I got a lot done today and now I’m settling down with a bag of Monster Munch and a lot of feelings about posting art on social media. This is not about responses (or the lack thereof) or trolling or anything like that, but rather the pros and cons of where you post art. Some places are more suitable than others, after all, both in regard to ease of posting as well as how much control you have over the image after it’s out there.
These are just my personal thoughts and I’m sure others would disagree, but I think it helps to discuss these things and find a system that works for you rather than just fling the freelancer spaghetti at every wall you can find and hope something sticks.
Pros: Twitter is relatively easy to use. There’s a large community of artists out there, with frequent hashtag events (especially for comic book creators) and it’s relatively easy to upload art. Great for chatting, great for making friends, great for showing off your personality or signal boost projects you’re working on. If you want a place to communicate, twitter is a good choice.
Cons: It’s a whirling maelstrom of posts and opinions, so not only is it difficult to get noticed, you’ll eventually drown out your own posts. It’s probably the worst place if you’re looking for something that’ll contain and show off your work to a new audience. I’m not going to get into the harassment problems, the poor decisions in how reply works these days or the soul crushing feeling of being invisible because it’s such a chatty place – you probably already knew all this already.
Pros: It’s easy to upload images or batches of images into what can easily be used as an online portfolio, using a free design or paying for something more stylish. You can add your own URL if you want to convert your tumblr page into an actual portfolio, or keep several tumblr blogs if you want to separate your original art from your pokémons. Tags also make it easy to categorise and find your stuff by subject or anything else you’d like to tag them as – I usually do a “delete later” tag so I can easily find old kickstarter signal boosts or other things I don’t want on there forever.
Cons: Tumblr has some functionality problems, mostly with the messaging system. There’s a chat function, which works fine I suppose, but receiving and sending asks is a hassle. Add to that several conflicting facts about whether or not all the tags are searchable, or if posts with external links show up in search results or not and it’s getting iffier. I’ve also personally had Tumblr frequently reset my very basic html in my profile, which breaks any link I have to oh, say, Patreon or Ko-Fi, the places where I earn money. There’s also some resolution problems with uploading pictures, in that they get weirdly shrunk down if you don’t upload them at the right size for the Tumblr dashboard layout.
Pros: Honestly, I’m not sure. Facebook might be a good place if you already have a big fan following that would like the opportunity to chat on Facebook? Or if you want your mom to like it, I guess?
Cons: Facebook is not made for image uploading, but rather for business advertising. This shows when you try to maintain a page as an independent artist. There’s image compression, it’s difficult to upload an image directly into a folder without having to find it first and the fact that there’s no way to add a list of projects and clients you’ve worked with (something that can be done on a personal page) tells me that this system probably isn’t meant for freelancers in the first place. Facebook users are also pretty notorious for not being the best at crediting people for their work, so if you do post here – watermark.
Pros: Instagram has a relatively easy tagging system and a big artist community. Tula Lotay who’s done covers for practically everything by now got discovered as an artist by posting her stuff on Instagram. Since it’s a mobile-exclusive service it also opens up to a wider audience, scrolling through stuff while they’re waiting at the DMV.
Cons: Being a mobile-exclusive service means it’s difficult to upload images – you either have to transfer them to your phone or use a middle-man app like Dropbox. The notif system is apparently not the best either, in that it lumps together likes and comments but if you’re not flooded in attention I doubt that’s a big issue.
Pros: You have control over who sees your stuff and you can easily post images, links or PDFs. Patreon is relatively easy to customize and you can earn some money off it if you have a fan following! You can also post free content, in case you want to show off stuff to people not currently paying you.
Cons: Paywalls can keep people out. Patreon is also less than ideal when it comes to the tagging system (no way to choose from tags already used) and you have to use a third party site like imgur if you want more than one image on a post.
Pros/cons: You have full control over how the site looks, which means you can customize it to your liking. It also looks more professional if you’re looking for an online portfolio. How this works out depends a lot on what kind of service you’re using. A blog can come with it’s own commenting or messaging system, where a website might not. A website may also require you to code it yourself, which can take a lot of time. If you’re not into this I can highly recommend Squarespace (a hundred podcasts can’t be wrong) which makes it easy to drag and drop rather than code a layout from scratch.
Finding an audience with a blog or dedicated site can be harder than if you’re on social media, so you probably want to compliment this with twitter at the very least.
I’ve tested out a lot of constellations by now but I think it’s time that I narrow down my social media presence so I actually use it, instead of being exhausted by the thought of posting in eighty places every time I finish a piece of art. Right now I’m thinking of doing a sketchbook page on my personal website, coupled with patreon/twitter/instagram in that order.
What is your social media strategy? Hit everything, or focus on a select service?