Let's be honest, it can be really frustrating when you are an artist trying to showcase your work via Instagram and your follower base is just not growing. We have all been there waiting to hit that next milestone and getting to 100, 1000 or even 10k followers. Especially when we put so much effort into creating our content and putting our hearts out for the world to see.
If your current plan is to post a picture and hope for the best...well you are in the right place as that will not work!
In order to grow an account organically and gain a true following of supportive people it takes time, effort and a little bit of strategy. So in this post I want to share with you my top beginner tips and must do's to give you the best chance at getting your wonderful work seen by as many people as possible. Feel free to skip to the section most relevant for you or, read it all ;)
Back to Basics
Connecting with your audience
Hashtag Do's and Dont's
Showcase via other channels
1. Back to Basics
Privacy Settings - No art account should be set as Private! Save your private account for your friends and family. To ensure you are able to spread your artwork as far as possible you need a public account (otherwise social media will NOT work)
(Settings>Privacy>Account Privacy>Switch off private account)
Business Profile - I also recommend setting up your account as a business account. This allows you to analyse the posts and see what works and what does not work
Username - Ensure your username either talks about art or has your name/brand clearly recognisably in it. For example my username @charlottesaskiaco is the same for my email, website and happens to be my middle names.
Photo Quality - Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform. Only post images which satisfy the following criteria:
a) Images MUST be taken in natural daylight. One common mistake I see a lot is that people will want to post and image so badly (I am guilty of this myself as well) that they will take it in poorly lit rooms.
b) Ensure the image is in focus, blurry or fuzzy images are not appealing and people will skip past them
c) Composition is important. Think about images you usually stop and like, they are nicely composed and tell a story.
d) DO NOT use filers. Your artwork needs to be fairly represented to avoid people being disappointed when it arrives. brightening images etc is fine, but pre-set Instagram filters distort the colours and do not do your work justice
2. Connecting with your Audience
With the ever changing Instagram algorithm it is now more important than ever to be active on the platform. It is estimated that only 10% of people will see your posts on their feed when they follow you! So if you are reading this and thinking, I schedule my posts and are done with it, think again. You are losing out! The more effort you put in, the more you now get out. You need to engage with others so that you will get engagement and followers yourself. Its a cycle.
So how do you connect with them....
Write engaging captions - This is your chance to explain your process, inspiration, or just something about you. I like to try and change up the content of my captions to go through different things and try to not repeat anything. One really nice idea is to every so often (maybe at a milestone) introduce yourself and tell your followers some new information about you! Your followers do not just like your pictures, they are also there to get to know you and why you create your art.
Another useful caption tip to engage your audience is to ask a question or ask them to do something. For Example: "Do you like this post? Comment Y or N below!". This is what is known as a Call to Action and it signals to the person who is reading that you want them to do something. This is very engaging as people feel it is easier to respond as there is only 2 options. Try it on your next post, ask a question or action!
Below are some examples from my page all featuring the same painting but with different captions and CTA's
Reply to comments on your posts - This for me is a MUST. People have taken the time to offer their feedback and support. The least you can do is thank them and say you appreciate their comment.
Note: Instagram algorithm rewards accounts which are responding and engaging with their followers. So it is an added bonus for being appreciative
Create stories which are interactive - Allow your followers to interact with you via multiple different ways. Stories are a great way not only for you to gather information about your followers through questions, but also your followers can tell you what they think, give their opinions or advice! I try to post a story every day with a question, poll or interactive feature.
Note: Instagram algorithm rewards accounts which are using all of the features they offer. So go on...what are you waiting for...ask a question on your story now...I dare you!
Check your messages and respond to any private questions or inquiries - It is really important to know that some people may choose to send you a DM or private message instead of commenting. It is important to not forget that these people are just as valuable to you. Respond and interact with them, help them with questions. You are not just showcasing your artwork, but are also on a social platform so BE SOCIAL!! :D
3) Hashtags Do's and Dont's
I am sure if you are reading this post that you use hashtags on Instagram but, most definitely ask these questions...How many do you use? How do you choose them? Where do I put them? Like you I had these feelings and so I want to share what I have learnt!
Hashtags if used correctly can be the make or break of your post! You could have the most wonderful content, but, if you use the incorrect hashtags you will not reach your target audience and will not have a successful post.
1. Don’t use hashtags that are too popular
2. Don’t use irrelevant hashtags such as #happy
3. Don’t change hashtags for each new post (see Do's for how to do this)
4. Don’t copy your competitors hashtags exactly - BE UNIQUE
5. Don’t use hashtags that contain jargon or industry keywords
1. Do choose descriptive Hashtags relative to your content
2. Do use all 30 Hashtags. There has been debates around this recently but, I have not found posting less than 30 to be beneficial so I have returned back!
3. Do change your Hashtags every few weeks, this will help you reach new audiences
4. Do conduct Hashtag research. Check out this blog post for more information on this
5. Do create a “set” of hashtags that will work for every picture in your feed.
By following these Hashtag tips you will optimise your chances of being discovered by new followers and help you reach your target audience quicker and more successfully.
4. Be Reliable
When you post regularly you stay top of mind for your followers and this will help you to build a connection with them and grow your loyal audience. If you do not post frequently you will get lost in the algorithm and never be found again (I am joking). But, in all seriousness, by not posting you will go to the bottom of your followers feed.
Pick a schedule which works for you. That may be every day, every 2 days or 3 times per week - You need time for art as well!! But, stick to it and make a promise to yourself and your followers to do it.
Tip: When you are creating art and cannot post, include these updates on your story to stay connected to your audience this way.
You can see what time of day is optimum as well for your followers. You can check this via the insights page. Knowing the right time to post can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement. And the faster you get engagement, the better.
5. Showcase via other channels
Sometimes all it take is a multichannel effort to reach people who already like your work but, do not know about your account. These are the easiest ways to do this:
a) Post your account to all your other socials.
b) Include your Instagram on your Website and ensure to include the Instagram Logo. I also have my Instagram gallery linked directly to my website, so my content is constantly updating
c) Speak about your account at work, at the pub etc
d) Ensure your business cards contain your Instagram - Carry them with you at ALL times (you never know...)
e) Signs at craft fairs, shows, galleries etc including your Instagram
It can be done.
It is not a quick fix and it takes time and effort.
If the content you post is great and you follow my advice above you will be growing your account in no time!