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For artists - what pays off and what doesn't

Hello my dear friends! Sayuui here again. I'm going to list here what artists normally come accross when trying to grow and what pays off and what doesn't when trying to make a place for yourself in the online market, especially if you're looking forward to working for companies overseas just like me. I like to make sure my readers know that I'm an anime artist, but these will help you if you stick to another style as well. These are based on my own experience and of course, the experience of other friends I've been watching that are also in the market. I'm afraid to say most of the things here are absolutely not worth it when you're a professional, but I'll try to add some alternatives at the end so you get to know what is best to do and what is better to leave behind.

Art trades

Definitely not worth it. I know you're trying to pick some followers from other artists, but in most cases you might not even receive the artwork you are looking for. Art trades are a very amateur thing. You don't see Japanese artists doing it. On the contrary, they spend most of their time improving their artwork and drawing the things they love the most. You should look forward to getting to know as many ways as you can to get paid instead.

"DTIYS" and other instagram challenges

Many people are going to throw rocks at me for saying this, but this is also a total waste of your time. Not only for insta's recent algorithm changes that make it impossible for you to succeed as an artist unless you suck up their new business plans, but you can also get shadowbanned by some tags. No guarantees that the challenge's holder will like your piece either, even if you're Michelangelo. By the way, why are you even trying this challenge? Is it for the followers that are never going to buy anything from you -- let's be honest here, Instagram has the lowest conversion rate of all social media-- or is it to get a piece of art from your favorite artist? You're another artist, not a fan. Your job is to soak knowledge from them. Remember that.


This is not something you'll get a lot of money from as a beginner, and you're making an absurd amount of environmental damage for a greedy ego fullfilment. Maybe it can become a thing when it's properly regulated by each government and it makes less of an environmental impact. But for the moment, it's a huge scheme for art theft and money laundering.

Well, if I can't do any of these, what can I do then?

What might pay off:

PIXIV's daily theme and Art street's weekly theme

Are you bored with art and looking for improvement? These kind of "challenges" will not only feature you in their pages if you do a good job, but they are a very good source of improvement. If you do not feel very good to show your art just yet, you can also use PIXIV sketch and submit your art there.

Drawing trends

You have to be careful with this one. Drawing a trendy thing and getting visibility for yourself might be super good at the first moment, but you'll have a lot of work turning these these into clients. Some of them will never disburse anything for you. As a pro, you are looking for as many ways to get close to your goals as possible.


They are an amazing way to show commitment and professionalism to your potential clients. Be extra careful with these though. Only participate the ones that actually give you a money prize, and if you have the time, make sure to participate a lot of them. It's going to take you a long time until you actually win something. Some of the places where these contests are normally hosted are: Picarto, PIXIV, Clip Studio Paint and Medibang art street.


You have to be extremely careful with this one though. Make sure you're doing it in a platform that's not full of self-interested individuals. Do not allow non-followers and side accounts to join, and make sure not to try too many of these. Instead of offering art, try offering goods from your store so you can protect yourself from nitpicky or selfish individuals. This might help you not only get new followers, but convert followers into clients as well, by making them familiar to your craft.

Learn Japanese

This one is for Japanese market seekers. I've been through a lot of false opportunity promises out there -- getting to a certain placement in a certain website, getting x followers on pixiv, getting x likes on twitter in a post -- all of these were promises that lead me to think that I would finally be able to work for the industry, but none of them worked. Translation services do exist but they are extremely expensive. You are going to have to do it yourself.

The reason why Japanese artists spend more time working on their skills and drawing what they love is simple: they get known for what they love the most. That helps them build an identity for themselves and in many cases, get a very specific niche of followers. That helps them get closer to their goals in very specific ways. I don't want to sound redundant since I mention this in every post, but improving your skills is an universal way of reaching your goals. Yes, your progress is subjective, but anyone will be able to tell if you are becoming better and better in your craft.

Do you like this article? You might want to check my work here and follow me on social media.

I hope that was useful for every single one of you. Hope to see you again in the next post.


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