I finally got around to working on part 2 of this list. This time I’m going to focus on the lesser known sites. They aren’t completely unknown, but I know these are harder to locate. Plus, they offer services that are different from Facebook, etc.
Disclaimer: I have used some of these sites more than others. I can say that a site becomes more useful as you use it. I think the problem many people have is that they expect to throw up their portfolio or make a post or two and clients will coming banging on your door. I believe these sites are yet another tool available to illustrators and designers.
Behance: Let’s start with my favorite. I like Behance because it is free and it is easy to get started. Projects and portfolios can be posted in a manner of minutes provided you have the images ready. Plus, I think the images look good on their site. The socialization piece of their site is my favorite. You have “circles” and you can invite people to your circle. I have found that most people will accept. I’ve made it a point to invite new people every few weeks. You can “appreciate” and leave notes on the artwork of others. I try to do this as well. The more people in your circle, the more notes and appreciations you are bound to get. When you post a new project, you can send a message to the people in your circle. I think it is a nice way to drum up a little buzz even if it is amongst designers. I feel like it could lead to a collaboration or something more, but for now, it is a good way to stay connected.
IllustrationMundo: This site basically allows you to point people toward your web site. If people or clients are looking, they might find you. Really…there is not that much upkeep on the site itself. You can submit a news item to their front page, but I feel it gets lost pretty quickly. If you have a site, though, it doesn’t take much to get started here.
DeviantART: This site is much more informal, so it tends to be relatively messy. You can get lost in here as well. Basically, it allows you to post whatever artwork you have and categorize. People do not always post finished work or portfolio ready pieces. New work that gets posted can get buried in hours after you post it. How can you get noticed? I do make it a point to post stuff on here since it is less formal, but I do not believe it is a great place to get noticed. One this I dislike it that the site automatically tries to make your work available for purchase by using the JPEGs on a magnet or post card. It makes everything seem so bush league. I do like the camraderie amongst the artists on here even though the vibe is not terribly professional. I will probably still post to here, but only occassionally. I feel like my energy should go elsewhere.
GigPosters: I joined this site when I believed that I might focus more on gig posters. That idea fell by the way side. (Although, an announcement by Janelle Monae has me rethinking my decision.) Anyway, this site seems cool if you are REALLY into gig posters. After perusing the forums, it is easy to tell that they are tough on newbies. If you do plan on going this direction, then this is the place to be. From what I understand, some top artists post their work here. If I do plan on making a gig poster in the future, then I will have to revisit what I’ve said.
LinkedIn: This is for the professionals. I guess this one is more well-known but it seems more for suit and tie type people. I’m not sure how much it would help an illustrator find work, but I really haven’t used it that way. Since this is a much more professional site with resumes and recommendations, I use it mainly to showcase my accomplishments as a teacher. Once again…it is just another tool.
Printfection: While Threadless and other t-shirt sites make you win a contest to get your designs on the web, Printfection allows you to upload your own designs and sell them. I chose Printfection over Zazzle and Cafepress because I heard their printing was more professional. I do not have a comparison to make, but I do like their printing. (Although, I feel if you really want to get into t-shirts, it would be better to go in other directions. I am actually thinking of screening my own designs this summer.) There is a lot of setup required to get going, but it is very customizable and lots of choices. Now that I have it all figured out, I can get a new design up rather quickly. Printfection has a base price for their shirts and then you add your profit over and above that price. I was even able to embed the store into my site so it looks more integrated with my design. The one issue I have with these sites that allow you to upload designs and open a store is promotion. How will people find you? Once again, a t-shirt store becomes another way to expand your web presence, but it might not be the most profitable right away.
Paypal: Paypal is well known…why is it on this list? I always thought having a Paypal store was real difficult and required a lot of setup time….yes, I was wrong. I think it belongs here because I figure other people believe what I…believed. I have posters I wanted to print and sell and having a Paypal store was the best way to do that. For now, I have a small operation, so I have not explored all of the features of Paypal. As it stands, it has been a great way for me to just receive money and ship out products. Maybe if my operation gets bigger…I will really have to explore all that it has to offer.
Carbonmade, EveryCreative, Jotta, and FormFiftyFive: I have only recently joined these sites and have yet to find anything compelling about what they offer. As my disclaimer states, though, I do not want to dismiss these sites because I have not really given them a go. Shall I say to be continued?
In the end, you can’t spend all your time promoting, so you have to pick the best venues to get your work to people. I continue to believe that just posting online is a vicious circle that can only lead to miss opportunities. It is only PART of a well-rounded promotion plan. (I will be the first to tell you that a great web site and a strong online presence is beneficial. People need a way to locate you and your work.) Right now, I have been trying to focus my attention on displaying my work locally and getting booths at fairs in the Chicagoland area. It certainly takes more effort and money, but you can’t sit in front of your computer all the time.