Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lots o' Links and Reviews Part 1: Foundfolios

I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on various image-sharing and art-promoting websites. At first I thought I'd cover them all at once but when I saw the wall of text I was generating, I decided to break it down into a series.

Here are the ones I belong to:

And here is my first of what will hopefully be a handy, helpful series!

FoundFolios/AdBase Review
It's hard to talk about FoundFolios without talking about AdBase first. AdBase is a massive database of creative professionals in every type of industry you could want. Just about every magazine, book publisher, design firm, and advertising agency is catalogued and updated frequently. You can generate and save contact lists with a myriad of options including industry, job title, specific awards, etc. The database gets updated constantly, which is great because creative professionals will often move from job to job and it's hard to keep track of all those changes -- I'd rather spend my time elsewhere! And if you are a subscriber and you have updated contact info for a creative, Adbase will track the number of times you've helped them out and will eventually reward you with an Amazon gift card. Pretty cool!

AdBase Emailer 
Adbase has a number of cool features, including an Emailer program that works with their database so you can send targeted emails and track click-throughs. I find Emailer kind of pricey, particularly when the AdBase subscription itself costs $$$ (although you can tailor your subscription to certain regions instead of all of North America which would decrease the cost) so I've never bought it, but when I re-up my Adbase each year they give me some Emailer credits and I use those to do a few email promos. And to be honest, it's pretty easy to create your own email promos (don't forget to have an opt-out button in the email!) and send them out 50 at a time (remember to use BCC, aka Blind Carbon Copy!) by setting Adbase to output email lists. Sure, if you want to send out thousands of emails this option could take a while, but doesn't it always boil down to a time vs money issue? Just be warned: I've found that Gmail will shut your email account down for 24 hours if you send more than 250 or so emails per day like this.

Agency Access
Agency Access is a wealth of resources for subscribers to Adbase. It offers podcasts, articles, and video tutorials about editing your portfolio, what art directors are looking for, marketing tips, etc. I must admit that these emails have been piling up in my inbox :P. But they do offer insight into what creatives are looking for and how to think from their perspectives. 

FoundFolios is run by Adbase and is free with an Adbase subscription (EDIT. FIRST YEAR IS FREE. AFTER THAT YOU PAY!). It's a portfolio site with an exceedingly slick search engine, which makes it great for art directors to look up illustrators and photographers with specific types of work. The whole site is set up very well. Uploading and organizing images is easy, and you can tag your work with keywords so that they are easily searchable. It'll show you a stat for how many views your gallery has gotten, but there are no detailed metrics that I can see. FoundFolios seems to host way more photographers than illustrators (841 to 290) so it may be more of a destination for photographers to get their work seen.

Google Analytics Referral Ranking for FoundFolios
Looking at the traffic I've had for the entire history of my portfolio site (I implemented my tracking code September 2010), FoundFolios comes in 22nd in terms of referrals. Mind you, FoundFolios is a relatively new service so that should be taken into account. Still, 22nd is pretty far down the list! I don't have an upgraded FoundFolios account (I only have the basic one that came with my Adbase subscription) so maybe that would help drive traffic to my site, but I'll probably never know.

Adbase is pricey. But so, so helpful and a major time-saver. Adbase Emailer is great for massive email blasts and tracking click-throughs and the % of people who opened your email promo, but ultimately too costly for me. Agency Access is a nice bonus to my Adbase subscription, and so is FoundFolios. If I was paying separately for Foundfolios I might give it another year to see if it moves up in my referrals rankings before cancelling it. That doesn't mean it's a bad site, by any means -- Just that it hasn't been working for me!

EDIT: I cancelled my Foundfolios subscription. I had it for three years and I didn't get any work from it and not much internet traffic to my site.

Part 1: Foundfolios
Part 2: Illustrationmundo
Part 3: Hire an Illustrator
Part 4: Society6

portfolio site


Alice said...

A thousand dollars hoax kindly offered by AgencyAccess

Just a quick memo for all ilustrators/photographers and fellow artists reading this. I decided to buy a good quality international database and given the strong promotion of AgencyAccess, I automatically saw it as the most reliable firm there for this matter. It cost me (at a very generous deal from their part, at least that's what they said) $1000 ($500 in advance and another half 6 months later) for all Northern USA database. After half a year of continuous newsletters and reminders to the emails listed there, all I got was a lousy "please stop sending this to us, we're not interested" from Walmart Beauty. I'm not saying that what I have to offer is the best thing for the US, but 0% feedback from thousand of contacts is far too low for anybody's expectations. And here's where I decided to end my subscription before having to pay another $500 for the same product I was given in the the first place, thinking there must be a perfectly normal cancellation fee, but wait - NO, Agency Access insisted I had to pay the remaining amount, even if I wasn't pleased with they're product's results. Not only did they insisted on it, but I suddenly realized my account was eased with $500…

I just wanted to remind you that even if they pomise you the best results, nobody can guarantee you clients in an era where everyone deletes they're unread spam and not even postcards impress anybody these days… All these are outdated. But my point here is another one - AgencyAccess lures you to buy an illusion ONLY for their profit. I strongly NOT recommend them if you decide to buy a database of contacts - they will leave you dry of your money no matter if you get clients or not (most likely, not).

Julia Minamata said...

Hi, Alice! Thanks for sharing your experience.

It's always hard to take a chance on these services and I'm in the same boat as you in terms of trying to find something that works for me.

When something isn't working it's hard to decide if it's the service, the work being promoted, or the state of the industry (not opening emails, not looking at postcards, etc.). Confusing, frustrating, and demoralizing. It's hard for me to stop with these services because I always think "this is the year!" Never seems to be though :P.

But I'm not sure what else I can try.

Best of luck with your creative endeavours, Alice!

-- Julia