Everybody's method is different find yours
What is this "method?" you must be thinking. The method is essentially their own way to gain awareness, sounds silly doesn't it? Most of the biggest artists on DA never asked to be popular; it just came to them naturally. Yet regardless, subconsciously they knew which deviations to upload would make a big hit. Sure we all like to say "I don't care about popularity I just love art!" but not everybody is like that you see, as human beings we have the inner desire to want more. Be it a little, or a lot more popular we all crave for attention in some way or form. Every popular artist had their own "method" to getting where they are now. Everybody's method is different, so I'm going to tell you the method I used.
Have a username that relates to you
The first and foremost thing you need before anything is a name, for those who already have a username well skip this part. Regardless your username represents who you are, it is our first impression. You should put a lot of thought into your name and it should relate to yourself in an interesting way. Names like "NaRuTo-FaN6969", are a failure of a name, don't overdo it with the numbers and capitals. The point is keeping it interesting; I chose "chioky" as my username because my full name is Chiok-Junn Li, it's short and easy to remember. I mean come on really, have you ever heard of a guy named Chiok? The problem is 90% of all people cannot spell it correctly. Also choose a good icon; the most popular ones are animated gifs or pictures of faces.
Find a goal and stick to it
The core of my method began with a goal, every artist should have a goal, and for most artists it is simply to keep improving their artwork. However my goal is very unique, it was "To Raise the awareness of sword making as an art form". If you haven't noticed by now I'm a sword maker and I love sword making very much. To actually raise the awareness of sword making; I have to raise the awareness of myself as an artist. When I first came to DA there were hardly any sword makers, so I decided to become the face of sword making. It sounds ridiculous, but nobody else was going to do the job, so I took it upon myself. With a goal in mind, I could always use it as my reason for becoming more popular, because being popular for the sake of popular is delusional.
Have a great opening piece of artwork
However I was just a guy with a dream, nobody knew I existed yet. The first step forward is to upload some deviations and my first ones was a group of swords I first made when I was 13. However since they were made of appalling quality nobody looked. It's important that at this point you need to give in and create art for the "masses". For most of us it was to create art from Anime's and Manga's, so I decided to make a sword from a highly popular anime, used by the main protagonist. Since it was the most widely known sword from the show, people who stopped by and looked would instantly recognise it. People who recognise where an artwork comes from, is a person who will always continually come back and visit. That is a basis of loyal watchers.
Have a personality for your identity
So what if I could make a cool sword? People still don't know who I am. You need to make a connection to your watchers, no matter how few they may be. To do this I decided to become quite the eccentric character seeing as how my goal was very unique. I became the "Gentleman Swordmaker" because I liked to act gentlemanly and I'm a sword maker. Some people's "character" would be their username which is also good. You might think it's stupid because you're not acting as yourself, but hey it's the internet and I like opening doors for girls in real life. Your personality is very important and the best types are cute, intelligent, witty and humorous. If your a genuinely funny person your gonna be popular.
Always, always talk to your watchers
This goes without saying but talk to your watchers constantly. Most popular artists never reply to comments because most of the times they receive hundreds daily and you can't possibly keep up with it. Trust me it takes a lot of time; don't always consider it rude when they don't reply to your comments. Most people reply to comments, but most people don't know how to reply effectively. In the beginning you have to get watchers anyway you can, so when a person comments on your deviation, keep them talking. If you keep talking to them they will come back, and make sure to write full length comments and not one word replies. Keep talking but don't appear desperate, you want to let them know you have an interest in their comment.
Create a collection of similar artworks
I have made 16 different swords all from the same anime. Should I have made swords from a whole range of series? Say I made 1 sword from 10 different series; it would be like 10 colourful balloons which would attract people. However at this early stage you should focus on making a collection from one series and making that one balloon into a huge hot air balloon where everybody can see you. The consequences of choosing this is your watchers might eventually get bored from seeing the same stuff from the same series. However if you chose a popular series, then it's guaranteed the majority won't go bored. And make sure to always, always include links to the other similar deviations, preferably thumbnails.
Go and make tutorials anyway you can
To make a tutorial it has to be clearly represented and clearly explained otherwise people cannot use it. However if you can make a tutorial it's a potential goldmine for watchers. Tutorials help people, and helping people gives you a good image. There are 3 ways tutorials can make you really popular, really fast. The 1st is if it's the only one of its kind, my sword making tutorials are the most popular, because they were the only ones for a long time. The 2nd is if they are the best tutorials in that art category, the best tutorials will always be the most used one. The 3rd way is if you make many, many tutorials, the more the better! You can even make tutorials for really obscure things, if even one person uses them then it's successful and they will pass on the word.
Monopolize the DA search Engine
The DA search engine works around the use of key words, and getting your deviation on that front page for that keyword is everything. You want your deviation primarily on the top most rows so when people see it BAM! it's right in front of them. There are only two ways to do this, the first is you made your deviation years ago and it has a permanent position there, and the second is to make a really fantastic deviation. Artists who have deviations on the front page on multiple key words are pretty much set for life. Want to test it out? Copy and paste these words into the DA search engine "swordmaking zanpakuto Tsuba" and also the names of the 16 swords I made from Bleach and they will all be on the front page.
Journals are as important as deviations
Journals are one of the biggest sources of page views. I'm not talking about journals which highlight some stuff you did in the day. Your journals should be doorways to discussions with your watchers. The aim is the communicate with people and communications is key to gaining more watchers. I post a news journal every Monday because I believe it's important to know what goes on in the outside world. I post Anime and Manga Reviews every Friday because I wanne help recommend people some series. This will not only help your watchers but your journals gain a huge amount of people outside of your main art category. They will come to read your journals but they stay for the art that you produce. Post journals that you know will get people talking.
3 Ways to make a "spike" Deviation that you can do
Spike deviations are pieces of art so amazing and ingenious that they will gain thousands of views in a day and be shown on the front of the "popular" page. You don't have to be an amazingly talented artist to make a spike deviation; you just have to be hard working and creative. First example is quantity, say I draw one cute cat, not much attention, and now say I draw 30 cute cats chasing after a rainbow, BAM! spike deviation. Do you remember I talked about making collections with similar artworks? Put the entire collection into one single collaboration and BAM! People will be blown away when they see everything together at once. Do something that nobody has ever done before, something so outrageous and awesome like a pirate bear captain on a sky ship BAM!
Things your doing that you think is making you more popular
I don't think getting a subscription is absolutely necessary, sure it helps if you have the money, you have more freedom to personalise your DA page which helps towards your identity. If you do have a subscription though make use of polls it's a great way to keep your watchers active in doing things. I have actually never used the DA chatrooms or forums so I can't specifically say you can gain attention from there. I used the DA adcast once (500 clicks), and it got me 120 extra watchers, absolutely do not get that. DA Groups have become so widespread; you won't really get much popularity from that, unless you make a fantastic deviation and send it to 100 different groups. Thanking for favs is humble and kind, but don't expect any attention from that.
In conclusion you have to work damn hard
Becoming popular isn't easy, but it is possible for everyone I believe if they try hard enough. The only quick route is if your one of the best artists on DA, my swords aren't the best, nowhere near. So I had to think up of new methods and in the end to become popular you need a combination of many methods. Heck this all might be for nothing, being popular is a meaningless goal I've wasted my time maybe. However if you have a reason to become popular, as I said mine was sword making, then go and do it no matter what anybody says. If you want more, don't complain how others have more, go get more, "more" is what people can't get enough of.
So I decided to write this guide which tells you how I REALLY became popular, because lets be honest people my work isn't all that great. If you want to be popular you have got to sell yourself, get out there on the scene, meet the right people and keep up your image.
The aim is to avoid appearing like a heartless attention whore as much you can. These are tested and proven methods and the results speak for themselves. I am telling you now this isn't a joke I indeed did all of these things to get where I am now, it works.
Im very new to this site and it really helps me. I never thought of doing a journal or something. I just had like 70 pictures I made some time ago and started with them. After Ive seen that people really like it, I wondered what would happen if I post them constantly. Which means maybe 2 or 3 every day.
Now Im looking for nice places where I can do some pictures of myself (or better let them make).
I think attention is a nice to have if you just started, Like for me I got 6 people who want more updates within my first 2 days. Sure Ill do. I never thought to raise anything with force.
Everything need to build from scratch.
In some weeks/Months it may looks different from now and new friends / watchers will notice me.
Its some kind of hobby. I love to do pictures. And I do love mine. ^_^ So why not share them with interested people. It only helps me to become better. Im an amateur, nothing more. Just for fun.
I will keep your ideas in mind and I will try to work on very step you listed.
Hopefully Im in the position to help others too?
Thanks again for the article, really appreciated. ^_^
I like being a minority.
Socrates was a minority too.
I have all the company I need.
(links - subzerorebellion72.deviantart.…
I definitely have issues with that whole idea of 'selling myself" (especially commenting haha) BUt i'm going to aim to fix that...!
Just put "TheWolf," "WolfPup," or "SpiritWolf," or anything of that nature after your screenname posting nothing but sparkledogs, recolors, and screenshots from Wolf's Rain, and claiming you're a "wolf trapped in a human body" and pretending to be "edgy" all the time will be guarantee you as a world-renowned artist here on Deviantart!
Only been here a month and I'm already doing fairly well.
Thanks for this!
I think that I need to comment on people's profiles more and be more active in the chat rooms/ forum/ groups. I have a measly 5 watchers who never comment on anything, but I understand that this takes time.
But, the thing that nags me is that I used to have an account about 2 years ago, and I posted the worst art ever, and I was a rabid weeaboo who spoke in broken Japanese and used anime icons for everything- yet I had about 30 watchers in 2 months. What was that about?
Although I am not the fondest of my username, I have it because I was playing around when I was 8-9 and me and my friends thought we were 'super cool' and I decided I needed a rapper name that reflected me. So my friends dubbed me Muffin Meows because I liked muffins and cats. I've had it since primary school and it kinda stuck. So when I made an account with my friends, I was Muffin-Meows.
I shall try my hardest and improve my drawings.