There is literally hundreds of social networking sites or social media and apps. But when we talk about Social media, we usually talk about a handful of websites. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Those are the most frequently mentioned websites for promoting blogs or websites in general.
But if you’re an artist, designer, or any other kind of creative type, there’s another social network you should be using. It’s called Ello.
Ello is unique in that it focuses on creativity and creators. Unlike other more passive social networks, Ello works to provide creators with connections and opportunities.
If you’ve been looking for a social network that can actually do it do something to you, it may be Ello.
Say hello to Ello
Ello launched in 2014, so it’s been around for a while. Initially, it was created as a response and as an alternative to Facebook. There have been (and continue to be) many news stories about Facebook selling user data, and many users were concerned.
When Ello launched, the founders announced a manifesto, and use the tag line, “You’re Not a Product.”
But as a new network, Ello was still small. Perhaps purposefully so. They did not (and still do not) receive paid advertising. Its founders had not set about creating the next Facebook. It was a side project, intended to be a social site for his friends, and whoever else was interested.
For a while, that’s what it was, peaking at about 30,000 users.
But then Facebook started to enforce a “real name” policy that annoyed (and even endangered) some users. One of Ello’s founders posted a critique of Facebook’s policy, and that it attracted millions of new users to Ello.
Eventually, creative users began to strip Ello away from being a generic social network. When it became clear who the active core users were, Ello pivoted and began to call itself the “Creators Network.”
What can Ello do for you
Each social network provides a community for its users. Ello does that too. But overall, Ello users are far more involved than those on other platforms. When you build good links on Ello, those people venture outside Ello to see your work.
And Ello himself will be promoting consumers that are interesting. Not by using a black box algorithm, but directly, through recommendations and donations.
Here are just a few of the things Ello does to promote and benefit creators.
Each day, Ello’s “curatorial team” includes members of the community on their editorial homepage and their social profiles. Artists and their works and ideas are actively promoted across the platform.
To give you some idea of what that meant, my partner and I joined Ello at the same time. A few months after we joined, Ello’s founder shared one of her posts featuring her art.
Within days, she had ten times more followers than I did. For months, after just one shared post, her follower count continued to grow by the thousands.
Since then, she has racked up half a million post views. That’s not a huge number compared to celebrity posts on the major social networks. But what I find interesting is 59% of her followers view her posts.
That’s the sign of an engaged user base! Ello users appear to be much more engaged than users on the major social networks. The only way 59% of your Facebook friends will see your post is if you pay Facebook to force it on them.
And her experience was in the relatively early days of Ello. Back in 2014, just before it started gaining a lot of press coverage. I can only imagine how many new followers involved artists are gaining now.
And arts editors are not the only hand-selected recommendations. There is also a “community update” featuring Ello artists on the Ello’s Blog and in a daily email newsletter.
So, you can see that Ello plays a very active role in boosting the profiles of their artists.
Not for Print
Ello prints (yes, on real paper) an ironically titled publication entitled, Not for Print. It’s published quarterly, and all Not for Print content comes from Ello user presentations. Issues follow different artistic themes, and are curated to showcase the creative talent on Ello.
They use creative briefs (more on that in a minute) to identify guidelines and collate presentations. A vetting panel of impartial judges selects the artists and works that are published in Not for Print.
All issues of Not for Print is sponsored by the “artists first” brand partner.
In the art world, a monograph is a book featuring the work of one artist. Underscore is a book / zine combination that Ello publishes quarterly.
On a quarterly basis, Ello posts a creative brief that has used to select ten artists to publish in Underscore. One of the artist’s works is published in book form. A monograph containing the work and ideas of the chosen artist.
Nine other artists are interviewed and published in a published zone along with the monograph.
Most artists have to wait for a gallery or museum show to see a published monograph of their work. It’s quite a feat and not something you are ever going to get from Pinterest or Facebook.
Ello Art Gift Program
Each week, Ello buys three pieces of artwork from Ello artists. Then, the work is promotion and giving away for randomly selected members of the community.
That’s right, Ello really buys work from its members. Then they give the work away as rewards.
Well, more accurately, them find sponsors to buy the work, but the result is the same – a sale to an artist, and a free piece of art to a consumer.
Those donations drive members to the creator’s user account, resulting in more followers. Similar to what they do when they include work on the editorial homepage.
If you land a place in the Art Giveaway Program, you not only sell, you gain followers. And like any social network, more followers equals more attention and influence.
Ello Artist Collective
The Ello Artist Collective is an invitation-only curated group featuring Ello’s best professional creative talent. Established artists are represented, but the group also includes many “new” artists.
Ello promotes the brands, agencies and publishers of its Artists Collective members. Leads to commissions for graphic design, photography, fine art, illustration, 3D, gifs, video, music and other disciplines.
Ello Artist Collective members are invited to participate in projects (unlike the open submission projects we will discuss in the next section). They receive financial compensation for their contributions.
The Ello Artist Collective is invitation only, but you can give them a nudge at your address by emailing email@example.com. However, they are not likely to select artists who are not active on the website, so get involved before fishing for an invitation.
Ello Creative Briefs
I saved the best for last.
Ello Creative Briefs connects Ello’s creator community with brands, agencies and publishers through real-time creative briefings. The briefs are creative projects offered to Ello’s global community of artists.
It works like this: You present your work to the creative brief you are interested in. A panel of judges then selects what they consider to be the best work that fits the criteria of the brief.
I don’t know if it’s the same “vetting panel of impartial judges” who choose to work for him Not to Print. If they choose your work, you get paid.
The Creative Briefs are listings from companies and brands looking for creative work, usually for social media.
These are not small start-up companies. They are network television shows, fashion brands, big motion pictures, book publishers, record companies, and other nationally and internationally recognized brands.
Which Brands Post Opportunities in the form of Creative Briefs?
It may be easier to list which brands do not. 😉
The page is currently showing offers from, among others, Disney, Marvel, DC, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Turner Network, Columbia TriStar, MGM, Universal Pictures International, United Artists, Bombay Sapphire, Absolut, Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s, Miller Lite, Nielsen Research, Getty Images, United Nations (!), Lindt, Pampers, Whirlpool, and POKÉMON.
I did a quick and dirty count of the latest 60 opportunities in Creative Briefs, and the average offer for work or ideas received is over $ 2,500 the piece, with $ 2,000 being the most common offer.
Granted, all assignments carry the caveat of “up to” the quoted price. And, of course, you’re doing the job on spec. If they choose your work, you get paid. If they don’t, you won’t.
But those kinds of strings are attached to most specific works. The level of companies looking for work should assure you that it is a legitimate creative market.
With companies like Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is offering up to $ 7,000 and Watford FC Premiership football club £ 10,000, it’s safe to say this isn’t Fiverr we’re talking about. (No offense to Fiverr, that’s just a different kind of market.)
Was Ello Lucky or Smart?
I mentioned earlier that Ello had taken from his initial stance as the anti-Facebook. That is true, but it may not have been a voluntary pivot.
After initial media coverage in 2014, a few million people joined Ello. But the platform was still in its infancy, so there wasn’t much for them to do. Many who joined during the first big wave of platform signing left quickly.
If that sounds familiar, you might remember Google+, which went through quite a similar experience. But unlike Ello, Google+ had no underlying beliefs or interests to take it in any particular direction.
Google certainly did not have a manifesto. It was a generic product from a huge company.
Full disclosure, I thoroughly enjoyed Google+ and used it daily until it closed. I realize we are in the minority, but there were a lot of smart, interesting people on Google+. May she rest in peace.
However, Ello had a small group of founders who he did having a vision. And because they never intended to be the world’s largest social network, they were able to survive mass exodus. The ones that remained were the independent creators, and they slowly built Ello, lovingly, as it is today.
What is it today? Best of the world specialist a social network for creators.
Give and Take
All the different things that Ello does to promote its users and provide opportunities for them are impressive. They certainly go beyond what most social platforms choose to do. But Ello’s real strength is its users.
I mentioned that they were engaged, and that is the key. Ello users love art and creativity. They respond to it and support it. Unsurprisingly, considering that most of the users are creators themselves.
But that engagement overflows beyond Ello’s boundaries. Posting a link to your site will actually bring visitors to your content. You can’t say the same about most major social networks.
And those visitors don’t just hit your link and bounce. They tend to stick around and explore. Google Analytics’ “on-site time” is on average about three times longer than traffic from other referrers on my partner’s website.
That’s an audience that has interest and engagement and should be nurtured. Ello can provide you with that audience as well. Of course, you have to do your part and be active and engaged with Ello as well. That applies to any social network. You get out of it what you put in it.
But if you’re a creator looking for the highest return on your time investment, look no further than Ello.