Long gone are the days when artists relied on curators and galleries to sell their work.
In this age, there is a virtual gallery for artists with greater reach than any brick and mortar. That gallery is called Instagram.
With artists like Ashley Longshore who uses the platform to sell her paintings for upwards of $30,000, it’s no surprise that Vogue named the Gram “The Most Talked About New Art Dealer”.
So posting my art on Instagram is the key to being a successful artist?
Well, not exactly. Instagram has proven to be an amazing marketing tool for artists and has skyrocketed many creatives to viral success. But Instagram is just a tool. As with any tool, you must use it properly to see results.
10 Tips For Using Instagram To Promote Your Artwork and Increase Sales
- Make great art that is unique to you
Now this seems like a given, but it must be said. Don’t make art FOR Instagram. You should be creating original work that is true to yourself.
People can see when your work lacks authenticity. If you’re rushing through pieces just to have something to post, or making art with the intent to go viral, it will be obvious to your followers. It will also discourage you down the line because you won’t be satisfied with your finished product(s).
Take your time, hone your craft and make sure that you’re putting out quality work that reflects who you are.
- Set up a business profile
You will want to set up a business account on Instagram, not a personal account. Instagram’s business tools will help you keep track of your audience engagement and growth. Remember, artists are business people too.
- Establish a brand identity and stick to it
Okay now it’s time for the fun stuff! If you haven’t already, figure out your artistic identity and how you want to incorporate it into your Instagram. Things like your brand’s color scheme/aesthetic, your subject matter, your personal inspirations, your brand voice and more should shape your daily posts. Are you a quirky pop-surrealist with a love of all things bizarre? Are you a passionate activist who creates politically charged pieces to bring awareness to social justice issues? Are you an expert crafter with a passion for DIY projects? Establishing a clear identity will make your page more attractive to your target audience. It may take you a little while to find your style but once you do, stick to it! Consistency is key to growing your brand.
- Take great photos of your work and curate great content
Instagram is a highly visual platform so great photos and videos are usually the main thing that will attract users to your profile. All artists should have basic photography skills, and not just for Instagram – you’ll need great pictures for your website, your portfolio, marketing materials, and more. Some artists choose to combine their business and personal profile. Do this with caution. Your followers do want to see glimpses of your life as an artist, but even personal posts should relate to your business in some way. Unless the omelette you had for breakfast looks like one of your paintings, save it for your personal page.
- Post frequently
Now this one is tough, especially for artists. With pieces that take several days, weeks or months to complete, how can you find something to post every day? This is where you need to get creative with your content. You can post sneak peaks of what you’re working on, highlight some of the tools that you use, or even just post yourself -- people do like to see the artist behind the work too! When you post frequently, you become more visible on the platform and become a part of your followers’ lives. This helps you build your following more quickly and be more likely to convert followers to customers.
- Use Hashtags to Boost Your Growth
Hashtags are one of Instagram’s most notable features and incorporating clever hashtags into your posts is a great way to make your profile discoverable. Find as many relevant hashtags as you can think of, and tailor them to fit each post. When people click on that hashtag, they may visit your page and give you a follow. Be careful that your hashtags are relevant to the content you are posting, so you don’t turn potential followers away for using clickbait. Leave these tags in the first comment of your post to keep your captions from looking spammy.
- Engage your audience and respond to comments
Chatting with your followers is great for boosting engagement and making your profile more attractive to potential followers. Instagram’s algorithm makes more engaged profiles more discoverable across the platform. More importantly, it helps you build a community that people will want to remain a part of. Your followers fall in love with the artist just as much as they do with the art. If they want to talk to you, ask you questions, or offer advice, welcome them and respond! This will not only give you valuable insight into your audience, it will help cultivate those important relationships that all businesses strive to have with their customer base.
- Host contests and giveaways
Let’s face it, people love free stuff. Encourage followers to tag friends, or post your products to their Instagram story in exchange for special discounts or even free merchandise.
- Run Instagram Ads
Instagram ads are a great tool for promoting your art. Pro tip: Promote posts that already have a high engagement level compared to your other content. These posts are more likely to attract new fans, giving you the biggest return on your investment.
- Take advantage of Instagram’s Business Tools
When you set up a business profile, you have access to tons of great in-app business tools to help you gain insight into your audience and monitor the success of your posts. Use these tools to plan your future posts so they can get more traction.
In summary, Instagram can be a life-changing business tool for artists when you take advantage of all the platform has to offer. The more of these techniques that you can incorporate into your schedule, the more results you will see! However, do not let the app keep you from growing as an artist. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay if you aren’t at the level of another artist. Most people do not become a success overnight and it’s never as easy as it may look. Trust your process, and keep creating!