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16 Things You Can Do Today to Get Your Artwork Noticed

Peacock
Image courtesy of Paul Friel

Note: A version of this post was originally published on another blog of mine. That blog no longer exists, so I thought it might be useful to repost the article here.

Whether you’re a hobbyist sculptor, a part-time photographer, or a full-time artist, if you’re proud of what you create, I bet you’d like as many people to see it as possible, right?

I hear a lot of artists saying they just don’t know how to get their artwork noticed. So here are 16 actions that you can actually put into practice today, that will help increase your artwork’s exposure:

1. Establish Your Artistic Goals

The first one is easy, all you have to do is think! Take 5 minutes to consider what your goals are for your artwork. Are you just doing it for fun because you love it, do you plan to make a living from doing it, or is it a bit of both? Where do you see yourself and your artwork in a years time? How about 5 years?

The benefit of establishing your artistic goals is that it gives you something to focus on, so that you can take action to fulfil your goals. Think about what action you can do today that will get you one step closer to your artistic goals.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has written a great article on Really Simple Goal-Setting.

2. Create a Facebook Page For Your Art

People spend an obscene amount of time on Facebook these days. If you can create a Facebook presence for your artwork, it will be much easier for people to share it and talk about it.

My advice when creating a Facebook page for your art is don’t just post the same content as you have on your website or blog. Give your Facebook fans a little extra to give them a reason to ‘like’ your page. If you only post your best work on your website gallery (which I would recommend), then you can use your Facebook page to post sketches and works-in-progress so that your fans can feel more involved in your artistic process. See my own Facebook art page for an example.

Pamela Vaughan wrote a great post on Hubspot recently about 8 Creative Ways to Customize Your Facebook Business Page. Most of these can be adapted for an art page.

Note: The Facebook page advice can also be applied to Google+

3. Get a DeviantArt Profile

DeviantArt is one of the biggest art communities there is, with over 19 million members at the time of writing. That’s reason enough to get your artwork on there.

Another benefit of DeviantArt is that it’s extremely social. The users there love to comment on art and interact with other members. I’m not very active on there at the moment, but last time I logged in I had 259 unread feedback messages about my artwork. That is some great exposure.

This is a great way to meet like-minded artists and really start engaging in the art community.

4. Start Writing a Blog

This may be the single most important thing you can do to increase your exposure as an artist. It takes a bit of commitment to post regularly, but the benefits make it a no-brainer.

Artists often tell me they don’t need a blog, or they don’t have anything to write about, but if you’re consistently creating new art, then you have plenty to write about.

You can post every time you create a new piece of art and talk about the process or what it means to you or if there is a story behind it. You can write about your upcoming exhibitions or shows, and you can provide tutorials and advice on how you create your art.

You can even branch out a bit and write about your art philosophy or your influences. Anything that you think will be of interest to people who like your art is ok to blog about.

Thomas James has written about why it’s important for artists to blog over at Escape From Illustration Island.

For more about launching a successful blog, read my post – Make Your Art Blog Matter.

5. Share the Link Love

When you’re writing your blog posts, don’t be afraid to link to other artists’ websites.

That may be counter-intuitive, as you have probably heard that success online is all about getting links IN to your site, not out.

That is true to an extent, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing content that you think your visitors will like, such as an artist who really inspires you.

For one thing, your visitors will start to see you as someone who shares great content, and they will be more likely to subscribe to your posts or social feeds.

But also, the person whose site you linked to may notice that you have linked to them and said something nice and give you a little shout-out on Twitter or maybe in a blog post.

Basically it’s an easy way to make a new online friend. And you can use as many of those as you can get.

6. Offer to Write a Guest Post For Someone Else’s Blog

This is a great way to get a bit more traffic to your site, if done correctly.

Before you offer to write a guest blog post, you need to think carefully about whether that blog is a good match for your audience.

Obviously it should be related to your artistic genre, so if you’re a sculptor, it’s probably not wise to offer to write a guest post on a photography blog.

But you could find a blog which offers free sculpture tutorials, and offer to write about your top sculpture tips and techniques. If they publish your post, they will most likely give you a link back to your site, and if their blog gets a lot of traffic, you can expect a fair few budding sculptors to find their way to your site.

Check out James Agate’s 3 Keys to Effective Guest Posting on ThinkTraffic.net

7. Make Your Art Easy to Share

There’s so much information online today, that we sometimes have to filter out the stuff that is too time-consuming.

If I stumble upon a work of art that I like, and I want to share it with my friends or fellow art lovers, the first thing I do is look for the Facebook like button or the Tweet button. If those aren’t there, I have to REALLY want to share the art to go to the effort of copying the URL from the address bar, opening up Facebook or Twitter, pasting in the link, and writing a description of the artwork I’m sharing.

Every piece of art on your website should ideally have its own social sharing buttons. The best way to do this is to use a gallery where every image has its own page, then on your image page template, you can stick your social sharing buttons right above the image, so your visitors can share your art with a single click.

All of the major social networks have developer tools that allow you to put a sharing button on your website, or you can use a sharing service like AddThis to make things easier.

8. Enter Art Competitions

You may not be the competitive type, but entering online art contests can be a great way of reaching other artists and increasing your exposure.

For example, I used to be really into caricature (not so much these days), and there is a great Facebook group called Caricaturama Showdown 3000! which holds a weekly celebrity caricature contest, with a different subject each week.

There are over 4,500 members in that group at the time of writing, all of whom are interested in caricature, many of whom are regular participants in the contests, and some of whom may see your work if you enter a contest, spot your talent and share your art with their fans.

If you enter every week, or at least every few weeks, then you increase the exposure you give your work.

Offline competitions can also be good for getting your work seen locally. Last year I entered a celebrity portrait contest at a local art show, with my caricature of Sheffield funny man Toby Foster. I didn’t win, but my painting was on show to thousands of people with my name under it.

9. Comment on Other Artists’ Work

This relates to #5, as it’s all about building relationships and networking with other artists.

If you see a piece of art online that you love, as well as sharing it on Facebook, why not leave a nice comment (if possible). If you can’t comment directly on the image page itself, see if the artist has a blog or a Facebook page, where they may have written about the image and you should be able to leave feedback.

Be sensible about this. It’s fine to leave a nice compliment, or even constructive feedback if the artist has asked for it, but don’t just slag off a piece of art simply because it doesn’t appeal to you. At best it will be deleted or not even published, and at worst you will make an enemy.

Also, don’t go overboard with comments and venture into spam territory. If you comment saying “Nice job!” on every single image on an artist’s site, that is spam. If you post “Nice job, check out my art at xyz.com”, that can be seen as spam unless you have good reason for doing so or the artist has invited people to link to their sites. Most comment links will be ‘nofollow’ anyway, which means you won’t get much SEO benefit from them, and not enough people read all comments on a post for it to be a good source of referrals.

My advice is keep it natural, friendly and link free. If there is a website address field in the comment form, fill it in, and if the artist checks out your work and likes it, then great, they may share it. If not, at least you have made someone happy by leaving a pleasant comment!

10. Optimise Your Website Images

As an artist, your website is all about the images, and if search engines can’t tell what your images represent, then that will have a detrimental effect on the number of people finding your artwork through search engines.

The main ways to optimise your images are by giving them relevant ‘alt’ text, good filenames, and relevant text surrounding the image.

When you add an image to a web page, you can specify an ‘alt’ attribute in the HTML image tag. The alt attribute is used by anyone who can’t see your image for any reason, whether they are visually impaired, or not human (i.e. Google). So your alt text should succinctly describe the contents of your image.

A helpful rule of thumb is to write the alt text as if it were to be used as a caption for the image, so it should sound natural and be descriptive.

For example, if your image is a photo of the Eiffel Tower at dusk, your alt text might be “Photograph of the Eiffel Tower at Dusk by Joe Bloggs”.

Including ‘photograph’ lets the visitor know that this is a photo rather than a painting or drawing. Adding your name is relevant so that they know who created the image, and the rest simply describes what you can see in the photo.

The image filename is an often overlooked way of letting search engines understand your images better. A lot of people will upload images with the filename assigned by their digital camera, which may look something like IMG06654.jpg. Obviously this tells us nothing about the image itself. A better filename for the Eiffel Tower photo might be eiffel-tower-dusk.jpg. You can leave out the other descriptive terms as you should keep your filename as short as possible.

For more on this, and some theoretical ideas of how to further optimise your images, check out this helpful video on Image SEO Basics by Danny Dover on SEOmoz.org

11. Ping the Search Engines

You may already be blogging regularly, but are you letting the search engines know when you publish new content? If not, it may take them longer to find your new posts.

It’s possible to ‘ping’ the search engines when you publish something new, which is basically a way of letting them know that your site has changed, they should come and take a look when they have time.

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, and activate the XML sitemap functionality, it will automatically ping Google and Bing whenever you post something new, and you can also set it to ping Yahoo! and Ask.com if you wish.

12. Get a Referral

As we all know, sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And often the best way to get noticed is through word of mouth.

You are much more likely to look at something if it was recommended by a friend that you trust, rather than a link you see on a blog comment or even worse, a Google ad!

So appeal to your friends to think about anyone they know who might be interested in your art and ask them to send a link. This might seem obvious, but until you ask, your friend might not have thought of a particular person who just happens to love what you do.

This can work especially well if you are trying to get representation from an art gallery. A gallery curator might receive hundreds of portfolios every year, and most of them probably get no more than a cursory glance before they are rejected.

But if you happen to know an artist who is already represented by that gallery, and they recommend you to the curator, you are much more likely to be in with a shot.

So if you have a gallery in mind, find out if you know any of the artists they represent, and see if they will give you a recommendation.

Even if you don’t know any of them, do some investigating on LinkedIn or Facebook to try and find a friend of a friend who can introduce you. It’s a small world, and you might just find the connection you need.

13. Emulate Successful Artists

Sometimes the best way to be successful is by finding out what successful people do, and copying that.

Obviously I’m not suggesting that you rip off other people’s work, but you can use the same techniques and strategies that successful artists use (this is why copying old master paintings is an important part of an artist’s training.)

So take a look at the websites of some artists that you admire and whom you see as successful, and see what kind of strategy they use to promote themselves. Do they have a newsletter? Subscribe to it and see what sort of things they send in their emails. Do they have a Facebook page? What kind of content do they post their?

For example, I got the idea for this post from Corbett Barr’s post on ThinkTraffic, and he in turn got the idea from Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt.

As long as you adapt the content to suit your own needs, rather than just plagiarising someone else’s work, then you’re golden.

Remember though, what works for someone else, might not necessarily work for you. Try different techniques to find what works best for you.

14. Create Amazing Artwork!

If you don’t do any of the other things on this list today, then you can at least work on creating an amazing piece of art. After all, if you don’t have great art to share, then the rest of the tasks are a waste of time.

Promotion and networking are important, but your main focus should still be your art, otherwise you may need to ask yourself why you are really doing it.

15. Get a Website for Your Art

A lot of the items above are only possible if you already have a website with your artwork on it. If you don’t already have one, that needs to be high on your to-do list.

If you don’t know where to begin with all this art website stuff, check out my Artist Website Services.

And to learn why you really need your own website for your art, check out these 10 Crucial Reasons from the Artonomy blog.

16. Look For Advertising Opportunities in Your Community

A current source of income for me is painting digital pet portraits. I’ve done a few of these for a friend who has two Beagles. She also happens to own a hair salon here in Sheffield, and a lot of her clients are the kind of people who would be interested in getting a portrait of their pets.

So she suggested that I put together a book advertising my portraits, which I did, using the self-publishing service Blurb.com (affiliate link), and she put it in the waiting area of her salon. While her customers are waiting for their haircut, maybe the cute Beagle puppy on the front cover will catch their eye and they will pick up the book. My website and contact details are in there, so if they want to get their own portrait it’s easy for them to get in touch.

You may not have such an obvious advertising opportunity, but if you think about all the people you know, there is bound to be someone who can help you out.

The key is to keep it relevant to your target audience. My friend’s clients are reasonably well-off, so they are likely to have the disposable income to spend on an art commission. If it was a cheap barber shop, with less affluent customers, then it might not be worthwhile advertising there.

Think of the kind of person you want to see your artwork, and then try to think of someone you know who is exposed to that kind of person on a regular basis. If you find a match, ask that person if there’s anything they can do to help. They might come up with an idea you had never even considered.

Bonus Tip – Share This Article

Ok, so this is also a shameless request for promotion, but as I mentioned earlier, if you tweet this post, I will probably check out your site, and if I like it, I’ll share it, so you really can’t lose!

Yeah, that’s a stretch, but seriously, if you liked this article, please use the handy buttons on the left (or at the top, depending on your screen size), to share on your social platform of choice, and if you have any other tips for getting your artwork noticed, please leave a comment below.

33 Comments on 16 Things You Can Do Today to Get Your Artwork Noticed

  1. Pingback: Where to Share Art for Free (or almost) | Square Inches of Love

  2. This is a great list to consider, lots of good content. The blogging bit is my challenge, yet I always feel rewarded whenever I post a new blog entry. Sort of like exercising, it feels good after you do it, and it’s satisfying to commit to a routine.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. seascapesaus says:

    Your content is packed with helpful ideas Dan. I enjoy your links too; often get sidetracked and lose the first blog (like today I think). BUT really supportive, practical and inspirational blogging, thanks, from a learner.

  4. Nicola says:

    Great list, I especially agree with commenting/ interacting with other artists work, I have gained many friends on instagram, one of whom I recently featured on my blog, which gave my site alot more exposure and lovely comments from others :)

  5. First time on your site and I’m loving it! I recently decided to dedicate myself full-time to my art. Websites like yours help tremendously. I hope to be able to help other creatives along my journey. Sharing is caring right?

    Thank you!!!!

  6. Ally Albon says:

    Thanks for your post! I am a freelance concept artist, but actually just got into doing pet portraits too – and I love, love love your suggestion 16 – I might make up a book and just carry it with me to the dogpark! Thanks for a very good article.

  7. Pecola Parnell says:

    I really enjoyed the advice, I am going to get started but I really liked this article because I feel I have lost my artistic touch and need a boost back in! Thanks

  8. Pingback: How to become an artist. | PixelShaping

  9. Pingback: Blogging as a tool to promote your Art | Plastic Plankton

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  11. Stephanie Shively says:

    This site is really helpful!! Im really struggling to get my art noticed and show others what i am capable of doing, and this site really got me thinking. I’m trying to sell portraits from photos others send to me and its hard to find customers. now i think i can slowly get workin!! Thanks for your help! Feel free to check out my facebook page and pass it on! (Photo Portraits by Steph) Thanks much!!!!

  12. Dana says:

    This was generally a great post and I’m definitely going to do some of that (like creating a Facebook page). But there’s two small things I have to object to. DeviantArt may be the biggest art community and I did meet a lot of great people there. But the thing about people “love to comment” definitely doesn’t apply to artists who don’t have like 1000+ watchers.. You either have to be insanely talented or you have to draw fanart all the time to get noticed in the first place and even then people never care about original artwork.. Most people just blindly press the favorite button. I never gained anything from that except that people seemed to like my art. But I’m all about giving feedback and pressing a single button doesn’t count as feedback.
    Also, where is there an effort to copy paste an URL?? I share YouTube videos by copying the URL on Facebook all the time and its not any more time consuming than just pressing the share button. In fact most of the time i find sharing URLs a lot easier. Geez, how lazy can people get… So if one really likes an artwork and there’s no possibility to share on twitter or f , they just disregard it? Good to know.

  13. My wife and I recently moved to Voorhees, NJ. We are from Bucks County PA. I’ve been a freelance Illustrator for 60 years. Commercial Deadlines gave way to less demanding work. I do colored pencil portraits, People in general ,Land-scape, and Architecture renderings in any medium. I need people to see my work. This outlet is new to me. And I have a good feeling about it. Al Fiorentino July 18th

  14. ali dunnell says:

    Thank you so much for writing this information up, and being so generous with your advice. I am currently teaching art and textiles in Stockholm, but have been collecting all my art work and sketchbooks together and am in the process of trying to start “selling” myself, so to speak. So your suggestions are exactly what I needed to read. I now feel thoroughly motivated and inspired. You’ve made my evening. Ali

  15. Kay says:

    Thank you for the great advice. Im a starting artist and It is really hard to get your work out there. Will use you advice and hopefully if will get me more views!

  16. Pingback: 16 things to help your art get noticed | Cats. Comics. Curves.

  17. Ed Stresino says:

    I’ve been practicing most of your tips for years! Another practical tip would be to publish a book that showcases your artwork such as I have :The Story of Circlism. In the Story of Circlism we will track the beginnings of Edward C Stresino and his art to understand the idea of creating or dividing images into bigger or smaller components came about. In other words, components are visualized in their most particular and integral state of being and then are reintegrated into the composition seen as a whole. This is the enigma each of us must discover.

  18. Pingback: 16 Things You Can Do Today to Get Your Artwork Noticed | Sandbox Gallery

  19. SP Williams says:

    Finally some great (and more original) advice for expanding my audience!

    Especially number 3 and 5…i used to have a deviantart profile…time to get it back up and running.

    You can check out my realist figurative/abstract paintings at http://www.facebook.com/spwilliams1

    I’ll be going to Baltimore this June to study more classical realism…so stay posted :)

  20. Pingback: 16 things to help your art get noticed | Cats Comics Curves

  21. Derek Handelong says:

    Great article, well with that in mind I’d love to gush about my girlfriends artwork, she’s always busy working, house stuff or working on her website or making abstract art that I want to try and help her and I’d appreciate anyone checking out her website.

    http://www.malloriemae.com

  22. Pingback: Numb bum | annemarieemslieart

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