Whether you are just starting out in your creative field or an experienced artisan, you may rely on a social media platform (Facebook or others) to showcase your brand, your experience, your abilities. You may host content elsewhere, but Facebook could be the primary method you use to communicate with your audience, where they can follow what you are doing, where they can learn more about you.
Facebook is great for this. In fact, any social media platform can be used to grow relationships with those you hope to work with as well as those who like your work (when used correctly of course!) But if you rely too heavily on something like Facebook to showcase your journey, or social media in general, you could be missing out on a great opportunity. I’m talking about a dedicated web page. A place to show your work, a place to show more about yourself, and a place to provide some kind of value to others to begin growing a following (more on why this is important later).
Today I’m going to run through why you, the creative, needs more than a Facebook page/Instagram account/twitter handle, to grow and promote your brand, regardless of the field you work in and the positions you are after.
Before I go on to the awesome benefits of having your own web page and presence, consider why Facebook might not be the best place to store everything. Facebook operates on a time based news feed. Any photos that you might want people to see are going to get lost further down your feed the more content you post on your page. People then have to go through further steps to see those photos (clicking on photos, then albums etc) which often stops them from actually progressing through any portfolio you might be showing there.
The biggest reason that Facebook can work against you if used solely, is that you are competing for eyes on your page with other businesses, brands and the friends of those who ‘like’ your page. How quickly will that awesome project you were a part of last week get lost in the myriad of other posts?…
The same is true for most other social media platforms, but don’t stop using these pages! They are still incredibly important, which will make sense shortly.
Your web page on the other hand shows just one thing. YOU! You’re not competing for attention, you’re not relying on anyone else’s platform, and with the right design and approach, can funnel all of your current and new audience through social media to your web page.
So let’s look at what your web page should be made of.
The Key Elements Of An Effective Webpage
1. Insight into you, the creative. (AKA Blogging)
The saying ‘it’s not what you can do, but who you know’ is still alive and well, especially when it comes to any technical based creative role. Jobs are often won or lost based on your reputation through someone you’ve worked with previously. With the advent of Google, people can get to know you instantly whether they’ve met you in person or not.
So when people go to Google to search for you and learn about your reputation in your field, what do you want the result to say?
This is where having your own web page is essential. Imagine someone searching for you, coming across your web page where you are sharing info about the work you’ve completed, the challenges you’ve overcome, the passion that you have for your work, the problems that you are yet to solve.
Compare this approach to the one that most creatives and agencies have. They let their work ‘do the talking’, and don’t even put a human face to the name.
By blogging, and blogging regularly, you give the visitor to your website a clear indication on just who ‘Sarah Smith – Production Designer’ is. I would argue that this is actually more important than showcasing what you can do. Which is why this is number 1.
Don’t be afraid to also put yourself in front of the camera, and get plenty of photos and/or video of yourself on your web page as it’s a great way for people to begin to build a relationship and familiarity with you before they ever meet you.
2. Your Portfolio
Most creatives I know who do have a web page make this their first priority. Of course, you need to showcase what it is you can do, and a web page is a great place to once again centralise this content. You should organise your portfolio as simply as possible. Don’t have a million categories or albums for people to trudge through. You’ll most likely have any eyes on your page for a few minutes (if they are actually spending more that just a few seconds), so think about what you would want to see from a visitors perspective.
Building on the first point though, here is a great opportunity to tell a story about a specific project and let the browser know not just the role you had, but about the specifics related to your contribution. How did you approach the challenge? What was a different perspective you were able to add to the role? These are elements that go great in a blog post and compliment the project that you are showcasing.
3. Providing Expertise
This is without a doubt one of the biggest ways to grow a reputation as not just an expert in your chosen field, but someone who is kind, willing to share, confident about their abilities, and transparent about what they do and how they do it. Who wouldn’t want to work with someone like that?!
Somewhere on your website, you should be offering some kind of ‘value’ related content. Something that is informed by your experiences, is written or made by you. It could be your ‘Top 5 ways to make fake blood’, ‘Tips in directing child actors’, or something even as obscure as ‘tools you need for recreating Michelangelo’s David with balsa wood’.
Whatever it is, it should be concise, and offered to readers FOR FREE. Most creatives I know are against this. We already work hard enough for free, why should I give something I wrote away? Because it is the best way to solidify a new relationship with someone. Someone who may have never heard of you before, but all of a sudden is so impressed by the information that you freely shared that when they talk about a project with their friends in the pub the following week, who’s name might come up to fill the position you are after?…
The value piece you provide can be in any shape or form. Posters, handbooks, PDF download, videos, info-graphics or presentations, the list goes on. Just start with something, and ask yourself if your peers or contemporaries are doing this. The answer is probably no, which is a shame as it is such a powerful approach to growing your brand, so be the one that stands out with this. And yes, you may be wondering where mine is, so watch this space very soon!
With these three elements (Blogging + Portfolio + Value Piece), you create a website that is well rounded at showcasing both what it is that you can do, AND who you are. You provide the visitor to your website a clear path on where to go, and it will be harder for them to be distracted by that silly auto play video on Facebook.
That leads me back to Facebook. So what should you use it (and social media in general) for? Your social media page should be used for people who want a bite size look into what you do, which is why you also need to maintain its focus. Post pictures, videos, status updates etc. but guess what you can do once you begin writing blog posts? You can share them on Facebook, and lead your audience to your web site, build a dedicated following on which to showcase your work and get more eyes on what you can do.
Funnel people from Facebook to your site as well as give them unique content that they only get if they like your page there. Interact with your audience on Facebook, and tag those who you want to interact with. Not only will you get more views and likes to your page, but people will also feel you are more ‘legit’ if you have a website that they can click to from your page.
So get the foundations of your website in place first and you will see just how powerful a platform like Facebook can be. Now before you start thinking, “I don’t know how to make a website, nor can I afford one”, there are a huge amount of tools out there for free or very low cost. The first, second or third iteration of your website won’t be the best you know it can be (look at this website for instance), but get something together, and continually build on it! – Nick