As the creative type, you enjoy what you do. But wouldn’t you like to showcase your talent and art to the world? In order to do this, you’ll need to develop a strong fan base. However, developing and interacting with your fan base can be difficult, and you may not know where to start.
As with many creative hobbies, it helps to immerse yourself in the artistic communities, and in many instances, you already have. Inspiration usually strikes after you have seen others do something that you enjoyed and would also like to try yourself. After a while, you may decide to take your hobby a step further into your business. Or, maybe you would like to keep your main job and turn your passion into a side gig. In any case, you will need a customer base, and since you can’t hold live events all over the world, it will help enormously to take your portfolio online.
But just releasing your art into the world won’t do — you’ll need to take your portfolio online for people actually to see your efforts. Read below for some tips on how to how to build your online community.
Your website should serve as a hub for your artistic abilities. A site will also be the place for customers to view and purchase your art. In today’s digital world, it is incredibly beneficial to have a place to display all of your art, make transactions, and to act as a central focus to point fans and customers when marketing your art.
If you don’t already have a website, they are relatively easy to make, and as a graphic designer, your art can make a great background. If you are not sure of what elements to include in your website — subscriptions, a conversion page, and other marketing aspects — you can always hire a professional.
A blog is a perfect addition to your website. Being the creative type, words may come naturally to you. However, even if they don’t, blogging still should be a part of your community building process. Content puts more substance behind your art, and your fanbase will enjoy reading. Additionally, it is a great way to supplement your graphic content. Your blog can also be a place for you to establish the culture of your online community. Your readers are there to learn and interact with you and this can be your chance to create the atmosphere you want for your online community.
Enlightening your readers and guests of what your inspiration was for a particular piece or collection, your creative process, or an impressive piece of art history are all great ways to let your audience in on a little bit about you. If you are having trouble coming up with consistent content for your blog, consider a guest post from one of your community members and/or other artists. And, as always, post your new blog piece on social media to maintain your social media presence.
It shouldn’t shock you that social media will be instrumental to your community building efforts. Social media makes the communication possible to potential fans and customers all over the world. For example, you probably follow multiple artists and people who inspire you on several social media platforms. You could be this person for others — and who knows, you may even grow to encourage those who inspired you.
Social media is great for announcing new projects you are working on and promoting sales, conversing with others in your community, and gaining insight from others. Many businesses, large and small, take to social media to manage their reputation, and part of managing a reputation involves staying transparent in the public eye. You online community will appreciate you interacting with them, letting them know your activities, and otherwise communicating general information. This will make you seem less promotional and more trustworthy — creating a more sincere bond between you and your community.
There are plenty of like-minded people who have formed groups you can join on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For a graphic designer, you must check out Dribbble if you haven’t already. In joining these communities, you have the opportunity to become a known face, and upon releasing your website and portfolio, you will already have the friends and audience to view it.
A community, especially a community of creative professionals, will thrive in lifting other members up. Many members of your community are in the same boat as you and are trying to promote their work as well. Chances are that you’ll naturally like the art of another community member, so why not help them and tell others of their skill? You won’t get much of a following if you are seen as ungrateful and purely promotional; never showing others appreciation.
Additionally, it is a quid pro quo scenario when promoting others: if you encourage them, they are more likely to support your work. So, allow guests to post their art on your blog or acknowledge someone who deserves it on social media. This generosity won’t just show that you are an interactive member of the community, it will also help you build a more personal connection with your audience members.
A portion of your online community will be comprised of people you will meet in real life. You probably have already found yourself in specific real-life communities organically; friends, students, and people you have met at other events. Just as these people you meet become your friends on social media, people you meet under artistic circumstances can become part of your online community.
Consider a traditional live art show to showcase your work. To take it a step further, enlist your peers and friends for a combined event. Everyone will benefit from the attending audience, as you have a high chance of gaining a few new members to your online community. In many cases, someone who shows up for your friend’s art may end up enjoying yours as well. Eventually, if you put together successful live events in the real world, you will become a figure in the community and people will seek you online as well.
Building and maintaining your online community will have enormous benefits for your business. Sometimes, the only way to make your own community is if you dive head first into existing communities, and then carve out your own. Consider the tips above to start turning what you love to do into your profession, building a substantial audience along the way.