Dear artist – I know you want to make it big. I know you want people to see your art and appreciate it, but you have to be patient and play the long game. You MUST grow slow. I see so many artists get burnt out from trying to be their own publicist, marketer, and everything in between. Sometimes I even see artists “give up” on their dream because of rejection, doubt, or whatever. It’s easy to get overwhelmed reading blog posts and articles about promoting your own art, so you need to choose the method that works best for you.
The Nonsense Society is all about helping artists with a dream get exposure, get inspired, and (more than anything) keep making art. That’s why I’m here to tell you not to give up. Instead, keep creating, have fun, and get successful the right way. Slowly.
banner photo by NS member Maarja Mäemets
Please get over the “viral” infatuation
photo by NS member Greta Tu
We’re living in a world where people get famous overnight. Marketing managers all around the world are asking creative people “how do we go viral?!” (ugh!) It happens, but it’s rare and it DEFINITELY doesn’t prove talent and quality. In fact, many of the “viral” Internet stars create fairly mediocre work. More importantly, stars that grow overnight do not always stay stars. I can’t tell you how many YouTube users I’ve seen go viral and struggle to hold on to the fame.
Even I have one video on YouTube with 150,000 views and all the others have under 2,000! Not to mention the fact that people never click through to my website from YouTube (despite the fact that I include many links and annotations on my videos). Getting 150,000 hits all at once didn’t really do anything for me as an artist (or a business person), and it probably won’t for you. Viral attention is not necessarily the kind of attention you want and it certainly shouldn’t be your goal.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always the case. Some viral stars are truly amazing and completely deserve the fame. However, you don’t want tons of people to obsess over a single piece of work, and not actually care about what you’re doing. It doesn’t hurt to go viral, but it doesn’t make ANY sense to chase after that kind of attention. You want a real audience. An audience that cares and will follow you anywhere. That’s the kind of audience that grows slow.
Do what feels RIGHT, do it on your own terms, and “grow slowly”
photo by NS member Maria Kazvan
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that all you have to do is sit back, make art, and the success will come? Well, I can’t say that for sure, but I CAN say that making art is the most important part of the puzzle! You don’t have to do it all. In fact, it’s not smart to do it all. I’m tired of seeing artists spending more and more time working on their marketing/promotion plans and less and less time working on their art. Businesses do this too. They put all their effort into getting customers and their product can’t deliver. It’s a recipe for failure.
If you have an audience of 15 people, great! If you have an audience of 1,500 people, great! Either way, inspiring that audience should be your main concern right now. 15 true fans can easily turn into 1,500 true fans, but it takes time. Wouldn’t you rather have 1,500 true fans than 15,000 one time fans? I know I would. Growing slowly creates an audience that cares. Growing slowly makes for an audience that will help support you and not run away the second you try to sell some of your work.
Your time is extremely valuable. Extremely. You need to be very honest with yourself about what social media outlets and promotion techniques you like and which are worth your time. Maybe you hate promoting your work altogether. I’ve seen shy artists make it big. Adam Lisagor is called the “Advertising’s Quietest Pitchman” because he makes great Internet videos and tech companies around the world find him! His quirky style and quality work speaks for itself, meaning he can keep creating and stop chasing after money. Check it out:
Great artists grow slowly (and grow well) because they consistently make good work and their audience loves them for it.
IMPORTANT: There are two things you MUST do
photo by NS member Rodgrigo Benatti
I don’t want you to think there are no rules. There are two golden rules you MUST follow:
- MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE
- MAKE GOOD WORK
That’s it! Don’t hide. Put your work somewhere where it can spread and make great work all the time. If you’re an artist, maybe this means putting your work on Tumblr and Flickr. Using tags and posting work on a regular schedule can result in positive (slow) growth that will make you proud. The time to feel doubt and discouragement is over. If you love your work, there are definitely other people who will love it too, so put it out there and create! Never stop creating. That’s what artists do.