"How the hell did you get so many people to view your art? You're not even that good!"
I can't do anything other than honestly admitting that I'm not that good at art. I'm not some awesomely skilled concept artist, at least. I've seen many people do a better job while receiving a lot less of attention.
Why a medium like DeviantArt works for me? Probably because I've been around on the internet for so long, and I've spend so much time working for internet-marketing company's, that things like advertising and web usability have become a second nature to me. A lot of the things that I've come to regard as common sense in internet communication, are things that are nowadays proven successful by research.
It's important to know that websites like DeviantArt are listed in the category social media. That probably didn't occur to most people, since DeviantArt seems to be so heavily focused towards art (and traditional social media like Facebook and Twitter lack this focus). Yet DeviantArt plays by the same rules. You can befriend and follow people here, just like you can in any other social media website. Has it never occurred to you that the most popular people aren't always the ones that have the best art? This might seem highly unfair, but this is because it's not only about art. It's about having a community sense as well!
Even though you might not be the best at art... having a great community sense will certainly help you on your way.
Make sure your artwork looks interesting as a thumbnail. The thumbnail is the first people see from your art, and will decide if people click further. How to do this? Basically it's a matter of good composition and good use of color. You can learn all these things in your regular art workshop. You can test this while working on your artwork by zooming out so far that the image becomes small. Or with traditional work; either take a picture and zoom out, or look at the work from a distance.
Make sure your artwork is of decent quality. Scan a picture, rather than photograph it. Edit your photo's to bring the best in the colors out. Make sure your digital artwork is of a decent resolution.
Despite what many people will say; DeviantArt is heavily aimed towards (anime) fanart. This doesn't mean you have to start making fanart. Just know that if you happen to make those, it'll be in your advantage. If you don't; don't be discouraged. I got this far without making fanart as well XD
Also; sex sells on DeviantArt as well. Especially on DeviantArt, you might say, since it's a community so heavily aimed towards "pretty"' characters from series/anime.
Might seem like a non-issue to an artwork... yet a good title helps you to be found in the site's search. The same goes for goes for Google and other external search engines, as the title of your work is passed to search engines. What might be a handy trick, is that if you make artwork of a certain character (fanart) or for a certain person on DeviantArt (either fanart or gifts), you include the name of the respective character or person in the title of your artwork. Characters names are a popular thing to search for so they will generate you more pageviews. Doing a gift-art for a popular artist, and including his/her name in the title too, will help you as well since you can assume many people look for this artist.
Note: only do this when your artwork really depicts this character, or this this artists character, and keep the title believable. Creating false content (a.k.a. cheating) is heavily penalized by search engines and will -in the worst case scenario- lead you to be banned from them.
Don't forget them. Keywords might not be as important off-site as a title, yet they give you a fair chance to higher your rank on DeviantArt. Important things to list here; the name of characters (mainly if fanart), the emotion the picture depicts or the scene in which the artwork takes place.
Note: Don't use too many keywords. Using too many or too irrelevant keywords will work against you, as you won't gain people that are actually interested in your work.
If you submit artwork more often, have a consistent gallery. People won't start following you until they know what to expect from you. So have a gallery that's consistent with each other. Don't mix art with personal pictures. If you do 2 completely different types of art, it might be better to create 2 accounts to keep them separate. Because in the end, too much of everything, is nothing at all.
JournalsKeep it positive!
Because our life is bad enough already when we don't see other people complain about their first world problems.
On a more serious note; we like the positive. Journals that encourage us to do something. Journals that make us think. Journals that are helpful for us, or provide us with helpful resources. Journals that provide us with insight. We don't like reading about negativity. There's nothing wrong with a good rant from time to time, but don't do it too often.
Note: The way you phrase things can make a huge difference. I could've named this journal "How not to disappear into oblivion in DeviantArt". But that would make it a whole lot less encouraging to read.
Give your journal a clear and engaging title. Something that would actually make people want to read it.
Start out with something interesting. Something that will make people stay interested. Internet is a quick medium. If you want to keep people's interest, you better catch it at the first paragraph of your journal.
Research showed that blog posts with 500 - 800 words are most likely to be read. That's enough words to actually tell people something, but also limited to prevent people from being bored (for those paying attention; I failed miserably here XD)
Don't just talk about something. Link to it as well. If you talk about a movie, phenomenon, something that happened on the internet... or whatever: link it, rather than explain it. I do this a lot when it comes to movies/researches/DA functionality that I discuss. Doing so will prevent you getting questions about things that don't really matter to you. And it'll give the reader the idea that you thought about what you wanted to tell.
If you talk about people on DeviantArt, make sure to use the dev- and icon links. These will transform into links and icons that will link to the respective user.
Use images when needed (or even when not needed). DeviantArt has no options for real text formatting in journals (or at least; not like graphic design has)... which will leave most journals look the same boring way. Images are a great way to break this and remind people where they were reading.
Where to submit
DeviantArt comes with 2 options for submitting journals; personal and journal portal. Use them wisely.
The personal option will post the journal on your profile and update your friends with it. It's best used for personal journals.
The other option will submit your journal to the journal portal where it'll be exposed for all of DeviantArt to read. This might seem as a great way to promote your work, but can also lead to a major backleash if you post something too personal and/or controversial
While a custom journal skin might look great on your homepage, be careful with this and use a skin that works in both the journal portal and on mobile. Far too often I've come across journals that failed to display in the journal portal or didn't load on my phone... with as a result that I didn't read the article at all. Also; because many people that design journal skins have rather little knowledge about how to actually make a text readable (font use and such).
When it comes to journals, it's good to prefer actual content over visuals. Neither of my journals have a customized journal skin. I stopped using them years ago, when DeviantArt released their first mobile platform. But since the default journal skin works well with the site, it's not like my articles aren't read anymore.
InteractionKeep people involved
People want to have the idea you're talking with them, rather than just to them.
If there's one thing that all people popular on social media have in common, it's the interaction with their userbase. Even asking people simple things can lead them into a friendly chat and give them the idea they're being listened to. There's that stigma on DeviantArt that all popular artists are arrogant assholes. Be sure not to validate it.
Interact, but don't spam
There's a fine line between interaction and spam. Interaction is involving people in the things you're doing or the things on your mind. Spam is when you do that too often or with subjects people couldn't care less about (like complaints about your first world problems). Be sure to be on the good side of the line.
Talk to people personally
Many artists out here are either too shy, or say they don't feel the need to reply to the messages of their fans. I beg to differ. I've send messages to the people I looked up to and I loved it when I got a reply back. It gave me the feeling that that person noticed me, even despite my art not being that good. And encounters like that could keep me inspired for days, or even weeks.
Know that whatever you do can have a great impact on people, either positive or negative. Keep this in mind and use it wisely. Even simple things like replying to a profile page message, or thanking someone for watching you, may help people to see you in a more positive daylight. And even better; it may lead them to tell their friends about you!
No matter what happens, stay friendly. Don't make nasty comments to other people. If people say hurtful things to you, have the maturity to remove their messages and ignore them (or report it to the staff, if it's really bad). Reputation is everything on the internet. Even a small reply send in a bad mood can spread around like a virus and harm your status badly.
Deviantart recently implemented the mentions system. This basically comes down to the fact that every person that tags you in a comment, journal or whatever, will get you a notification in their inbox about it... and this option is ON by default. The mentions system is a great way to keep certain people involved with whatever you're doing, by tagging them. For example if they've won something, you wanted to feature them, you've made art for them, or just wanted to say something nice about them.
Note: Tag people only for a reason. Provide content relative to their interests. Otherwise it'll be just spam.
Generating a lot of views in a short time will cause your artwork to go up in the charts. This is most likely to happen if a lot of people are online. While target groups can differ per person, most people on DeviantArt are from America. And most of them will be online during lunch-break and as soon as they get home from school/work. No matter in which timezone you are in; keep this in mind while submitting.
Note: Premium membership will make you able to schedule submissions. So you don't have to worry about living in a different timezone.
It might be a good idea to analyze the traffic that's coming to your page. Traditionally the only way to do this on DeviantArt was to keep a track of your number of pageviews/replies/watchers. Recently, however, DeviantArt included a possibility for premium members to install Google analytics. Google analytics is a great tool with countless of more options that'll help you to keep track of people's actions on your page. It might come in handy to see if your new approach is working.
Last but not least;Let me tell you that there's no magical trick to get pageviews or exposure. There's no such thing as "Do this and you'll get instant success".
Things like these are a matter of trial and error. You'll need time to find out what works and what not. And even more important: to find the way that works for you. You'll need even more time to adjust yourself to this kind of "pattern". Expecting a tremendous rise of pageviews within a matter of days is unrealistic and will only leave you disappointed if it doesn't work out. So don't get discouraged if this doesn't work in the first few days. It will work on the long run.
Just be patient and be persistent.