Artist Identity Crisis: Succeed without “Selling Out”

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 7:48 pm by Engine Communications

The following is a part of our One For the Creative Types Series. We are looking to help people transform their web presence from “starving artist” to “social media savvy entrepreneur.

Last week I spoke about The Basics of Social Media Success, and the blog was focused on building relationships and finding like-minded people. But, how do you interact with those people? How do you get noticed?

There still seems to be an assumption that being an artist means making no money. The perception of the “starving artist” deters a lot of people from that career path, despite it being their passion. Those who decide to take the artistic route may not like the idea of constantly pressuring people into a sale.

Like I said last week:

Superimposing this technique to the online space is one of the worst mistakes an entrepreneur can make in social media. It is important to shift away from the “me, myself and I” and move towards building relationships with like-minded people and industry peers. The good news is that you be able to use a more casual and personal voice, the bad news is that success will not happen overnight. Social media takes a rather large investment in time to do it properly.

How you present yourself, create content and respond to people online has been called personal branding by sources in social media, but I really don’t like that term. I have started to notice that personal branding is simply a marketing ploy go get people to buy books, consulting services, etc. It is overdone. What you ARE trying to create is a web presence or an online identity.

Be your own selling point. What I am saying is that you, and your art, have a competitive advantage over other products in the fact that they are unique. Many consumers have an interest in one-of-a-kind or handcrafted products but they are also interested in buying your story. If you have travelled an interesting road to get where you are, don’t be afraid to tell everyone! Being interesting goes a long way on the web. You want to be interesting enough so that someone would like to share it with their peers, followers, and friends.

Web presence can be divided into two components: communication and visual.


The communication side of a web presence is almost synonymous to social media etiquette. What is the appropriate way to communicate online?

Add value– When commenting other people’s blogs, forums, etc., it is important that you are actually commenting on THEIR content. Write more than, “I really love this post” or “Great article!”. It is important to give your thoughts and insight that contributes to the community on that site. Nobody likes spam. If you write something valuable, people have no problem with the link associated back to your site.

Consistency– It is better to communicate on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs a little bit everyday than to go through disappearing acts. This is a way to build trust with your community. Maybe set goals for communicating with a certain number of people each day or meeting someone new every day.

Respond in 24 hrs– This goes without saying. It is just courtesy to respond to any questions, concerns or general conversation with people in the 24-hour range. Many may have a different opinion, but these people probably get 100s of messages each day from fans. If possible, I would stick to this.


This is where I can see using term branding makes sense. It is great to have people recognize you online every time they see you. Here are a couple suggestions to getting that ball rolling:

Global username– I try to use @bcromlish on all sites. That way it makes it easier for people to find me on a new network. It is important to pick a name that represents you or your company in a professional manner. If possible, keep it short.

Colour Scheme– A defined colour scheme that goes beyond your website goes a long way. I am moving towards a deep red, grey and white.

Global avatar/display picture– It helps promote recognition if you use the same picture for every network. If you want some more information on choosing the right avatar – look here.

All these efforts will draw people to click a link to your website. This is the ultimate goal and a step closer towards a sale. Next week I will be giving tips on how to make your website better.

Photo credit: Clav

{ 4 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. I look forward to reading even more in this creative series…thank you Bryan! Would also be interested in hearing how much time is appropriate (hours per week for example) for social/networking and if a blog is an absolute MUST in this day and age? I have the spirit & passion for creativity and art but need direction if I'm ever going to become the social media savvy entrepreneur I'd like to be!

  2. Hi Renee! Thanks for taking the time to comment on Bryan's post. I started here at Engine as their Social Media Coordinator, and now Bryan is helping us here as our Online Community Manager. In terms of hours per week, my suggestion is to set aside an hour or so (or two half hour blocks of time) dedicated to monitoring your social networks, and engaging with your audience and other community members. As Chris Brogan (a soc med god) said recently – social media isn't your job (unless it is, like for Bryan and I). Your job is to make gorgeous art, and to sell it. Social media is one way to get your brand out there to a larger audience.

    I don't think a blog is an absolute must, but it is a great way to showcase your work, and to talk about what other people are doing in your field. Talking about tips and trends in the industry can help you solidify your expertise in the field. That can speak volumes to a potential customer. I also love the personality a blog brings – you become more than a brand, and can talk to people in a way that a static site never can. And that brings me to another point – a static site doesn't draw people back for more – a blog can help bring real traffic (unique visitors) to your site regularly. Once they're there, they can see what else you do and what's new on your site.

    And a blog post doesn't have to be anything long and invovled. You're an artist – use the media you're comfortable with – post new photos, promotions, links to cool websites, etc. A blog can be as little as a paragraph, or simply an image. You should check out Tumblr. It's a great way to post (and reblog other people's blog posts). Posterous is also a favourite in our office.

    Just a sidenote: I noticed that you're social media presence isn't evident on your website. Make sure to add visible links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts (and Flickr or YouTube if you're using them).

  3. Wooo I need to take my own advice with the timely responses. My apologies Renee for the response that is 18 hours later! Bryna was bang-on with her response.

    I would have to agree with the 1 hour in your case. Social media is a marketing tool to get noticed by potential clients and who knows even make some friends along the way! One can get consumed with social media efforts and that can take away from the core of your business.

    I will be writing about blogging in my next article, but it isn't an absolute must. IF you chose to take that route, there is a right and wrong way to go about blogging. Bryna hit the nail on the head about talking about the industry.

    Creating your own blog can be time consuming – it may be better at this point in time to spend more time focusing on commenting valuable insights on other people's blogs.

    Id be more than happy to have a phone chat with you to give you more tailored advice on how to get the ball rolling. Feel free to email me at bcromlish AT gmail DOT com so that we could set up a time that works for you 🙂

    I agree about showing visible likes to your Facebook and Twitter!

  4. Bryan & Bryna – thank you both very much for your replies. I look forward to the write up on Blogging. I've been thinking a lot about that lately and was nosing around the WordPress site the other day. You've both given me great food for thought and…Bryan….I may just take you up on your offer in due course. Thank you! Renée

{ 0 Pingbacks/Trackbacks }