Shop Talk

Self-Promotion for Artists: Giving a Voice to Your Fans

By Beth Caird and Jen Wahl

Following up on our posts Self Promotion: A Beginner’s Guide and our recent Satisfying the Curious, we’re looking at another way you can promote your artwork (and your self) through engaging with and giving a voice to your fan base. As you’ve been working madly, uploading and keeping track of your individual images on Redbubble, you may get a general sense that you have an involved community invested in what you make. Even if this is a general “sense” that when you upload an artwork and it enters the ether of the Internet you get a welcomed response, that’s something to cherish and build on like crazy. Here are some super simple steps you can take to embrace and enhance your supporters by simply communicating with them.

To clarify, your supporters are those that, on the surface, favorite (and buy) your stuff on RB, like your stuff on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, comment on your artwork, and don’t throw things at you when they meet you. So whenever your supporters engage with you online, engage with them back. By communicating through RB comments, Bubblemails, Journals, social media, and you know, talking to them face to face — you can make a huge difference in promoting your artwork.

Check out who is checkin' you out and learn who your fans are. (Image: "Blinded by Beauty" by Rim A-J)

1. Find out who is looking at your artwork

Okay first things first, this “general sense” of people appreciating your work should be more concrete than a warm fuzzy feeling (although those are nice).

Check out our post on Google Analytics, and regularly check in at RB by going Profile>Manage Works> Work Views to see what work of yours is popular on RB by number of views. Get a concrete sense of what your audience likes (do they like your pencil illustrations more than your vector stuff?) through numbers. This also includes favorites, comments, page views, and click throughs. While a sense that you’re doing good work by uploading is nice, seeing cold hard data (quantified love, essentially) is even lovelier.

2. Ask questions of your audience

Your audience wants to be a part of what you’re creating. Invite them into your world. Stressing that human element of your work by opening up to your audience can help improve your relationships with your buyers by giving them a face behind the artwork.

If you haven’t already, check out our post on Share Buttons On Your RB Profile and start using them as an engagement tool.

Ask questions of your fans. (Image: "The Fox Says Hello" by Beth Thompson)

3. Ask your audience what content they would like you to work on next

Every once in a while, consider your art practice an open book, or shop, or whatever in which your audience can come in, poke around, and make loud suggestions. Embrace it. Send out a day’s worth of tweets asking about what projects you should jump into, or get them to help you choose tee colors to match your designs.

Ask them if you should create a series on Monsters or Zombies (or both).  Make a poll and get your fans to vote.  Live tweet an entire day inside your studio (I’ve seen it done, it’s hilarious), or thoughtfully post progress shots of artwork for mid-way-through-advice and direction. While this might seem scary or maddening, it really does make you approachable, warm, and charming.

Reach out to your audience for advice and inspiration (Image: "River deity" by Grikis)

4. Follow up with your buyers and supporters 

Make them a part of the process, after the process of making and the transaction of selling has happened. You’ll find that your fans are your biggest… uh… fans. And your success, with their help, means that they have a stake in it. This makes them feel good. And it should make you feel good since your art is making people happy all over the globe. Follow up by thanking them by name  (with permission) as much as you can publicly. Write sincere BubbleMails or Facebook messages; being earnest is incredibly powerful and often underrated. When it comes to interacting with your fan base (who are basically just friends you haven’t met yet, right?) the more personal you can get with them the better. After all, it’s really lovely to connect with others, being sincere and in touch with people is pretty much one of the nicest perks of being human.

If you haven’t already, check out our post about Improving Artist/Buyer Relationships on Redbubble. 

Wait! Two more things:

Performance-artist/cabaret-musician Amanda Palmer slowly but surely blogged from 2007 until the present and built a phenomenal fan base through the internet. She basically single-handedly demonstrated to the music world (and Sony executives) that you don’t need a label to make albums and be a rockstar anymore. She sacked her label after they told her to lose weight and in 2012, with the help of her fans, she raised $1.2 million dollars for a new album.

Chris Onstad started out life after Stanford drawing online comics over at Achewood about his (adorable anthropomorphic) friends in post-college life. With tremendous web support (mostly college boys) he managed to make a living out of selling awesome things like cookbooks his fictional characters had penned and made it to number 1 of Time Magazine’s top webcomics of 2007.

Both of these artists did one thing exceptionally well: they engaged with their audiences online. They followed up on comments and shouted out to their fans for help, love, courage, and support. Giving voice to your fans is a powerful, powerful thing.

Learn more about self-promotion here.

Have you practiced giving your audience a voice? What’s your favorite part of interacting with your fan base? We’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and tips in the comments below. More is more when it comes to knowledge in this sector, so please join us in a discussion below. 

[Header image: “Sleep to Dream” by Beste Erel]

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