In 2020 we all know the importance of having an online presence as an artist. But with the constantly changing online landscape and the ever so complicated algorithms, it can be hard to know how to get the most out of your online channels. In this guide, we will give you some tips on how to build your online presence as an artist.

Learn how to define your brand, optimize your online channels, and grow your audience below.

1. Define your online brand

We know talking about brands sounds corporate, but let’s face it, branding has become relevant for anyone trying to make an impact online – especially artists. Through social media and other online platforms, art is being consumed more than ever before, and the competition is steep.

First, let’s clarify the terminology: Your brand is how you are perceived as an artist. Branding is the actions you take to cultivate that brand. 

Branding has been a hot topic in the art world for years. In 2013, the then editor-in-chief of Art Basel Magazine Sue Hostetler and branding expert Allen Adamson talked about branding tips for artists in Forbes Magazine. They took Picasso as an example of one of the first artists to adopt these strategies.

“He realized he was a great painter, but he also realized that this ability, his innate talent, in and of itself, wasn’t going to be enough. He knew he had to create an aura, some way to define himself beyond his art to prompt fascination and intrigue if he wanted those in the art world to take note.” Sue Hostetler stated. 

If even Picasso did it, why shouldn’t you consider branding to get your art out there? In the same article, Sue Hostetler also said that artists need to have a clear sense of themselves and what they stand for – and this is where it gets a bit tricky. How do you define yourself? 

Your online presence is everything from your portfolio website, to your old Tumblr, to your Instagram and your ArtConnect account.

Consider every online platform you are on, and ask yourself:

  • What are you currently putting out there?
  • What is it saying about you as an artist?
  • Does it align with how you want to be perceived?

If it does, then congrats, you already have your brand figured out, now you need to focus on optimizing it and growing your audience. If it doesn’t align, you need to do some good old soul searching to define what your art practice is and how you want to show it online.

2. Optimize your online channels

Whether you’ve had a clear brand for a while, or just defined it, there are always areas of your online presence to develop. Try googling yourself to get an idea of what other people come across when they search your name. By learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you can start working on your search engine presence. We recommend Yoast’s blog for insightful articles on SEO. There are also services like Art Aia – ValueYourself, which you can use to check your existing online presence and how to improve it for search engines.

Choose your channels

It’s important to have a portfolio to show your work, some artists choose to use platforms like Behance, Instagram, or our own ArtConnect as their main platform, but the most common solution is to have your own website and use platforms like these to promote your work.  

Be smart about the channels you choose. Which ones actually benefit you as an artist? Answering this will tell you which ones to focus on. 

Building an audit is a way to get an overview of all the channels you’ve ever used and make sure that they align with your brand. Maybe you have an old blog floating around, do you want this to be associated with your professional online presence? Consider using an alias for personal channels; people trying to get to know you as an artist might not need to see your breakfast. 

Link your chosen artist channels with one another; you want it to be easy for anyone looking into your artistry to go from one platform to the next – right?

Be active – and consistent

When you’ve decided which channels are worth your efforts, the next step is to do just that – put the effort in. Activity is extra important on social media channels. If you have Instagram as one of your primary channels, make sure to post regularly. Set up an Instagram business account to get access to more in-depth analytics and then define the best times to post your work. You can use services like Later or Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance. This will make it easier to plan your content and free up time. 

Your website doesn’t have to be updated as regularly as your social media channels. But make sure to go through it from time to time to see what is still relevant, update it with articles you are featured in, exhibitions you are part of, etcetera.

3. Grow your audience

Defining your brand and optimizing your online presence are already steps that will grow your audience. But you also need to put extra work to gain more traction – get people to talk about your art! 

There are many art opportunities out there that can give you extra publicity. By applying to open calls for exhibitions and magazine features, you can reach a completely new audience. But make sure that the call is legit and worth your time. Don’t waste your efforts on calls you aren’t eligible for, or that doesn’t fit your brand. 

You can also contact magazines, influencers, and other tastemakers that fit your brand directly – maybe they want to share your work? We love featuring artists from our community in our magazine and on our social media channels. The best way to get featured on ArtConnect is to be active on the platform. 

On Instagram, one strategy to grow your audience is to form an Instagram pod, in which you and a selected group of people interact with each other to trick the algorithm. You could also see this as an Instagram artist support group: where you share each other’s works and engage with each other’s posts – this will give you a push in the algorithm and help you reach more people.

Building your online presence doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that takes time. But by defining your brand, optimizing your channels, and getting the word out there, you are heading in the right direction! 

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