How to switch art sites without losing customers
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.
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.