One of the things I mentioned in my journal about social interaction was that you should only watch a person on DeviantArt when you were genuinely interested. While that states the obvious, the statement sort of backlashed on me, and many people called me a hypocrite for saying the above thing, because I've been advertising my profile at dAhub and apparently that's one of those things you shouldn't do.
However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't think of this as bullshit.
I've been calling this whole "marketing is evil" statement on DA utter nonsense before, and I will do it again. Because it actually is. It makes completely no sense to be on a website with so many artists that want to sell their art/commissions/adoptables for a reasonable price. Yet when anyone does something marketing related, he's impure and a hypocrite for willing to market himself. Yet every single one of us complains about the prices being to damn low and how we're not able to sell a thing.
Let me tell you; I've spend 10 years of my life working at several marketing bureau's. And if there's one thing that I've learned during that time, is that in order to attract customers you can't just stand there quietly and hope people come in. It just doesn't work that way. You need to get out there. Sometimes you need to go to the city and spread your flyers everywhere. Or just buy some advertising space in a newspaper. Or buy an online advertisement space. Yes, BUY it. That's how shit works. That doesn't mean you buy people. It means you buy exposure.
Services like dAhub or dATrade are like the DeviantArt equivalent of buying advertisement space. You buy a piece of space on a busy page with many pageviews. Just like, for example, you can feature your art at my page for a few points. The chances of your icon or art getting noticed there is far higher than getting noticed at your page. After all, dAhub has a lot of watchers and probably a considerable amount of pageviews. Having your icon featured there will probably give your more exposure than you get get anywhere else, considering it's not that easy to get your work at DeviantArt's frontpage nowadays, nor is it that easy to accumulate the 37.000+ watchers dAhub has (if it were, we probably weren't all reading articles about marketing).
So what makes services like that have such a stigma? -- I asked myself.
Well part of the thing is that dAhub is known to be a bot. While a bot is nothing more than a fancy word for "robot" or "computer program" it's to most inexperienced computer users apparently synonym to "ultimate evil" and I don't quite get why. The only thing that comes to mind is an incident a few years ago, in which bots where used to generate pageviews on DeviantArt user accounts. The pageviews were of course fake (not real people) as you could expect from a computer program. And the whole thing was basically nothing more than manipulating the pageview counter. But a whole damn lot of people got angry over this issue. And eventually this lead to the banning of several pageviews-for-points accounts and the facts that such bots were made illegal.
Such bots, I say. Because basically it refers to bots that are made for one's own gain. A friendly chat with the creator of dAhub taught me that his bot wasn't of such a type and wasn't actually be considered illegal by the staff. And I mean, come on. The thing has about 2.6 million pageviews. I think the staff would've had noticed and banned it by now if they didn't agree with it. So I guess that makes it legal. Or if not completely legal; at least grey area enough to stay. The flip side about the account being machine operated, is that it actually works. It's online 24/7 because machines don't need sleep, holidays or weekends. It treats people fair, because machines don't have preferences for certain human beings over others. And, unlike with manual labor, robots like that are actually able to serve a huge amount of people. You'd need at least 5 humans to pull of the same thing as that one robot does. So whether you like or not; the bot beat us at it. And it's no shame to admit so.
Having that covered, there's that issue of services like dAhub and dATrade awarding points to people that actually watch those advertised.
While I agree that makes the system indeed a bit more unfair, the hatred systems like these get for this sole reason is imo grandly exaggerated and disproportional. Sure, there will always be those that abuse the system and watch others for points alone. But does that make the system at fault, or human nature? Tell me how different they are from the many watch-me-point-raffle journals that pop up on DeviantArt nowadays and are actually run by humans rather than bots? How many people do watch that person, with close to no interest in the art, for the pure sake of making a chance at that price? Based on my own experience (I had a watcher-related giveaway when I hit 10k once) and considering the rewards at services like dAhub and dATrade are relatively small... I can only guess the amount of fake watchers at point raffles is even higher. Because that's just the way human psychology works.
Or to hit even closer to home... How often have you liked a page on Facebook, or re-tweeted something, not because you were an avid fan of the brand, but just because you wanted to win that awesome price? It might be interesting to know there are no legal rules concerning those giveaways, though. They don't even have to give away the price. Just keep that in mind the next time you mindlessly give away your name and e-mail address to a random company.
I personally use dAhub as a portal, rather than as a means to advertisement. Considering it costs points to put your avatar on display there, you're very likely to encounter interesting and active DeviantArt users there. After all; why would one spend points (money) on his account if he didn't had the means to be at least a bit serious with it? I've met some of the most amazing people I watch there. But I'm honest enough to admit that even if I see you there but I don't like your art or the journals you write, I don't watch you either.
The point that I wanted to make with this story is not that it's okay to those services.
After all, marketing is something very personal and not every approach will fit every person. It's entirely up to you what means you want to use to either market, or not market your page. But I'm sick of every means of marketing being condemned as pure evil in the art world. Especially in a world where art prices have fallen to a bare minimum because nobody has a clue how to market himself, and people lack the confidence to properly price their work.
10 years of being in the web industry have taught me that the internet is becoming more and more of a crowded place. Just having a website isn't enough anymore. Not by far. Pay-per-click advertisement is, despite the negative stigma, actually one of the cleanest forms of advertisements. As much in-your-face as it is, it's at least honest and straight forward. And believe me; I've been around there long enough to learn about the real nasty tricks some company's have performed over the years.
It's totally okay to admit it's not your style, doesn't fit your "image" as an artist, or perhaps you're just too shy or too inexperienced to put yourself out in the open. But don't condemn others for doing it. The internet is a crowded place and the amount of people battling for your attention is immense. You might not need the attention, but some people do need it in order to sell their work and pay their bills. Advertisement has become the number 1 way the internet works nowadays. Entire industry's are build on it, and it's one of the main reasons the web has become so huge. And love it or hate it... but it's also the reason why you can see cat video's on YouTube. Because without the whole commercialization and the huge amount money involved with that, we would still be in 1995 and have really ugly websites.