Tips and Advice for Networking: Conventions and Webcomics
Networking can be difficult for artists. Many are shy, a bit reclusive, and may not feel comfortable shouting about their work online. The term 'shameless self-promotion' starts with shameless, and many artists feel self-conscious about sharing their work and engaging other artists. Some may feel like they're 'bothering' other artists when they chat online, so not only will they not share their work, but they won't engage other artists even as an admirer.
I'm here to tell you that all of that is bunk! You've worked hard, and you deserve to show it off. Building an audience is a long-game process, one that takes time and care, but it can be done. Today I share some of my tips for networking with other artists, and I hope you'll respond with tips of your own.
Check out who’s tabling at your upcoming shows, check out their social media profiles, and engage with their work in an organic, honest way. Once you’ve done a bit of that, you can introduce yourself and mention that you’ll be at the con as well and would love to meet in person.
Introduce yourself to your table neighbors at -on.
Organize convention dinners- this can be really laid back and simple, like ‘a bunch of us were going to eat at the hotel restaurant at 7 and chat, would you like to join us?’ to something organized ahead of time, with a room reserved.
If you’re staying at the hotel, organize room parties (this is great for events like SPX, which are comic specific)
AANI has opportunities for room sharing and organizing events, so if you aren’t a member, consider joining.
Create convention announcements, and share to social media in the weeks leading up to the show. When possible, include the map and mark your placement.
Change your Twitter handle to reflect the convention and table placement of the next show you're tabling at
MTAC 2018 Convention announcement, shared to my Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook page.
Twitter promo images for updates- these are an eyecatch, the body of the Tweet would contain the link
Twitter has been my main avenue for meeting and networking with other artists. Participating in organized hashtag events such as #KidlitArt or #WebcomicChat, and engaging other artists on their responses in addition to sharing your own is a great way to start befriending other artists. You can check out the Ink Drop Cafe calendar of events if you’re looking for ideas.
But on any social media service, this will work most of the time:
Talk to artists whose work you admire, as well as artist’s who’s drive or work ethic you admire. Don’t just talk to the popular super artists, talk to everyone. Be friendly, engaging, and open, and lavish on the honest compliments. This is a fantastic way to break the ice, and to get other artists to check out your work and engage you in return.
Creating attractiv, engaging announcement visuals that will catch the eye and include relevant information
Promo image for WebComicChat for their Promoting Your Comic chat
Participate in community events when relevant- #VisibleWomen , #WebcomicWednesday , #kidlitart, #MerMay , #Inktober , and tag your art and materials - #watercolor #ClipStudioPaint when it makes sense
If you have a large following, but poor engagement, ask your followers questions about what they enjoy, or what they're working on. @DaisyEin has an excellent regular feature where artists share their work and support one another.
Host polls to help spur follower engagement.
Set a pinned tweet with links to your important sites and four good examples of your art so people can find your work quickly and easily
Make sure you Tweet webcomic update days, and include the hashtag #webcomic
Create Stories and from those, Highlighted Stories. I use mine to highlight ongoing reviews and projects, such as swatching M Graham watercolors and MerMay.
Try to update regularly, especially during the day
Go through the search feature and favorite art you genuinely like
Play around with relevant hashtags, and if you're doing an event, make sure you tag it, as well as the city it's located in
IF YOU HAVE A WEBCOMIC
Comic Tea Party promo
Join a collective or form your own with friends/peers. Boost each other’s work.
Join a webcomic focused Discord channel, like Ink Drop Cafe to talk shop.
Participate in Twitter chats aimed at comic artists. Right now, there's plenty of them- #ComicArtistsUnite, #Webcomicchat, #WeHeartComics
Attend conventions and commission portraits of your characters from other artists- this is a fantastic way to break the ice with established artists, and hopefully they will share their completed art (with a link to your account) on social media. This is not a surefire thing, so only commission artists if you legitimately want portraits of your characters. You can also share their completed art to your social media account and tag them, there's a high chance they'll reblog it.
Table at conventions and chat up everyone who comes by- business cards and webcomic promotional items are a good takeaway for those who are interested but not ready to buy
Sign up for Comic Tea Party, a Discord based webcomic book club! Make sure you promote your CTP event ahead of time, so readers can join in!
NOTE: I've seen a lot of artists complaining about how Discord isn't the right fit for them. Discord isn't really social media- it's a chat platform- and for others to be engaged in your work, you have to engage them on their terms first. You will have poor results if you just dump your art and run. If you pick one or two channels, and frequent them, you'll find friendships develop.
In the end, it’s really about having conversations with others, not just plugging your own work all the time. Show genuine interest in the work of others, and show excitement for what you’re working on. Think of networking as making friends, and don’t limit yourself to people who create the same sort of work you do. Some of my best friends/contacts are 3D artists and jewelry makers- they have a lot of great insight!