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This journal serves as a continuation to that journal by addressing the other (and more important) side of the coin: Why artists should be supportive if their own supporters. Having been on deviantArt for 6 years and having accounts on other websites, I can’t tell you how important it is to be supportive, encouraging, and involved with your followers! I have seen countless times when an artist has taken their follower base for granted or outright exploited them for personal gain, which is very wrong. This journal will explain why its so important to be a supportive artist to those who support your endeavors and what you can do to get more involved with the very people who follow your work every day.
Simple really, while most artists draw for their own motivations, without your supporters, your work has no traction. Period. Let’s face it, without your supporters, no one would have known about nor discovered your work in the first place. These people, whether it be a handful or thousands of people, are EVERYTHING. However it is incredibly important to not view all these people as a number. Just like you (the artist), every single username has a person behind it with their own reasons for being on deviantArt (or twitter or tumblr or whatever) and their own personal reason for liking your work. Everyone has a story to tell. This often gets glossed over with many people who do view their followers simply as a watcher number or pageview. Not only do these people have their own stories, but if you get to know them, you truly learn of some amazing individuals out there.
Based on this, there are a few things that I’m going to throw out there which, if you’re just an aspiring artist or managing a fanbase exceeding 10,000 people, should be something you acknowledge. As with the first journal, these viewpoints are subjective to my personal stances (which you can take with a grain of salt), but understand that they also come from experiences in which I have grown, learned, and am still learning.
Biggest thing I can state. Watchers owe you nothing, nada, zip! They do not owe you art, favorites, nor comments, and acting like it’s an entitlement is bad. While this might seem contradictory to what was stated in the previous journal, let me clarify: While it is nice and supportive for someone to leave a comment and favorite your work, it is ultimately up to the person to decide to do so, and just because they are a follower of yours does not mean it should be a given. This goes 1000x more for art. As an artist, you are NEVER entitled to receiving art of any kind. Art takes hours to create and simply expecting to get it because of who you are is incredibly egotistical. When someone does create you art (however), it is because this artist admires something you do enough to make you something. That should be appreciated like none other.
While showing respect is common curtesy, having someone’s entire respect (which is very different from being shown respect) is earned. You have to give people a reason to respect you, mostly by treating them properly and showing respect to them as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen artists demand respect because of their reputation. Remember the golden rule? Still applies! Respect your watchers MORE than you expect to receive. However, there are cases in which another person might upset you, in which case be professional and try as best you can to maintain respect. Admittedly I have failed in the past to be respectful to everyone most of the time, however I have gone out of my way to privately message these people and apologize, and ended up learning a ton about the person afterward. However, not everyone is going to be respectful, as the internet is a hotbed for anonymity causing people to act out. Remember, you have a block list for a reason. Use it when needed.
You heard that right. There are artists out there who use their status to leverage something they want from someone else, whether it be attention, art, or something else. Never use your reputation to do this, EVER. Firstly, it’s incredibly obvious when an artist does this, so don’t try to. Secondly, you are actively taking advantage of someone who looks up to you to get something you want at their expense. Does that sound like a nice thing to do to those who support you? NO!
This one is a HUGE biggie! While it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, I have seen larger artists use their fanbases to go after art thieves, people with similar characters, other artists in a dispute, you name it! This is probably the biggest form of abusing a fanbase I can think of, as the fanbase believes they are respecting you because of their supposed ‘white knighting’. It’s incredibly unprofessional and it can also drive the person on the receiving end into an emotional tizzy, going as far as them quitting art entirely or worse. When dealing with another person who might want you to use your fanbase against them, instead talk to them privately, or take the necessary steps in the respective website’s Terms of Service to work with it accordingly. Example: Artist on Instagram steals art >> go to them privately and tell them to take it down >> if that fails, file a DMCA takedown notice to the person through the website and inform the person that such a takedown notice has been filed. (This works rather well). If not, use blocking. However if it is a more trivial issue which doesn’t breech website TOS, then it might require you as an artist to evaluate whether or not you’re simply handling something poorly. Why waste your energy on something silly?
While there’s nothing wrong with telling your watchers that something is going wrong in your personal life, there’s a level where it goes from being informative to inviting ass-pats. We’ve all seen it when artists attempt to reach for compliments or want to create a pity storm around them (repeated journals about leaving, tons of negativity, etc) and I used to have a rather large problem with doing this myself. Firstly, your supporters will react far better to positivity than a constant barrage of negative. Both emotions are contagious and if people constantly feel down around you, then they are way more likely to go follow and support an artist that helps them feel better. Also, if someone compliments you, wouldn’t you much rather have a genuine compliment than one you fished from someone? You WILL get genuine compliments, and true compliments are something to be very proud of!
Now this has less relevance than it may have a few years ago, but I do see newer artists starting out have an obsession with watcher numbers and pageviews. These numbers exist purely to drive analytics for deviantArt similar to youtube and put a TON of pressure on artists to perform when in reality, these numbers should not mean a thing! Pageviews mean very little as all it does is track the number of people who view your front page (not your art) and this number can actually be manipulated by bots, drama, etc to artificially inflate the number. Watchers are a bit more in line with the size of your watcherbase but have very little correlation to the number of active supporters you have (my watcher base has an activity of about 2%). Try not to let these numbers get you down, as that’s all they are: NUMBERS! Instead focus on the qualitative interactions you have, not the quantitative ones!
Basically, don’t take your watchers for granted, don’t abuse them, don’t use them as armies, and try not to be too concerned of how many you have. Instead, there are a few things you can do to be more interactive with your watchers, showing them more respect, and possibly having better conversations overall with your followers. Overall, these things might lead you to a better deviantart/social media experience and have a better standing with your followers, helping you make some new friends in the process!
Yep! You can disable your ability to view pageviews entirely! If you’re too stressed about them or you don’t want to see them anywhere (even on other people’s pages) you can disable them in your settings. I’ve had mine off for 4 years, and It’s done nothing but improve my experience, as I no longer see artists evaluated by their pageview count and instead by their interactions and actual art. Unfortunately, this does not disable the watcher count (which I wish it did), but maybe that will come in future dA updates.
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean respond to every comment, but watchers LOVE to feel like they matter (which they do). Replying to their thoughtful comments helps them understand that what they say has importance and increases the interactivity you have with them throughout dA and many other websites! So don’t be shy, talk it up! You’d be surprised how often someone wants to talk to you!
Followbacks aren’t required, but it’s very fun and beneficial to get an insight into your followers own art/creations! By keeping up to date, and even supporting their own endeavors, your supporters will love seeing that someone they support has genuine interest in their work! Most people are unaware of all the great artists following them, so go see what they’re up to, and maybe leave a comment!
While this might seem intimidating for some, one of the best things you can do to get involved with your own community of supporters (or build it further) is to stream your art! Not only does it show your followers that you’re not a supercomputer just creating art from magic (showing them your process), they can *gasp* talk to you and ask you questions while you do it! Turns out I have made some amazing friends through streaming (my peepos ;_; ) and it helps build great conversation when you need to work on something. If you’re hesitant, I’d highly suggest it! There are many websites in which to stream, but here are my recommendations and their pros-cons:
To clarify, when I say questions, I don’t necessarily mean “how do you like me” or something along those lines, while there isn’t necessarily a problem with that. Journals that provoke discussion of something deeper are awesome, as it allows your supporters to provide actual insight to a topic, helping them get their voices heard! It can even strike conversation between many different people. It’s kinda why I really enjoy making journals such as this, where I ask you all for your input at the end.
Sometimes it’s awesome to really give back to your own watcherbases. Holding raffles and giveaways allows you the opportunity to give art to a supporter which might not be able to afford your commissions or get your art otherwise. These serve as huge ‘thank you’ moments where you can also state how thankful you are for their support! Kiribans are similar in the sense (although they might have slight conflicts of interest) that watchers can visit your page and if they take a screenshot of your page when it hits a certain milestone (example: 100,000 pageviews), then they get free art. However, this becomes pretty irrelevant if you turn off pageviews, which is why I haven’t held one in years. There are so many ways to do giveaways, so get creative and use it as a way to say thank you to those who make it all happen.
When it boils down to it, a genuine thank you, either individually or through a large scale journal goes a very long way. Remind your followers why they’re important, how they’ve helped you get through tough moments in life, and really take some steps to remind them that you appreciate that they’re there for you. You can say thank you in so many ways, from large scale appreciation posts, to going to someone’s page and thanking them for favoriting your work. Saying thank you matters!
There are so many ways to really get involved with your followerbases, that there’s no real correct way to do it. Get creative, and show them they matter!
Again, thank you all for reading these. I know the arting is a bit slow, but these should give you something to chew on until my next pieces are done. Keep the discussion respectful in the comments please.