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How to switch art sites without losing customers

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

As someone who has been in a community of artists, I hear a common conundrum arise:

I really want to leave this art site, but it’s too popular and leaving would mean losing out on a valuable resource to gain/keep customers.

This article presents ways you can use your control over your own works to influence your customers to view them where you wish them to, while also maintaining a presence so that others may find you.

This is written as a neutral piece and the methods can be used on any free art posting site. To that end, we'll call the site you wish to vacate “BadVibeArt”, and the place you want to go “NewBeginningDoodles”. Both are general-use sites for stories and art alike, comparable to sites such as deviantART, Fur Affinity, Inkbunny, SoFurry or Weasyl.

Step 1: Announcing your intention

The title of this step is misleading, as you should not announce your intention to your customers or followers; they’ll feel as if you’re abandoning “them”, instead of the site they choose to use. Animals aren’t the only things people will personify; when they become a part of a community, they feel the need to defend what they do or the tools they use as if it is a part of their identity: PC vs Mac, Coke vs Pepsi, etc.

As will be explained later, you are not exactly leaving the site entirely, so it is unnecessary to tell your customers what you are doing. It attracts less attention to yourself and keeps it on your art, where it is best.

Step 2: Backup all your works

If you don’t already, download all the items you uploaded onto your computer. Then put copies in a cloud or storage device. The more copies you have (in more diverse locations) the better, as nothing lasts forever. If you only have your art on BadVibeArt and it goes down, you may lose it for good. Be safe, be smart, have a plan B.

Step 3: Upload all your works onto the new site

If you intend on making a new home for your works, then you should upload all your works there – or as many as practical, given the site's rules. You can do this all at once, or trickle them on. The latter is useful for attracting new customers, as it keeps you fresh in people’s minds, as opposed to seeing a ton of your work followed by a long hiatus. Take advantage of a new site by regularly updating with older works instead of doing it in one slam; it gives you time to make new things without the pressure of having nothing to upload.

Step 4: Using the old site to promote your works

A common misconception on the web is that the best way to hurt a site is to not use it. The fact of the matter is that art sites don’t care if you leave or not if they've got a large userbase. What they fear is that if enough people leave (or start using other sites concurrently), it makes them less relevant. This would leave them in a situation where people are more apt to leave in larger numbers.

The most obvious action – taking all the art down and leaving one link on your profile to your stuff on the new site – is not the optimal solution to your desire to get people to move with you. What happens is that some of your more devout followers will move with you, but if anyone new on BadVibeArt happens to cross your profile and see your “leaving” journal, there will be no art on there to convince them to follow you.

Instead, alter your uploads so that your customers see what you’re capable of, but not the full work. For instance, if it is a work with two characters, just post part of one character and then in the description link to the full piece on your new site. If your work is adult in nature, put censor bars over the fun parts on the bad site while leaving them in full view on the good one – of course, assuming both accept adult works. This works for writers, too; you can upload a single part of a multi-part story to the bad site and point to the good site for the remainder.

What this does is leave you as an “active member” of BadVibesArt while influencing customers to visit NewBeginningsDoodle on a regular basis. With every upload, your followers on the one site will be going over to the other site and eventually they’ll ask themselves: Why not just make an account over there? You maintain your old customer base, and retain the ability to gather new customers there, while at the same time allowing the new site to gain more users and make it attractive to other artists who may also follow your lead.

Eventually if this method reaches an apex; BadVibesArt gradually loses influence until it has been successfully replaced. You’re no longer as dependant on it as an artist as you used to be. This methodology can be combined with Step 3; you can periodically add a piece of work to the new site while changing the equivalent work on the old site to be a partial/censored piece pointing to the new one.

Things to remember

Some additional recommendations when using this method:

  • As an artist, your customers are always right – OK, not always; but if they choose to stay on BadVibes and commission you from there, do not shoot yourself in the foot and tell them they can only commission on the new site. However, you can inform them that you’ll only post the full finished commissions at the new site. Allow your commissioners to post the full picture on THEIR profiles if they wish (if you normally allow them to post copies). You can request they do the same as you, but don’t push them too hard. They are, after all, your customer.
  • Do not use the same picture for all new art entries on the abandoned site. This goes against the AUP of some sites that are against having copies of the same work over and over. The art uploads must be unique, and since they are based off a new work then it should include part of that work. This works in your favor, since diverse partial works are likely to make new visitors more curious than a generic placeholder.
  • If you are popular enough, you may want to start your own site and put your full images there to increase traffic; maybe even advertise a little. This way, if people really want to see what you've got, they give you some income while they do it. Of course, this would require research on your part as to what kind of advertising is allowed if your work is adult, etc. Also, if you do like the service a site provides, consider not doing this, as it could hinder other artists if all the popular ones went to their own sites and used the public art site as a hub.
  • If this methodology takes hold, some free-to-post sites may alter their upload policies or terms to dissuade such activities. However, there is an alternative method which is a bullet-proof counter to this attempt to reign-in artists. If BadVibesArt forbids posting partial or needlessly censored work, post every other piece of artwork you do (the full thing), and in the description link to another piece uploaded elsewhere. It’d be extremely difficult to defend against this without seeming needlessly oppressive; hurting the site far more than they hurt you.

Conclusion

Using the four step process above, you can maintain your presence, influence your customers, and provide a check and balance that creates a stronger community as a whole. I once again emphasize that I have nothing against any particular art website. The inspiration for this article comes from a common inquiry I hear from other artists who want to know the options available to them, or believe there are none.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 1.3 (3 votes)

Please just cut out the stupid pretense; everyone reading this knows you're trying to get people to move from FA to Weasyl. More to the point, though, remember a couple of years ago, when all the writers for this site were trying to get people to move to Inkbunny? How did that work out? Look, nobody wishes we had a better art site than FA more than I do, but it simply isn't to be. The internet's inherent tendency towards a monoculture (the poor stay poor, the first link on Google gets rich) along with the overwhelming apathy of the people that use it ensure that FA is the best art site we'll ever be allowed to have.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

… remember a couple of years ago, when all the writers for this site were trying to get people to move to Inkbunny? How did that work out?

Pretty well! The migration tool still gets a lot of use, and we get requests for bulk upload permissions every day.

No site is going to replace any other, unless the latter falls over completely; they've all carved out their niches, and each avoids some content or users (IB forbids minors) that others welcome with open arms. But having a diversity of sites is a lot more healthy than a monoculture, and encourages technical innovation.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Just because the majority of people on this site have seen this said on fA/use fA as their main gallery, does NOT mean it's all about fA. I faced a similar situation trying to get away from dA 3-4 years ago, now. Granted the skill level jump from then to now makes my gallery there obsolete at this point, so no harm no foul, but when I first moved this info would have been useful. Every now and then I update my journal on dA (saying the same thing it's said since I left) and get one or two stragglers who STILL don't realize that I've moved sites.

Point being, don't assume any artist looking at this is stuck at fA. It's not the only big dog art site that's out there, nor is it the only one with a load of dirty crap going on in regards to the administration.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

"All the writers for the site" - I was not, nor had any interest in doing so, I don't have a Inkbunny account; have no reason to acquire one. GreenReaper was and in many cases still promotes it here from time to time, particularly since he's an administrator there. Besides the cub thing the monetization portion of the site, which was it's biggest thing that I felt would have been a positive change, kind of fell apart (because of the cub thing).

As far as Weasyl goes, I'm still not convinced about it as a site. While I did invest in it at the get go I haven't seen much return on the investment. This includes the icon drawing that was promised for my donation bracket or the placing of name on the Thank you section. Haven't used the site enough to see any usefulness of paid status. While I'm a bit disappointed in it I'm not too upset. Just taught me not to trust any of these indi-go-go and kickstarter type things. I already am of the mindset "If you give someone your money don't expect it back", so it kind of isn't a shock.

You are right that FA is going to be around for awhile, even if this methodology is used by artists, mainly because people use it as a furry social networking site as much as they do an art site. As a writer I still find it as my primary because of this, even though SoFurry gets me more hits.

If one is going to "leave a site" though, I do feel this is a far better method than those used in the past, such as the methods you mention. As the article mentions saying "Oh you should leave this site and go to this one" causes people to get upset. It's not really what you do, it's the way that you go about doing it that determines effect.

It's odd though that you accusation starts out with "You're trying to get people to join Weasyl" when you said everyone was trying to get people to join Inkbunny here... seems a bit contradictory. Probably because they are both false statements. This was written for those artists I hear who want to maintain the viewership of the higher site while giving more love to one that is not so high up, coming up with ideas like this are how you break monocultures, not whining about about it.

And to note, breaking monoculture means not trying to replace site A with site B, but giving sites an equal standing or attempting to do so. It's better that way because then all the eggs are not in one basket.

Your rating: None

I'm also a writer here that didn't encourage users to go to Inkbunny. I'm there and it's a good site but, when I advise people to move, I promote SoFurry. I've got a forum account on Weasyl but I haven't used the main site, although I've considered it a bit when hearing artists I watch starting accounts there. If I see it making a bigger impact than the new site enthusiasm then I might give it a try.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I rather like your step four but I'm not sure I agree with step one. I'm sure your watchers would appreciate hearing what's going on, even if it's just telling them that most stuff will now be on a new site. If you're only going to be posting partial pictures (something I find really annoying) then that should be stated outright rather than leaving some people waiting for the next full one and maybe missing stuff. Sometimes links to other sites can't get you through age and registration filters.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

You'd be posting on the description where the full one is. Though announcing you're doing so outright on one journal may be okay, as long as you aren't too negative about it. This could be useful so that followers scanning over the new submission will know there's more to it.

If you're drawing adult work then the adult filter for non-logged in can be an issue for the new site, but once again that influences them to sign up for that site if they aren't already, which is the point. It's not a high cost to view a piece of artwork you want to see for free.

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a Kangaroo from Syracroose, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, philosophy and writing

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