As of the summer of 2006, I have jumped headfirst into social networking. I began the blog you are reading now, and I have never looked back. Now, I am trying to figure out just how important all of this is to my “business”. Maybe there are other illustrators and designers who feel the same way as me. It can consume you, and I am not sure of the initial or long term benefits. Part of me feels like you just have to try it and see what sticks. The other part…thinks it is just white noise. Let me break down some of the things I am doing and what has been the most useful:
Web Site: My father registered joemills.com in 1997 and it was one of the best things that could have happened to my online presence. I love having my name as the site especially since my name is very common. I have used it for different reasons over the years, and I think I finally have it in a place where it is most useful. I think a well-constructed site is probably the most important part of my online presence. While it is probably one of the few things people find, it is my flagship. No matter where people see me on the web, I can always point them back here.
Blog: I’ve enjoyed having a blog, but I do not think I have totally figured out the best way to use it. It really doesn’t have a theme that sets me apart. Plus, I really need to work on making my writing more interesting…there is a reason I enjoy drawing. I have focused on inspiration for most of the time, but I was reading recently that might just be pointing people away from me. I still think I will include inspiration on my site, but I need to focus more on my work. It does not pay to be humble on the net.
YouTube: I dabbled with some puppet videos in 2008 and did a few things last year. Plus, I have tried doing a few artist journals as well. I really love doing videos, but it takes me away from my illustrations. My issue with YouTube has always been production value. When I put something up, I want it to look just right. Obviously, that takes more time. I wish I was quicker with the video camera to capture things happening. I wish I was more comfortable making quicker snippets that I could just “put up”. I get too wrapped up in making a good production…and maybe there is nothing wrong with that. Even as I’m writing this, I’m wondering how a great video can help my business. I want people to find my artwork…not some cool video I made. It is hard to give video up because it is a fun medium. I just wish I knew the best way to make it work for me.
Flickr: Some people use Flickr and Picasa as portfolio sites. I usually use it to put up pictures of events I attend like concerts. If you tag things just right, people will find your work. Since I am not a photographer, this site is not of much use, but it is one of the more popular sites. I do not think it works well as a portfolio since you are stuck with their structure, but I do like the ability to put up non-portfolio pictures that I find interesting.
Facebook: Obviously, Facebook is one of the premiere social networking sites. I think some people feel that you need it to promote yourself, but I do not feel like it is a good place to get noticed. When I sold my recent poster, I got more attention from a good old fashioned email than I did a Facebook post. I think that Facebook only helps keep the ball rolling…it is not the place to get noticed. Like a web site, though, I think it is a good place to send people when they are already interested in your work.
Twitter: Twitter falls into the same category as Facebook. It has gained a lot of attention this past year, and I have only recently started using it. The thing I like about Twitter is how informal it is. No site encapsulates this more. How does this fit with promotion? I think you really need something to say to get people interested in you. I just don’t always have anything interesting to say all the time. The other problem is that so many businesses and people have Twitter and Facebook accounts…what makes me stand out? I have said that it can really keep people updated on new things, but as my wife says, “If you really want to know, couldn’t you just search for it?” I’m still going to mess with it, but I am continually thinking of ways to focus my online attention.
Google Profile: Since Google has taken over many online lives (including mine), I felt this was necessary. According to Google, it should make it easier for people to find you if they do a Google search, but I can only hope that is happening…
I will try and tackle more of the lesser known sites next time…