The Pros & Cons of Posting Artwork Online

The Pro’s & Con’s of Posting Artwork Online

by M.D. Campbell © 2019-2020 All rights reserved

Something I’ve always found interesting is how many successful artists aren’t measured on the quality of their work, but rather the controversy that surrounds them.

Robert Mapplethorpe’s “shock” photos had less to do with his photography skills than the subject matter that caused a major reaction. Lady Gaga’s famous “meat dress” stirred up people, yet had nothing to do with her music. And even Andy Warhol created controversy when he used body fluids as his medium of choice, instead of paint.

But in 2014, controversy took a new turn when it involved people posting their work online using social media. An artist named Richard Prince took Instagram photos, without permission, and blew them up, put captions on them, claimed them as his own work and charged upwards of $100,000 each. There was an outrage over this “re-appropriation” of social media images and whole slew of legal brouhahas followed when people began suing Richard Prince in court. But the most interesting part was that it forced social media sites to revisit and rework their terms and conditions to keep people from doing the same thing in the future.

These days, it’s so effortless to post our work online, we don’t even think about it. Years ago, when MySpace and Flickr were all the rage, people posted art, photos, and music without any consideration of who might be looking at their work. With Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok, people are posting their work, more than ever. It’s now a staple routine of something known as our “social media lifestyle.”

Yet have you ever read the full terms and conditions of the sites you post to?

In 2017, artist Dima Yarovinsky exhibited a piece called, “I Agree,” where he printed out the terms and conditions of several social media sites, which he hung on a wall and draped across the floor. They were so long, that Instragram’s terms and conditions were over 17,000 words long and took an average of 90-minutes to read. The piece illustrated just how helpless users are against fully understanding these terms and conditions mean and what they forfeit when posting their work online. I tried to read them, myself, for this article, but I gave up after ten minutes. I’ve read a lot of contracts and legal documents, but this was some of the most confusing, tightly crafted legal language I’d ever seen.

Sites are constantly revising and updating their terms and conditions and while most allow users to retain full ownership of their original work, they do state that the parent companies that own the sites can fully utilize, manipulate, and exhibit user’s work at any time and without consent or prior notification. In other words, these sites can use our work and we may never know. Still, we willingly hand over our rights, without concern of how our work could be used. The strange thing is, this is just one of the cons about posting our work online and that’s what this discussion is about today: 

The Pros and Cons of Posting Work Online and how it can affect us, positively, negatively, and even financially.

When I was young, I had several proud achievements in my creative journey. Winning art competitions and having my artwork hang in our state’s capital building were a big deal for a young artist. But, what I noticed was that while it was a big deal for me, it was success on a very small, local scale and people who saw my work had no idea who I was.

The same thing happened in my career. Being published in books and magazines, or having my work used in packaging and advertising, my work was being seen all over the WORLD, yet despite the global exposure, people recognized the COMPANIES I did the work for, but no one had any idea who I was. But, once the internet came along, people began to share work online – artists, photographers, writers, and musicians all had a place to share their work and ideas, gain global exposure, and finally have their name attached to their work! It was a great time for creative people – to share their work, exchange ideas, and collaborate with other artists, all over the world! 

In the video above, the song that opens it is called “October,” and it’s by an incredibly skilled artist, musician, and singer known as Slumbering, whom I met on an online music site years ago and whom I had the good fortunate to collaborate with, musically. Fifteen years later, we’re still close friends and ironically, we’ve never actually met. I’m grateful for her permission to share her music and this song is perfect for this time of year!

So, while the internet community was small back then, it seems that everyone is posting online these days, whether it’s art, music, or the latest whacky video of the week. For most people, posting their work online is a fun experience. But, for others, it can be a very daunting and scary experience, too. There are a lot of PRO’s to sharing our work online. But, one thing we’ve learned is that the YIN and the YANG in nature don’t separate, and there are also just as many CONs to posting our work online, as well. It’s a good idea to be aware of these before we click that submit button and release our work for the world to see.

The first, and perhaps the most important of these PRO’s and CON’s, is:


The rights of artists and their work has been a long-standing issue, ever since I can remember. But, with the advent of posting our work online, those rights have become obfuscated and blurred, and the general, public opinion is that it’s okay to use whatever images we find online for our own needs. A lot of companies simply pull photographs and illustrations right off the web and use them in advertising and packaging, without giving credit to the artist or paying a dime for the images. I know, because I worked for some of those companies and while I created my own graphics, and illustrations, a lot of companies just don’t want to pay for expensive images.

However, as the popular website, Buzzfeed learned in 2013, the legal consequences of using a photo without consent can be catastrophic, after they were sued for over $3 million dollars when they allegedly published a photo they took from someone’s social media page. More recently, a blog called The Content Factory, was sued for $8,000 for allegedly using a photo they found online, not realizing the person who owned it would hit them with a copyright lawsuit.

The PRO in posting our work online is that the terms and conditions of most of the sites we post to, are designed to protect the hosting site, as well as, the artist, so companies – and people like Richard Prince – can’t just take our work, and call it their own, and make money from it. They also protect us when we SELL our own work, so that these sites can’t come along and try and collect a fee or get a percentage of what we sell the way an art gallery, an agency, or an artist representative would do. The CON, however, is that when we post our work online, it’s still opened to being appropriated by others. Anyone can download, copy and paste, or screenshot our work, manipulate it, and call it their own. But, unless we actually find them doing this, it’s virtually impossible to keep people from stealing our work or our ideas. It can be frustrating and can affect us financially, especially if someone is making money from our work. 

I had a friend once use one of my logo designs for their client without my permission or my knowledge. I only found out when I happened to see my work show up on their website, claiming they designed the logo. When I reached out to ask what was going on, I was met with hostility and defiance, with my friend saying, “you didn’t use it, so what’s the problem?”

It got ugly when I had to explain to a friend how inappropriate it was to use my work without permission and then sell it to someone else as their own, without even considering me in the process. They became defensive and when I asked for compensation, they refused to pay. I threatened to pursue it legally, and after a year, they finally sent me payment for the use of my work. Sadly, of course, the whole ordeal ended our friendship. I always wonder how things might have gone had my friend simply discussed it with me, first.

So, how do we protect ourselves when posting our work online and maintain the rights to our work? There are actually several ways, but the most quick and effective way to protect our work is to simply sign it. Adding a signature tells people, right away, who’s work it is. Another easy way is to include a copyright statement right on the artwork. We’ve all seen the little “circle C” ( © ) with the year and the words, “Copyright. All Rights Reserved.” These words appear on my website, at the end of each video and in the descriptions, and even at the top of this article. I always try to let potential plagiarists know in advance that my content is published and protected by that copyright disclaimer.

Another method I use is to apply a “watermark.” Years ago, paper manufacturers used something called a Dandy Roll, which had an embossed logo that paper would be rolled through when it was wet, leaving a faint impression of the logo on the paper so customers knew they were buying the REAL product. Many paper manufacturers, like Fabriano, still use watermarks. Nowadays, it’s the same thing, except we can do it digitally. For me, I apply a small, nearly invisible logo onto my artwork – which can be done in Photoshop or Photo Editor, and any free online software like Gimp or Fotoflex. Most people are unaware it’s even there! Many stock image sites apply a more obvious version to protect their images.

Another way to protect images is to post low resolution images online. This keeps people from being able to steal the image and enlarge it, because it will blow out the pixelization and look terrible.

Protect images by posting low resolution versions online to prevent them from being enlarged, as it will blow out the pixelization and the enlarged image will look terrible.

For more savvy users, adding copyright information to the file’s metadata is also a great way to be able to keep people from altering a protected digital image. But, it’s wise to understand that like a retail store, a bank vault, or even from our office or backpack – if someone wants to steal something badly enough, they’ll try any way they can, without fear of consequence.


Right now, there are literally hundreds of social media sites besides the big one’s like Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat. Other sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and DeviantArt are less prominent these days, while Doodle Addicts, Art Station, and Ello have become more current popular alternatives. The PRO to being part of these art communities is that it gets us out of our own space and our own heads, and puts us in line with other people who think a lot like we do. To be part of something bigger than ourselves where ideas can be shared, inspiration can be found, and there’s encouragement for our creative journey is a great way to keep us on track and help nurture our growth and development as artists.

Still, the CON to being part of community is that it’s easy to feel lost or insignificant, especially in larger online communities. Many social media groups have members who are well-established and can be dominant personalities. Coming in as a new member can be daunting trying to express our own voice among hundreds or thousands of other members. It’s so easy to say the wrong thing or misinterpret what someone says, leaving us feeling ostracized, vulnerable, and even dejected.

While typically, the experience is positive and supportive, there can be times when we feel annoyed, frustrated, or even embarrassed by something we posted. I compare it to going to a party and walking up to a group of people talking. If we jump right in and start spouting our opinions, talking about ourselves, or debating others, then it will turn people right off. In both a party situation and online, it’s always best to casually approach a group and observe – to gain insight to the conversations, get a feel for the tone of the dialogue, and understand the personality dynamics of the people, first. Then, slowly introducing our own voice by asking questions, making light humor, or sharing views in a way that allows others to take an interest. That’s what any community wants from its members. To know that we’re interested in the group, that we, ourselves are actually interesting people, and that we’re capable of providing respectful, productive contributions without creating drama or chaos.


So, why do we post our work online, anyway? Some of the most common answers are:

  • To get attention.
  • Show others we have also a creative voice to share.
  • To have someplace to put all the stuff we make.
  • To be part of a larger collective of like-minded people.
  • To maybe get someone to buy our work or even hire us.

But, probably the biggest reason we post our work online is to get feedback on our work and get an idea of whether people like or dislike the work we’re presenting, which can be difficult for many of people. Getting honest, brutal criticism of our work can often be a big blow to our ego, and it can keep more sensitive artists from posting online, at all.

Still, the PRO to posting online is that positive feedback is great for our confidence. Most people in online art communities are there to offer support and positive encouragement. Being accepted by a larger community, despite our skill level or experience, can be a wonderful way to gain reassurance that our work is relevant. What’s even better is when we post online and receive “constructive criticism” that gets us to look at our own work and see areas that may need improvement or encourage our growth and development. This kind of feedback is priceless and can really make a difference to a young or new artist.

However, like the Yin Yang, the CONs of receiving feedback can sometimes be harsh, negative, or disparaging, no matter how long we’ve been at it. Most negative feedback comes from people who posture themselves as better than others or as experts who usually have little experience to back up their comments. Other people sometimes believe that they are being helpful, not realizing their comments are insensitive and can be viewed as hurtful, insulting, or unhelpful.

Of course, there are times when we, ourselves, may not recognize someone else’s constructive feedback and we misinterpret their helpful insight as a personal attack on us or our work, which we can make us argumentative and defensive. All of this can leave us feeling exposed, hurt, and vulnerable, to the point where we retreat from the group and stop posting our work online, altogether.

Still, the worst CON to receiving feedback comes from “trolls,” or people who are intentionally cruel hurtful, and generate feedback that is designed to create drama, chaos, and outrage – solely for the purpose of getting a reaction. For the “troll,” it’s free entertainment and they are people who enjoy bullying or intimidating others for their own amusement. These immature and sometimes disturbed people HIDE behind the anonymity of the internet, while their efforts are effective in wreaking havoc on an individual’s ego, as well as the positive spirit of the community, overall. For me, I learned that posting videos always brings out the trolls, and though YouTube filters most of them out, a lot still find their way through like slippery weasels through a chicken wire fence. I learned quickly to identify their posts and now simply ignore them and delete their hurtful comments. 

The best way to deal with any kind of negative feedback online is to simply recognize it, ignore it, delete it, and move on from it. Most important is to never engage negative feedback or trolls, as it only serves to feed their desire to create chaos and disruption. 

Generally, most feedback is fairly tame and superficial - though positive. A lot of people post comments like “great job!” “amazing!” or “nice work!” These comments are designed to be supportive and kind, on a generic level. And to be clear, that’s okay with me!

But overall, recognizing that feedback, whether positive or negative, doesn’t actually matter. What truly matters is that we immerse ourselves in believing in ourselves, our work and maintain the ability to forge ahead with the development of our own creative journey despite what anyone says about our work or us.

I think about a young 13 year old girl named, Rebecca Black, who innocently engaged a company to help her publish a song called, “It’s Friday.” It was a fun experience that turned into a social media nightmare for her, her friends, and her family. In 2011 when YouTube comedy channel, Tosh.0 hosted by Daniel Tosh, called out and berated the song and Rebecca, herself, both the song and the young 13 year old became infamous and sparked a negative social media maelstrom of “haters.” Luckily, Rebecca Black is a strong, positive young woman who had a great support system to be able to bounce back and move away from the experience to live her life on her terms.

The bottom line is that the best feedback we can receive is the kind that makes us look at our work, question the ways we can improve on it, and which inspires us to take action and promote the strength to embrace change and to keep growing and learning.


So, while there is a huge benefit in getting feedback and criticism from other people, it’s just as important to give feedback and criticism to other people online, as well. It’s amazing how many people don’t even understand this concept. I see more people posting their work online, harvesting compliments and praise like farmers, but then never take the time to post a comment to other people’s work. 

I used to follow one YouTuber and I would compliment their work, ask questions, and share thoughts about the subjects they talked about. But, I noticed they would NEVER respond to the comments I posted, let alone come to MY channel and post comments to my videos. To me, that’s how it works being on social media – it’s a shared exchange of ideas, support, and even time to take an interest in other people, who will offer the same in return. It’s sort of the unwritten rule of etiquette on social media – and it’s how people connect. I even enjoy a good, healthy debate where ideas are challenged and the chance to learn and see things from a different perspective. So, as much as I enjoyed that YouTuber’s work, I finally unsubscribed when I realized it was a one-way street and that person was only interested in people commenting on their work.

And that’s why it’s important to have our own voice on social media – to let other people know that we’re interested in their work, which will hopefully motivate them to take an interest in our work, too. The PRO is that we can provide thoughtful, productive, and honest feedback for other people, to help boost their confidence and ego. We all get excited when we get feedback from others, so it’s natural that other people get excited when we leave feedback for them, as well. 

The CONs, however, can be that sometimes we may overstep ourselves and provide feedback that is perceived as unhelpful, obnoxious, pedantic, or patronizing. It’s easy for people to misread our intentions or meanings and take things out of context. Sometimes, people see us offering our voice too often and we come off as a “know it all.” In some cases, people can become dependent on our voice and they tag us in their posts and call us out to come comment on their work, when we may not want to. 

Having our own voice is all about knowing when to speak and when to listen. When to lend advice and when to take advice. It’s about gaining and maintaining trust in a community by offering smart, intelligent, and productive feedback. I like to keep things on topic, speak in facts, and only share my opinions when asked to. Those who know me appreciate my light sense of humor and the experience I bring to the table. It’s a great feeling when people share their voice with us online, but it’s even better when we share our own voice and earn the respect of people we admire.


For me, something I enjoy in being part of an online community is learning new things. Over the past few years, I’ve learned about new techniques, new artists, and all kinds of new products I may never have found on my own. The PRO is that through social media, we can access incredible ways to accelerate the way we learn and find compatible disciplines that we’re interested to try. We can gain unique insight and perspectives from experienced people who are willing to share their knowledge to help with our education and growth. I love coming across posts and videos from people that make me stop and say, “wow, that’s really different!” or “Hey, I’d really like to try that!” Thirty years ago, if you wanted to learn, you’d have to watch Bob Ross or take a class. Now, there’s so much information available and people to interact with online, it’s staggering.

The CON to all this is that there is also a lot of misinformation, as well. While professional artists and experts share their knowledge, there’s a lot of wanna-be’s out there who present themselves as experts, but who present bad or inaccurate information, have little to no experience to back it up, and who are unqualified to be teaching in the first place. There are hundreds of young “influencers” on social media who have massive audiences, but cater to advertisers and product sponsors who pay them – and pay them really well. A lot of their work promotes an immature, childish approach to instruction and their product reviews are suspect when they claim a product is bad – even though they have no idea how to USE the product correctly.

For a lot of social media influencers, it’s more about capturing views and playing to a young audience, eager to consume disposable social media. And again, it’s all for the sake of a paycheck – not, necessarily, in the interest of teaching. A lot of really well-crafted information from professionals, is often boiled down by others and regurgitated in a way that lacks authenticity, sincerity, genuine interest in a topic, and most of all – heart.

To me, it’s a shame, because there are so many qualified teachers and artists who are often overlooked because their presentation is not as slick and highly produced as those who feign to be something they’re not. So, as someone who has spent many years teaching in the classroom, my best advice is to take the time and research people online who can provide the most accurate and beneficial education on the topics we’re interested in, from painting and drawing to casual hobbies. For me, there are several artists I’ve come to know through social media whom I trust and have followed for years, and who I’ve become friends and collaborators with.

As for the young social media influencers, they always create fun projects and watching them is like eating a bowl of sugary cereal and watching Saturday morning cartoons – which is why they are so incredibly popular with a young audience in the online community.


As a kid, I always loved when my parents would hang my artwork on the fridge.

It was such a great boost for my young ego and my confidence. Until my siblings would take it down and scribble all over it, laughing hysterically. Posting our work online can actually be a similar experience! We draft a new post to show our newest piece on social media. We check the words, upload the image, and hit that submit button. Then, wait in anticipation to see how people respond.

The PRO is when people click LIKE, we get that adrenaline bump and feel happy. The “like” is a quick, convenient way of saying, “Hey, I like this!” without getting hung up on why. Of course, getting a thoughtful, written comment is even better, giving us a bigger bump. It’s like when the teacher used to hang our artwork on the wall at school! The CON, of course, is when other kids at school disliked our artwork or were jealous of the attention we got, so they’d take it down and scribble all over it, laughing hysterically. That’s how it can feel when someone “dislikes” our work. Instead of getting a positive bump, we get a negative kick to our ego, instead – which can make us withdraw, feel defeated, or get frustrated or even defensive. 

What’s worse, course, is when we post our work online – and no one responds at all! No LIKES, no hearts, and no comments – It can be devastating to an artist’s fragile ego! For more sensitive artists who may be tentative about sharing their work online, this can be a set back. Like receiving negative feedback or experiencing a troll, it can be difficult to manage the rejection of not getting a response to our work. I love to get feedback, especially when I can learn from it. I enjoy getting “likes” on my work, too, and I’ve learned with “dislikes,” that not everyone likes my work. With trolls, I just don’t have the energy – so I delete their comments and move on. 

If no one responds to my work, I wonder why – but but then spin it into an educational opportunity to ask myself why it wasn’t “liked?” It gives me a chance to look at my work objectively, try to see any flaws or problems, and to make adjustments where necessary. Most times, if there’s no response to my work online, I’ll just remove it and go onto the next piece. But, overall, it’s important when we post our work online not to let “likes” inflate our ego, or “dislikes” deflate it. What matters more than anything is our whether WE like or dislike our work.


Brainstorming is the process of examining a problem and coming up with a range of possible solutions. For most people, brainstorming by themselves can result in fixating on one or two solutions and losing the ability to see alternative options. Anyone doing an online art challenge might probably agree, trying to come up with fresh, new ideas, day after day, by yourself and with no input from anyone else – it can be like trying to pull water from a dry well.

A big PRO with social media is that there are tons of websites to browse, like Pinterest, where endless streams of ideas and solutions are available by other people that can inspire us and help us find those alternative solutions! I’ve found that joining a Facebook group or an online forum can provide the opportunity to ask others for help, and people are always willing to help other artists and share ideas. Another PRO is that we can also share our own ideas on social media when other people ask for help, which is a great feeling.

Drawing and painting challenges, like Inktober and World Watercolor Month, are other terrific ways I’ve seen where people collaborate and share ideas for a common purpose, along with all kinds of side challenges and groups, ranging from Sketchtember to Zentangle, to help promote creativity, learning, and to keep artists in practice and exercising their skills.

One of the CONs, however, can be the temptation to see someone else’s work and be so inspired by it, that we end up copying it or stealing the idea for ourselves – thinking no one will be the wiser. In that situation, it’s always best to remember to provide proper credit to the original artist, or use their influence to create artwork in our own style, with our own voice. Another CON is that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by new, complex concepts we don’t really understand to the point where we feel lost, frustrated, or just out of place. Still, another CON is that when we share our ideas online, people can sometimes become dependent on us and expect us to provide them with feedback and solutions, which can be a burden. Unless someone is paying us to come up with ideas, it can lead to resentment when the same people keep asking for ideas over and over.

One job I had, my co-worker wasn’t good at coming up with their own, original concepts or how to develop ideas that were given to them. It became a chore as they constantly turned to me for help in coming up with solutions for their projects. At first, I was sincerely happy to help and thought they would see the process and come up with a way to conceptualize on their own. Unfortunately, it took a while before I realized that spending so much time helping them come up with ideas and solutions for their work, my own work was beginning to suffer. I was running out of time, coming up with poor solutions for my projects, and making excuses to my boss why my work wasn’t fresh or exciting. I realized that my co-worker was a sycophant and I was allowing them to drain me of my creative energy, leaving me exhausted. I finally revealed to my boss what was going on, and they told me to simply say, “sorry, I’ve got nothing for you.” It was out of character for me, as I tried to be a positive team player. But, eventually, I had to say it and though it was tough for a while, my co-worker stopped asking. Sadly for them, they started asking other co-workers, who all tried to help, but quickly adopted my position, too.


The PROs to being part of an online social collective can be developing extensive relationships with other people that can last for years and extend beyond the boundaries of the online landscape. Over long periods of time, it’s interesting how we can interact with the same people, over and over, in an online community who share the same interests. It reminds of when I was young and had a pen pal across the country – it was a great way to exercise our social skills with words and without physical expressions. Unlike the friendships we form in school, at work, or in our neighborhoods, these online connections have a unique dynamic and personality of their own, especially since we don’t usually meet, face-to-face.

I’ve met a lot of people in various online groups – from gaming and music, to art and education, and of the hundreds of people I’ve met, a select few have become very close friends. We’ve gone beyond the social collective we met in, and now interact on Facebook, sharing experiences and humor, watching our families grow, and celebrating or consoling when certain life events happen. I enjoy sharing the same interests, core values, and especially creative experiences with people from different places, who I’d never have met before social media. 

However, like anything, there are CONs to these social collectives and the friendships that may emerge from them. There are people who are not what they portray themselves to be, who leverage that anonymity of the internet to create a false persona and gain our trust, for a whole range of nefarious reasons. Most people know not to trust people on the internet, but when we encounter the same personalities over the course of years, it can be easy to let our guard down. Also, there are people who come off as being real, but misrepresent themselves as having certain values, skills, or experience, when they actually don’t.

Some people can become highly dependent on others to where the friendship becomes high maintenance, dubious, or even obsessive. One person I knew on a music sharing site was actually harassed by another member to the point where it became a legal matter. But, those types of people are extremely rare, especially on sites where we control who we let connect with us. 

Still, it’s always wise to move with caution on the internet, because we really don’t ever really know who we’re dealing with or who’s lurking in the background. I continue to watch for red flags and people whose behavior just doesn’t feel right. Overall, I’m cautious with my presence online and enjoy participating in online social media collectives because I find it entertaining, educational, and fun to engage and interact with others.


As a young illustrator, the best way to market myself was to literally march my portfolio all over Boston to show my work to art directors, agencies, artist reps, or anyone I thought might hire me. Unfortunately, my work was stylized and not a good fit for most of the places I was showing to. It wasn’t until I showed to a publisher who hired me to do spot illustrations. Having that under my belt, I met another publisher who hired me to draw illustrations for school textbooks. I continued to show my work around, but I focused on the publishing industry, because that’s who my work seemed to be suited for. What I was doing was marketing myself and creating my brand.

If we think of the old Wild West and how they used to brand cattle with a hot iron, that’s similar to how we brand ourselves, too… except not with hot irons or cattle, of course! What we do is create a look or style that is recognizable and familiar so that anyone who sees it knows exactly who created it. The works of Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keefe, and Frida Kahlo are unmistakable to people who are familiar with their work. But, these day, there are so many artists, photographers, designers, and more all trying to get noticed, trying to get hired, and trying to stand out among all the others. It seems nearly impossible and can be confusing and overwhelming for many of us.

The days of shopping a portfolio around are gone and most art directors and publishers won’t even answer an email, let alone return a phone call. So, along comes social media… but how can we use it to brand ourselves? Well, one way is to simply be present online. Joining specific groups of special interest and posting our work there can be a good way to gain exposure and meet others trying to get ahead in their discipline, as well. There are tons of illustrations groups, graphic design groups, pen and ink groups, and so many more – it seems limitless to how much is actually out there! Building relationships in those groups is the start of building a BRAND, too, where people become familiar with our work and our style and can instantly recognize our work, as soon as they see it.

I was flattered recently when I posted a drawing to Instagram and someone wrote, “I knew that was yours as soon as I saw it!” That told me that I was succeeding in branding my work to a following on that particular social media site. Another way to get our work in front of other people is by using “tags.” However, a lot of people don’t understand how tags work and often associate their work with products they use, limited groups, or specific groups that don’t provide an advantage to marketing their work. I recommend “tagging” work with the names of services or business we want to see our work. If we’d like to be published by a certain magazine, then tag the work with that magazine name, not what kind of pen it was drawn with.

If your forté is drawing food, then tag drawings of carrots, beets, and apples to local farmers markets to get them to see your work – they may just hire you to design a poster, web banner, or all kinds of other work that can get exposure and money. Like anything, starting small and developing it is how a brand will grow. The PRO is that posting our work online is a way of networking and getting our connections to support us and refer us to others. I have been referred to countless people who are looking for help with their design or illustration projects. Some have been lucrative while others didn’t pan out.

Another PRO is that many companies now have social media marketing people on board, who use Instagram and Facebook to monitor their placement on social media. By using tags, it’s possible to attract those social media marketing people to our work. Many retail store chains are always looking at trends and what’s fresh on social media that they can use. Posting our work online keeps us relevant and in front of the people we want to see our work. 

The CON to posting to social media sites is that our presence is fleeting – even the best work from the most skilled artists is here today and gone tomorrow. We live in a very fast, disposable world where only the most consistent and persistent can get themselves noticed. Too often, our work gets buried beneath mountains of other artists posting their work, especially during challenges like Inktober or Huevember, and it can be discouraging.

Another CON is that if we post too often, it can oversaturate a site and turn people off. If we tag every piece we create with the same tags – it can annoy the very people we’re trying to attract. I have a few friends on Facebook who tag me in every single art video they find. While I consider it a kind and thoughtful gesture, it can sometimes be too much, especially when I get several tagged notifications in one day. Finding the exact balance of how often to post, exactly which pieces to post, and directing our tags appropriately can be tricky – but it can be done… in fact, that’s how a lot of artists are getting work online. The best way to keep our work from getting buried, especially during a challenge, is to make sure we’re sharing our voice with others on THEIR work, so they’ll come to know our name and eventually, our work, too! 

It takes finesse, savvy, and a whole lot of practice to be able to use social media to promote our brand and get people to hire us or buy our work. But, coming up with a plan or a routine approach is always the best way to organize our intent and present ourselves and our work online. Like I said, a lot of artists are actually getting work from their online exposure… why not you, too? And lastly….

10. Facing OurFears

Most creative people like to show off their work. Whether to their family, friends, pets, or classmates, it’s a desire we have to be able to share what we have created with the hope of gaining feedback, whether in smiles, like, comments, or dollars. For most creative people who post online, it’s something that once we began, we never looked back. When we think about our rights as artists and those pesky terms and conditions, it’s a headache for most of us who simply want to post our latest creation and get a response. And for many people, the idea of branding their work or posting it with the idea of attracting someone to buy it or hire them is simply not what they’re interested in – not at all.

We all have a myriad of different, disparate reasons for wanting to share our work with others, and not just keep it locked away for only OUR eyes to see. But, for some people, there is a real trepidation in posting their work online. Whether it’s a fear of having their rights violated or their work put into the hands of someone else’s terms and conditions, it’s concern that is justified through the history of art.

The most common reasons I’ve come across for why people don’t post online, are:

  • Other people are so much better than me
  • People aren’t going to like my work
  • People will make fun of my work
  • My work isn’t good enough
  • Someone might steal my work

These are all valid concerns for someone unfamiliar with posting their work online.

But, whatever the reason we can come up for why we don’t want to post our work online, there can be a counterpoint with reasons why we should.

  • Yes, there will always be people better than us – but also people not as good as us, too.
  • Yes, some people won’t like our work – but a lot more people will.
  • Yes, someone may poke fun at our work, but that’s rare and not worth the time to recognize.
  • The only one who will judge how good our work is, is ourselves.
  • And yes, someone might steal our work. But protecting it, like with a watermark, is one way to prevent that. Also, posting only in places we trust, chances are no one will steal it.

Whatever the trepidation may be about posting our work online, there’s always the option to simply not post our work online. The fears I mentioned are irrational, and like a said, can be countered with rational points of view. The PRO in facing our fears of posting work on social media are that we can overcome a minor bump in the road and get on with all the other pros of posting online. It may also prompt us to face other minor fears, as well.

The only CON I see in facing our fears of posting online is if the things we are worried about actually manifest. If people do make fun of our work to the point of harassment or ridicule or if someone does steal our work and it becomes a legal matter. But again, these are irrational fears and it’s very rare that they would happen. 

The point of this discussion is to help encourage other artists who may have reservations about posting their work online, to join in the celebration of their creative journey and to SHARE in what the global creative community is putting out in the world at this time in life. 

There’s so much information flying around us, all the time, having a place to share our common interests, find support, and express our ideas and views is an incredible opportunity that didn’t exist just a few decades ago. To me, all the PROs I mentioned throughout this discussion, far outweigh the CONs, especially if we are smart and we take our time to understand all that goes along with being part of an online social community.

The etiquette and acceptable behavior that is required to be part of an online community is not far off from the behavior of a real-world community, but there certainly many differences worth noting. I hope this article was helpful and interesting to you. Thank you so much for coming by and taking your valuable time to check it out. As always, please let me know if you have additional thoughts to discuss or if there’s something I may have missed.

As always, best wishes on your own creative journey and I hope you’re discovering something new, no matter how simple or small, every day. Thank you again and God bless!