This article is part of a series on advice for freelance artists.
- How to Be Skilled Enough To Get A Job
- Choosing a Career Path as an Artist
- It’s Who You Know
- Time and Project Management
- Being Discoverable Online ←
- Active Marketing
- How To Make Money
- The Most Important Thing
People need to be able to find you online easily. This means more than just posting your artwork on every gallery. You need to take into account all the ways that people can find your artwork: Google image search, re-posting to Reddit, a reference library on someone’s hard drive, and so on.
Have a Unique Name or Handle
First off, I think it’s very important to have a name or “handle” that is unique. You want a set of letters that people can type into a search engine and find you with little effort.
I’m lucky because I am one of only three people who share my name online, and none of them are in my industry. However, if you name is James Smith, people are not going to find you by putting that into Google, even if they include the word “artist.” In those cases, you’ll want to come up with a handle or alias that no one else has, and sign your artwork with that name.
Have a legible signature on your artwork
The signature you put on your illustrations needs to be clear and legible.
Don’t use just a logomark. People can’t Google a logomark (a logo that is just graphics with no text). If you use a logomark, it needs to be accompanied by some other text that people can use to Google you.
Don’t just use initials in your signature. People can’t easily Google initials. Instead of finding you they will find acronyms for technical stuff, part numbers, and so on.
If your signature is hand drawn, don’t use cursive or unidentifiable letters. If someone can’t correctly identify each letter in your signature, they can’t Google you.
Do put your website on your artwork. This is the best-case scenario for a signature. If you have a website, you can bypass the need for someone to Google you by putting the URL on your artwork. If your website is on there, you can have a logo, initials, or a signature that nobody can read. I consider a URL with your custom domain to be the gold standard in signatures.
Publish Your Artwork Everywhere
Submit your work on every online art gallery out there: ArtStation, DeviantArt, social media feeds, your blog/website, and so on. Niche art sites (i.e. sites that focus on a specific fandom on genre of art) are great places to post artwork because they will have a more targeted audience. Create a process or checklist so that you can upload your artwork everywhere easily. Automate the posting process if you can.
Have a Website
It’s not critical, but if you can, I recommend getting a website that is hosted on a domain name that you own. It’s a web address that never changes (assuming you never let your domain registration lapse). Your website is independent of whatever ArtStation, DeviantArt, or any other website decides to do with their service.
The minimum cost to host a website is about $10 a year. That is for the domain name registration. https://www.namecheap.com/ is a good place to purchase domains.
After that, you usually have to pay monthly for hosting. This is where the real cost of a website is.
There are free options which are highly technical. Using a static website generator like Hugo and hosting it on Netlify is one way you can host a very fast website for free. At Squirrel Logic we are having some success with this, and it’s a service that Squirrel Logic provides for budget-conscious designers and artists.
Your domain registrar usually has some cheap hosting plans for a few bucks a month, usually in the form of a WordPress site. That still requires some technical know-how, but it’s not as bad as Hugo and Netlify.
The easiest and more expensive option is $12 a month (as of time of writing) through Squarespace. Their site builder is easy enough that anyone can set up a portfolio website through it.
If you can’t afford the monthly fees or can’t do the technical aspect of hosting a site through Netlify, you can purchase a domain and have it forward all traffic from that address to one of your art galleries hosted elsewhere (e.g. ArtStation or DeviantArt). If you decide to change what art gallery you want people to visit, you can log into your domain registrar and point the redirect address to a new site.
Once you have a custom domain, every art gallery you post artwork on should include a link to your website.
Once you have a website, it should also include links to every gallery you post artwork on. That way people who are regulars on those art sites can follow you and have your new artwork show up in their feeds.
Provide a way for people to contact you on your website. If you don’t want to give out your personal email, you can register a new email account that is just used for web-based inquiries. You can also use Google Forms to create a contact form so that you won’t have to give out your email address until you want to. If you enable notifications, you can get emails whenever someone sends you a message.
Ready for the next topic? Here’s the list of articles in this series: