…..continued from part 1
4. Research & prepare
Before you set yourself out into the online world, start to follow and watch other likeminded creative organisations, individuals and collectives who are doing it best! Start to follow, read, watch behaviour and posting habits and see what you can learn from them.
Whilst it’s good to learn from others, it’s also good to be unique and work on your own way of doing things instead of copying or competing with others, especially if and when they have worked hard to get where they are.
There are heaps of great how-to guides on the internet and specifically in the indie community. These are ideal if you can’t quite understand the twitter lingo (yes it took us a while too!) or what the best ways to use your Facebook page are, how to successfully blog from posting habits to visually enhancing your website, image tips etc..
If you are wondering how on earth you will have time to blog each day, the best tip is to try and prepare a schedule. You can write all your posts for the week on a Sunday evening perhaps and schedule them for the week, or you can set an agenda of what you would like to share and achieve within that week or month. Whilst some people prefer to blog and post right away this is not always suitable for people with busy lives!
5. Keep it simple
Don’t try and overachieve when you start out, you will most likely burnout or over complicate things. Start out mastering each method one at a time and when you are ready to take on more, add to what you have created.
If you aren’t much of a writer, don’t try to be, do things the way you that makes you happy. Perhaps build your blog as a visual diary and share images or photos that you take. Do it your way, so it’s unique to you and give a reason for potential followers to keep coming back.
6. Visuals. Visuals. Visuals.
Whilst you may have all of the above steps ready to go, don’t forget the crucial part – the visuals!
If you don’t have a graphic/web designer handy quite yet (and they can be oh-so-helpful) then shop around for a good simple template that is easy for you to use and suits your look best.
Make sure you use images, and not just text in your posts. Keep image sizes consistent, make sure your images fit nicely on your blog, and decide on a format so they are visually uniform.
If you are unsure of what your image sizes are supposed to be, look for tutorials and ways to display your images online correctly. Websites like Photobucket and flickr can be a good place to host your images and use them on blogs. If you aren’t too cluey with Photoshop re-sizing images, there are plenty of free simple programs on the net to use such as Picnik.
If you are aren’t using your own images, always credit the source! This is web etiquette. Always ask permission to use images from other blogs or designers. Try and keep to your own image sources if possible, your own photos can make your blog personal and special. If you do this, please make sure your images are taken with a good camera and are in focus. This can make or break your website/blog.
It is also helpful to share your links and images using Facebook and Twitter; sometimes a picture speaks louder than words and people like to have these for further reference.
7. Engaging your audience
Imagery, links and references are crucial parts of building your online presence and should be consistent in your communication plan.
Whilst your blog might be a personal collection of things you love, make sure to open up communication between yourself and your potential readers. Enable and encourage comments, ask questions and start conversations. Listen to and support your customers, show them some love and they will be loyal back to you.
Make contacting and finding you easy. Don’t hide your profile or info about yourself. Keep it short and simple but always make email contacts for you easy to find. Keep this line of communication open.
When you gain more confidence with your online supporters, you can then add things like projects, collaborations or competitions. Give people a reason to return and get the community involved.
8. Network and build your community
The best way for you to build your customer base and online reputation is to share, connect and support those in the art community. You can’t expect the same in return if you are not active and making an effort to do the same. It’s also important for you to get constant inspiration, motivation and support from others!
Start to follow others that you admire and look up to, and other creative people who are like-minded and inspire you. Show them your support. Make meaningful and appropriate comments, ask for and give advice on topics you might know more about. Keep conversations relevant and impactful and never bombard with information, comments or emails they don’t need or haven’t asked for.
Remember to show respect in all situations and be humble about your work; no one likes egos.
You can start to share about the work of artists you admire, or helping to support like-minded people. Make contact with them to ask permission to showcase their work and share links back to their website or blog. Let people know you are sharing information about them or their work and they will most likely share this and support you in return.
Other ways of building your community is to start advertising with some of your favourite websites & blogs that have a similar target market to yours. Even if you don’t have a big budget, a little advertising to start you off in the right direction can go a long way.
And lastly, ask for advice and support from others, be open to constructive criticism, engage with people by asking questions, be willing to support and listen to others, and the old golden rule – do to others as you would want them to do to you!
- Six steps to managing your online reputation via The Nest
- The power of connecting via Papernstitch
- 10 tips for a successful blog via Jessica Van Den
- Using a blog to grow your business via Design*Sponge
- Blog Crush: Meet me at Mikes via The Finders Keepers
- Promoting your business (tastefully) online via Design*Sponge