Nowadays social media is a huge part of any freelancer’s career, and knowing how and when to use it can make or break your bank. In this series I’m going to cover everything an artist needs to know about social media- What platforms you should be using, when you should post, how to format and promote your posts and how to go from shares to sales. While this isn’t the whole story, (need a complete rundown of social media analytics and methods for artists? Check out my e-book, coming soon!) I promise to give you my very best short-hand speech of how, when, what and where you should be posting!
What Social Media Should An Artist Use?
This in and of itself is a very, very broad question with no one right answer. What the “right” social media for you and your art is will vary greatly based on what you you want to get out of it and the style of your art. What works for one artist may not work for you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The easiest solution to what social media you should use is all of them. Or at least several of them at once.
Social media is about reaching an audience, and each platform will have a different audience, that’s why cross-posting your art to as many social medias as you can keep up with can be a great idea. However, this can be chaotic and stressful if you’re trying to keep track of passwords and posting schedules for twenty different accounts across multiple platforms. There are services can manage all of this for you, including automating posts and interactions, but these can cost upwards of $20 a month. If you’re not ready to pay for your posting, your best bet is to choose a few different social medias that fit your style and the audience you’re trying to reach and focus your efforts on those. Below I’ve complied a list of some of the best social medias for artists to help you make your decisions
Dribbble is a fantastic platform for web and product designers, full of bright and exciting artwork and UI programs. However Dribbble can be difficult to build an audience on, and definitely has a certain style.
- Audience made up entirely of artists and people looking for art.
- Easy to use, customizable profiles showcase whatever you want to showcase.
- An active job-board of people looking for artists.
- Huge, active community of designers.
- Built-in store for digital products.
- Limited to 10mb per upload.
- Frequent maintenance limits productivity.
- Primarily UI and web designers, can feel unfriendly for illustrators and comic artists.
- Charge for premium features and hosting.
- Can be chaotic and/or confusing to host a portfolio or direct new users to.
Overall, Dribbble is a great place for graphic, UI, and web designers, as well as vector and logo artists. It may not be the ideal place for illustrators or story-tellers, but if you’re seeking gorgeous inspiration, it’s a great place to haunt. It has a fantastic job board for those seeking design jobs, and is a great place to learn new skills or make connections.
Ah, old faithful. Deviantart has been a staple of the art community for over twenty years now. It”s user friendly and open to nearly every form of art- drawings, photography, music and writing.
- Simple layout system makes it easy to upload and organize posts.
- One of the best commenting systems of any social media makes it easy to have conversations with followers.
- Groups and forums facilitate creativity and learning.
- Users can buy HD downloads of images.
- Little to no censorship.
- Little to no censorship- users are free to post whatever they want, regardless of how obscene.
- Can seem unprofessional.
- Large underage user-base can cause some interesting or uncomfortable interactions.
- Very large user-base can make it difficult to get noticed or build a following.
Deviantart is the place to be if you’re looking for community. The user-base tends to be very opening and welcoming, although the scope and the freedom can feel overwhelming. If you’re looking for a professional, personalized portfolio however, it may not be the place for you. It is a great place for sketch-dumps or behind-the-scenes pieces, however.
Less of a social media, and more of Linked-in, but for artists, The-Dots has become a must-have, must-be platform for anyone looking to work in the arts. Dots will start you off by asking what you do and who you’ve done it for, but don’t be put off if you don’t have professional experience, Dots is here to connect you with authors, companies, advertising professionals and anyone else who is or is looking for an artist.
- Linked-In, but for all things art.
- Thousands of companies and individuals looking for artists and creatives of all forms.
- Add existing projects you’ve worked on as part of your experience.
- Search for freelance or remote jobs in one easy place.
- Not a portfolio or art-showcase, you’ll want to have a seperate portfolio website or account elsewhere.
- Created for and aimed at professionals, may be difficult for hobby or beginner artists.
The-Dots is a God-send for anyone looking to take their art to a professional or corporate level. Filled to the brim with people who do it for a living, you can connect with others living your dream and find out how they’re doing it. You can also advertise yourself and your work to media companies all over the world. You certainly won’t be gaining a following or interacting the way you would on a more social media, which can make it hard to be noticed. But if you’re looking for work in the art world, you need to be on The-Dots.
Another option that’s less of a social media, but if you’re looking for a place to host a portfolio and be able to send it directly to media professionals, you need to be on artstation. Artstation allows you to host a portfolio of all of your art, even 3D models and environments. It also allows you to directly sell your art, as prints, models and more.
- Artstation allows you to showcase multiple forms of media in a beautiful, dedicated space.
- Excellent portfolio organisation is built into the system.
- An active job board full of media companies and consumers.
- Sell your art directly from your profile with royalties starting at around 65%.
- Upload size of media is limited and locked behind paywall.
- Higher royalties also locked behind paywall.
- Extremely professional environment can be intimidating for hobbyists or newcomers.
Artstation is an excellent place to be if you’re looking to connect, showcase and sell your art, but be warned that higher royalties for selling your art are locked behind a subscription-based paywall. It’s a good mix between a professional connection hotspot like The-Dots and a social media like Instagram or twitter, and a great place to stop as you grow in your ability and career.
Facebook is the standard of social media, everyone has it, and everyone, although begrudgingly, scrolls through it. Facebook might not be a great place for a portfolio,but it is a great place to form group connections and get people involved.
- Niche groups make it easy to promote your specific style.
- Easy to set up business pages help to keep things professional.
- No expectations for art, and a more easily-impressed audience.
- Built-in, free marketplace makes listing art simple.
- More personal and interactive than a portfolio site.
- Nothing stopping your great-aunt from commenting something unprofessional or off-topic on your art.
- No one logs onto Facebook looking for art, meaning building an audience might be more difficult.
- Facebook is slowly falling out of favor with the younger generations, if your art specifically targets a younger audience you make struggle to gain traction.
- Heavy censorship on even artistic nudity.
Facebook is an old faithful in terms of social media. While it is far more social than others we’ve discussed, it’s genuinely not a very good place to build an audience for art unless your art revolves around wine and minion memes. It is however a great place to remind your friends and family that you make art and that they can check it out on another website.
Although its algorithm can be wonky, Instagram remains a favorite place for people to post art. It’s simple and clean design is easy to navigate and post to, and built in editing features help to make your page have a consistent theme. Instagram can be an excellent place to build an audience, but you need to be consistent in both style and time of posting, and be prepared to play guessing games when it comes to hashtags and explore pages.
- Easy to update and control.
- Add multiple pictures to one post, keeping things of a kind together.
- ‘Stories’ feature allows you to post temporary behind-the-scenes and sneak peaks.
- Huge audience of users to reach.
- Great communities of artists, influencers and brands.
- Abundant bots and spam.
- An unfair algorithm that can hide your posts from viewers and fans.
- Low follower-to-like ratio.
- Can be easy to get lost in the seas of artists.
Instagram is definitely an account you should have. Its huge audience makes it a prime place to find people from every walk of life, and the hashtag system makes it easy to target your posts to whoever you want to see them. The algorithm can be a pain if you don’t know how to play it, (more on that in my e-book!) but I’ve seen accounts gain huge audiences overnight.
Ah, tumblr. Famous and infamous for many, many reasons, tumblr is still a fantastic place to meet and create. Rife with tutorials and challenges, it’s a great place to connect with people in a genuine and authentic way.
- HTML based blogs can nearly function as a full website.
- Question-asking features make connecting with others fun.
- Hundreds of themes makes organizing and designing your page fun and easy.
- Huge audience and less drama about followers or like to follow ratio.
- Multiple forms of post (text, image ,audio, video, ect) makes it easier to create personal connections
- Fanart and fandoms abound, clogging up some art hashtags.
- A lack of structure can make things feel overwhelming.
- Anonymous features can lead to bullying and stupidity.
Tumblr holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and nostalgia alone drives thousands of users a month. It’s an excellent place to meet people and create art-based communities, as well as promote your merch and exterior websites. As a portfolio it might not hold up. but it makes an excellent community platform.
Fast-paced and open, Twitter is a great way to jump into art communities and discourse. It can get wild and unprofessional, however, and serious artists may need to keep an eye on the people they interact with.
- Easy to use.
- Ability to thread and connect posts to create stories.
- Great place to post gifs and short videos.
- Can pin a single post or link to the top of your profile.
- Highly interactive.
- Overwhelming sea of images.
- Need to post frequently in order to be noticed.
Twitter might not be the best place to host a portfolio, but to connect with artists that love the same things you do, it can’t be beat. It’s lightning fast and usually requires posting multiple times a day, but serves as a great connection between a more formal portfolio page and a personal interaction.
So Which Social Media Is Right For ME?
The only person who can decide what social media(s) are best for you is, shockingly enough, you. These are only a few suggestions from the hundreds available, (Have another one? Comment it below!) but they are some of my favorites, and the ones I’ve had the most luck building my following on. My advice? Pick one to build a portfolio on, one to build a following on, and one to interact on.
Personally I use a combination of The-Dots, ArtStation, Instagram, Twitter and occasionally Tumblr. Is it a lot to keep up on? Absolutely! But thankfully Instagram allows me to connect my twitter and Tumblr, meaning I can post once and have it hit all three accounts. I use The-Dots for professional connection, and ArtStation as a all-in-one portfolio and storefront. It’s time-consuming. I spend about an hour, minimum, a day managing social media, but good social media management can be the difference between art making you beer money or rent money.
Interested to see how I do it? Check out part two here, or my e-book, coming soon.
Go, be social!