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  • How to Contact People About Your Art on Social Media

    Artists constantly email or message me on social media or through my website for all kinds of reasons and with all kinds of questions and requests, mainly about their art and art careers. My replies depend on how they introduce themselves, what they want, how they ask for it, and how they present themselves overall. If you happen to be one of those artists who uses social media to contact people you don't know but who you think can help you out in some way, here are some tips on how to do it right and hopefully increase the chances you'll get the kinds of replies you're looking for. The outcomes are up to you.

    But before we start talking about the fine points of making contact, know that one of the great benefits of social media these days is that you can put yourself in front of pretty much whomever you want to without ever having to message or email them directly. About you have to do is follow them and like or comment on their posts with some sort of regularity. Assuming they don't have hundreds of thousands of followers, chances are good that they'll at least notice you. And if they notice you enough, they may decide to check out your page or even your overall online profile.

    In other words, your profile will be doing the talking for you. So step one is to make sure it's reasonably complete, up-do-date, organized, presented and explained in such a way that anyone can get a grasp of what you're up to without investing too much time or energy. No matter how or where people find out about you or your art these days, whether intentionally or by accident, the first thing they almost always do is search you online.

    If your social media pages, website, image pages or blog are incomplete, disorganized, outdated, sloppy, random or confusing, your chances of making any headway at all are minimal. Before engaging anyone, make sure you're ready for them to check you out. You're wasting your time otherwise. Provide the necessary guidance and order so they can understand, appreciate, navigate and connect with your art.

    Your art must not only be ready for close and critical inspection, but also be able to survive that level of scrutiny. Make sure it looks professional in every way, ready to impress anyone who sees it. If your images are poor or your explanations are weak, you'll only be hurting yourself. Forewarned is forearmed. Assuming you're ready, here are some good ways to introduce yourself and your art to others on social media:

    No matter who you want to meet or how badly you want to meet them, follow or friend them first and study their online profiles. Before making any contact at all, you need to know who they are, what they're about, why what they do is relevant to you and your art, and if or how they might be able to help you.

    Watch how they post, what they post, what they like, what they don't like, what kinds of people they follow or friend, what hashtags they follow, how they interact with others, what kinds of comments they respond to, what their favorite topics are, and so on. Also go over past posts and activities to learn a little about their history. The best way to get to know anyone is by reading what they have to say, including comments from their followers as well.

    Don't limit yourself to social media pages. Visit their websites, third-party links to content that mentions them, and whatever other resources you can find to get a good solid sense of what their priorities are and where their interests lie. Be thorough here because when you finally decide to reach out, you want them to see that you know (and care about) who they are.

    When you're ready, you can start liking some of their posts-- but only if you really like them. You can comment as well, but only if you have something to say about the posts or the discussion, not about you or your art. Use comments in moderation though. The more conversations you participate in, the more likely you are to get noticed. Keep in mind though that people can tell the difference between someone who wants to be part of the broader conversation and someone who only wants to focus on themselves.

    The good news is that if you respond to someone's posts with enough regularity, honesty and thoughtfulness, whether with likes or comments, chances are really good that they'll notice. And whether they respond to you or not, there's also a good chance they'll take a look at your profile, your art, and maybe even follow or make contact with you at some point if they like what they see.

    Additional tips and pointers:

    * Keep your comments, messages or emails brief at the start. You'll have plenty of time to elaborate later.

    * Personalize every message or email you send. Most people can easily spot "prepackaged" content.

    * Always address recipients by name. Show that you know who they are. Briefly say something about them. Establish a connection.

    * Introduce yourself. Say who you are and why you are messaging them. The more information you provide, the greater the chances they'll reply.

    * Briefly state what you would like them to do or how you think they might be able to help. Make your intentions clear.

    * Always provide adequate links and contact information.

    * Spelling and grammar count. People pay attention to these things, especially ones who don't know you. Make sure your messages look like you spent time thinking about and writing them.


    In case you're interested, I do social media consults with artists all the time. First I review your pages, posts and how you engage with your followers. Then we have a half-hour phone consult where I make recommendations on how to improve your overall profile. The total cost is only $75. Want to make an appointment? Call me at 415.931.7875 or email

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    (digitally animated video art by Chris Doyle)

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