14 April 2014

Networking for Creatives 101: A Guide to Using Social Media

Written by  J Watford Published in Blog

 

When you were a child, did your parents ever try to discourage you from going into a creative field because you probably wouldn't make money from it? Well, you obviously didn't listen to them if you're now working as a creative. The good news that you can tell your parents (if they haven't disowned you yet because of your, ahem, choices) is that now is a great time to be a creative. 

Thanks to the wonder that is the Internet, we now live in a virtually borderless world. There are plenty of work opportunities across the world that you can get without having to leave the comfort of your home. Heck, you don't even have to get out of your pyjamas to work and get paid. The world today is indeed a creative's dream come true. 

What's that? You're just starting out and you don't know how to let people know about your presence in the creative marketplace? Well then, my friend, time to get out of your pyjamas and do some networking. And don't worry, because we're talking about figurative pyjamas here—by networking, we mean the social media kind. 

 

 

This might be the point where you shake your head and declare that you're an artist who doesn't need to make use of social media in order to let other people know how good you are. And you'll probably start railing against the death of authenticity and how everyone on Twitter and Facebook is just a fraud who has to rely on these platforms to get people to notice them. 

Before you do that, please just hang on a second and hear us out. Using social media doesn't equate to selling out. You can be on Twitter and retain your dignity. Having a Facebook account is not akin to selling your soul to the devil (unless you think that Mark Zuckerberg is the devil). 

There are plenty of talented and successful creatives using social media these days. Most of these people are known to be wonderful human beings who so far have not been found to be frauds or sell-outs. Try and get out of the 'social media is evil' mindset and open yourself up to the possibilities it offers. 

If you're resistant to the idea of using social media, maybe you should ask yourself this question: Do you want to build connections to other people, be they prospective clients or fellow creatives?  If you do, then having a social media presence will make this a lot easier for you.

Here are the benefits of engaging in social media networking: 


  • You get to meet other creatives who share your interests. There are many spaces in social media networks for like-minded people. Reaching out to fellow creatives can be invigorating and inspiring, and it's always good to know that there are people out there who share your views and experiences.  


  • There are high-profile creatives who generously give advice to their followers in places like Facebook and Twitter. Let's face it, there's nothing more inspiring than getting to interact with your favourite artist or writer. (We for instance will always cherish that one time our favourite writer answered one of our questions on Twitter.)  


  • Many work opportunities get posted on social media. In the past week alone, we saw more than ten designer jobs posted on the wall of the Facebook creative group we're part of. A famous comic book artist and publisher announced a few openings for pencillers on his Twitter page a few weeks ago. Creative writing and journalism job announcements are a common sight on our Twitter feed too. Just think of the opportunities you'll be missing out on if you're not on these social media networks.  


  • Social media networking is fun. You know what they say about  how all work and no play makes one a dull person. Consider visiting your social media accounts as part of your daily downtime. It's the sort of leisure activity which, when done the right way, can leave you feeling refreshed and ready for more creative work. 

 

Where to start 

If you're ready to go out and introduce yourself to the world, here are the best platforms to get started: 


  1. Twitter 

    Twitter is a great way to keep yourself up-to-speed on your favourite creatives. You can follow their accounts and find out what they're up to and, if you're lucky enough, they might even follow you back. It's also a great sounding board for your ideas. Everyone on Twitter has an opinion and you'd be amazed at how willing people are to give you feedback if you ask for it.   


  2. Facebook 

    A Facebook page is a great way to build up a following and advertise your work. A great Facebook page can serve as a mini-website with the benefit of instant interaction with your fans. Considering the fact that billions of people are on Facebook, there's always the potential of one of your posts going viral and ultimately attracting the attention of future clients.  


  3. Google+ 

    Google+ has a more 'professional' air about it compared to Facebook and Twitter. Carefully crafted posts on your Google+ page can attract like-minded people who will spread the word about your work. You will also find various creatives' groups on Google+ who are always happy to welcome new members.  


  4. Instagram 

    Instagram is more than just a place where photo filters and hashtags reign supreme. It's a great place to introduce your work to people from all over the world. Although interactions are limited to 'likes' most of the time, using the right hashtags for your posts will definitely increase your visibility and earn you new fans.  


  5. DeviantART 

    DeviantART is the granddaddy of artists' social networks. With over 22 million members, it is the world's largest online community of creatives and art lovers. Here you can display your portfolio and get feedback from other members. There are also various forums where you can get advice and share tips and tricks. More importantly, you can sell your art through the site.

 

There are plenty of other social networks that you can join, but the ones listed above should help you get started in establishing your online presence and building a fan base and eventually your own list of regular clients or customers.

 

A few words of caution

We don't want to end this article without discussing some of the pitfalls of social media engagement. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to tread on this hitherto unknown territory: 


  1. Keep separate social media accounts for your work and for your personal use and set clear boundaries between these two areas of your life unless you're comfortable sharing personal details with a wide audience. Limit your personal account  to real-life family and friends, and direct all your professional contacts to your work accounts. This will reduce the chances of worldwide humiliation if your brother decides to post your naked baby photos on your Twitter or Facebook page.


  2. Avoid the rabbit holes. Yes, we've been there. We get bombarded every hour with links to various articles and photos that our well-meaning social media contacts think will be of interest to us. Before we know it, we have Googled and read so many posts on some insignificant subject and the day has gone by without us having done any real work. The best way to avoid this is to set a schedule for visiting your social networks and to stick to that schedule. Set aside around half an hour to an hour each day to update your accounts and visit your contacts. Once you're done, log off and carry on with your work. 


  3. Don't take things personally. Really, don't. Social networks have made it possible for people to speak their minds out without thinking first. You will encounter rudeness and stupidity. Most of the time, this is not a reflection on you or your ability so don't take it to heart. Trolls are a dime a dozen on social media; the best way to deal with them is to just ignore them.  


  4. Don't be rude. Remember that you're on social media to promote your work, so think first before you post anything, whether it's a joke or an opinion. If it's offensive, don't post it. Things you post on social media have a way of biting you where it hurts. There's nothing quite like a backlash of Twitter or Facebook proportions—many fools have lost face and fallen from grace because they thought what they posted on their social media accounts couldn't hurt them. 

  5. The work is still the most important thing. Social networks can be addictive, especially when you've made new friends. Remember, however, that you're on these networks because you want your work to reach a wider audience. Make sure that your work remains your number one priority. Do the work first, and then you'll have something to tweet about. 

About.

The Content Specialist is run by Joy Watford, a writer and editor with over a decade of publishing experience. She works with a team of professional writers and editors with a passion for top quality writing. Read More...

Contact.

THE CONTENT SPECIALIST LTD
21 Orthwaite
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
PE29 6UZ

Company Number: 08823286

Phone: (+44)7812 650567

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alternatively, you can leave us a message here

Connect.

We’re on Facebook and Twitter, so please come and say hello!