By Ellen 'the Alaskan' Million.
Everyone wants comments, right? We want to know that our art (or writing) is being seen and appreciated. In most cases, we want to improve, and would like hints on how to do so. But Elfwood has thousands and thousands of artists, and there are wrong and right ways to get your gallery noticed. And once an audience finds your gallery? There are certain tips to tempt them to leave their tidbits of knowledge.
Plugging is the term used for actively advertising your gallery (or library shelf). This can be in live chats, or on message boards, via email, or even in person. Plugging in the wrong situation or in the wrong way can be spam*, or just plain irritating, but there are several ways to do it appropriately, and it can be quite effective.
An incorrectly placed plug can actually be detrimental to getting comments, as you can be black-listed as being a spammer**, and people will go out of their way to avoid your gallery if they associate you with poorly placed plugging. Don't put your plug in the wrong forum of a message board. Usually there is one thread where it is appropriate to plug. Look for give-away forum names, like 'Plug Here' or 'Advertisements.' (And as always, read any rules that they might have.) Likewise, don't put plugs out on mailing lists where they are not welcome, or plaster your gallery advertising on a chat list without understanding the format.
You have to leave your gallery address. Saying 'Go see my art!' does nobody any good if they don't know where to go to see your art. Be sure to put the full address in your plug, very few people are going to take the time to browse to gallery 63, but they may follow a link if it's right in front of them. Note: there is a new format for your gallery address: http://www.elfwood.com/~username.
In addition to leaving your gallery address and saying 'Go see...,' it is a good idea to give an idea of what kind of art and subject matter you have. If you specialize in anime, say so; you'll attract anime fans.
Never use html to display your picture as hosted on Elfwood at a message board; that steals bandwidth from Elfwood and clogs their (already loaded) servers. If it's a situation that requires a picture, host it yourself, or look for a free server that will allow picture links (these are getting rare... tripod, angelfire and geocities do not allow picture only links). A text link to your Elfwood page is almost always the best method.
Do your reading. Most forums, lists and chat channels have rules that will clearly spell out certain does and don'ts. Also, read other plugs. See which galleries you feel like visiting, and ask yourself why. See which plugs are met with a negative reaction (ie: 'this doesn't belong here!'), or a positive reaction. If there are no other plugs on the message board, there may be a reason, so limit yourself to places that specifically advocate them or already have them.
Places to Plug
Forums/Message Boards. There are several art boards specifically for discussion and sharing of art. It is important that you read the rules of these boards and make sure that you put your plugs in the correct places (forums and sub-categories) and formats (subject line, whether or not to post pictures directly). There are several boards hosted by EZboard that specialize in fantasy and science fiction. The Elfwood hosted message boards were shut down due to user abuse and disrespect.
Chats. #Lothlorien and #Wyverns_Library are both official Elfwood chats. However, that does not mean you should show up and plaster your URL all over the place. It is a good idea to come in, chat, get to know the people, follow the rules, and *if* it comes up in the conversation, mention that you've got new art and would like input on it. A single picture is more likely to get comments than a full gallery. Do not leave immediately after plugging, or plug in your 'quit message'; usually it takes a moment for people to glance at your work, and then they will often wish to discuss it publicly. If this isn't what you are looking for, a chat channel isn't the best place to plug. The single most important things to know about both of these channels are the rules. Read them, know them, live them. For more information on these chat channels, follow the 'Chat With Us' link on the main Elfwood page.
Email Lists. There are four Elfwood email lists endorsed by Elfwood. (There are several offshoots as well, for regional or subgroups) Woodchat, hosted by Yahoo, is the all-topic email list of Elfwood. This list does not have a set topic, or topics, and nearly anything can be discussed here. Plugs are fairly par for the course, just be sure that the subject of the email is appropriate to the subject. FARP, also hosted by yahoogroups, is the 'on-topic' list, specifically for art questions and advice on technique. General plugs are not likely to be as well received as specific questions. For more information on these email lists, click 'Mailing lists' on the main Elfwood page, or go to 'Tools' in your extranet account and click on 'Mail.'
Livejournal. Livejournal is set up as a journal, not as a discussion board, but it does allow you to comment on previous entries. Elfwood has five pages at Livejournal, each for a specific purpose. Elfwoodplugs is, as it sounds, is the place for plugs (the ONLY place for plug). Elfwoodrant is the home for your complaints or angst. Elfwoodprojects is the home of all the contests and common projects. Elfwood is a place for fantasy art/writing and creative process thoughts. Wyverns_Library is specifically for members of the library. For more information and links to these specific Livejournal pages, see the rules.
Use these places judiciously. Many Elfwood members are active in more than one of these communities, and if you post the exact same text in all of these, you will be labeled as a spammer**. Tailor your plug to each location, and be sure you understand the rules and common courtesy associated with each.
Plugging without Plugging
Sometimes the best method is not to plug. Simply add a signature to your email or message board post that has a note about your Elfwood gallery. Then become involved in discussions. Be active, without being obnoxious, and chances are good that people will follow the links in your signature. The more active you are in these discussions, the better the chances that people will see your gallery. People are also more willing to go critique art for someone that they know a little, and once you are active in discussions, you will become a known quantity.
Update frequently! Not only does your new work show up on the 'New Additions' page regularly, but people are also more likely to remember your gallery, and visit more often, if you change your gallery frequently. Many comments come from repeat visitors, and they aren't like to continue coming back if the gallery never changes. Similarly, if a random visitor gets the feeling you haven't updated in some time (for example if your bio still says 'Merry Christmas' in July), they may get the feeling that you don't pay attention to your comments, either. In which case, they will almost certainly feel like they shouldn't bother to leave their own.
Commenting begets commenting. When you comment in other people's galleries, you can login with your Elfwood username, and leave behind a trail of links. In many cases, the person you commented on will return the favor. Some people also browse through galleries by following links associated with comments that they feel are particularly meaningful. The more thoughtful comments you make, the more likely that people will come and comment on your work.
So they finally found your gallery. Now what? You have lots of hits and *still* no comments.
Mention what you're looking for. If you are looking for advice, say so. If you only want unmitigated praise, you'd better tell people that, because most people will assume you are trying to improve, and offer their suggestions along with any praise they may have. You can mention 'be gentle' to indicate that you're not looking for an in depth critique, or 'be harsh' if you'd like to get lots of picky criticism. If you need ideas on where to go, or titles, or certain elements, ask specifically. It's always a good idea to avoid being too self-depreciating. Saying, 'I suck' accomplishes nothing. Saying, 'I'm working hard to improve' will almost certainly get you better results.
Once you've gotten comments, follow up on them. People like to be appreciated, and if you take their advice, or at least thank them for it, they are likely to come back and offer more. Comment in return: either at their gallery, by editing their comment with your reply, or both. If you post revised work that has taken into account the suggestions you've received, and mention that in the description, people will be more eager to offer their own suggestions.
One of the joys of Elfwood is their easy-to-use comment feature, which allows visitors to express their enjoyment, ideas and opinions. Many artists and writers find that the interaction between the viewer and the creator inspires more work, greater creativity and hones skills. In many ways, if you are an active Elfwood member, you are a member of a school of creative thought that stretches over the entire globe and encompasses thousands of talented amateurs and seasoned professionals, and the entire spectrum between.
*Spam in this context is not pressed meat in a can, but rather is unsolicited or inappropriate messages (email, chat messages, message board forums, etc.) that can irritate, annoy and offend the recipients. Spam is like the junk mail of the Internet age. Spam can also be a verb, the action of sending or posting spam.
**Spammer: One who spams. See above
Discuss this article at the Woodworks Forum or leave your comment below.
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|21 Apr 2008|| Zoe blackswan Hills|
this is a really good article Ellen "the Alaskan" Million. Thanks!
|25 Mar 2009|| Anon.|
Hey Thanks! I hope this comment is what you were looking for! JK. This actually helped a lot, I will take all of this into consideration (especially the not saying "I suck" part)
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