How To Use DeviantART to Build A Loyal Community Around Your Blog

Have you ever given DeviantART a chance as your content promotion channel?

I added DeviantART to my list of unusual yet effective platforms for bloggers here at WHSR and quite a lot of readers told me they had never even considered DeviantART to promote their blog posts.

That’s a pity, because DeviantART (I’ll call it DA for short sometimes in this post) is much more than a gallery page for artists. DA is a social network from head to toe, and while it is mainly geared for artists and fiction writers, it offers plenty of social opportunities to bloggers as well, including:

  • Community forums
  • Chatrooms
  • Polls
  • Blogs (Journals)
  • Profile comments
  • Profile shout boxes
  • Links supported in descriptions and text submissions (called Deviations)

When Is DeviantART the Right Promotion Channel for You?

Having your content and a community on DA helps if your blogging niche falls into one of the following areas:

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Graphics
  • Mommy Blog
  • Photography
  • Animation & Movies
  • Travel
  • Writing
  • Fiction
  • Technology

It might work with other areas as well, if you are creative enough to bring the best of both worlds (your niche and visual content) together.

This post is about how I used DeviantART in 2013 to bring 20+ fans/readers to my fiction blog and to follow my updates online and via a private mailing list. My fiction blog is about a series of short stories and illustrations that have robots, humans and aliens as the protagonists. The blog itself is a website to host my stories and artwork. The front page is where I blog about news, ideas, excerpts, interviews, initiatives and communicate with my small fandom.

Step 1 – You Need an Existing Community

I already had a reputation on DeviantArt as an artist and a writer. Since joining the community in 2004, I built a community of fans around my gallery, all people who were genuinely attracted by my work and whom I built friendships with.

Being friendly and open-minded is what works on DeviantART the best, because artists and writers don’t use the platform merely for the numbers and critiques, but to build relationships above all.

It took years to develop relationships and turn strangers into fans. Let me add that I did nothing special – marketing-wise –  to create this community, aside from making time to hang around DeviantArt to meet other artists and writers, comment on their work, reply to comments on my submissions and engage in discussions on journal entries (DeviantArt’s main and personal blogs; I have mine, too).

When I decided to promote the existence of my fiction blog in addition to what I already shared on DeviantART, I made use of journal entries and descriptions in submissions (Deviations) to add links and requests for feedback.

One example is a foundation of my storyline that I kept on my blog for years, but that I decided to republish on DA to get more feedback, the ALLIFE Project. Today that Deviation counts 1,002 views, 12 favorites and 64 comments.

Step 2 – Get in Touch

The next step was trying to get them to follow updates on their favorite content on my blog. Using journal entries, I invited my community to take a look at my blog for more content than what I uploaded to DeviantART.

That was a vital step: I told my fans I needed their help so badly, because I was unsure about how some of my decisions concerning my blog would meet my readers’ interest, so nothing would be more precious than their feedback.

To make it very clear, getting in touch on DA is not just a matter of keeping up with the feedback you receive, but also includes checking in with your fans from time to time; for example, by reading and commenting on their latest journal entry or their newest artwork or written piece. I will get more specific about this later in this article, but it was worth mentioning here, too.

The sense of community on DeviantART is very strong; family-like in a way. I will also explain later in the post how any behaviors that cross borders with spamming and plagiarism are strongly discouraged on this platform (and not just DA; Kingged.com works the same way; using the community is a matter of giving and receiving, and a balance of the two).

Step 3 – Use the Platform to Promote

What did I do to bring more fans to my blog? I used the most powerful feature of my DA profile: my Deviant Journal.

I wrote a new entry where I went into detail about what my fans would find on my fiction blog and if they would be so kind as to let me know what they thought about it, and if they would be interested in joining a special private mailing list for the older “hardcore” fans.

1. Journal Entries

Most people in my DA community read and commented on my journal entries more than my Deviations, so it was the best place to catch everybody’s attention. Journals are also where DA users get more personal with their comments, so the feedback I received there was more insightful than what I got elsewhere on the platform.

I also used DeviantART Journal to promote my Twitter account for the blog; however, I had little success with it (no comments on the entry and only 3 more Twitter followers). Not many fans in my DA community seem to be active Twitter users, at least those in my network. However, I invite you to experiment with this kind of cross-promotion, too; it might just work for you where it didn’t for me.

2. Notes (Private Messages)

For those I knew wouldn’t read my journal for any reason, I sent a Note (a private message on DA) with the news and I asked for feedback.

I made sure to use an enthusiastic tone in my messages, because that was already the usual tone for all our public and private conversations.

This is how I got 10+ signups to my private fans-only mailing list for the fiction blog.

3. Deviations (Art & Writing Submissions)

Another way to promote your content is Deviations. Simply upload a portion of your content (an excerpt, an image cut or a short video clip) that links to the full version on your blog.

I did this with my short story Scrapped. You can see a screenshot below:

How I promoted my short story Scrapped using DeviantART Deviations

As you can see, I submitted only the first two paragraphs of my short story and then I added a “Continues at…” link to the rest of it on my blog. You can do the same with your case studies and longer posts.

To add more information – including a custom license for my content – I used the description field in my submission form:

How I used the Deviation description field to add important details and a custom license

If you want your fans to comment only on your blog and not on DeviantART, close comments on your Deviation and invite your visitors to comment on your blog post. However, I recommend you leave both channels open if you really want feedback, because not every DA user will want to leave the platform to comment elsewhere.

If you create artwork as a complement or in addition to blog posts, take a look at this discussion on DeviantART Forums.

Step 4 – Take Advantage of Surveys

After some months that my fans knew about the blog, I needed more specific feedback about it and the contents, so I used the journal again to share a survey. I also used DeviantART Notes to send a link to the survey to the people I knew wouldn’t read my journal.

Here is a link to the entry with the survey for you to see. Notice that I received 17 interesting comments on that entry alone and not just on the blog.

I got many responses on the survey, too. Here is a link to the post on my blog where I published the results of the survey.

Early in 2015, I posted another journal entry to request more feedback on my content and the blog, since DA Polls didn’t work well for me. Here is how the entry looked:

Recruiting Fans using DeviantART Journals

In this case, fans who responded to my CTA preferred Notes and emails as a means of communication for feedback.

What Counts on DA?

Like on Kingged, you can’t just go and spam.  You must create real relationships, from the heart, from the passion for your content and the joy to share it with others.  In other words, you must be an “artist at heart”, even if you are not an artist in your career or you don’t blog about art.

By creating and nurturing relationships, you create a loyal following. Here are some practical tips to guide you.

1. Nurture Relationships by Reading Your Followers’ New Content and Journal Entries

Support your followers and fans just as they support you. Every time you stop by their galleries and journals and you leave feedback on their work, you nurture the relationship with these people, shaping bonds that go beyond the simple giving-and-receiving between two human beings. It’s the beginning of a friendship, something you should always value as a blogger, because no blogger can make it alone without people who genuinely care about them.

This is true for any platform you use, but especially DA. Also, your fans’ content can inspire you to produce more and better content.

2. Respond to every comment you receive

DeviantART users like to spend a good deal of time commenting on others’ work and journal entries, because they know it’s a great way to build solid relationships.

This is what you should do once you start getting comments on your work: reply to those comments! No relationship starts (or gets nurtured) until you acknowledge and give feedback to your commenters.

Let your fans see that you care about what they say. In return, they’ll stick with you longer and be open to any new ideas you produce in the future.

3. Be Kind and Genuine. Avoid Sales Pitches and A Promotional Voice at All Costs

The core of DA communities is the genuine desire to meet new people and build relationships around art and writing. Don’t go salesy, don’t spam: those are surefire ways to lose followers (watchers) or to get reported to DA staff for spamming.

Being salesy doesn’t work on DA anyway. Your promotion efforts must be genuine, relationship-based, you must show that you really believe in what you do (and you DO believe in your blog and your content, don’t you?). This is not some mindless SEO trick that webmasters used in the past – this is about being human among humans.

4. Make It Easy for Your Visitors and Followers to Learn More About Your Content and Your Ideas

Adding links to your content on the blog is the way to go, of course, but “making it easy” is not only about links – you have to encourage your fans to click, and to achieve that, you have to make sure they feel safe doing so.

Explain how things work on your site, that you will not intrude their privacy, that your site is safe to browse and spend time on. Also, link the content you produce with other ideas you know they are already interested in. For example, if they appreciate nature photos and you have a photo or a travel blog, tell them about these beautiful photos and travel journals that you have on your blog. Give the reason you think they will enjoy these elements of your blog.

5. Make a Good Deal of Your Content Visual and Expand or Complement it with Textual Content

It’s a good idea to always start with visuals on DA. For example, you can create artwork or a short infographic that illustrates your blog post: add a title to it and upload it as artwork or text with a preview/banner image and then enter details in the Deviation description or the body of your text.

Do the same with journal entries. Always start with an image, use photos and artwork that add to and complement your text.

What to Avoid on DeviantART?

1. Don’t Ignore the Etiquette

There are types of content that are not allowed on the DeviantART platform per etiquette, such like explicit adult graphics and text.

If you must tackle topics related to sex, racism or violence, anything you post must still respect the guidelines, so you need to either cut or censor your work. Add a link to your website for the remainder of your content.

As with any platform, any content that promotes discrimination and violence is not allowed as per country laws.

2. Be Careful with Any Stock Photography You Use

DeviantART staff members (and their users) are often on the lookout for breaches of copyright and the platform has a rule against stolen photography (see etiquette link in the previous point).

You might be asked for documents that attest you are within your rights to use the photos you’re using. If you can’t provide any proof, your content will be taken down.

If you can’t legally use some kind of stock photography, look for Creative Commons or Public Domain alternatives.

3. Be Careful with “Over-Inspired” Work

Some DA artists and writers are touchy when it comes to derivative work, so if you run into any type of content that inspired you, make sure you are within your rights to create derivative work.

Inspiration is not subject to copyright, but plagiarism is. Keep the crossing line in sight to avoid legal or ethical issues.

4. Aggressive Comment Spam

It’s not unheard of that some DA users will try to exploit the promotional power of comments (on journal entries, deviations and user profiles) to promote their own content, discounts and contests. All these actions will ultimately get a penalty of some kind, from user blocking (by the offended user) to spam reports that might lead to a permanent ban from the platform if the damage was massive and involved several accounts.

I said it earlier in this post and I’ll say it again: don’t spam, because it will bring you no benefits, especially on DA.

Make Good Use of DeviantART Statistics

DA Stats SummaryDeviantART gives each artist gallery statistics tools, even for free accounts (albeit in a limited fashion, as I’m going to explain below).

You can get a glimpse of how the stats summary looks on a DA user page in the photo here on the right: the Statistics drop-down menu is present on the user’s profile page for everybody to click on and view, and it shows the basic activity and popularity numbers of the account. The button itself is a small table of statistics, before it turns into a “Statistics” in big characters, as shown in the photo. Right now, my button shows:

166 Deviations

18,238 Comments

98,442 Pageviews

By clicking on the “More Stats” button under the table of short statistics, you will be taken to a stats page that collects all the information in detail. See below:

DeviantART Statistics Page

What to look for on this page?

  • “pageviews in total” tells you how many Pageviews you have to date
  • “viewed X times” tells you how many times (overall) Deviations in your gallery were viewed
  • “X Deviants watch” shows how many DA users (deviants) follow (watch) you
  • “received X comments” is the number of comments (overall) you received on your Deviations
  • “added to deviants’ favourites X times” is the number of times your Deviations were favorited (bookmarked/liked)
  • “gave X comments every 10 received” is the average of comments you posted on others’ works for every 10 comments you received on yours (the higher this number, the more you have interacted via comments)
  • “The deviation with the most comments is…” shows your Deviation that received the most comments in your gallery. This is a good indicator of what your audience on DeviantART likes and looks for in your gallery
  • “the most favorited, with X favorites” tells you which Deviation of yours was the most favorited and how many favorites it received
  • “The most viewed deviation is…” tells you which one among your Deviations received the most page views, and how many
  • “X favorites were given for every 10 comments” is the number of favorites you received for every 10 comments you got on your work (on average)
  • Your average uploading statistics, including how many days pass between submissions (in average) and on what day of the week, statistically
  • “The majority of deviations are submitted to (category)” tells you which category (Literature, Graphics, etc.) you used the most when you submitted work to DeviantART
  • A list of average statistics, including average comments, views and favorites per deviation and per day, and page views per day.

Free users on DeviantART only have access to the Summary tab in the stats page, while paid (Core) members also have access to the other tabs, that give more detailed information and statistics, including charts.

Even as a free user, though, you can choose between 3 viewing options for your Summary: All-time, Last Year and Last 6 months. This is helpful to compare your overall performance with the most recent activity.

Implement Google Analytics

DeviantART allows paid users (Core members) to add a Google Analytics code to their profile to get the best of both worlds: the platform traffic analytics and Google analytics.

Hover the cursor on your account name on the top bar and a drop-down menu will open. Click “Settings”. You will find a list of Public and Personal settings on the left side of the page. Click on Personal -> General and then scroll down to the Miscellaneous Settings box; just before it, you will find the Google Analytics box with a field to paste your GA Tracking ID.

If you don’t know how to do this, click the “Where do I find my Tracking ID?” link next to the input field.

Takeaway

Here are the essentials from this article!

  • Use DeviantART if your blog is about visuals, crafts, fiction, parenting and other content you can personally produce.
  • Make sure you enjoy taking part in the life of your community, because it’s genuine interactions that make for success on DA.
  • Build a community of raving fans around the content you upload and make sure they know how they can get more of it at your blog.
  • Take advantage of DeviantART statistics and integrate them with Google Analytics.

DeviantART is an overlooked platform that can help you further grow your website traffic.