Promoting Yourselves In The Internet Age

I remember a time when I devoured "self-promo" tips and visuals, particularly when I was a design student decades ago. I had then amassed stacks of magazines with images of promotional materials and images, for both individuals and companies, solely for "reference", as I had embarked on promoting myself and my soon-to-be-bursting design service (we were all arrogant design students then, even me :p).

Even before design school (I eventually graduated in Interior Design ~ who would've thought?), I had sworn that I would be a comicbook illustrator (some days, I still naively do dream still) and had actually done up photo-stated foldable pages for a black-n-white "brochure" showcasing my different styles of drawings, as well contact number and email (aka my home hard-line, and lol). Thinking back again, they were all so silly and sadly amateurish, but I've always been proud of them (and myself), and some days, I still am.

Now, the pre-design-school self-promo work, I felt, by far outshone my post-design-school work. And even as smooth and "pro" as I made my print collateral be, it just does not seem "adequate", and frankly was lost amidst the flurry of others my fellow students could come up with (but still I was at the head of the class, so I'm good :p) and perhaps lacked the "character" I felt I had earlier possessed, now compartmentalized unto "information" and less-so "vibe". And decades later, I see yet constant flurries of self-promotion done on a near day-to-day basis, as I managed and author my own blog. And ironically, I still do attempt a number of "self-promos" for TOYSREVIL, well not just to get new readers, but also to have fun and keep things "fresh"!

And things are so different now - back then there seem a finite number of people you could ever meet and present the printed promos to (even now, I still have official blog namecards, postcards and stickers LOL) and these days? The Internet is the limit! Your works can and do travel far and wide, across oceans and nations! Of geographical note, do you folks know the TOYREVIL blog is based in Singapore? Heh.

For artists, things are slightly different, as "character" is in their work and result, while "information" are sometimes pretty lacking. Everybody works like a bulletin-board these days, pin your latest work on the board, and hope it lasts long enough for people to notice, before the next doodle or info is pinned over yours.

Anyways, one of the main things while running my blog, is the submission of news. These days I do not have the opportunity to journey and discover news around the globe (as I had daily used to), and depend largely on emailed submissions from readers, and artists. Both from budding and "professional" practitioners.

And one of the main things that a lot of emails contain, is eager folks going: "Check me out here on my blog!" ~ which is both much appreciated (for considering my humble blog) and as well frankly, "unproductive". It all depends on time permitting to indulge this action, so personally, I would appreciate the "help" in further presenting yourselves (to be able to make a posting decision). And time passes really fast when there are constant emails or products to focus on, the last thing you want it be is left languishing in the K.I.V. Folder for email-eternity…

How about let's proceed with this blog-post with the assumption that yes, there are loads of emails and artists out there that needs attention, and how perhaps you can stand out a bit more organized than the rest, and hopefully more "bloggable" too. And it does not necessarily mean "quick news", as there are also possibilities to be "featured" and blogged about at length (no guarantees tho). And I do not necessarily mean just the regular toy-news websites (which might be an eventuality, versus "who the heck is that"), but as well websites off the beaten path of this community.

First off the bat, try NOT to do the "Check out my website and works!" and consider focusing it a tad more ...

Instead of asking folks to check out your website / online portfolio for news nuggets, why not prepare a small "Online Artist Kit" which may perhaps help folks considering blogging about you, and as well help yourself and get your work "out there". Either (or both) Email-able Out, or Linkable To.

I-Aim-To-Disclaim: I Do Not claim to be an expert in this particular field, nor do I possess a recognized Certificate / Diploma / Honors in "Self-Promotion", beyond blogging on my own blogspot for the past six years (and the aforementioned adolescent years of self-promo in school), and a previous life working in the media line (For that you will have to take my word for it, as no references will be given nor claimed at this time LOL). And there are of course a myriad of practitioners out there with more or even better "tips" ~ I am indulgent but not necessarily ignorant of that fact.

Downloadable PDF or Doc (none of which I know how to do, ironically), or a standard forwardable email with images folder, as long as you check with the publisher is he/she is working on a Mac or PC, and which downloadables work. Or if time permits, have two versions set aside, and easy assessable. Accessibility is something folks tend to overlook, as much as some producers expect folks to lift stories from other websites to fill up their own. Not everybody works this way, and you want maximum exposure for your goods, don't you? Or are you comfortably just letting the community alone know? And please do not let folk dig or root for "who you are".

Nevertheless, this particular post is directed to singular / individual artists and designers, and might even apply for individually run companies, but seriously, I do not need to tell anyone how to run their work-life or company LOL

Or you can simply have a read and ponder for yourselves whatever works for yourself. The time id yours, and I have already committed to it by typing and publishing this for you in mind :)

And yes, "designers" tend to sell themselves more, compared to "artists", as it is and has been the way of the world, for decades. And no, I am not talking about making yourself a Self-Promo-Video on YouTube or even an EPKs ("Electronic Press Kit"), but simple straight forward text and images too ~ Onwards!

- Who are you? What is your nick?
- A short Artist Bio Summary.

An "Artist Bio Summary" is not an 8 paragraph text-juggernaut chronicling your entire life from the first day you picked up your paint-brush in kindergarten, to the indefinite future, your artist-influences and self-painted kitchen-sink. A decent one or two paragraph goes a long way if it is an introduction to you, which folks can then "link" to your entire 8-para on your blog (*hint-hint*). Most folks actually cut-n-paste the whole shebang anyways, which says a lot about how you treat other folks.

One thing to consider, is a hundred word description on yourself. Notice that some event publications also need a description to print, to promote both yourself and the event? If you really need to be slack about it, have this prepped and ever ready to dole and roll out, IMHO.

As I am typing this, I suddenly realize not many folks do "catch-phrases", as they might work as status updates on FB, but perhaps they might work nice as articles starters, I know it would me LOL

Bad at utilizing the English language? No worries at all, and perhaps now is the time top get these in order? And let your work speak for itself afters not necessarily before, as all you get are mentions and googles at your work - not very productive in the long run, IMHO.

- What do you do? What do you excel in?
- Also do include an image selection of your work, an average of 5 styles / different customs / artwork would be nice ~ that represents your style and what you want to be know for.

Control your output. Set your direction. Asking folks to just check out your website and pick for themselves what they like, based on their own opinions, may do you an injustice. Even if you feel the bloggers have taste (much thanks or the trust, really!), would be cool to provide some imagery, as sometimes "time" might not be on the blogger's side, and time is indeed needed to scan thru, decide quality, and lift images to use.

Or unless of course, you are interested to just find out what others think of your work - but frankly you are then opening up yourselves to others taste and opinions. And if you are fine with that, do not bitch about it alters. You might be multi-faceted in your craft, so why not showcase that for folks, without the need to bludgeon your way thru. If that happens, it is when folks email you back for more (of the same).

There is utterly no shame in self-promotion, You are showcasing your work, not selling your abilities to be a tv-presenter or talkshow-host. Being shy will get you were you need to be eventually, but being open about your work, will get it "out there" perhaps sooner. And by then, you have no choice to do good work, as folks these are are judgmental enough to not waste time while there is a mind-numbing myriad of practitioners out there with work, if not "better" work. Knowing you exist beyond them, is a first and crucial step, IMO.

Curate your own works first. You should know what you want, before you let others decide for you. Also think of this as a weird-out "speed dating" round you are engaging in. Impress with who you are and what you do, but don't go scaring off and scarring potential "partners".

"Partners" because you are looking for continued coverage after the first, and not a flash-fling in the bushes just that one time to add to the "media report list" on your website. If it all works out, you might even score a "label" or "tag" on the website, for a "history" of your works.

FYI: I need to mention here that the TOYSREVIL blog has exhausted our 5,000 Labels (true story) for blogspot. And yes, there is a limit to EVERYTHING! :p

- Where can folks find you online?
- How to contact you? Email address?
- Do you accept commissions?

These days, a certain artist might have a whole slew of URLs to link to and from (or perhaps none at all, which is not very helpful nor useful here), as everyone seems to everywhere at the same time. What is needed is your portfolio website (Personal URL, Behance and maybe even Flickr). Everything else might be a tad information-overload, but that's just me, as folks tend to use their Facebook for "work" as well these days, showcasing their craft, as well tweets. Works on a social context for likeminded folks in the industry, but to the general public beyond, it might show you are connected, but not necessarily your abilities. But then again, folks might like to root thru your Facebook or Tumblr for snaps, so I will not suggest much beyond what YOU intend to do for yourself.

Or simply add everything and let folks decide for themselves. The first two or three links are always more enticing though.

And you will be very surprised how a number of submissions do not include URL-contacts, especially from more established artists.

With the onslaught of online presence, the existence of "emails" tend to become a sensitive thing.

There are actual instances that folks do not ever reveal their emails, and have "Contact Forms" on their websites instead. Nothing ever wrong with that, as I can imagine you might have received haunting emails in the past that takes up your constant attention (instead of focusing on your own work). I have also received past queries from absolute strangers asking for email addresses and/or for their emails to be forwarded, which frankly is not very cool, as emails are the last level of intimate connectivity between folks (phone calls and smses arena are in a totally different communication category).

And let's be frank, in this day and age of the internet, there is no way to track down and contact a person, unless it was deliberate and an obvious attempt to ignore someone in the first place, isn't it?

So if you want your emails to be included for public knowledge? Do so, or put a link to your contact page on your website. Spare others the ordeal of promoting you after the fact.

- Throw in a couple of shows you have participated in (if you have).

If you folks have noticed, not a whole lot of reference is made to artists' past shows, and this might go a well way to websites first blogging about you. If this was listed in tandem with the images you add, then that works better than having folks rooting around your webs for blog-content.

If it needs to be updated, then consider this a job as part of your self-promotion. Also throw in one or two details about your participation in future shows, as folks can trail for further posts on your work.

Not involved in any shows so far? No worries, you'll get there. Moving on…

As much as we have been trained by Twitter for producing quick news-bytes, not everything is encompassed by 140 characters, and your work and ability, should not be necessarily so represented.

I realize suggesting all of this may not and does not guarantee you an opportunity to be published or featured, but I can tell you it sure as heck beats waiting two days to receive a reply with details, if being asked and interest peaked. As well, you want to be going on with your work, besides needing to collate materials and having to dig up the details and email/s to reply to.

If you want to, and already have chosen your specific websites to be "loyal" to, no worries and feel free to move along. The reality is, we are working only within this community of toys and pop culture we choose to dwell in, while the whole wide world beyond knows very little of, or much need to care about who you/we are. So do yourselves a favor, and be accessible and publishable, as no one else out there might be willing to do you this favor, beyond being the new-nugget of the day :)



Friff said…
Great article Andy - thanks
Unknown said…
thats great info thanks for posting.
Hope you're doing better these days.
pimp daddy jeff said…
really good info man! love it!
Muy buen articulo ! Gracias!