Building Your Internet Presence

Every few weeks, we’ll be posting tips straight from the Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook—a 200+ page resource we give to Core Workshop attendeeswritten by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples. Similarly, each post will be packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about our PDP workshops here.

Building Your Internet Presence

Because the Internet is contemporary culture’s primary means for communication and information dissemination, having an active online presence is essential for artists. The web continues to rapidly evolve, so what follows are some basic ways to think about building and refining how you represent yourself and your work online.
Keep in mind that more is not always better. Some artists use nothing but a Facebook fan page and Twitter feed as their online presence and do just fine, while others have six blogs, three websites and many social media outlets, but it’s hard to understand what they do. What’s most important is for you to find the best way to communicate the clarity, force and excellence of your work and put that online.

The Basics: Your Internet presence can include websites, social networks, blogs, media sharing sites, search engines, email marketing and more. Artists’ involvement on the web ranges from the painter creating a simple portfolio site to attract buyers, to international collaborations conducted entirely via Skype and Twitter.

Important questions to ask yourself:

  1. How can my work best live online?
  2. How can my Internet activity support and reflect my larger goals for my work?
  3. How much time and money can I invest into my online presence?
  4. How can my online presence make the business of my art easier and more effective?

Website Best Practices: Be sure your site meets the following criteria:

  1. Equally functional and beautiful, erring toward functionality, while providing quality representation of your work.
  2. Smart phone and/or tablet accessible. Mobile optimization is increasingly important these days.
  3. Optimized for search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures that your site and images are all properly tagged.
  4. Loads quickly.
  5. Offers an easy way to stay connected, either though a mailing list or other media feed. Also allow users to unsubscribe.
  6. Update regularly, at least every 6 months so people know you’re still active.
  7. Keep a professional tone; avoid banner advertising and posting pictures of your kids or vacation. Remember that curators and producers will see your site. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want them to see.

TIP: Be “googleable” immediately. If you’re just getting started, planning and building out your site may take some time, but it’s important to have some type of online presence right away. A Facebook fan page or Twitter feed are two easy options.

Media Sharing Sites: Social media sites allow you to share images, video and audio with a vast number of people. Although they allow community members to comment on, forward, and rate your work, think of media sites as information dissemination rather than a conversation. Popular social media sites include Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Instagram and Picasa; used in conjunction with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, social media sites are an easy way to share your work with a larger community and potentially reach a broader audience.

Media Sharing Best Practices:

  1. Titles & Tags: Always include titles, descriptions and tags (keywords) for your work. This helps people to find your work. Use tags that accurately describe the work, but also remember to describe the work in as many ways as possible: include locations, names of people or places, technical details etc.
  2. Creative Commons Licensing: The best way to share your work in social media environments is to include a “Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License.” This is a system of copyright that will allow others to remix, tweak and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. If you do not wish to have your work used in commercial ventures (used in a textbook or as a commercial website background), then you can use a “Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution Share-Alike License.” With this license, commercial ventures interested in your work would either not use your work, or they would contact you for approval.
  3. Share high (or highest available) quality work. Keep in mind that in most cases it’s not your actual work, but a representation of your work. It is equivalent to handing out postcards of your work or demo CDs.

Creative Capital hosts professional development workshops in a wide variety of fields such as grant writing, communications, and budgeting to help artists create successful projects from inception to completion. Check our calendar for upcoming workshops!