(Cosplayer: 10th Muse Cosplay as Vulpix Gijinka)
Lately, I have seen many artists complain about the changes to various Social Media platforms. It's very irritating that you work so hard in your craft to only get a little of recognition. You may gain followers, or have thousands, but only engage about 30-300 of them. Or maybe you'll gain some, but then lose some at the same time which just stunts your brand. There are options to pay for advertising, but most of you don't want to pay for advertising because it's just a hobby or you don't have the finances to do that. Whatever it may be, I completely understand.
As a photographer with a business that I work hard to grow, I have researched & spent lots of time configuring and testing different products out to see what gives me the best result for not only my money, but my time that I have little of to spare to grow & develop my influence. Yes, I do spend money on advertisements, my website, and my tools to give my clients the best experience I can. But there are SEVERAL free tools out there that I STILL use since I first truly took photography from a hobby to an income generating business & ENCOURAGE anyone else to use them as well. ESPECIALLY if you are just trying to get noticed, or want to keep your true followers/fans in the know of your brand without losing them to algorithm changes.
Now what I am about to tell you is not ground-breaking. This is stuff people use for businesses in this new age. This is merely my notes & thoughts on everything I have gathered from the many webinars I listen in on. These webinars will talk my ear off for 40 minutes just to get to the meat of their webinar for 10 minutes, then try to sell me a product for the last 10 that's "exclusive" to that webinar. I'm not about to do that to you, you don't have time for that, and I don't care to sell you anything. Besides, you came here because I said "Free Tools", right? I just want to help as many people as I can to give advice on getting your art out there and noticed, it's up to you to take it to the next level.
Here is a list of tools that you should consider & with each tool, a reason why you should consider it and invest time getting it to work for you. Again, this is more geared towards artists trying to gain traction on their work and/or brand, but can be used by anyone such as general influencers.
LIST OF FREE TOOLS & WHY YOU SHOULD USE THEM!
You NEED a platform of your own! You CANNOT depend on social media! As you already may have experienced, Social Media algorithms change on the fly. They change them because social media is a free gateway to connecting people with others. Which means, you can get ANYONE & EVERYONE to promote ANYTHING. Social Media is great, and you definitely should continue to use it to extend your reach, but it is NOT the platform to depend on. You can depend on YOUR OWN. Social Media sites/apps do produce revenue by the amount of people using their platform, but they can get even more money when people LIKE YOU pay them to promote YOUR own business/brand/influence. So they change the algorithms so that it makes you want to spend YOUR money on them to be visible and to be brought into more people's feeds that can result in more followers/traffic, but still only on their platform.
Having your OWN PLATFORM will allow your fans/followers/potential prospects have a dedicated space to locate you, no matter what algorithms do. Yes, having a free wix.com site will have the crappy "yoursitename.wix.com" and the Wix.com banner ads on the bottom of your site, BUT it is still YOUR SPACE away from the social media hassle. It is also a good place to use emails. We've seen MySpace, Xanga, and Vine (and if you don't know what Xanga is, then I am feeling old) come & go as the "trendy" social platform along with various other sites. You've seen algorithms change on your favorite & fervently used social platforms and you're just at their mercy. But what HASN'T changed? Emails. It's here to stay and has been around since the early days of common internet usage. And though you may not have an updated MySpace, you definitely still have an email you still send & receive messages with.
You need to get into emails. I know for myself, I get emails from my favorite vendors & I always keep them in mind when I get some extra spending cash. Why? Because I gave them my email address in exchange for getting alerted about special offers. You can use this to your advantage. Here's examples why:
Say you're a musician who doesn't really have any music ready for purchase yet, but you're on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, posting videos of yourself playing covers or little bits of things you wrote. People are LOVING what you're putting down. But then when you FINALLY get to releasing that single or that album, and you post about it, you're at the mercy of these social platform's algorithms. IF YOU HAD started an email subscription list, you could have done a shout-out email to all who are subscribed and would instead be IN PEOPLE'S INBOXES where NO ALGORITHMS have an affect.
Maybe you're a cosplayer. You do it for fun for a while, get practiced in your craft, and then really become amazing at what you do. People are asking for prints, or for commissions because they LOVE YOUR WORK. One day, you FINALLY feel ready to do all of those things to not only do what you love, but to get paid to do it & bring in a little extra income. You make a post that you're now open for commissions or that you're going to do prints, or starting a patreon, etc. Again, you're at the mercy of these social platform's algorithms. GETTING A SUBSCRIPTION LIST will put you right in front of your potential prospects.
One more example. I have a social media profile for my dogs. I definitely don't need to budget to pay for advertisements for them, I don't have any current plans to do any branding with them. In your instance, you could have your own hobby you do, like my dog profiles, but not want to pay for advertisements to extend your reach. But you do still want people that follow or are a fan of your work to stay on top of all you do, and hope you don't lose their interest because of algorithms. Having a site, even a free one, and a place for people to subscribe to an email list will allow you to have the necessary information to get in people's email boxes and never losing your following. (except if they unsubscribe which could totally happen, but eh you get it)
So why Wix.com? Well unless you got into coding at a young age when you had lots of free time on Neopets to make your shops & user lookups (speaking from experience, if you couldn't tell. Again, my age is showing.) look extra cool, you probably don't have the time or energy to code your own site. I definitely don't have the time or resources to code my own site, but I sure as heck am okay with a "click & drag" tool to help me create a website. And that's why I suggest it. It is free, you just have to click & drag to make your site, or even use a free template, and you're good to go. Having a site & a way for people to subscribe to your email list isn't all it can do.
- A platform, aka, your site.
- Tools to use to get people to subscribe to your email list.
- Marketing emails: Up to 3 free emails a month that you can blast to all of your email subscribers.
- A place to keep all of your contacts (email subscribers)
- A blog (though Wix is not the best place to start & make money off of blogging, but good to use to keep your subscribers in the know)
- Much more.
- ONE EXTRA REASON: LOL While I was writing this, my friggen internet shut off for a second and made this blog post frozen and I had to restart my computer. I was so scared I lost all of my progress but it saves automatically as you write a blog post!)
With all of these algorithm changes, it's more important than any other time to SCHEDULE YOUR POSTS. It's hard enough having to keep up with so many different social media platforms, but to ALSO POST ON ALL OF THEM?! AND REGULARLY?! I don't know about you, but that's so tiring. And though I preach about having an email list & your own platform, you should STILL use Social Media as it is a good place that many people use to browse & escape day to day activities.
The algorithm for ANY social platform favors the ones that are posting regularly. And I am talking daily. You may be the type of person who does love to post when you're at your favorite ice cream parlor & want to share your experience right then & there, and that's fine! But what if there is a day where you DON'T FEEL LIKE POSTING, OR HAVE NOTHING TO SAY? Scheduling posts eliminates the need to get on every day and create a new post. Just have Later.com do all of it for you. I use Later.com & have for like 2 years now and LOVE IT. Yes, Facebook does allow you to schedule posts, but LATER.COM ALLOWS YOU TO SCHEDULE POSTS TO MULTIPLE SOCIAL ACCOUNTS IN ONE SPACE.
As someone who doesn't like social media and wouldn't have any if it wasn't for my business, Later.com is a blessing. I spend time every Sunday scheduling a post for every weekday at 8am for all of my social accounts and it's great. EVERYTHING POSTS AUTOMATICALLY EXCEPT FOR INSTAGRAM. Instagram has terms & conditions that DOES NOT ALLOW AUTO-POSTINGS. But Later.com is so smart. What Later.com does is they have you download their app, and when it is TIME TO POST ON INSTAGRAM, IT ALERTS YOUR PHONE. From there, it just has you press the "Post Now" button in their app, which then copies all saved text you put in for the scheduled post, gives you a quick link to Instagram posting, you paste the text, and then post! It's very easy. Sucks that you still have to do it, but it's the best thing to use. Later.com works in accordance of Instagram's policies.
- A place where you can schedule up to 30 posts for FREE every month for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
- A place where you can upload all of your content for FREE
- Allows you to have saved captions, I use this feature to add base hashtags I always add to certain photos
- A free app that allows you to schedule posts from your phone
- The app also allows you to post your scheduled Instagram posts for free & easily
- You can always upgrade your account to get more features, but as far as free goes, this is heck'n great!
If you're wanting to be serious about gaining more traction to your brand or art, you need to use Google Calendar, or any free calendar, to reserve time to build your site and schedule your posts. I don't think there is much to say here, but I rely on my Google Calendar for everything since it can sync to everything.
- An electronic calendar
- Can sync with your phone and send you alerts for upcoming events that you've scheduled
I used this site for a little bit. Basically IFTTT means "If this, then that". So for example, If I make a post on Tumblr, then I want it to post on Facebook. This site is FREE TO USE, BUT NOT IF YOU WANT TO CREATE A NEW APP. This site runs on apps people created to run things automatically for them. You have to pay like $200 to create an app that runs the way you want it to. I used to use this to post whatever I posted on Facebook to post to Tumblr, but Facebook quality is awful and I am a brat when it comes to quality, so now I just schedule posts on Tumblr on Tumblr's platform.
There are MANY apps on there that are free to use. For me personally, I don't use it anymore. But someone may find something on there that may benefit them, but I personally don't have any need for them for now. Just a great tool to keep in mind.
- A place for you to assign apps to your devices/platforms
- Free apps developed by other people to help automate your life
I'll keep updating this as I find more ways to help artists, but if you can take anything away from this, it's that you NEED to establish your OWN PLATFORM, and get your followers & fans to GET IN YOUR EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Ways to get people to subscribe to your email listing:
Offer them something free that doesn't hurt you to give out freely. (like a free song or a free phone background, or free tricks to a better photo)
Do giveaways where they have to provide their email address to enter
Tell people they can be the first to be in the know of new projects
Pin your posts that navigate to your site where they can subscribe easily
I hope some of this was helpful to you all and that you're able to take something from this.