I work as an art mentor to help students in a Game Design program to improve their game projects. During the process, I see a repetitive theme of "how do I brand myself as an artist while I look for jobs". I looked it up online, but there seem to be few resources available tailored towards our students' needs; so I decided to make my own version and share with you what I have learned during my own experience, as well as read and heard from other industry professionals.
- How to brand yourself?
- How to showcase your work efficiently?
- Why do people choose to adore you as an industry professional?
- How to promote your work?
How to brand yourself?
We are all familiar with the concept of a brand like Apple, Nike, and Walmart. But when it comes to personal branding, many people are not quite sure what that means. Is it a website to show your work? Do I need to hire someone to design a logo? Why is branding yourself important?
To answer those questions, we need to bring in a unit of measurement - POWER. The POWER mentioned here does not refer to dictatorship or the ability to manipulate others. Personal brand POWER is about influence and reputation.
- Being the biggest contributor in a community
- Owning many successful projects on your LinkedIn profile
- Being interviewed by magazines and PodCasts
- The number of people in your professional network recognizing your name
- The number of people who will recommend you to others
A brand projects POWER. People love to adopt brands to reflect the brands' POWER in their life, like wearing Nike or Lululemon or eating at the KEG. If you want to be seen as a leader in your field, you need to take actions, take ownership and initiative. Just BE an incredible leader.
How to showcase your work efficiently?
You need to establish an online presence for your brand and improve it over time. The cornerstone is to build a website dedicated to your personal brand. Here are some tips on how to establish a personal brand presence:
- People come to your website in order to solve a problem they have. Try not to talk too much about yourself, repositioning you as a service provider and a problem solver
- Instead of presenting yourself as a generalist who has a long list of services, present yourself as a specialist and only show a few of your expertise
- People don't like to click through a whole bunch of pages to see your work. Watch out for hiding your work in the navigation menu or being broken down into many different categories and hard to navigate through. It's good to have a single-page gallery for them to scroll through and view all the contents with ease
- People trust other people to tell your story. Testimonials speak louder than you bragging yourself
- Make sure to have an ABOUT page so people know where to go when they do want to get to know more about you. People trust people, present yourself as a real person, show some fun facts
- Your profile picture should be professional, show your eyes, show your profession (tools you use: computer, Wacom pen, VR headset)
- Write blogs to show people how you think as a professional. At least, you can share curated content that shows you are staying on top of your game
Why should people choose to adore you as an industry professional?
The answer to this question is very simple: You need to present yourself as a professional and make it easy for people to know about your work.
From an outsider's perspective, your work doesn't speak for itself to the level you think it does. You need to present it in a way which communicates well on various online platforms.
You can't expect people to visit your website as soon as you finish building it. Your website is a well-kept secret if you don't showcase it on social networks. People don't have time these days. We are constantly being fed with a stream of updates, you need to find a way to present yourself often on the social media feed so everyone can see your work often. Do your research. Find out what type of company or agency you want to work for, find out where those people are hanging out and put your work on those platforms they are visiting on a daily bases.
Be out there, show your work, make people see, make a schedule, show your content on a constant basis. It might take a while for people to notice you, but consistency always pays off in the end.
How to promote your work?
There's no right answer to this question because you need to experience it yourself and learn what works for your brand specifically. It would be very beneficial to speak to a mentor or join a mastermind group to get a lot of insight that school will not teach you.
Here's a sample structure for making a schedule for content marketing:
Say you are a modeler who specializes in creature creation. The social platforms you choose are twitter and LinkedIn. You can set up a plan to sculpt one dragon head every 2 weeks. Throughout the production, you can add 2-3 twitter posts to show your working progress. At the end of the production cycle, adding 1 post on LinkedIn to showcase the final sculpture (better to be in video format) and some WIP screen captures you have posted on twitters. In 6 months, you will accumulate 12 sculptures. You can bundle it up and have it available on SketchFeb or the Unity asset store for people to purchase. You can advertise this bundle in an additional LinkedIn post.
Rome wasn't built in one day. Be patient and keep working at it.
Content marketing is a LONG GAME. You need to plan your moves, offering people value and not expecting anything back. It will take about a year or two before seeing results. People see your efforts, they remember you because you are always out there demonstrating your craft. When the right types of projects kick-in, they will reach out and ask you for help. Don't just market yourself, be an incredible leader and help others.