MAY 2021 – As an artist, do you have to have a social media presence in the 21st century to be noticed? You know, I have generally assumed that social media was very valuable to artists and a given that you should embrace it and make a concerted effort to put forth your work in the best light possible online in these apps for it to grow in reach. As an aside, myself personally, I have very little interest in social media and posting about my personal life online. I prefer to share those moments and memories with my inner circle of family and friend.
But I maintained this nagging thought that I ‘should’ be posting more on social media and making an effort to grow my presence and audience there. With a lukewarm effort, I have done so with various attempts at it over the years. And in truth, I never really found it to be that personally gratifying or helpful towards introducing new audiences to my creative work. It is unclear to me that I picked up a single new reader of my writing from social media, not a one, zero. And if anything, being on social media is an enormous distraction from actually creating new vibrant work and developing my skills further as an artist in the disciplines that actually interest me (writing, drawing, design).
My current thinking is that it is far better to utilize that time and energy on creating better work. And I would far rather guide people to my own website here at WaveGarden Arts than guiding them to some companies website that is just trying to sell advertisements and mine their users data. None of that is in alignment with my values and seems counter to what I want my name and work to be associated with.
And I’ve always made the argument to myself that I need to play ‘this’ game (that being social media) to be successful as a writer and artist. But if I think about it critically, me posting about my own work is essentially just an ad on social media in disguise. And in truth, I myself don’t buy books because the author of that book says that their book is good. I listen to the testimony of other readers to help me determine which book I would like to read next. And I don’t think I am unique in this. As it is far more valuable to have other people talking about your book online, versus you yourself talking about your book online. And me not being on social media does nothing to inhibit other people from talking about my book online.
So then what should writers and artists do to help spread awareness for their work? Building a core audience seems key and I think being involved with the platforms of others is the key in this regard. Whether it be an interview for a podcast, a blog writing cross-over campaign, going out to library/bookstore/festival events, or doing your own paid advertising when you are at that point. But I think the single most important thing is to have excellent quality work to share that speaks for itself. So any effort spent on marketing a novice effort is likely not the best use of your time and attention. When you really should be back in the trenches, working on your next project, versus spending time and valuable mental energy and creativity on marketing your social media page. Which will draw attention to someone else’s platform (the social media companies) and enriching them, at little to no benefit, if not a net-loss to yourself.
Thus I have decided to retire my social media accounts. I have already deleted my twitter presence, and will be doing the same with my instagram in the not-too-distant future. If anything it feels like a bold declaration and I am more excited about being creative as a result. As the sneaking suspicion that I was commercializing something that I loved was never far from my mind when I was posting on these sites about my work. If you are here and reading these words, it is because you are genuinely interested in my work and what I have to offer as a creative person. And for that, I thank you 🙂 As the work itself needs to be good enough to stand on its own. Think of every amazing work you have read or piece of art you have seen. Did the social media presence of its creator matter to you? I would guess not.
Truth and beauty matter and that is where our attention should be spent seeking in our work, in ourselves, in each other, and the world around us. And I don’t think social media is the answer to finding that. Thus I am retiring all of my social media.
Spending more time in nature, with friends and family (in real life!), making an effort to live a more genuine and authentic life, that is the stuff that will build you up and make life feel more engaging and alive. Try it out, see what you think, it might surprise you how much joy you are able to find in your creative work again. I know it has been helpful for me. And I don’t miss the false sense of progress that I felt I was making. Engage with reality on your terms.
Until next time, peace!