myself included, have made the mistake of thinking that your popularity is proportional to your talent, but that’s just not true. Your popularity and your talent are mutually exclusive. They have no bearing on each other at all. I’ve seen some phenomenally talented artists get next to no online recognition, and some dreadful artists get scores of fans.
With that out of the way, here’s what you do. Make sure you follow these steps in order:
- Give people a reason to look at you. First, look at some popular people/sites you know. Consider why you watch them. Probably because they’re either entertaining or educating. All the sites I look at fall under these two categories - and this is key to getting repeat visitors. If people realize you’re either interesting or knowledgeable, they’ll keep coming back. With that in mind:
- Make a site with meaningful content.
This is easy to explain - make a site worth reading, or a gallery worth looking at. I know I said up there that popularity and talent are mutually exclusive, but there are limits to how far you can get with marketing (which I’ll discuss in a bit.) So definitely practice until you feel like you have some truly valuable and worth sharing!
- Find your passion and become an expert in it. It’s simple to say, but tough to do. However, the fact is, the more you know, the more you can teach other people. This goes for comedy too - one of the things I’ve learned through my blog writings is comedic writing is just as hard, if not harder, to do as a tutorial or serious discussion on art.
- Be unique. This is surprisingly tough, but it always helps to be able to offer something know other site does, be it through your art, comics, or writings. Try to think of something no one has done before, and be the first to do it.
So how do you put your face out there?
- To start: Be consistent. I’ve known people with dozens of net aliases; they go by one name in this gallery, another in that gallery, use this name in that blog, etc. That’s only going to hurt you in the long run, simple because people won’t know straight off the bat if ‘redwing37′ is the same person as ’scurvypuppy.’ And if they have to exert any energy to find out, they probably won’t. Remember: people surf the net for enjoyment, not so they can be confused and frustrated!
I go by ‘maggock’ everywhere. Why? Well, it’s been attached to my identity for 6-7 years, but more importantly, when you google that name, I’m practically the only thing that comes up in the results. If I had picked a name like ‘johndoe’ I’d fighting with all the other ‘johndoe’s for search engine popularity rights. So when you pick your online handle, try to find something unique, and use the same name everywhere.
- Find a forum focusing on your expertise, passion, etc. and become active in it. Let’s say you already lurk in a forum you enjoy. You know all the major players there; some guys really do seem much more popular than others. But no one even knows who you are. Why? Because you’re lurking! You’re only going to become known to people if you interact with them in the forum. You’re expending a lot of time and thought reading many threads, so if you have something to say, make sure you’re saying it.
On that note, also make sure what you’re saying is useful (or at least humorous.) People don’t pay much attention to ‘IAWTC’ comments. Make sure you’re adding intellegent comments to the discussion.
- Comment on other galleries and blogs. Got a blog you like? A gallery? Any place that allows you to post comments easily? This is rather like the forum tip - post often, and post intellegently, and people will eventually pay attention to you. I remember when I was more active on gfxartist.com, I posted a great deal of meaningful comments, and in exchange, other members would vote and comment on my pieces, so they frequently made it into the Top Ten, and I even held the number 1 spot for a few days (even though I was far from the best artist on the gallery.) People DO pay attention to comments, especially helpful and/or smart ones, and they’ll be much more likely to remember your name.
- Wherever you comment, make sure you have a link back to your site. It’s great that you’re commenting, but if all you attach to your comment is a name, people probably aren’t going to be able to find your site. So add a signature to your comments, but keep it simple. Big flashy signatures usually only confuse and/or annoy.
- Post often, post early, post everywhere. This is far from the only place I update Inner Space; I also update on a personal blog and 2 other galleries, and I’m looking into more places even as I type this. The more places you post, the more of an audience you’ll have, and the more people will recognize your name - as long as you’re using the same name everywhere. Also, be certain that all your galleries link to each other, so your visitors can surf across each one if they wish.
- Advertise. If you’re doing a comic like I am, list your comic in as many directories as you can, be sure to hit at least the most popular ones like thewebcomiclist.com, onlinecomics.net, and belfry.com. I get most of my hits from those sites, and many of my repeat visitors found me through them. You can also try monetary advertising through a couple of those sites as well; I tried that, and found I got a satisfactory boost in traffic from it.
The very last thing I can think of is: be nice. Being rude, mean, or a drama queen might get you more hits, but in the long run it’s damaging to your reputation, and most of the hits you’ll get will be from drama-mongers, not fans.
Fri 22 Jun 2007
Mon 18 Jun 2007
One time long ago, a rich man decided he wanted a nice picture of a fish to hang on his wall. So he went to the most famous artist in all the land and asked him, “Will you paint me the most beautiful picture of a fish in the world?”
The artist said, “Of course! But it will be expensive, it will cost you 1,000,000 Rubles.”
The man said “I don’t care what it costs, just do it!”
The artist said, “Pay me in advance, and then come back in one year.”
So the man came back the next day, handed over all the money, then left to wait. He waited an entire year, through the summer, winter, spring and fall.
Then exactly a year later he returned to the artists home and knocked on the door. The artist answered the door and said “Come in.”
The man anxiously asked, “Is my fish ready? Did you do your best work?”
The artist replied, “Of course, sit here, I will have your fish ready in a moment.”
The man sat next to a long table. The artist left the room, then returned with a piece of paper, a brush, and a pot of paint. The artist then dipped the brush in the paint, and in one minute painted the most exquisite and most beautiful picture of a fish imaginable. “Here is your painting, sir.” The man was stunned- in more ways than one!
The man said “That certainly is a most beautiful picture- but it only took you a minute to paint! This is robbery! I won’t pay you a million rubles for a painting that takes you one minute!! This is absurd!”
The artist calmly put down his brush and said, “Come with me for a moment.” And led the man over to a large closet on the other side of the room. The artist opened the door and out fell thousands of pieces of paper with fish painted on them.
The moral of the story is what goes into the end product is HARDLY where the entire effort goes. You are not paying that artist for any one piece he or she has done. You are paying that artist for the years s/he spent honing his/her craft to bring it to the point where people want to buy it.
When we buy any service, be it from a lawyer, a plumber, an accountant, a tax consultant, or even yes, an artist, we’re buying not only that service, but the years of experience, practice, and education that comes with them. That’s why people with more experience, practice, and education can command higher prices.
So remember this story when you buy or sell artwork!
Fri 15 Jun 2007
Things are going to be slowing down just a bit around here as I prepare for an upcoming convention. I’m going to keep trying to post on Mondays. And never fear, the comic is on schedule for weekly updates, as always!