Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. I met my next guest blogger back in 2013 when I first came across her blog Turbo Monkey Tales and I’ve been a fan ever since!
Social Media – Made for Illustrators!
By Hazel Mitchell
I often hear writers say, “Illustrators have it easy on social media”. Sorry writers. I guess it is much easier for us to engage with folks instantly – we have all these beautiful illo’s we can share, to catch the eye of the viewer and make it easier for us to interact. It IS like the internet was made for us!
Humans love to look at pictures. This world we live in revolves on visual media. Before we read the written word, we are more likely to look at pictures and then have an instant impression of the written content. It’s how we learn to communicate from an early age. To read the signs around us.
That’s what we do when we read a picture book – flick back and forth between the story and the illustrations. As illustrators we are ALWAYS telling a story.
Luckily the internet is geared towards posting pictures.
FACEBOOK – probably the biggest arena for social networking. It’s a reality that posting a picture with a short description will get you more ‘shows’ on the newsfeed of your personal/business page. And don’t forget the wonderful TIMELINE BANNER. A great way to showcase your work FREE. Here’s the thing … don’t just stick your book covers on Facebook, with a link to buy. (Only do that OCCASIONALLY!!) Share interesting stuff that your contacts can connect with. Sketches you did in your spare time, process, photos, research as well as full blown finished pieces. Be a REAL person and people will look forward to your posts. Reply to poeple who are kind enough to make a comment. It’s rude not to.
TWITTER – now lets you post photos and many more opps to display your art. As with Facebook, make your posts interesting, not hard sell. I try to reply to tweets … if it’s too much, slow down on posting.
LINKED IN – you can now link and post photos here, as well as join groups and share work.
PINTEREST – has to be one of the most visual spaces on the internet these days and growing. Share images with friends, keep boards of your work and subjects you are interested in.
YOUTUBE – Video is even more interesting – if it moves, we are more likely to spend time watching. Try your hand at making a video. Even with a webcam or slideshow you can achieve a lot. Could be your process, a look at your studio, a book trailer, your portfolio! Be creative. Check into Webinair if you want to run interactive sessions or work shops.
INSTAGRAM – Online photo sharing/editing with great sharing abilities!
FLICKR – Cool place to store your images, share with other people and create galleries.
ETSY – sell prints and signed books here.
MAIL CHIMP (and other mail services) – keep in touch with a newsletter and illo’s.
There are other places to post your images: Google+, Myspace, Illustration Friday, Illustration Mundo, Behance, and any number of portfolio sites.
As an illustrator you will certainly need a website. If you’re starting out, this is going to mainly be a showcase for your illustrations. You’ll direct people there from any promo information (physical and online). If you are published it will begin to morph into a place where people can see your books, find out about your visit schedule and news, maybe a place to sell prints.
These days a blog is sometimes used in place as a website – and is often FREE. A plus for sure! See WordPress, Tumbler, Blogspot to name a few.
Blogging is still a great way to connect with people. If you are posting an image on line you might want to link back to your blog post and enlarge on the process you use, or give more detail about the image.
RULE ONE – Make sure that in some way or other anything you post on line links back to a blog, a website or information that ensures the viewer can discover more about your work.
RULE TWO – Make use of any tags and metatags available to you when posting images.
RULE THREE – Your job is to make great illustration and story. Social networking is part of your marketing strategy. That most of it is FREE is a bonus. WORK SMART!
RULE FOUR – If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. It’s not a requirement.
So. How can you make the most of the opportunities available? And why? If you are a new illustrator then your reason for posting may be to get your work out there. The more places people can find you – the more likely you are to be found. What you are doing here is also playing the search engines. The more times your name appears online the more pages will fill up when people search for you. Simple, right? It’s about building a presence online. If you’re a seasoned professional, you want to be more visible and bring your books and work to a larger audience, to let people know about your appearances and visits. Decide what information you want to put across and who you’re targeting. Are you looking to build connections with the children’s book industry or with readers, or both?
There’s a lot you can do. Maybe you will just choose to do one part of social networking well and that will be your focus. That’s great! With so many ways to connect with the world, one of them is sure to float your boat.
It’s not for everyone. My own experience is that as well as getting my work into the professional arena, I have learned so much from fellow illustrators and writers. I have found opportunities and workshops that would otherwise have passed me by, and at times talking to likeminded people has proved indispensible in an otherwise isolated profession. Remember – give something back.
RULE FIVE – Embrace the good in social media!
RULE SIX – None of this is compulsory!
Hazel Mitchell is an award-winning children’s illustrator. Originally from England, she now lives in Maine, USA. She still misses fish and chips and mushy peas, (but is learning to love lobster). She has two dogs, two horses, a cat and several snow shovels.
If you’d like to talk to say ‘hi’ please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Publishing clients include Charlesbridge, Makinac Island Press, ABDO, Kane and Miller, Freespirit, Beacon Publishing, Reading A-Z and SCBWI.
tweet me @thewackybrit