Great! You’ve sold a painting with your name on it, handed someone your cool new business card, or gotten a little press. But guess what—now that your name is out there, people will be searching the internet to find out more about you.
Try a quick online search of your own name. . . What kind of results do you see? Do you like how you’re portrayed? Do you not?
With a little forethought as you build your online persona, you can make sure that the things people find online form an accurate, focused picture of you as an artist.
Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Tread carefully with comments/responses
One great way to get your name out there (and get people to your website) is to post comments on blogs, forums, and articles. Unfortunately, if you post a comment in a heated debate that you later regret, it’s going to remain permanently on the web (unless it’s so bad that a moderator deletes it!)
You don’t have to censor your posts entirely, or refrain from contributing to discussions, just stop before you post comments and ask yourself: does your post make any personal attacks? Does the language you use reflect who your buyers (or students) think you are? Are you posting from a logical viewpoint, or reacting with blind emotion?
If you are contributing thoughtfully to a discussion, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your viewpoint. If you’re attacking another poster personally or letting off some steam, it may be a good idea to cool down a bit before you post your comment or response.
An occasional rant is fine, as long as you’ve thought it out ahead of time and know you’ll stand by what you have to say long after it’s posted.
2. Separate personal social media from professional
If your goal is to appear professional as an artist, it’s best to separate out your social media profiles and keep your personal life private.
If you use Facebook, set up a fan page for your collectors, so they can connect with you on a more personal level without knowing all of your personal affairs. If you use Twitter, make both a personal and professional account, and keep your tweets separate.
When you invite people to see your art on Pinterest, maintain an art-focused page for them to view, keeping it free of distractions (save the cupcakes and home décor for your own personal page, or keep those boards hidden for your own personal view).
People interested in your art will appreciate not having to sift through a bunch of information that distracts them from your artwork, and you’ll feel better knowing that your personal life isn’t being scrutinized by every fan, friend, or follower.
3. Edit your words. . . always
It may sound like a pain, but a quick check for basic spelling and grammar will pay off greatly if you’re trying to maintain a professional image as an artist.
Correct spelling and grammar increases the likelihood that people who read what you say will understand you clearly, which in turn makes people more comfortable contacting you.
Even something as simple as spelling the titles of your works correctly makes a huge difference: if you’ve inadvertently misspelled a word in one of your artwork titles, how are people searching similar titles or subjects going to find it?
4. Carefully control the info and images you post
Even just a little time on the internet will tell you that we live in the age of TMI—too much information, and too much “I!”
If you’re prone to oversharing, think about what you’re putting out there and how it affects those who want to know more about you as an artist. It’s beneficial to offer some personal experiences to share with your fans, but be selective about what you’re willing to share. A little mystery won’t hurt your professional image, and may even help!
If you blog, do it with the purpose of connecting with people interested in you through your artwork. Before posting photos, keep in mind what kinds of doors those photos may open or close for you in the future.
For example, you may plan to earn extra income from teaching art. Photos of you drinking wine at an art opening might not be a big deal if you teach adults, but if you’re applying to teach art at a private school for children, you might want to be careful what kind of images you’re making available on the internet.
5. Set standards for yourself and stick to them
Being an artist, you have an advantage in that you likely see the “big picture” of things. So take some time right now to think about the big picture of you that’s out there.
Is it what you want? If so, keep at it!
If it’s not, take a quick read of your professional bio, and decide what you can do to align the image that you’re presenting on the internet with what you put out there in your biography.
Write down a few standards or key phrases that sum up the image you want to project—this will give you something to keep in mind as you post on your blog and interact on social media.
You can’t control what others post about you, but you can go a long way toward presenting yourself in the best light possible as you share your life’s work as an artist.
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