5 Easy Tips for Effective Self-Promotion

So, you just submitted a new design to Threadless… now what?

It’s time to put that sucker in front of the masses! How do you do that? Where do you start? Self-promotion can be a scary thing if you’ve never done it before, or if you’ve tried but didn’t feel it was very effective. Well, I’m here to help you get a handle on self-promotion so you can become a marketing whiz in no time. Read on for 5 tips to customize your content for social networking purposes (and ultimately, help get your designs printed and purchased!).

1) Sign-up for social media accounts

So many sites, so little time!

Here’s a list of the most popular sites for self-promotion: Facebook, Twitter, Ello, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, DeviantArt, Dribbble, and Pinterest.

Some sites can prove to be more effective than others. It really depends on your reach, posting methods, and use of marketing tools. It’s ideal to use the same username for all accounts (whether it’s your actual name or alias); once you’ve established one, check various sites to ensure it’s available. A little research never hurts to lock down that consistent naming, since it can be hugely beneficial to your personal brand.

2) Use social media templates

Why couldn’t they just make them all the same size?

Threadless already has sharing functions on each design submission page for various sites, but taking it a step further with your own customized visuals will only work to your advantage. There are certain sizes for optimally posting images to each site, so I created some handy Photoshop files to make the process easier. Download this free .zip folder containing my files, and I’ll walk you through their use. (Sharing is caring, right!)

Clicking the link above should open up a new window that looks similar to this

Click the down arrow icon at the top and the download should start automatically. Once it’s finished, unzip those files!

Four .psd files are highlighted green for easy selecting

These are files for the main sites you should create content for, while there are additional files that will be applicable as well. Once everything is unzipped, open the design you want to promote in Photoshop, and then open these four files directly after.

For the purpose of this demo, I’ve decided to work with my most recent design, Zombie Work
(My 300th design submission to Threadless!)

Use the eye dropper tool to grab the color of the background and then turn off the background layer. Merge all visible layers and resize your design to fit the largest template, which in this case is for Facebook: 960 x 640 pixels at 72 dpi.


Duplicate the layer over to the facebook.psd template. You can keep the image a little larger than the frame to create a teaser look, but I tend to show the full design upfront. Fill the background color layer with the paint bucket tool. I recommend adding your signature/logo to the corner for internet sharing and crediting reasons, as many blogs/companies forget to properly credit the designer when they share art. It’s good to cover that area yourself as a precaution.

Save over the facebook.jpg file included in the folder. Repeat this process for the remaining templates. To save time, I created an action in Ps that automates most of this process. Plus, it’s just fun to watch it happen. You can easily research how to do this as well.

3) Preparing the post

Starting a new Notes, Notepad, or Text Edit document is helpful to organize content

The content of your post is just as important as the design that you are attempting to promote. They go hand in hand: one without the other would equal a much lesser impact. A title, short description, and link are the three crucial parts to every post.

Whatever you titled the design when you submitted it to Threadless, be sure to use that same title in your social media posts. Your description could be the same as well, but limit the frequency of phrases like “Vote for me!” or “Buy my stuff!”. This approach can work against you; people often find these remarks off-putting or annoying. Remember: You want to keep your network intact and avoid unfollows/unfriends. Descriptions that explain your design or inspiration often work better, as they provide your audience context and a reason to connect with your work.

Sometimes an original url is too long and makes your post look a little messy. That’s okay, there’s a simple url shortening service available to cut down on length called Bitly. It’s easy to sign up and free to use, and you can track clicks and see where links are being shared. Use these analytics to verify what’s working and what isn’t to hone your marketing efforts.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 4.27.54 PM
Example hashtags I may use for my Zombie Work design

Post your design with appropriate hashtags so people discover your submission while surfing the internet. When people search certain key terms and buzzwords that interest them, your design may pop up if it’s posted with the hashtag of that key word or buzzword. When your design becomes visible to a new audience, it helps with both votes and purchases. Hashtags are primarily utilized through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

Keywords I may use for my Zombie Work design

Some sites don’t allow for the use of hashtags, but they may let you list “keywords” and phrases instead, which are visible through their own internal search functions. Simply use the same words as you did for hashtags, but remove the # and insert commas after every word/phrase (as seen above). Flickr, DeviantART, and Dribbble use this method.

4) Bookmarks and posting work

Organization is key for quick and easy posting across social platforms

There’s no need to type in each site’s url every single time. That would take forever! Organization is your friend; use it. I recommend the Chrome browser for this reason. I personally believe it’s the best around these days, but others such as Firefox or Safari work as well. Create folders similar to those you see in the graphic above or make your own, whatever works for you. You can right click on a folder and select “Open All Bookmarks”. This makes things quicker as well by opening new tabs for each listing.

I use the same facebook.jpg image for Ello. After posting to Tumblr, I jump on my phone and open the Tumblr app. I find my post, save the image to my phone, and copy the description. I then open Instagram and post the saved image + description. After that, I go back to the computer, copy the hashtags from the open Notes document, and post in a new comment with hashtags to the same Instagram post. Watch the likes start rolling in or move on to the next bookmark folder.

I definitely recommend posting to several different Tumblr blogs for maximum exposure

 I created a separate folder for Tumblr blogs because there’s so many and they take a little while to fully load in the tabs. Different Tumblr blogs are great to post to because they put your work in front of an established audience through their respective design blogs. Above are some of the main ones that I follow for daily inspiration as well. You can submit to them just as if you were posting to your own Tumblr, although it may take a few days or weeks before they may approve your post.

These four sites are in their own folder because they each require a similar posting process

I’ve separated Flickr, DeviantArt, Dribbble, and Imgur into their own folder for a few reasons. One, I use the same tumblr.jpg file for all of them. Two, they all require that the post info be broken down by title and description + link when entering them into the form fields. These are also the sites where you’ll use keywords or phrases vs. hashtags.

5) Finishing up

“Man, that’s a good cup of joe!”

And there you have it! This is my routine for every new design I create. Of course, you can use this process for posting a variety of things: critiques, works-in-progress, products, photography, etc. And remember, if you don’t get many votes, likes, or comments, try experimenting with different posting methods to see what garners the best results. And don’t forget to utilize the internet: Research how others have effectively marketed their work on social media to gain further insight and best practices.

Got questions? Leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!

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Steve "SteveOramA" Wilson is an art director, designer & illustrator living in Denver.