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Marketing and Nudity Advice?

Hey guys, I would appreciate advice on a couple of things:

1. To be frank, I suck at marketing and networking. I've read a number of advice columns about the art business, but many of them are in fields I don't work in and many more are pretty vague, basically saying "Get yourself out there!" without going into specifics on how to do that. On top of that, I have a strange fear of talking to people about my art, and sometimes in general (though I am slowly getting over that). That plus I have no idea where to begin, and it's just overwhelming and making me nervous. My question is: what do you guys do for marketing? Do you comment on everything, link stuff, what? Do you have a business plan and schedule for marketing? How do you draw in your business?

2. I'm moving soon and while looking for a job in the new area, I was hoping to do commissions on the side (assuming I can actually market successfully). I know adult art draws in more money than clean art, and while I'm not comfortable with drawing explicit porn, just general nudity is fine. However, I'm also trying to go pro in the future and was concerned if drawing that (especially with furries) would hurt me. Obviously I'm not stupid enough to go up to a potential employer and show him naked furries, but I'm wondering if having that on the internet would get me in trouble, even if it is away from my main portfolio. Or do they not even care about that in the professional industry so long as you aren't advertising yourself with it?

3. Relating to #2, I know some people charge more for porn, which is understandable, but is it ethical to charge more for just nudity pictures? I don't mean like Barbie doll anatomy, but with actual genitals, but not actually porn either.

Thank you for reading!

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( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 21st, 2014 08:49 am (UTC)
Just keep posting.
I post to several sites, try to update often, and check for notes/comments a few times a week. Try to post new art at least once a month. My personal goal is going to be one large piece a month and several smaller images, once I finish some work I owe. Da, Fa, Tumblr, and Facebook are good sites for getting your work out there.

Charging more for anything that you find difficult or uncomfortable is usually considered fine.
Charge what you feel is best for you. If anyone tried to harass you into lowering your price, block them.
Jun. 21st, 2014 09:31 am (UTC)
I have purchased ad space from FA at least half a dozen times over the years and during those months' ads, have gained at least 1500+ watchers total (that's if we were to assume that while the ad was active, every new watcher had clicked on the ad to get to my page - which is faulty logic, I realize, but still, it gives an idea.)

Unfortunately, given the recent problems with FA's ad server redirecting to an iffy site, viewers may be uncomfortable clicking their ads. But keep it in mind.
Jun. 21st, 2014 12:02 pm (UTC)
Would your say your business increased from buying ads or was it just interest in seeing your artwork (watches/comments/ect)?
I've been considering ad-space for awhile now, but never know if it was worth the cost.
Jun. 21st, 2014 01:46 pm (UTC)
Definitely worth the cost, I usually run ads for 2 months, and I get more than enough business to cover the expense of the ad and more. I definitely recomend it
Jun. 21st, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC)
I've also had a lot of success with ads too.
I purchased ad space for one month and got about 1000 watchers just from that, which lead to my slots getting claimed faster and more consistently. I plan on doing that again in the future too!

The price for the ad is very cheap compared to other websites as well. I would say it's worth the money.
Jun. 21st, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you both for responding! That's really good to hear that the adspace worked so well for you :D

How long did you have to wait until your ad was up, if it's okay to ask?
Jun. 21st, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
just butting it.
for me it took 3 days from the initial payment of add space to it was up. I also had 1 month, but the success was medium. (not too many extra watchers, but those I got extra, also most of them commissioned me)
Jun. 21st, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
No problem! :3

It took me a similar amount of time as exo_formicidae, just a couple of days!

Jun. 22nd, 2014 01:26 am (UTC)
Just wanna chime in a bit. I bought ad space a while back. For the price ($20 for a month), it's actually really worth it. I'm not an artist (fursuit maker) so I don't have the same short turnaround schedule as artists, so it's hard for me to say that the ad space increased the number of commissions I got, but I definitely got a ton of new watchers.

As for time between payment and the ad going up, I paid and then didn't hear anything back for a while. Had to send another email to get it put up, but I got a couple extra days because of the wait/trouble. So it varies, and you may need to do some followup work, but it's still worth it for the price and the return.
Jun. 21st, 2014 11:20 am (UTC)
First off, post your art, and get your art "out there". If you are accepting commissions, mention that each time you post your artwork. Second, if you want to keep your furry art separate from your "real life" art career, make sure you keep your real name off your Furry account, and only disclose it to those who want to pay you for a commission. Depending on how far you want to go, you can even set up a Paypal account under your Furry pseudonym and use it only for commission payments. As far as pricing, I'd keep general nudes at the same level as non-nudes, and just say that you don't do explicit pics. If someone asks for an exception, you can judge it on a case by case basis, and charge more if you feel comfortable doing their particular request, or just turn it down if it's not in your comfort zone. Main part is, draw and share. The more art you have on display, the more chances for commission requests to come in. Link to all of the places that you post art (Furaffinity, Tumblr, Deviantart, etc). If you have time, offer to do trades with artists you admire. As you start to get more commission requests, you can raise your prices. Also charge more for more difficult work (wings, multiple characters, detailed background, etc). Good luck with your promotion efforts!
Jun. 21st, 2014 01:34 pm (UTC)
I think that one of the best things you can do to market in the furry fandom is to do an art exchange with a MUCH more popular artist. Infact you don't even have to exchange, if you do art for them, they like it and put it on their FA account with LOTS of watchers while linking to your account... That's a lot of great advertisement. :)
Jun. 21st, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC)
This is good advice. Since OP mentioned being a little nervous to talk to people, sometimes letting your art do the social stuff can be much easier and makes you seem like a more friendly person in other people's eyes too.

Some of my biggest jumps in pageviews/activity on DA all came from doing quick little gifts and trades with artists of similar artistic interests.
Jun. 22nd, 2014 06:34 am (UTC)
That's really good to hear, because I love drawing gift art of other people's characters, just for fun!
Jun. 21st, 2014 01:45 pm (UTC)
I am pretty bad at networking too! But I agree with the other, keep posting. Also ads in furaffinity are fantastic to gather new people! Commissions by popular commissioners or trades/collaborations by popular artists are also great ways to increase your exposure. I find that making gifts for popular artists also helps (but never down to the begging, pandering level)

About nudity, some people charge extra just for the nudity, which includes erotic art as well. I feel it wouldn't be a bad idea to charge a little bit extra, especially if you are portraying well drawn nudity (and not anatomical horrors).

As for it being a drawback in the future? I don't think so, maybe post the adult art under a separate name or a separate page entirely to make sure that the more pro version of your work is separated from the adult art.
Jun. 21st, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
As far as marketing goes, I'm just going to echo everyone else. Post lots of art regularly! The more people see your work, the more business you'll get. It can take time to build up a customer base, but all it takes to get started is someone seeing your work and thinking "hey, I want one like that too!" And people will repost your commissions for them, which brings in more business.

In my experience, nude pinups sell like crazy. They're sort of my specialty, and even though I draw plenty of explicit porn, I find that my pinups sell the best, so don't worry and stick to what you're comfortable with, as long as you're doing good work you'll find a market for it.

As for professional concerns, as long as you use a different screen name and keep your real name off of it so naked animal people aren't popping up when employers Google you you're fine. I know professional illustrators and game artists who draw and sell all kinds of raunchy stuff on the side, and I myself do plenty of professional contract work, and no one knows/cares that I also draw furry porn. Keep it separate and you'll most likely never have any problems.

Funny story actually, I was working with a game company and they were talking about making a furry game because they thought it might be a good market to go after. I casually mentioned that I had some experience with that and they started excitedly asking me all kinds of questions, especially about porn. They found it fascinating and named me the "furry consultant". They ended up going with a different idea, but it was nice that they were so positive about it!
Jun. 21st, 2014 02:14 pm (UTC)
You can keep your real name completely off the market by getting a Paypal Business account, and using a business name instead of your real name. I am unsure if it takes your name off for shipping purposes though. (Although selecting no shipping when sending prevents your address from going through when you buy)
Jun. 22nd, 2014 05:36 am (UTC)
Not sure either, but I know you can use just initials for a shipping address, if that's your preference. I normally use first initial + last name.
Jun. 21st, 2014 02:15 pm (UTC)
Most general marketing advice is vague because you could write a book on each aspect of it. I once read a book specifically on how to market on Twitter. Multiply that by every way to market, and you'd have an encyclopedia set. To boil it all down to blog post size, it really does come down to get yourself out there.

Pick a platform that works for you, and do something on it every day, or at least every week. You may have to try out different platforms to find the ones that work for you. Pick one, use it for a couple months. If you like it, you will keep using it because you like it. If you don't, you will naturally stop using it. Then try another. later rinse repeat. Don't even think about trying them all at once, you will kill yourself trying to keep up with it all, and you will hate it.

I started on DA then added in FB & Twitter as they came out. DA didn't click with me, and Twitter was overwhelming. FB I use daily. I added in FA, and I post there once a week. I recently started dabbling in Reddit and it seems to be useful, but I'm still playing with it.

I advertise on FA. Absolutely worth it. I get about 200 views a week from it to our Etsy shop, and it more than pays for itself. I've been playing with Project Wonderful. The jury is still out on it, but it's cheap to experiment with so I'll keep trying.

None of this is quick. It's not a sprint, or even a marathon. It's a slow walk across a continent. There is no magic "do this thing and get sales" bullet. It's taken about 6 years to find the right balance for me. Yes, years. It really is all about posting something regularly, and doing it until one day you look up and realize you have a significant body of work and a great family of followers.
Jun. 21st, 2014 04:11 pm (UTC)
You're going to get a lot of advice; use what works for you and don't sweat the rest. There is no one size fits all beyond the very basic, vague advice you have likely already encountered!

If you want to aim for commission work for now, try to figure out what types of commissions you WANT to take the most. Do some examples that will get people excited about that type of commission. Post art regularly and across several platforms. Your work is nice and people will pay attention, but the attention span is limited. I find that the work I am most excited about also draws in people that are excited about that type of work. I draw a lot of birds and love birds. So, I tend to get a lot of 'bird customers'. Win-win... I get to draw subject matter I enjoy, and the customer is usually very happy with something I have fun with (vs. something I just dredge through!!).
Of course, when one is starting out, you need flexibility. You are unlikely to have your pick of commissions at first! I didn't for years. So you will likely not just get the types of commissions you 'want' 100% of the time. That said, I sincerely think it is a mistake to take commission work or subject matter that you genuinely don't want to /hate /or are uncomfortable with drawing (unless you are in a financial emergency I suppose)! Every artist I've talked to, including myself, has found that situation to bite them in the butt later on. To that end, adult art might sell, and sell well.. and yes, sell BETTER.. but one can make a living on clean commission work, too. If you don't mind doing nudes, do 'em, but only if you want to.

Also, if you are concerned about future employers, just keep a psudonym tied to your furry art and make a separate email account for it. Most employers won't dig for hours through google, so if you don't make it easy to associate your furry art with your legal name or email address you should be fine. That said, I know lots of friends that do or have done furry work, some nudes too, and a lot of art directors employers just don't care much anymore. Some do, but it's a lot less.. hmm.. less of a stigma attached these days, it seems. It depends on what field you are going into.
Jun. 21st, 2014 06:27 pm (UTC)
Enter your art in convention art shows, even if you're not attending that convention itself. That's a trip down another avenue of how-to, but it's a place to start. Make certain that what you send (according to the art show's rules and guidelines, of course) is appropriate to the venue (no pr0n to BronyCons, for example, or spaceships to TolkienMeets)...
Jun. 21st, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
If you feel like you've stalled out with the internet marketing or likes and views just aren't converting to sales, switch ponds and go fishing elsewhere.

Check out the local offline artist guilds where you're moving to and see if they have any open shows with all-calls. Since you're nervous about talking to people, look for ones that have you submit stuff online for jurying.

You will meet completely and totally different people than you have been dealing with previously. And if you're going "but I do furry stuff...." NO PROBLEM.

Seriously, if the local guild is doing an all-call for a group show its cause they want to see stuff beyond what the core members are doing. I've put furry stuff into several different real world shows and in the last all-call for the local county one I got two SOLO gallery shows out of. one of the shows is 100% furry monsters and the other one is at city hall and is just aquatic monsters since I was selected based on showing them nothing but sharks fighting octopi.

For serious. My submission for juried show was basically Sharktopus paintings and this is what they decided to let me have in the gallery in City Hall for two months. Fine landscapes? NAH, SHARKANO! (During Christmas, no less. sharks are clearly festive!)

Don't be too down if you don't get in first few times. Different guilds do have different tastes and what you send them may not quite fit with the rest of what they got submitted.... but if they really like it, often they'll send you info on later shows and encouragement to submit to other things. Or they'll hook you up someone local with similar aesthetic to do a two-four person show. They often do the newtworking FOR you.

Read the prospectus for the show, tailor your submissions to what they asked for, but don't immediately assume they won't take your work because its furry. If they asked for specific theme, size, color pallete, submit that, but don't assume its gonna get rejected for being furry. DO keep track of who the jurors are (throw 'em in a file on your computer) and whether they did or didn't accept work. You'll quickly figure out whether they like you or not and can decide which shows are worth your time.

And yes, many of them will go look at your online galleries and stuff and bring in totally different people that you haven't been finding with previous efforts. It's not a replacement for what you're doing, it a compliment to it. Most of the people you've got watching online galleries now probably largely know each other by icon/name level of familiarity and likely watch a large number of the same people. You're probably reaching limit of who you'll pick up through friend of a friend or watcher of a watcher. Going fishing for a totally different group means if you convinced ONE of them to look at your stuff, you've now tapped into a totally different market and social network than you're reach with the furry focused stuff. and often they don't know jackshit about furry at all so are superduper excited about this new genre and you are the best thing since sliced bread because its all new and exciting!

Jun. 22nd, 2014 06:23 am (UTC)
I read all the comments, and thank you for all the advice! It does help me and now I know what kind of plan I need to have. My biggest problem I'm finding is I have trouble making and posting art regularly, and I think that's because I don't have a consistent schedule for art. I'm going to try to find a schedule that works for me, as well and apply the advice on here.

EDIT: This meant to be a solitary comment, not a reply. DARN YOU LJ!

Edited at 2014-06-22 06:24 am (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2014 01:54 pm (UTC)

If you're having trouble making time, try cleaning up your work area first (and keeping it clean) so you can just drop in and out of work without having to do lots of set up.

Same deal even with digital art. clean up around work area and make sure you have whatever reference you're going to use neatly organized on computer. Create custom palletes with your favorite tools or colors and presave them.

Organizing often doesn't feel like you're actually doing anything productive art wise, but if you're having time management issues it makes a huge difference. If you only have an hour where you can draw on a day and twenty minutes is spent organizing your work space or hunting references, it often seams easier to NOT work then... spread out the twenty minutes of organizing work chopped into little sections whenever you have a spare minute or two means you're ready to GO when you have work time. So tidy physical space while you're waiting for food to cook, hunt up reference on phone while standing in line and send yourself bookmark, etc.
Jun. 22nd, 2014 05:44 am (UTC)
Everyone gave really good advice, but one thing no one touched on is that putting your art out there is good and you should do it, but don't overdo it.

I know one person that spams their work everywhere and it's turned a whole lot of us (my group) off of every actually clicking on it, because they jump into hashtags and convos to link to their pieces, apropos of nothing whatsoever. Over-saturating your market is going to turn people off.
Jun. 22nd, 2014 06:32 am (UTC)
Ah, so they budge into other conversations for the sole purpose of advertising themselves. That's actually part of the reason I have had trouble talking to people on art websites. I was afraid that they'll think of me as spamming. Although I have finally figured out that saying "I like this piece, here's why." is not the same thing as "Here's my art LOOK AT IT!" Still, that irrational fear pops up sometimes.

Also, I learned a new word today: apropos!
Jun. 22nd, 2014 06:54 am (UTC)
Right, and it can be a pretty fine line. In this case, the line is not so much crossed as it is a dot in the distance*, but most folks I've seen that link to their own work are doing it for discussion purposes, not to be an attention seeker. Don't let the ones that go overboard spoil you for promoting your own work!

*Linking the same thing five times on one hashtag in two hours is a little much.
Jane Vakarian
Jun. 22nd, 2014 10:56 am (UTC)
For charging extra, I have a $5.00 extra for non-tasteful nudes, so like explicit stuff, where as tasteful nudity is fine. I have had no qualms yet about it yet, but it's pretty new.

The trouble I'm having is trying to get out of FA more, seeing as I don't use DA.
I only really have Tumblr to use apart from FA.
I don't use Twitter either, how effective is it really for art?
What about instagram?

I've noticed the clients vary a lot from the different sites, which is the main reason I'm trying to inch away. Less drama and more potential portfolio pieces that I can use(less furry porn), not that I don't like it, but after a while, you do want some variance.

Hoping this isn't off topic, but what are some of the biggest sellers people have with commission sales? What gets the most attention for people in general? (if it is too off topic then just ignore me)
Jun. 26th, 2014 04:02 am (UTC)
I don't know how good others will consider this advice, but:

Have you considered doing a few pieces fan art?

Almost all the art I commission is fan art to some extent, and I often find artists that I want to commission through venues like Tumblr because people are posting their fan art to the hashtag.

I know that a lot of posts on AB are about commissioned art of fursonas and such, but if you watch a show regularly or are a fan of a specific video game, throwing a piece of art out with characters from said fandom might give you more traffic. Got a favorite TV show? Draw one of the main characters. Seen a movie you really liked? Draw an OC in that universe. Just recently I remember someone from Tumblr who did a bunch of Disney characters as Pacific Rim pairings with a little back story for each one as to why they were paired and what their Jaegers were called. People went nuts. It may generate the extra traffic you're looking for although like anything, it's also a niche which is why I suggest picking something YOU enjoy, rather than just some random popular thing.

That said, before you start taking commissions, I highly suggest you figure out your schedule before opening them. It seems like the curse of a lot of artists just opening commissions (and even some veterans) can easily get overwhelmed when they're uncertain about how much time can be allocated out of their day, if they don't consider it their "job". If you're not sure, maybe start by doing a livestream and just take suggestions for quick sketches. How long does it take you to finish just a bust? How long does it take you to do something waist up? Is there one day a week where you can devote 8 hours just to drawing? You could hold weekly livestreams for X amount per simple piece and send them out right after. One of the artists I commission regularly does once a month livestreams and opens 10 slots. You're basically buying an hour of his time and he'll draw whatever you want in that hour. He easily fills these slots and makes in one day almost what I do in two weeks (and he's worth every damn penny).

Jun. 28th, 2014 07:20 am (UTC)
One idea if you have a few friends is "signal boosting". Get your friends to link your art or journals where you are offering commissions. Participate in contests and get your art noticed. It's only been mentioned once here but facebook is HUGE. Make a page for your art (it's free) and promote it to your friends. They in turn may promote it further. Promote it to groups you may be in. You can keep only your clean art on there. Run promotions or sales from time to time. I second also that fanart is a good idea. I've gathered quite a few watchers over my fanart that continue to enjoy my regular work as well, even on to commissioning me for original work and/or fanart work.
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