From Bruce Myren’s THE FORTIETH PARALLEL project
There are numerous online platforms artists can use to share, promote, sell, or otherwise advance their work. Each platform presents many possible uses, making the task of navigating how best to use them ever more complex.
We asked artists in different disciplines, What is your strategy for using online platforms, as an artist?
Henriette Lazaridis Power, writer and editor
I think the first thing you have to do with online platforms is to decide what aspects of yourself you want to present as part of your public image, your brand, as it were. There’s your book (if you’re a writer), but there might also be a hobby or a political viewpoint or a social issue that are all important parts of who you are. Online, you want to be touching on those various elements on a regular basis. For instance, I’m a novelist and a rower and I’m Greek-American and I edit a literary magazine (The Drum). So I use my Facebook page (both personal and author), as well as Twitter and my blog on the Huffington Post to keep those aspects of my personality alive online. For one Huffpo post, I might write about something to do with Greece; for another, about rowing; and for yet another, about the art of reading aloud (since that pertains to my audio-only literary magazine). The idea is that all these different pieces present a complete picture – and also one that is varied enough to offer something for a few different groups of people. I also feel strongly that it’s important to one’s peace of mind to be sincere and honest always. If you’re going to enthuse about someone else’s novel, be sure you really do love it. Your integrity isn’t worth the few extra likes or page-views you’ll get. When you do feel strongly about someone else’s work, your enthusiasm will be all the more powerful.
Seth Lepore, performing artist
Being a solo performer I don’t see the point in creating a separate entity for my business. I make my Facebook posts public, let people subscribe to my feed or friend me. I use Twitter mainly for touring and crowdfunding purposes as it’s not my favorite platform. Google+ is a weird one. I love the look of it but it still seems very aimed at tech junkies.
The thing I’ve been using the most lately is Instagram. I love the simplicity of taking an interesting shot, tagging it and posting it to FB and Twitter with ease. I think visuals go a long way and I tend to get a lot of comments and likes from those posts or by going in depth in a FB post about something I feel strongly about.
I try to update my blog once a month and make the posts relevant to other artists as sharing information on touring, marketing and PR is so valuable. My site is my home base for everything. I’m constantly trying to point everyone to go there and my email list is gold. I limit my newsletters to once a month and if I don’t have anything relevant to say or share I don’t.
Ellie Lee, writer, director, producer of the web series Chinafornia
When we came up with the idea for “Chinafornia” and spent some time pitching our pilot to network executives, it became apparent that an online platform would make the most sense, because of the Asian characters, politics and satire in our series – there’s a diversity in online talent & content that you would never see on network or cable channels. While you can probably count the number of prominent Asian American actors and directors currently on television on two hands, Asian American filmmakers have been able to attract & sustain huge audiences on YouTube. For example, Asian American actor/writer/directors Wong Fu Productions (1.8 million subscribers), KevJumba (3 million subscribers), and Riya Higa (a whopping 10 million subscribers) have found extraordinary success online. But the road to attracting that kind of audience online is really challenging, and we have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to try to be competitive with millions of other online content creators.
Bruce Myren, photographer
Part of my recent strategy has been to create a unified brand across social media platforms. This past summer I started to change my online identity from various names, Bee Digital, Bruce Myren, and other variations of my name to Bruce Myren Studio. I have a page on Facebook for the studio and use it along with Twitter to share news and events in real time to my followers. Ultimately I use these platforms to drive traffic to my website, but sites like Tumblr and Pinterest allow me to experiment or make visual notes to share with the world.
My most successful experience with social media was last summer using Kickstarter to fund the completion of “The Fortieth Parallel.” Through the use of Facebook and Twitter, I was able to reach a worldwide audience and reach my goal in the first week of a 40-day campaign. I was also able to generate press by directly targeting media outlets with Tweets and tagged Facebook posts. This resulted in the project being promoted by Slate.com, The Huffington Post, and Fast Company Design, among others, creating international exposure, and a new GPS unit from Magellan.
Related reading: Getting More Out of Getting Online, a guest post by Jessica Burko
Ellie Lee is an award-winning director, writer & producer of animated, fiction, and documentary films. Her Web series, Chinafornia, was successfully funded by Kickstarter and will air its first season online.
Seth Lepore is a writer, humorist, musician and solo performer. His workshop The Nuts and Bolts of Being a Performing Artist, a crash course in running a successful and sustainable business as a performing artist, will take place on Saturday, September 21, 9AM-6PM, at Flywheel Arts in Easthampton. Register at Easthampton City Arts.
Bruce Myren is an artist and photographer based in Cambridge, MA. His series The Fortieth Parallel will be on exhibit at Gallery Kayafas in Boston September 6–October 12, 2013.
Henriette Lazaridis Power is an author and publisher/editor of the audio literary journal The Drum. She will read from her novel The Clover House at Weston Public Library on Thursday, September 19 at 7 PM.
Image: Bruce Myren, N 40° 00′ 00″ W 91° 00′ 00″ CLAYTON, ILLINOIS (2012), from THE FORTIETH PARALLEL project.
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