Making The Most Of Flickr: Part 1

I always describe Flickr as 'simple but deep' and that's a good way to think about it. I've already explained that I like the intuitive interface, however, there's a lot more to Flickr than ease of use. I'm still coming to grips with what you can do over there but in my experience, the more you delve into Flickr, the more there is to find.

If you just use Flickr as somewhere to store your images so that you can blog them elsewhere then you're definitely not realising its full potential. Today I'm going to run through a few ways for artists to make the most of Flickr, all of which relate to the powerful communal aspects of the site.

OK, first let's quickly check what you should ideally have on your own Flickr before you start engaging with the Flickr community.

The first thing, as usual, is to make sure your actual work is up to scratch. Post good, strong interesting images of your art. Work in progress shots, clearly marked as such, are also perfectly acceptable - indeed, people usually enjoy seeing those. However, if Flickr is your only online visual portfolio, you may want to keep it a bit more formal and only post finished works.

Now sort your images into collections and sets: you can sort by date, by medium, by series or by any other criteria that makes sense to you. Once you've got the sets and collections you want, set up your front page so that your art collections and/or sets are visible alongside your photostream. This means that anyone clicking on your profile or one of your photos will instantly be able to see that you're an artist and exactly where your art images are. Always make it easy for people!

You also need to have explanatory text under each photo. Obviously it's best to do this when you upload images but if you didn't have time then it's easy enough to do it afterwards either by clicking on individual photos or, if you've got a lot to do, by using the batch organize button in the Organizer feature. When writing the text don't use too much art jargon and be reasonably concise. However, people often like to know a bit about the reality behind the art so it's fine to tell stories or to explain why this is a favourite piece of work.

If you have an art website or blog, then make sure that you include a link in the text of every single photo as well as in your profile. Having a direct html link from individual Flickr photos makes a big difference to the numbers of visitors you'll get to your website: Flickr is my largest source of visitors to The Diary Project blog because there's a direct link on every single envelope image. I'm currently running a small comparative experiment on this. Last night I checked my numbers in Google Analytics, took a note of them, then added a direct link to this site on all the art images that aren't Diary Project images. I'll let you know in a week or two how much difference it makes.

As I mentioned yesterday, your profile should contain an artists statement and/or a mini CV; a link to any other art websites; plus a way to get in touch with you, although you don't have to give out your full address if you're uncomfortable with that. Do think long and hard before putting your home address or phone number online because once it's out there, it will stay out there. I'd recommend putting a rough geographical location though, it helps to orientate people and would be helpful if someone was looking for artists in your particular area.

OK, your Flickr account should now look presentable, although if you haven't done absolutely everything on every single photograph, don't worry over much. My own Flickr follows most of these principles but it isn't absolutely perfect and I don't let it stop me taking part in the wider Flickr community. At some point I need to go through and make sure that I'm following my own advice and everything has the correct tags and explanations!

Right, on to Part 2, where I'll explain how to get started in the community side of Flickr.

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