5 Tips for Getting Featured on Top Design Blogs

By / May 3, 2012 / Tips
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No matter what sort of art you create – whether you are a graphic designer, painter, illustrator, digital artist, videographer, or any other type of artist – being featured on the web’s top art and design blogs can result in a huge surge of active followers, interested fans, and of course – paying customers. For artists, just like anyone else, a good amount of our time is spent trying to wring a living out of our craft and free publicity never hurt anyone in that respect. In fact, I know for certain that there have been some artists who were featured on sites I’ve written for that successfully launched (or in some cases relaunched) businesses that where all of a sudden profitable because they received so much attention they were able to convert some of those new eyeballs into customers.

If you read a lot of art blogs you’ve probably seen this scenario unfold: One art blog introduces a new artist and all of a sudden over the next week, month, or even year various posts about that artist’s work begin popping up everywhere. And because that first post set off a chain reaction in which every major art blog featured that artist, they are also featured on every middling to small art blog as well. This does not just happen every once in a while – it happens ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, it has to happen. It’s the nature of being a huge source for art/design trends. If another huge source posts something new and exciting all the others have to post about it too or risk being seen as irrelevant and out of the loop.

Maybe this results in boring some readers who check a lot of blogs, but if you are that artist being featured it’s an enormous break. One day you’re toiling away in obscurity and a blog post later millions of people are looking at your work! But how do you get yourself featured? Well, the bad news is that nothing is certain. The first and hardest thing you must do is create work worth sharing. That means you actually have to have produced something special. If not, then this post won’t help you one bit because a blogger at any one of those big blogs will look at your work and move on to something else in about 10 seconds flat. If not faster. But if you have honed your craft, produced a body of quality work, and have a mind to get your work “out there” then the following five tips will help.

1. Get Your Work Online

This is so obvious you’re probably wondering why I even put it on the list, let alone as my number one. Two reasons: (1) It’s nearly impossible to get featured without a gallery of your work online; and (2) I am constantly running into talented artists that I would love to feature but can’t because they don’t have their work up anywhere. So for some reason that is beyond me, this needs to be said. Post your work online.

I’m a big believer that every artist should have a blog, but if I’m honest I have to admit that it’s not absolutely necessary. For some of you the idea of burdening yourself with a blog you have to update on a regular basis sounds about as fun as smashing your head against a wall. I get that, and it’s no big deal. But one of the big benefits to having a blog is that it functions as an online hub. One place where people can go to get updates and find out where else to follow you online such as facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc. It’s also a good place to host a shop, publish announcements for your next gallery show, product release, or anything else along those lines. But I’m getting off point. The point is, you need a place where someone like me can easily snag your work and create a post about it and you.

Any of the following platforms will work:

Obviously, there are more options out there but these will do for our purposes today. Pick the platform that best fits you and your medium and start publishing your work! It is the first and most important step.

2. Do Personal Projects

Personal projects are great for a number of reasons. They keep you sharp, show your passion for your craft, and allow you room to experiment in ways that you may not be able to on a client project. Here are a few examples of people who started personal projects and wound up creating a name for themselves in the art/design world.

Abduzeedo.com – Fabio Sasso created Abduzeedo in 2006 as a personal blog where he could post the things he was learning as a graphic designer in the form of free tutorials and resources. His blog is now one of the largest art/design blogs in the world. Additionally, in large part due to the attention his blog drew to his work (which is amazing) he is now the senior designer at Google. I’m sure you will agree, that is no small feat.

LostType.com – Riley Cran and Tyler Gaplin began Lost Type as a way to distribute a single typeface they had created. Over time the site has turned into one of the most unique and useful type foundries online. Especially for cash-strapped designers in need of great fonts and typefaces. They are a fantastic example of two guys turning a passion project into a business – and a lot of attention from the design community.

BeautifulSwearWords.com – Theo Olsen – who’s not even 21 until 2014! – began a fun little project on tumblr in which he creates hand drawn versions of swear words. Simple, fun, funny, and man has it got a lot of attention. He’s been featured all over the place for this project, not to mention making the jump to television thanks to a quick feature on Adult Swim.

There are a TON of other great examples like these but you get the idea.

3. Participate In Others’ Projects

Participating in ongoing projects initiated by others can be nearly as beneficial as starting one yourself. It’s basically the same as being featured on a popular blog in and of itself. Here are a few cool projects on my radar that I’ve seen get picked up and distributed in the art/design blogosphere.

Most popular blogs are always having competitions and giveaways so take advantage of that. Especially considering that if it’s a blog you would like your work featured on in the future, turning in a noteworthy entry to a competition they took the trouble to organize will put you on their good side and force them to look at your work. Participate as much as you can and if your work is good, people (especially bloggers looking for their next post) will notice.

4. Email Bloggers

Here is the easiest way to get your work noticed by a blogger. Send them an email like the one below.

Subject Line: [Interesting New Project Name]

Body: Hey Nathan,

I just wanted to drop you a link to my new art project.

[link]

Hope you enjoy!

[Name]
[Portfolio/Blog Link]

BOOM. Done. That is all you need. In fact, if you bury your link under an avalanche of words (even if it’s a really awesome explanation of your project) the email will probably go unread and the link un-clicked. The same idea can be executed in blog comments, facebook, twitter, or any other medium for contact.

5. Avoid A Flash Portfolio At All Costs

Piggy-backing off of number four, if I receive an email from someone who would like me to check out their online portfolio and I click on their link only to find that their portfolio is made in flash I will almost always close the window and move on to the next email.

Here’s why: Images in flash do not allow for right-click save nor are you able to drag and drop them into a folder. It’s a given that for just about every blog post an artist’s images will have to be resized, but add to that process a lengthy screen capture session and your portfolio is likely to get passed up. And if you have some sort of animation that cannot be paused the screen capture process just got five times longer because the screen captures have to be in time with the animation. Most bloggers, myself included, will not take the time to take that many screen captures when there are tons of other great resources available where that is not necessary.

That’s not to say it never happens. I’ve definitely gone to the trouble of doing this before for someone who’s work I thought was too good to pass up. I’ve also passed on a bunch of people I thought were worthy of being featured because I had a lot of deadlines that day and couldn’t spare the extra time. So why take the chance that when someone discovers your work and wants to put it in front of millions of people they decide not to because of a dumb flash animation?

Final Thought

As I mentioned above, nothing is certain. These are not “five steps to automatically getting your work on top art/design blogs” but in my experience these tips range from absolutely necessary to at least a solid step in the right direction. If you have any tips/tricks of your own that you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Or if you think I’m full of it, I’ll be happy to discuss your objections as well :)

About the Author

Hi my name is Nathan Weller. I'm an avid blogger and the Founder & CEO of Black Cat Digital Publishing LLC. I have a fierce passion for content creation of all mediums and across multiple platforms from the big screen all the way down to your cell phone. If you're passionate about art or an artist yourself, I'd love to connect and learn about what you do :)

34 Comments

  1. Kowo
    May 3, 2012

    Awesome !

    Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  2. Design Turnpike
    May 3, 2012

    Great post, Nathan. I’ve incorporated 1 and 2 already… But 3, 4, and 5 need some work! I create handmade original art and maps out of vintage license plates. Maybe that is worthy of a blog feature by someone? :)

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 3, 2012

      Wow, yes, please do numbers 3-5 because your work is awesome :)

      Reply
    • Marcus Pape
      May 4, 2012

      DT- I agree with Nathan. Your work is pretty awesome! One thing to note, in line with tip #5, you might want to replace the Flash based image slider on your homepage with a jquery option.

      As a former Flash designer/developer I still see the value in Flash (depending on the project) but for portfolio purposes there are so many better jquery slideshow options out there.

      Here are some good resources:
      http://webdesignledger.com/freebies/10-useful-jquery-plugins-for-images
      http://webdesignledger.com/resources/8-responsive-jquery-slider-plugins
      http://designmodo.com/jquery-slider-scripts-tutorials/
      http://speckyboy.com/2011/07/15/15-jquery-space-saving-content-sliders-and-carousels/

      Reply
      • Design Turnpike
        May 8, 2012

        Thank you Nathan and Marcus. I need to brush up on my jquery skills. So much time invested in Flash :)

        Reply
  3. ghaith ghantous
    May 3, 2012

    Hey Nathan,
    I would like your feedback on my online content. It’s on my website, architizer, and FB, but not generating a lot of interest.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Ghaith

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 3, 2012

      Gaith, I clicked on your name and it took me to a website that failed to load :( I’ll be happy to check out your work if you reply with another link :)

      Reply
  4. Andres Alfonso
    May 3, 2012

    All make sense, but I think the only effective one is #4, all of the others would depend on the blogger, if they frequent certain sites and where they get their resources from., by the way how do you find content?

    I think #5 is a bit harsh, while I don’t use Flash for my sites, there are tons of “Best Flash Sites” reviews going on major design blogs, again it would really depend on the person who’s retrieving the content, personal taste, market and also what someone might like others might hate and vice versa.

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 3, 2012

      Andres,

      I agree with you that #4 is the most direct and effective way to get a blogger’s interest. However, if you do not do #1 and #2 or #3 – what link are you going to send? Sure, maybe you just send some images of your work…but again I see that as potentially detrimental. Even if a large blog features you using those images, it’s possible others will pass because the only way to feature you is to source all of their images and information directly from a competitor. Some blogs are very strict about not doing that and it could cost you millions of views AFTER you already made it. Seems like a pointless risk to take when putting a gallery up on any one of the platforms mentioned under #1 is free and extremely easy.

      As far as my own search for content goes I use google reader to follow around 60 art/design blogs that I check daily. On tumblr I use my dashboard to keep loose tabs on another 650 art related blogs. Additionally, I regularly check submission based project sites such as the ones I mentioned in the post and websites like ffffound and designspiration too.

      With that in mind I think you can see why I don’t believe #5 to be harsh at all. I’m not trying to be mean to anyone when I close their window and move on to the next one. Bloggers are busy just the same as the next freelancer. We have to determine whether the extra time spent on a single post is really worth it. Often times it is not. Not because someone who puts their portfolio in flash does rubbish work but because our livelihood depends on balancing quality with quantity. The reality of the situation is that there is almost always other work available to feature of an equal quality that does not require the extra time. What would you do?

      Reply
      • Andres Alfonso
        May 4, 2012

        I would do exactly what you said, but like I mentioned before it depends on what the blogger is looking for, another blogger that’s looking for Flash related content he/she would close all non-flash sites.

        I personally follow all of them (mostly 1,2,3 and 5), but with so many good content out there is easy to get lost in the crowd.

        Finally I would love if could take a look at my work, I do web, identity and print design as well as illustration and I also run a skateblog where I featured anything skateboard related.

        http://www.afar25.com
        http://www.blog.afar25.com
        http://www.skate.afar25.com

        Reply
  5. Juri Handl
    May 3, 2012

    Hey Nathan.

    Thanks for the great post but I have one question. Everyone speaks about projects. Project here, project there, project everywhere. The confusing thing to me is how to define a project.

    I mean, I have learned how to do projects. If I have to create a website and a corporate identity, this is a project. If I code a new application, this is a project.

    Is it also a project if you just do some photography and screen design?
    How can people like me publish projects if we don’t have any great projects. Just the small ones. A single photo shooting for example.

    I don’t know if you know what I mean.
    Basically, is it ok to send someone a link to your latest photo shooting saying: “Hey, this is my latest project! Check it! :)”?

    I’m looking forward to your reply.

    Juri

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 3, 2012

      Juri,

      Thanks for the question and I totally understand where you are coming from. Yeah, it is definitely ok to send a link to your latest photo shoot and say “Hey, check this out.” But I think a change in phrasing may help here. Instead of the word “project” think “theme”.

      What subject line would better captures your attention?

      “20 random typography pieces I did over the course of this school year”

      Or

      “5 fresh typography posters of famous quotes”

      Even though the second represents fewer pieces of work, I would rather check that one out. It’s got a theme or common thread that ties each piece together and I immediately get a sense of what I’m in store for when I click through to the link. The first one doesn’t really hint at anything or offer a lure. Does that make sense?

      You can see what I mean by the projects listed in the post. They each suggest at an easily understandable theme that the viewer can understand and get excited about before they even see a piece of the work.

      Reply
  6. Mike DeLeon
    May 3, 2012

    I’m currently in the process of getting my online portfolio site online. This had some helpful pointers, thanks!

    Reply
  7. Scotty
    May 3, 2012

    G’day Nathan
    Great post, I’m starting the process of getting my work onto blogs now. Good timing :)

    Check out my eco surf art http://www.scottdenholm.com/gallery/paintings.html

    Cheers
    Scotty

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 4, 2012

      Thanks for dropping the link Scott I’ll check that out now :)

      Reply
  8. AKZMe Designs
    May 3, 2012

    This is a great article, I’m trying to expand my marketing reach and these ideas will really help.

    I’ve been featured as a guest blogger on a successful blog, but still have not gotten my sites featured on a site (which is one of my goals)

    Reply
  9. Moncton Web Design
    May 4, 2012

    Hey Nathan,

    Thanks for the great post, very interesting. Very helpful pointers also since I’ve been working on setting up my online portfolio.

    Reply
  10. Robooneus
    May 4, 2012

    Good advice. I am planning on working one 1 and 2 and whole-heartedly agree with 5. As for 4, I will start now!

    Would appreciate you taking a look at my own siteā€”am upgrading the code, but excited about the design: robsawyer.me

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 4, 2012

      Rob,

      Awesome portfolio site design, really cool. I’ve bookmarked it!

      Best,

      Nathan

      Reply
  11. Navigator Multimedia
    May 4, 2012

    BOOM. Great tips. And Mr. Weller, I must compliment you on writing style and voice here. The article reads like a friendly conversation between pals who happen to also be designers. Could we say that honing a sincere, positive voice to communicate with across industry platforms also helps in spreading awareness of your talent and boosting your chances of getting noticed? I’d like to think so.
    Great work,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

    Reply
  12. MJ
    May 6, 2012

    Hi Nathan,

    interesting stuff you wrote. Will make some direct approaches to bloggers out there. If you can spare some time maybe you can check out my work at http://www.major-jom.be . Still have some work ahead buts it’s a start…
    Cheers MJ

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 6, 2012

      Thanks for the link MJ, consider it checked ;)

      Reply
  13. AR
    May 7, 2012

    Nathan,

    Great article. I’ll jump on the bandwagon and ask you to check out my portfolio, particularly the photography section: http://www.pixel-mesh.com.

    Thanks,

    A

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 7, 2012

      Done :)

      Reply
  14. Sharmistha
    May 7, 2012

    Great post, Nathan! I’d like to reblog it on our company blog but I don’t see the option here. Is it something you’re not in favour of?

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 7, 2012

      Reblogging is actually a feature on tumblr blogs, not wordpress blogs like this one. However, if you want to “reblog” in a more traditional way you can simply quote the parts that you like the best and site this article in your post :)

      Reply
  15. Shweta
    May 7, 2012

    Hi Nathan,

    I will love to start a blog. Herein lies the problem – I’m not sure what to write besides my artwork related info. I believe you need to update your blog everyday rather than once in ten days (time I take to complete a single artwork)
    I’ll appreciate any feedback on my work. Here is the link –
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/59710888@N07/

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 7, 2012

      Shweta,

      I wouldn’t get so caught up in posting something new every single day. Or rather, I wouldn’t get caught up in posting new work every single day. Never-the-less it is possible to create content on a daily or weekly basis that is engaging and keeps your audience interested. If you are not posting your work, why not talk about your influences and the things that inspire you on the other days?

      Reply
  16. Charlie Ranger
    May 8, 2012

    Hi there,

    My website is in flash. I am working on changing and coding in HTML in stead. I know you don’t really like flash websites, but i really hope you could check mine out anyways? And tell me how you fell, besides it being in flash.

    Thank you and rock on!!
    Charlie Ranger (www. Csdesigns.dk)

    Reply
    • Nathan Weller
      May 10, 2012

      Hey Charlie,

      Just checked out your site and work. Cool stuff! And just to be clear, I don’t hate flash, it’s just not optimized for sharing your work – which is the point of this post. I think there are plenty of awesome flash websites out there and I enjoy the things that can be done with it. However, for artists who would like to get their work featured it is a roadblock they often don’t even know exists and so I thought it important to bring up.

      Best,

      Nathan

      Reply
  17. Kelvin Gani
    May 10, 2012

    Nathan,

    This is what I’ve been looking for. Thank you for posting it.

    I’ve been developing a platform for designers, photographers, and even writer to showcase their work in a simple and professional way.

    Check out my portfolio at http://portfolio.civimi.com/kelvingani.cvm

    I feel so grateful to have run into this post.

    Best,

    Kelvin Gani

    Reply
  18. Ryan
    May 14, 2012

    I am a bit late responding to this but it is amazing how simple you make it sound. Its hard to believe that is all it takes to get some chatter on the web about you.

    I agree with all points you make. You have to be online to sell online, you have to make things for yourself so you can learn and you have to make things for others for the same reason.

    4 is easier said than done…. All I can say there….

    And dont use Flash, I used to LOVE AS3 Development. Sadly, your right, its not supported by everything and some things that do support it dont really render and handle it correctly.

    With all that said great post! Also below are 2 links to things

    My Site: http://www.creativewildcat.com
    My Multi-Content jQuery Slider for free download (my site uses it on Homepage and the Photography page): modules.creativewildcat.com

    Would be great to get feedback on those

    Thanks again

    Reply
  19. Adam Maynard
    May 22, 2012

    Awesome article Nathan!

    Would you recommend any changes in the approach for apps / start-ups?

    I guess the big app challenge is that it’s more about the functionality & benefits, so Blog folks prob need to give it a whirl, and invest more time yeah?

    Would love your thoughts for apps,
    about to give your email approach a spin: )

    Reply
  20. John Tanedo
    June 14, 2013

    Great Article Nathan! You are spot dead on! The 1st one is definitely a necessity. On my blog I feature Artists and Designers of all kinds, from Web and Graphic, Photographers, Painters and even Tattoo Artists but some people that I plan to feature or interview for a post on my blog have no portfolio site but they do have Facebook fan pages so I just link to it.

    I guess the biggest problem for them is Time and others would be knowledge. Most Passionate Artists and Designers are too busy with their artworks that they barely have time to upload or let along set up a blog. So this is where we should inform them that they can hire web designers like me to do the job of setting up their portfolio website for them.

    I have had a tattoo artist friend who I set up a website for tattoo work on me :) Great deal!

    Reply

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