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Growing Your Web Presence And How To Do It Right

17 Sep, 2008 McKell Naegle

The web has seeped into almost every aspect of our lives. I wake up in the morning and almost the first thing I do is check my email. Just like most people at Fluid, I come into work and sit in front of a computer most of the day. If I need to do some research or find inspiration for a project I almost instinctively come to the web. When I get home I try to get away from a computer for a while but that doesn’t last long. I’m feeling like a movie so I pull out my ipod and check what’s playing at the theater down the street.

It’s all connected. I use the internet because it is the fastest way to get what I need. In the time it takes me to go down to the library and research a paper on astrophysics I could have easily researched written and proofed my paper with help from my friend the internet. It is an awesomely powerful tool and a lot of businesses don’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

What is web presence? Web presence can be described as being present on the internet in multiple places to promote and strengthen your name or brand in positive way. Most of us do this in one way or another already. Very few of us however do it in a focused and well thought out way. I’m here to tell you that this is a shame because if you do it right you have an extremely powerful tool at your disposal.

What are the benefits of a strong Web Presence?
  • Make a strong first impression with potential customers
  • Web presence also leads to easier access to publications.
  • Generates a stream of hits to your website
  • Will bring in clients
  • Creates a network of contacts you could call on for various purposes
The do’s and donts to getting a strong and focused web presence

Getting web presence is actually very easy, getting a strong presence that is focused and tailored to your goals is slightly harder. While the choices and process are different every time I’m going to give some general things to consider that will ensure that the web presence you are building will be focused.

1. Determine your focus
Without focus you’re just shooting blanks hoping they’ll hit a target. As far as web presence is concerned this means you should have a good view of what it is you’re trying to sell yourself as and then start looking what the best places are to do this online. Want to get your foot in the door as a contemporary character artist? Mojizu and Behance are solid starting places. Want to get your name out there as a Flash web designer? Make it your mission to get one or two of your sites on the FWA for starters.

2. Don’t spread yourself too thin
There are tons of places and tricks online you can use to get your name out there. The problem is that once you start focusing on a few you’ll realize it cost quite a bit of time. Accounts need to be set up and kept up to date, comments need answering, networking need to be done and so on. If you don’t do the needed maintenance there really is no use to promoting yourself on a certain site at all. This means you can’t be everywhere so you need to start making choices. Ask yourself how much time you can spend and what places are most effective as a means to reaching your goals.

3. Do not expose information that might shock your target clients
We all have our “out of the ordinary” hobbies or crazy skeletons in our closets. You like listening to retro black metal music with your face painted black and white for that extra bit of credibility? If you choose to not hide that aspect of your life I applaud that, but I would advise you to think carefully about what type of information you expose about yourself in a professional environment. I’ve found strangers get judged much harsher then the people we have closer ties with. So why not wait until you’ve done the job a few months and then come clean with your colleagues if you feel this is necessary?

Lets not share this too soon eh?
Some hobbies are best kept under wraps…

4. Clean your port up
I often see a lot of portfolio’s that have work that’s three or more years old. That’s great if you had it going on then and haven’t improved much, but most of the time your old work will start to dull compared to your newer pieces and your focus might also have changed. It’s imperative you give your portfolio a harsh look every now and then and leave only your best pieces. Most professionals agree that it’s better to have a small but strong port then a large mixed quality one.

5. Be consistent with how you present yourself
Whether you work under your own name or not doesn’t matter because when you’re building web presence you are the brand. And we all know a brand has to be protected and should be instantly recognizable. This means that if you represent yourself as “The ultimate Design lord” on one site you can’t be “John Jackson” on another, you have to pick one and stick with it. The same goes for style attributes you use. Don’t use bright colors in your portfolio design and then go all black and grey on your Behance, you’d be wasting your recognizability. Aim to be as consistent as is possible.

6. Try to get exposure through blogs
If printed magazines are still a bit out of your league chances are you could be very successful getting exposure on blogs. Getting exposure through blogs usually leads to some good traffic hitting up your site. One good strategy is to hit up multiple blogs every time you have an important update or launch a new project. You can also barter a bit with bloggers to ensure that stuff you think is important get mentioned in the post.

Note: When contacting bloggers make sure to go with blogs that are alive. It doesn’t have to be Smashing magazine but you really want some good exposure, so have a look at the amount of comments or ask the owner what the average daily user count is. I personally wouldn’t go with a blog that has less than 1500 visitors a day if it’s a lot of effort on your part (tutorials take time for example, a showcase on the other hand is as easy as sending some images over).

7. Get a tutorial published
Creating a good tutorial costs a bit of time but can have some great benefits. The first benefit is that you set yourself up as a specialist in your craft which is obviously never bad. Second is the fact that depending on where you get it published you’ll get a nice flow of traffic to your site and you might even get payed.

My personal advice would be to get your tutorial published on medium/large blogs or dedicated tutorial sites. For the blogs try Abduzeedo or Smashing Magazine (if that doesn’t work out try Designfeedr;). As far as dedicated tutorial sites go I’d advise you to look into the TUTS network which features sites like Psdtuts first since they get great traffic and pay your for your effort.

Psdtuts is your best bet if you’re serious about writing tutorials.

8. Collaborate with artists who also actively work on their web presence
Working with other artists has multiple benefits. First of you’re doing some strong networking for yourself. Second you’re investing time in a project that you know will be exposed from both sides. If both you and your partner are actively trying to make a name for yourselves this will lead to benefits for the both of you. A win win situation occurs, and that’s not even mentioning the great work you and your partner might end up with.

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