How to infuse your personality and story into your online world
The more I learn about promoting and sharing my art online, the more I realize people are hungry for connection with the people they follow. We want to be let inside the seemingly “perfect” lives we see online to discover what those lives are really like.
This is even more true for artists. To many people, making art is like a super-power - a super-power that YOU possess. The life of an artist is simply fascinating to so many others (myself included, even though I’m one too).
The most successful artists today know that to really stand out online, you need to pull the curtain back on who you really are. You need to use your most precious asset – your personality.
Your personality helps you to build trust, stand out, gain followers and, ultimately, sell your art. It’s the story of YOU that is your most powerful tool in communicating with your audience. Years ago, a very good friend "gently" told me that I should be sharing more of "me" online. My response to that was pretty much, "Well, I don't have kids, or pets and I work at home. What is so interesting about me?" I remember her asking me about my favorite people to follow and "why" it is that I follow them. Of course, they interest me in more ways than their fabulous art or recipes. I like to see them in their everyday life and hear their stories. I want to feel like I know them!
So how can you infuse your personality and your story into your online presence? Let's start with some basics:
1. On your website
What does your web design say about you? What colors and fonts have you chosen?
How does it reflect your personality? What about the photos you’ve chosen?
Your website is your opportunity to invite your audience into your world. It should be as individual as your own home. When thinking about my website design, it was important that visitors get a sense of my personality, my love of color, art and they would feel a desire to stick around to see how I can help serve them.
Here are a couple of things to think about to add personality to your website:
Colors and fonts
Are you a sunny, happy person who creates uplifting art? Perhaps you’ve chosen bright yellows to reflect these brand values on your website.
Maybe you’ve used lots of white space and clean lines because your art and your brand are all about simplicity and clarity.
The colors that appear most in my art are the ones I have chosen to use in my own web design. Olive green, turquoise with a splash hot pink. What do those color say about me? Here are a few words associated with each:
Turquoise: creativity, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, intuition, and loyalty.
Green: growth, harmony, freshness and energy.
Pink: caring, compassion and love.
The same principles apply for the fonts you choose. Perhaps your personality is very whimsical and fun and you’ve chosen decorative fonts that reflect it.
Every choice you make in how you present yourself and your art is an opportunity to reflect your personality. Are you making the most of it? Or are you playing it safe and trying to blend in?
The best artists' websites serve as a visual that really help to tell the story of the artist - not just the art.
A high quality picture of you in a location that means a lot to you - maybe that’s your studio, garden, or kitchen - can go a long way in communicating more about your personality.
Photos that you take are always going to make more of an impact than generic stock photos so get snapping. You don’t need a fancy camera, your smartphone will do just fine.
Embedding your Instagram feed into your website with a widget is a really easy way for visitors to get a feel of your everyday life and work too. Make your content work harder for you.
Your ‘About’ page is probably the most important page on your website. That was a fact I had a little trouble wrapping my head around. I used to think it was the "free" offerings, but it's not. It’s where visitors go straight away to find out if they connect with you.
I see a lot of people falling into the trap of using their ‘About’ page as a place to talk about what they’re selling. This is a missed opportunity.
Your ‘About’ page is the perfect place to tell the story of you and your art. Why did you start making art in the first place? How old were you? What challenges have you faced? Who do you serve? Why do you do what you do? Tell your story here.
2. On Instagram
Instagram is the perfect social media platform to tell your story in more detail and gain the trust of your followers. Here are a few tips for making the most of it:
Share photos of YOU
Most people’s top posts are photos of them, not their work. Let that sink in.
The truth is, in order for people to truly connect with the work you’re creating, they first have to know, like, trust, and understand its creator.
The more you let people into your life, the more they feel like you are a real human, not just a “heartless” business. When you can become a recognizable face, you’ll start to feel more like a friend and less like a salesperson. Step out of your comfort zone and in front of that lens! And, don't think YOU always have to look perfect. It is okay to be real...people connect with real.
Show behind the scenes
The life of an artist is fascinating, like I said. Believe me, people are interested in your process. Offering a glimpse behind the scenes creates a bond and a level of loyalty, while also giving you an opportunity to tell a meaningful story in your feed and your posts.
Whether you share a tour of your studio or a work-in-progress, you’ll be able to make more of connection and let people feel like they are part of your world.
Video is king
You don’t need to have a YouTube channel, have millions of followers and know how to use the latest video-editing software to show off your personality using video.
Jump on Instagram Stories and let your followers into your life. The videos are only 15 seconds long and disappear after 24 hours so they are the perfect place to experiment with the sometimes scary business of being seen. When you’re comfortable doing that, switch to IGTV, where your videos can be up to 10 minutes long, and will stay public until you delete them.
I remember years ago a friend telling me that I needed to show my face more on video. I was having none of that and it took me a long time to warm up to it. You don't have to start there, but one day you might just find yourself giving an update on Instagram Stories wearing a coffee face mask and your hair in a messy bun. Oh, and just for the record, Cup O' Coffee Mask by Lush is the best ever!!
Keep it real
Authenticity should come before originality. Regardless of what style of artist you are, if you talk about your work from the heart, people will respond to it. Passion creates passion.
The captions you use on your Instagram posts are just as important as the images themselves. They are mini-blogs and ideal for sharing a little bit more of you.
3. On your blog
As a visual artist, you are telling a story through the images and artwork you create. Maybe writing about your art or process doesn’t come as naturally?
But working on your voice can really help you stand out and bring people along for the creative ride with you. This isn't easy and I should know...writing makes my head hurt and I second guess everything I write. It does take practice just like it did for me to be comfortable in front of the video camera.
Think of your blog as a place where you can practice writing and sharing your story.
Here are a few tips to do just that:
What’s more interesting - a generic list of hobbies like ‘crafting’ or the more specific ‘making funky one-of-a-kind art journals’? Your personality lies in the unique details about you, your art and your life, so get specific and use "your" words -- even if they are made up words. Yep, we all have those, right?
Consider your language
Are you using strong or flowery language? Do your words express that you are funny or spiritual? Your blog doesn’t have to follow anyone else’s style rules so write like YOU and not like you’re a robot, trying to sound more academic or formal than you really are.
Write like you’re talking to a friend
When writing the words you share on your website, remember not to be too formal and keep the writing simple. Think of it as an everyday conversation with a friend. This is still something I am working to improve upon. For me, it is harder to write like I talk. I've been testing out a new strategy where I simply speak the words into my computer while it types them out. Once finished, I just edit and then I am all set.
I know how scary it can feel to show who you really are online - it’s a vulnerable thing to do.
But I’m betting that you’ve overcome feeling too vulnerable to act before - in fact, every single time you create something new or show your art you’re making yourself vulnerable.
→Related Article: Common Fears to Sharing Your Art Online
The reason people connect with your art is because of that vulnerability. After all, it’s crucial to the creative process.
That’s what we’re all looking for. Real, authentic expression and connection.
If you want to succeed online, don’t hide or try to please everyone.
Just be yourself.