How to Support an Unknown Artist Without Spending Money
Unknown Artist Creating Unknown Art
The Unknown Artist
Being an unknown artist is hard. As an unknown author, sometimes publishing my books can feel like throwing them into the void. No one knows about them, no one sees them, and no one buys them even when I’m giving them away for free. Yet I do have friends. I do have an entire community of people who know me and like my work. Most artists have at least one person who would love to support their efforts.
So why are we still so unknown? For one, many of us are uncomfortable shouting our own worth from the rooftops, or forcing our work into people’s faces who we fear will feel obligated to buy. For another, not all our would-be supporters actually know how to show support. There are ways to gain support and to offer support that have nothing to do with buying an artist’s work. In fact, most ways don’t require you to spend any money at all! If you truly want to help a budding author, artist, or musician, here are four simple ways to help out without giving a cent.
Reach for the Stars!
I know; the internet can be a scary and confusing place. For many new artists, however, the internet is our playground, office, and salvation. It’s where we find our biggest audience. Unfortunately, it’s also where every other would-be artist goes. From the brilliant, to the okay, to the works that really need to be gone over another dozen times before they’re shared, we can all be found at sites like Amazon. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of us, and to get noticed by potential buyers it really helps to have a lot of good reviews. After all, how else is the potential buyer to be able to tell the difference between the brilliant and the horrible? How is any artist to pull away from the millions of other hopefuls and be noticed?
We need good reviews. If you really want to help out an artist, write a review. You can write about your own opinion or you can share someone else's, in the case that the artist's genre isn't really your personal taste.
For those who find the internet difficult, here is how to post a review online:
1. Go to a major site that includes your artist’s work. For instance, an author will probably have their work at Amazon and Goodreads. When in doubt, ask your artist. They will be happy to tell you where their art can be found. Find the page showcasing your artist’s work. There's no reason you can't post two reviews at two different sites if you want. If you don't want to do it more than once, go to the most popular site.
2. Sites like Amazon usually want you to have an Amazon account. This does not mean you have to spend money, give them credit card information, or even real personal information. You just need to come up with a name and password, and possibly give them a birthdate that shows you aren’t a child. If you already have an account, sign into it.
3. Decide your rating. Remember, 1 star is bad, 5 stars are good. Pay attention to how the rating system works at whatever site you visit. If you want to help an artist out, never give less than 3 stars. 4 or 5 stars are good. If the rating system is different than the five star method, choose whatever rating shows you like the work. It doesn't have to be the highest rating so long as it isn't low.
4. Write the review. Sites like Amazon sometimes want a minimum number of words. That means your review can’t be ‘good’ and leave it at that. Give your honest opinion. That said, if your honest opinion is that ‘it was horrible’ or ‘it’s alright but not that good’, then you might be doing more harm than good. Try listing the things you like about the artist’s work. The more honest you are in your review, the more helpful your review will be to the artist.
That said, there is such a thing as being too honest.
Do NOT say ‘I know the artist’, ‘I’m related to the artist’, ‘The artist is an awesome person and you should all love his/her work!’ Anything that implies you are not an impartial reviewer will not help the artist. You might be giving your real and true opinion of the artist’s work, but no one will believe you.
Press enter or save or whatever button is in the bottom corner of the review that allows you to post your review to the internet.
5. (optional) Go to other artists' works and review their works as well. Do NOT give all other artists poor reviews. The point of writing a lot of reviews is not to make your artist seem glowing in comparison. The point is to give yourself a reviewing history. Sites like Amazon keep track of that history and people who read your review can look to see what other products you have reviewed. If you have no history, some people will assume you are not a ‘real reviewer’.
Make Store Requests
If you are the sort of person who hates shopping online and prefers to walk into a store to find a product, you will love this tip.
If your artist sells actual books or CDs or prints, and not just online products like ebooks, then your artist’s work could be in a store. Stores could find your artist’s work and decide to order it to sell in their store. Only most stores don’t, because they’ve never heard of this artist and there are millions of other art to choose from. However, if a store discovers a demand for a certain book or CD or print, then that store is very likely to decide to stock that item.
Go to your local stores. Find the type of stores that carry the type of art your artist does. For instance, if your artist is a writer, go to all the bookstores. Ask at the help desk if they have your artist’s work. You are under no obligation to actually buy the work just because you asked after it. You don’t even have to promise to buy it or insist they order a copy for you that you have no intention of buying yourself.
Tell them that the artist is a local artist, assuming of course your artist is a local. Tell them you love the artist’s work and their store should carry it. Or even simply tell them, ‘you don’t have it? Oh well, never mind’.
If enough people are requesting an artist’s work, the store is very likely to decide to carry it. If a store knows the artist is a local, they may even have a shelf reserved in their store for locals' work. Once your artist’s work is on a shelf in a store, more potential buyers will be able to find it and your artist’s fan base will slowly but surely begin to grow.
Do note, however, that most artists make much less money from items sold in stores, as compared to items sold online. The real benefit that stores offer is publicity.
Who's Your Artist?
What type of unknown artist are you supporting?
Make Library Requests
The idea is similar to store requests. The more places that carry your artist’s work, the more people will be able to see and notice it, and the more people might eventually buy it for themselves. Most libraries carry books, music, and videos. Some even have art collections for loan. If you can get your local libraries to carry your artist’s work, you will go a long way in helping your unknown artist become known.
Many libraries have an online ‘suggestions’ area where library users can suggest future library purchases. If you can’t find it online or hate using computers, you can go directly to the librarians and make requests to them. Tell them if the artist is a local artist; libraries will be more likely to want to carry a local’s work.
Word of Mouth
Otherwise known as bragging on your artist. This doesn’t mean you have to go up to every single person you know, every stranger on the street, every person you pass in the hallway and tell them ‘go buy this artist’s work! They’re brilliant!’ But if the subject comes up, why not?
Is someone you know shopping for gifts? Tell them about the artist’s work. Are you in a book club? Tell everyone about this author you know who has written some wonderful things. Perhaps you’ll even convince them to use the artist’s work for your next club meeting! Someone asks what you've been up to? Tell them about how much you've been enjoying your artist’s latest work! You don’t have to push your opinion out there, but when asked, it doesn't hurt to answer.
If you have an online presence, you can also use that to help spread the word. Link to your artist's work in Facebook, twitter, your blog, or Google +. Post a review of the artist's work. Every positive word about your artist is like dropping a pebble into a pond. You're making waves. Eventually, you may even have to stop talking about your artist as an 'unknown artist' and start telling everyone how you knew them before they were famous!
Buying a struggling artist's work is good...but you don't have to spend money to show your support or help that artist rise to greatness. What every unknown, struggling author, musician, and artist out there really needs, and craves, is recognition. Help unveil an artist you know by spreading the word. Write dazzling reviews, both at major sites and in social media. Ask about your artist in stores and at libraries. Help your artist's work stand out from the crowd.
Being unknown is a hard fate to escape from. It's our fans that can make all the difference.
Share this if you are an unknown artist or know an unknown artist you wish to help.
© 2014 Mir Foote