Forget the Algorithm: Why Artist's Need Creative Community


Too often, being an artist on the internet can feel like screaming into a void. Throwing paint on to a canvas and seeing what sticks. If you're a creative online, you probably know the feeling of post-posting hopelessness that's all too familiar. But if you work smarter and not harder, getting an audience engaged with your art and growing a following can be easier than you think, and it all begins with creating one thing: community.

 

If you share your artwork on social media, you likely already know the picture I'm about to paint. You spend all this time working on this piece, you get the perfect image of it, write out a great caption, and hope that the hashtags you post with it draw in enough eyes to your work. You're sure that people will love your work and that all you need is for the right people to see it.


After refreshing your feed every 60 seconds for the next ten or fifteen minutes, you might have 30 or so likes. But eventually, that feeling sinks in, that no matter what you do, it's for nothing. The feeling that no matter how many Instagram growth tips you use, how many finished pieces you pop out, or likes you get, it's never enough. The dreaded Instagram algorithm just can't let you catch a break.



Or maybe you're someone who gets likes and followers just fine, but when it comes to actual comments, engagement, and interaction with real followers interested in buying your work, it's radio silence. It seems impossible to get your numbers to translate into customers and clients. You look at all these other large artists sharing their work online and making a living from their art, and you don't even know where you'd begin.


Whether you're painting digitally, traditionally, in two dimensions or three, the secret to getting people interested in your artwork isn't an expensive masterclass, a Procreate brush pack, or a new drawing hack. Hell, it isn't even about how good of an artist you are.




ONE BASKET: IT'S A TRAP


It all starts with where you're sharing. Start thinking mindfully about what platforms you're sharing your work. Instead of trying to post everything everywhere at once or waiting for the day one of your posts goes viral, think intentionally about the websites and apps you're investing your time and attention to and how well they're serving you.



If you're like most creatives, it's probably just one or two platforms. But it's 2021, and the prime time for growth on a platform like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is long gone. Without some pro-level hashtag secrets, you're likely not going to find your posts ending up on the Explore page or getting thousands of views. That's why in the age of content creation, this expression is more important than ever:


"Don't put all your eggs in one basket"


Think about what sharing your work online would look like if you didn't have the social media tools you have at your disposal. How would you get your art out there? How can followers stay updated on what you're doing if their feeds don't show them? Cause let's keep it real - unless you're paying to promote your posts, your art probably isn't appearing on the news feeds of all of your followers anyways. Instead of trying to work within the confines of the app's algorithm, why not work around them?




THE BEAUTY OF A HOMEBASE


That's why having a website for your artwork is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone looking to launch their creative career online. While most people might have apps to follow you on social media, the internet is much larger than just the App Store.


Think about it - if you're looking for something in particular online, the average person is probably going to search for it on Google before they search for it on a specific app. While your Instagram page or Twitter might pop up on a Google search for your name, it's a must-have to have a website or a home base for your online presence, especially if your goal is to turn your passion into a profession.


With a website, you have a home base to share all of your work, a central point for anyone interested in finding more about you. And since it's all hosted on your website, you have 100% creative control over where they go from there.


Want to turn those clicks into clients or customers? Now they can easily find your rates and online store.

Want to lead them to sign up for your Patreon? You can make a landing page prompting them to sign up as soon as they open your website.


The possibilities are endless with what you can do to create and grow a community through your website.




NO FEED = NO LIMITS


As silly as it sounds, it was so freeing for me creatively when I realized that sharing my work online wasn't confined to a square image post, a tweet, or a TikTok. The limitlessness of not being stuck to a feed, an app, or a company's Terms of Service is a freedom every artist should feel when sharing, always. There's a comfort in being able to know that if an app crashes and burns one day, that it doesn't matter because even if the follower count isn't there, your community still is.


I've only just begun to explore the potential of my website and online presence as a content creator. There are so many different ways you can cultivate a connection with an audience. Here are just a few ideas of ways you can continue to create a community around your work:



E-MAIL LISTS:


Creating an e-mail list is a great way to build a closer relationship with your audience and a consistent way to share everything you're doing with them. A bonus of e-mail lists is that they ensure that your content reaches everyone on the list, so you don't have to worry about only a limited portion of your audience seeing or engaging with what you share.



BLOGS:


Blogging through your website is another way to build a closer relationship with your audience online. Writing on a blog can allow your audience to get a more personal view of your creative process or personal life. Blogging also gives you the ability to host comment sections and discussions directly from your website, generating more traffic and eyes on your work!



EXCLUSIVE CONTENT:


Sharing exclusive content on your website can be another way to provide value to your audience and gives them an incentive to continue to support you and your work. Exclusive content can be free downloads, like background wallpapers of your artwork or the brushes you use, or tutorials or tips you use in your art.



MASTERMIND GROUPS:


Creating a mastermind group can be huge for fostering a community around your work online. A mastermind group is a group, whether it's a group chat or a private Facebook group, where people with similar ideas and interests can share and work to improve. For artists, joining a mastermind group can be a great way to find community, support, and constructive criticism to improve.



DISCORD SERVERS:


Like mastermind groups, you can also create a Discord Server dedicated to your community. Whether it's for art critiques, tutorials, advice, or just for fun, launching a Discord server for your followers can be another way to engage with them on a more personal level and connect.




CONCLUSION


Whether your goal is to grow your audience, create customers, or find clients as an artist, you can do it all in a new and creative way when you build a community around what you do. It's still a journey I'm just now beginning to take on, but I can't wait to continue to share what I do with you all here.


 


"Dexter Komakaru is a freelance illustrator, artist, and multi-media visual creator living in his homeland on ancestral and contemporary territory of the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami, Peoria, Seneca, Wyandotte, Ojibwe and Cherokee peoples, known as CBUS, OH. He works out of his home studio to improve his craft and one day break free of capitalist and imperialist systems through his lifelong creative work.


With over five years of dedicated experience and study in visual arts and development, he's been able to work with independent clients and organizations nationwide to create stunning projects around art, activism, and accessibility through digital content creation, community organizing, activism, and public speaking."


Dexter Komakaru, DXTROSE - @dxtrose / dxtrose.com

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DXTROSE Dexter Komakaru Freelance Illustrator_edited.jpg

Welcome to my world. Thanks for your time. 

Dexter Komakaru (DXTROSE) is a queer artist, creator, and educator, working as a freelancer out of his studio based on North American Indigenous Land known as CBUS, OH.

Currently, he's privately studying to improve his skills while taking on private and commercial clients for illustration and artwork projects. As of 2021, he has also launched his new online store and Creative Coaching offerings to provide 1-on-1 mentorship for aspiring creatives.

 

You can learn more about what I do and what I'm up to here on my site or Instagram, just keep looking. I hope to see you around!

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