The idea for this post comes from a cartoon from The Oatmeal.
Remember a time when Facebook was new and people were busy creating Facebook brand and business pages?
Remember how easy it was to gain followers on those pages? All those friends and fans that you refer to Facebook? All the audience that you painstakingly build up?
Remember the time when Facebook changed their policy and said that whatever you post will no longer reach all of your followers, and you have to pay money and boost your post so that your followers can then see that?
That's the sad situation we are in today.
We no longer have true access to the audience that we have brought over to Facebook, unless of course we pay for it.
It was a despicable move by Facebook.
But guess what, you can do something about it, and you should.
Build your audience outside of Facebook
There is nothing wrong with continuing to share your work on Facebook if your audience is still there. But I highly recommend that you also share your work on your own website, preferably a domain that you own. In fact, all the work that you share on your social media sites should link back to your website. Because we don't know when policy changes may happen.
This means you'll have more work to do. If you're thinking of making a career out of your art, this is something you should do. If you want to make a fulltime income from your career, be prepared to spend fulltime effort to promote your own art.
Your website can be a portfolio site or a blog. It doesn't matter. What matters is for whatever art you post, make sure to caption them in such a way that people can search for them using search engines. That is how people will be able to discover you when they search for keywords. I've received commission queries because of this strategy.
If you share your art on Facebook, your art will get pushed down when new content is added. Even if you caption your artworks, there's no way for people to search through your posts. Those posts on Facebook are update-type of posts. The posts on your own website serves two purpose though, for update and archival purposes.
So here's the main difference.
Work on your website can be discovered by strangers when they do keyword searches on Google. So you have a chance expose your art to more people, and gain more followers. Work on Facebook can only be discovered by people who are already following you, so there's no way for you to gain more followers. Facebook is not a platform that actively promotes the work of individuals, unless Facebook is paid to do that. The main way for strangers to find you on Facebook is when others share your Facebook posts.
You're posting the same work on your website and on Facebook, but since Facebook is not promoting your work, you might as well focus on posting on your website instead.
Followers subscribe to you because they want to see updates from you
That's the reason why people subscribe to pages, isn't it? To see updates from the creators or companies that they follow. But because Facebook is now limiting the reach of creators and companies, it has also broke the subscription model where you can see updates. So after subscribing to your favourite creator or companies, you still have to visit their Facebook pages separately to see what they are up to. So why subscribe to them in the first place? Seriously, how many FB pages can you remember to visit? And how much time do you have to waste to visit all those pages?
To get around this problem, creators should push their followers to subscribe to their email newsletter or RSS feed. This is so that when you publish a newsletter, you can be sure that it will reach your follower. And followers who subscribe to your RSS feed, and other RSS feed can have one place to consume all the content that they wanted to.
For example, if you want to follow all the content on Parkablogs, the best way is to follow my RSS feed. If I need to reach my followers to communicate with them directly, I can email them directly with newsletters.
This is how I would like to reach my followers. But this is not how Facebook wants you to reach your followers.
Are there other platforms that are good at promoting work?
Instagram is currently a very popular platform for artists to share their art.
One advantage of Instagram is the discovery feature. You can tag your art with hashtags and when people search for those hashtags, there can be a chance that they may see your work in the search results.
Based on my personal experience, if I were to post regularly on Instagram, I can see my followers grow consistently. You can use Social Blade to track any artist you like and see how often they post, and the followers they get on a daily basis.
But even if you post on Instagram, always remember to mention your website.
I don't like Facebook but that happens to be where most people are. To get your art in front of the eyes of people, you cannot avoid using Facebook. But if you want to build a more sustainable and predictable career based on your art, you should focus on creating content for your own website. And remember, push your followers to subscribe to your newsletter and RSS feed.
Are you also frustrated at Facebook and their policy? Do you have a workaround to getting your art out in front of more people? Let me know in the comments section. I'm sure there are other creators who will want this sort of valuable information.