When it comes to Instagram for Artists, many artists are struggling to be seen. It can be so frustrating, you post diligently, but feedback and interaction can be hard to come by. So how should you get your art noticed on Instagram?
First, tune-up your profile. It should be clear why you are showing up on Instagram and who you hope to connect with. Once that’s out of the way, begin to utilize ALL of Instagram’s features. Instagram delivers more traffic to users who are utilizing all that they have to offer (especially the newest features.) Make sure you are taking full advantage of the main grid, multiple image posts, video, Stories, IGTV, Reels, and Shopping. And finally, engage with other users on the platform.
Instagram for Artists
Instagram has become the social media of choice for many artists, and for good reason: it is built on a foundation of images. Gone are the days of flipping magazine pages and skimming the beautiful pictures. Instead, consumers now turn to Instagram to entertain themselves while waiting or relaxing.
While this makes for the perfect way to get in front of potential buyers, the competition is tough! There are millions of accounts vying for the same space. So how do you compete as an artist?
First, you’re going to need to set up (or tune up) a killer profile. Next, you’ll want to plan out your content so that you utilize all the features that Instagram has to offer. And finally, you’ll want to engage with your followers and other accounts.
Ready? Let’s go!
Setting Up (Or Tuning Up) Your Profile
Your username is one of the first things other people see when you engage with users. Your username is limited to 30 characters and must contain only letters, numbers, underscores, and periods.
Your full name is fine, but it is best to include what you do if you can. (This will depend on availability and the length of your name.) Your username will be the only indicator of who you are when you leave a comment on other profiles. If your comment is interesting enough, people will click on your username to see your account.
Each of the following accounts will be found if you search for “SuzieJones.” But the second and third usernames tell you something about what to expect if you click through to the account. Because of this, They are slightly more enticing.
Instagram gives you space for both a username and an official name. The “name” is the name in bold in your bio. This can have capital letters, symbols, spaces, and other simple formatting.
Instagram only searches keywords in your name and username (not the rest of your bio). Therefore, it is best to not repeat keywords in both names.
Use your full name, and if room, something descriptive about what you do. For example, in the case of Suzie Jones, above, we might choose: Suzie Jones – Original Oil Paintings
Keep in mind that you can change your Name twice every two weeks. So, if you’re promoting a show or something special, you can include it in your name and then change it back later.
It’s completely optional, but a nice touch. You can add your pronouns to your profile without taking space from your profile description to do so.
Your Profile Description has one purpose: to let your followers know who you are, why you show up to this platform, and who you are looking to connect with. You only have 150 characters to accomplish this goal, so it’s important to keep it short, but intriguing.
If you’re unsure where to start, you can begin with this template:
(type of artist) creating (type of artwork) for (type of people)
This template is very simple, yet very powerful because it forces you to define your niche and your target audience all in one sentence. Here are some examples:
Mixed-media artist creating powerful abstractions of cityscapes for contemporary urbanites.
Acrylic painter creating subdued surreal landscapes for calm spiritual interiors.
Sculptor conjuring realistic renderings of mythical creatures for reincarnated warriors.
Notice that these examples are short and straightforward, but also bring up a sense of curiosity to see more from the artist.
TIPS: Try to include interesting descriptive words. Remember that this sentence is really just to pin down the main theme of your art. It does not mean it’s the only thing you can post.
Next, if you still have room, you can add additional helpful information such as the type of work you seek, your studio location, or your own personal hashtag.
Examples: “Commissions Welcome” “Denver, CO” or “#abstracturbanite”
There’s no light way to say this. People want to see your face. Your real face.
Before you completely resist this and use something else for a profile picture, remember this: You are using Instagram to sell your art. To do so, your collectors want to know, like, and trust YOU. It’s hard to develop a connection with someone when they won’t show you their own face.
So, get a nice clear photo of your face in natural lighting. Feel free to touch it up in photoshop if you must. And post that picture as your profile picture.
Your profile link is one of the main benefits of Instagram. It’s your call to action!
If you have one online shop or portfolio you want people to see, use that link. However, if you have several links you refer to in your feed, you can use a service like LinkTree to show multiple links. A less expensive alternative is to create a page on your website specifically for links, then use that URL in your Instagram profile.
Clean Up & Archive
If you have been using Instagram for some time, you may have a hybrid account. This is when you have all types of different posts in your feed. Maybe you have some art, but also some dinners, and old high school friends, and a visit to the doctor.
If this is the case, you should consider separating your personal account from your art account. Separating your Instagram account involves archiving all of the posts that are not related to your art and gives a much more professional feel to your account.
In addition to removing non-relevant posts, you should archive all artworks that you’ve previously posted with a watermark. Watermarks do not help protect your art from theft and only make you look like a rookie. It is better to repost that work again without the watermark.
Finally, now is a good time to archive any artwork that does not put your best foot forward. It is perfectly fine to show your journey and progression. But, if you have old photos that were posted that are out of focus, grainy, or with a yellow background, go ahead and archive them.
Cleaning up and archiving your feed can be difficult, but should be done regularly.
Plan Your Feed
As you begin to plan your new feed, remember that your goals: 1) connect with interested collectors and buyers, 2) establish trust, and 3) sell your artwork.
Every post you create should be made with these goals in mind. You want your audience to know, like, and trust you. To do this, you should try to provide both variety and consistency by utilizing all of the features that Instagram has to offer.
How Artists Use Instagram’s Main Grid
Curate a Visual Story
The best artist Instagram feeds do more than catalog finished artwork. They curate a visual story that a collector can connect with. Collectors come to Instagram for inspiration and connection. So, when you share your own stories, potential collectors see themselves in your stories and connect.
You can tell your artist story using images and long-form captions. When you share why you create your work and what inspires you, you create a deeper connection with your audience.
Mood boards are traditionally created by interior designers. Multiple inspirations are posted onto one board that create an overall feeling or look they are trying to convey to a client. Some artists are creating mood boards in their Instagram feeds.
The most successful accounts plan nine to 12 squares in their grid that feature a finished piece of artwork, the artwork in a setting, some detail shots, other settings where the work would fit in, and even quotes that convey the mood of the finished piece. Mood boards add context to the finished work by conveying a vibe about the finished piece.
An inspiration wall is similar to a mood board, and some artists are using a combination of both techniques. While the mood board speaks to where finished work might be the best fit, the inspiration wall speaks to the genesis of the artwork. Inspiration walls might include images of inspiring words or quotes, studio shots, reference photos, and process photos.
How Artists Use Instagram’s Multiple Image (Carousel) Posts
Share a Step-by-Step Process
Artists are sharing mini-tutorials using the multiple-image post feature. Instagram recently expanded the ability to post multiple images at a time from 3 to 8. Essentially, this feature can be used as a swipe-able slideshow.
Even if you don’t care to share your exact technique, you can capitalize on this idea by sharing images of your work in various stages. Simply post a finished image of the work, along with multiple process shots. In your caption, let your audience know they can swipe for more details.
Share a Story
Fun and quirky stories can be told using the multiple-image post feature. Telling stories helps your audience to know, like and trust you.
For example, one artist showed the story of purchasing new supplies by capturing images on her way to the supply store as well as some of the things that distracted her from her mission. What story can you tell in a fun, unusual or entertaining way?
Help your audience trust you by educating them on your subject matter. Multiple image posts are perfect for laying out the steps of a process, telling the history of your craft, or educating your collectors on how to use or display your artwork. Don’t worry, you can educate your audience without revealing your trade secrets. Share the parts you feel most comfortable with.
How Artists Use Instagram’s Video
Instagram has announced that it is a video-sharing platform. This means that Instagram strongly favors video content in its algorithm. Check out this updated article for reels ideas: 101 Short Video Ideas for Artists.
Show Yourself Working
By far one of the most engaging uses of video is short clips in which you can see the artist working on something. They never get old. These videos do not have to be long, nor do they have to share your secret techniques. Mostly, these just provide a small insight into the life and studio of an artist.
You can do a very short video of just one paint stroke, or a longer video showing more processes. Whatever you decide to do, you cannot go wrong with posting more videos.
Time-lapse video is fast and fascinating and can make the most mundane studio tasks seem exciting. Even a video showing you pack artwork to ship done as a time-lapse is engaging. So, if you are thinking of doing a video but are concerned that the topic may be somewhat boring, switch on your time-lapse feature on your cell phone camera. Your audience will thank you.
There are many ways to create animations from still photos. There are some apps that can do the work for you. Apple has a feature in their image storage that will create animations from still shots taken in a short period.
Some artists are creating flat lay animations from images cut out of their artwork that is extremely engaging and a great way to make your two-dimensional work stand out.
How Artists Use Instagram’s Stories
One of the beautiful features of Instagram stories is that they only last for 24 hours. Because of this, stories are ideal for sharing anything that you might not want to keep around.
The Stories feature is great for camera-shy artists who are trying selfies or videos. This is because no matter how awkward you feel about your posting, it will only last 24 hours.
Here are some ways that artists are using the stories feature:
Announcements, Shows and Sales
Got anything happening that will be ending soon? Stories are a great way to make announcements and calls to action because they are only going to be posted on your account for a short time.
Spur of the Moment Musings
Care to be silly or make a political statement that you don’t want to post on your main grid?
Behind the Scenes
Maybe your studios a mess and you don’t want a permanent photo of it. Again, stories are a great way to show the truth about what goes on behind the scenes without having a permanent record of it.
Non-art Related Activities
Sometimes we want to share some information that is not related to our art account. Stories are a great place to do that.
Shout Outs to Other Artists
You can repost and give praise to your favorite artists and feeds. When you see a post in your feed, click on the small paper plane and re-post it to your stories. Not sure what to post? Start with some quotes or jokes!
Were you recently featured on a website or in some other feed? Take a screenshot and repost it with some gratitude for the recognition in your stories.
Your Own Posts
Want to call attention to an important post? It doesn’t matter if it’s a new post, or an older one, just re-post it to your stories.
How Artists Use Instagram’s IGTV
IGTV is ideal for videos that may be too long for your feed or reels. Many artists who create tutorials or do artist demonstrations are saving their videos in the IGTV area of Instagram.
Much like a tutorial, IGTV is wonderful for demonstrating your art techniques, even if you are not intending to teach your process. Because IGTV allows for a longer video. In addition, Instagram will serve up your videos so that your followers can binge-watch them, one after another.
Artist Talks and Presentations
If you’ve been tasked with giving an artist talk or presentation at a show or event, film it so that you can post it permanently on your IGTV. You can even do it live if you want your audience to be able to interact as you give the talk.
How Artists Use Instagram’s Reels
Out of all the features, Instagram is rewarding those who learn how to create reels. If you were to do nothing else other than post entertaining reels to your Instagram account, your account will grow a following.
With Reels, you create one or more video clips that stitch together to tell a story. You can add filters, text, and animations. Then, you post them to your story or your feed. If you post them to your feed, Instagram will also make a separate tab to save your Reels at the top of your account so your followers can binge-watch them.
Show a step-by-step of the process you use to create an aspect of your art. Create short video clips that zoom in on the details of your process. For example, if you are a painter, create clips of mixing paint on your pallet, choosing a brush, dipping the brush into your paint, and pulling a stroke.
Tours of Your Space or Artwork
Give small tours of your creative space. Include your workbench or tabletops, your tools, supplies, and materials. People love to see artist studios, so share as much or as little as you like.
Show off your inspirations. Your inspirations and source material are perfect for reels. Is your work inspired by nature? Make a reel on your next hike. You get the idea … make some reels of the subjects, textures and moods that inspire your artwork.
Highlight Your Personality
Reels are a great way to show off your sense of humor and personality. Take a moment to watch reels that are currently trending and save the audio from one that inspires you to do your own lipsynch or dance.
101 More Ideas
Looking for more Reels ideas? Here are 101 short video ideas that can be used for reels.
How Artists are Using the Shopping Feature
Instagram has recently announced that for the foreseeable feature they will be focusing on videos . . . and . . . SHOPPING!
If you haven’t set up a shoppable Instagram yet, now is the time to consider it. Setting up any shop is a bit of an undertaking; however, the rewards on Instagram are great.
Instagram is partnering with several shopping platforms, so it’s quite possible you can import your shop listings right into the platform.
Once your listings are in your Instagram shop, you can tag your items in your posts, stories, and reels. Your audience can click on the shopping link and walla, purchase made. It’s as easy as that.
Manage Your Instagram
Instagram is a huge platform that can suck up a lot of your creative time and energy if you aren’t careful. This is why it is imperative that you manage your Instagram.
There are several social media management apps that help you plan and automatically schedule your posts. These are very convenient because they allow you to batch your content in one sitting, then post over the next week (or month). They are very helpful for planning and writing effective captions as well as employing a relevant hashtag strategy. This gives you consistency without requiring you to work on it every single day.
Of the paid apps, Planoly has a free plan that will allow you to schedule up to 30 posts every day. This is a stand-out app because it is the only one that has a visual planner (allows you to see what your feed will look like when your posts have been published.) However, it has its quirks. It also is known for glitching when it’s time to post larger files, sending all your hard work down the drain.
But, did you know that Instagram has a free scheduler? It can be found in the Facebook Business Suite. You can schedule multiple posts and it is very good about posting larger files. Unfortunately, it does not yet offer a visual planner, but they are adding features all the time.
Engage with Other Users on Instagram
In a perfect Instagram world, all of the people you interact with were attracted to your account. They noticed your beautiful artwork, witty comments, and perfectly selected hashtags. Your account is so huge, you can hardly respond to all the DM’s wanting to buy your work. Right?
If this is how you’re using Instagram, you’re missing out on at least half of the benefit of being on Instagram.
Remember all those people you want to connect with? They’ve got profiles they’ve set up to attract YOU. So don’t forget to identify people and accounts that could be helpful to your art business and take some time to methodically engage with them. You can beat the Instagram algorithm by going directly to the people you’d like to connect with.
Artists who fully utilize all of the features on the Instagram platform are more likely to get noticed. Instagram is constantly adding new features to its platform. If you find that your Instagram account has stopped growing, it may be because you are not utilizing all of their features. As an artist, you should take advantage of those features to keep your audience connected and engaged.