It may sound crazy but numbers do matter when it comes to social media. Yes you only need one buyer per artwork, but the more people you can get your artwork in front of, the better your chance of finding that one buyer.
In this tutorial we will look at 11 ways you can use to grow your Instagram following.
If you are not familiar with Instagram, or how to use it, then you should first follow my Beginner's Guide to Instagram tutorial before continuing with this one.
Okay let's dive right in and learn how to increase our Instagram followers.
1) Post with a Purpose
Realise why you have created your Instagram account.
Is it to post any and all images that take your fancy?
Is it to purely sell your artworks?
Is it to promote your name as an artist?
Is it to build a sense of knowing with your audience - you want them to feel like they know you personally.
Is it to have a large follower number that you can brag about?
All of these, and many more, are valid reasons for having an Instagram account.
Knowing the purpose of your Instagram will help you determine what type of content you are going to post to your account.
If your purpose is to sell artworks, then posting pictures of your kids at the park is not going to achieve that goal.
If however you are trying to create a sense of knowing, then posting pictures of yourself playing with the kids at the park would make perfect sense as it reveals a part of your personality.
Every time you are considering a picture to post, ask yourself: Will this image / video enhance the purpose of my account?
1) Post with a Purpose
This may seem difficult when you first create your account, but even a new account needs a goal to strive towards.
Without goals you are a rudderless ship.
With your Instagram account you can have multiple goals. Some of them would be short term, others long term. You are a few examples of goals which you might decide to see it for yourself.
a) Reaching the purpose of the account.
b) Reaching a specific number of followers.
c) Creating awareness for an upcoming exhibition.
d) Selling your latest painting.
e) Getting x number of visitors to your website per month.
and so on...
Sit down and decide on three goals for your Instagram account. Start with the long term goal.
What must your account achieve over the next year or more.
[Let's say you want to get 100 000 followers]
With that goal in mind, what's must happen in the medium term (1 months to 1 year) in order for you to achieve your long term goal?
[You may decide that in the medium term you would need to get 10 000 new followers per month]
Keeping both of these goals in mind decide what short term goals will get you there. Short term is between one day and one month.
[You may decide that you want to grow by 100 followers in your first week, gradually building up to 300 followers per day in order to reach your goal of 10 000 new followers per month.]
When setting your goals always tag a date to them otherwise they just become moving goal posts which you never reach.
With your goals in mind you can use the next strategy.
3) Have a Plan of Action
Used your goals to set yourself a plan of action. The way you do this is to break down your goals into specific action steps.
For example, in order to reach your short term goal of 100 followers per week, you may decided that you need to post once per day as well as follow 10 new artists every day.
Once you have concrete actionable steps / tasks to do, reaching your goals becomes measurable allowing you to tell whether you are going to reach your goal or not by the set date.
You can now also schedule these tasks into your diary. That way you know they are going to get done.
4) Plan Your Content
Now that you have specific tasks to accomplish and know how often you need to post, you can sit down and plan the actual posts themselves.
For example, if you paint two new artworks per week and you know that you need to post every day in order to achieve your goals, you may decide to post two progress photos plus the final artwork to Instagram for each artwork you complete. That way you have 6 photos to post per week.
Can you now see how you have drilled down from rough goals to very specific tasks and content which will get you to that goal? Suddenly you know exactly what to do in order to make your Instagram account grow.
During this planning phase you must however not lose sight of the purpose of your Instagram account. Your posts must always serve their intended purpose.
Rather cut back or modify your goals than post irrelevant content to your account.
Remember that people will be attracted to your account by the content you post. If they are interested in your content they will follow you. If you post content they are not interested in they will unfollow you.
In other words the content you post is meant to achieve a specific purpose. By posting that content you will attract the people who are also interested in the same purpose, whether they realise it or not.
5) Post Quality Content
The photos and videos you post must look good. By that I don't mean you have to get a professional photographer in, along with a choreographer and a make-up artist for every photo you take.
You want to post photos that are inviting. Some of the ways you achieve inviting photos are:
a) Keep It Simple - People are scrolling past tons of pictures in their newsfeed. Their brain only has split seconds to decide if your photo is worthy of closer inspection. If your pic is too busy or cluttered, their brain will decide to skip it.
b) Have Good Lighting - Don't take a photo of your artwork sitting in the corner of a dark room. Make sure the colours are well reproduced so it shows the artwork to the best of its ability.
c) Be In Focus - Use a tripod or at least two hands when taking the photo. Nowadays we can instantly see what the photo looks like and can instantly retake the photo if it doesn't look good. There is no excuse to post out of focus photos.
These are the kinds of things you need to pay attention to when taking your photos. As you can see the things that make your photos look good are not difficult and don't cost money, a little bit of care and effort is all it takes.
6) Spare a Thought for the Caption
The caption you add to the pic is just as important as the photo itself.
You can use the caption to convey emotions and feelings not possible in a photo. Of course things like artwork dimensions and price are things that also can be added to the caption.
Use the caption area wisely as it can increase sales, sense of knowing and so on, dramatically.
When deciding what to put in your caption always use key phrases that people will search for inside the text. That will increase the chance of your post showing up inside search results.
7) Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a key part of the search process on Instagram. If you don't add hashtags then Instagram can only rely on the text in your caption in order to decide whether to show your post in the search results.
Choose hashtags that the people you are targeting will naturally search for. For example, if you are selling oil paintings then hashtags like #oilpainting, #fineart, #oilpaint, #artoftheday would be good ones to use as those are hashtags people interested in oil painting would search for.
8) Post Consistently
Once you have set up a posting schedule / strategy stick to it.
In an ideal world you would even post at the same time every day. That way your followers will get to know, expect and look forward to your next post at that time.
That is the power of social media - who would have ever thought that your customers would look forward to you selling them stuff? Amazing isn't it!
I realise that posting at the same time every day may not be possible, but there are services that can do it for you.
You add the post content and the correct times to post into the app and their system takes care of the rest for you. You could even schedule your posts weeks in advance using these apps.
Two of the most popular posts scheduling apps are Sendible and Hootsuite.
You also want to post at a time that is best suited to your followers. You don't want to post when they are asleep or too busy to look at your post. You want to post when they are active online and most likely to pay attention to your posts. Keep this in mind when scheduling your posts.
9) Build a Network
Use Instagram to connect with fellow artists who have similar ambitions and goals to yourself. That way you can promote each other and feed off each other's success.
You do this by following, liking and commenting on the posts of people you want to connect with.
Don't however do it in a stalking manner. Be genuine and genuinely build up these relationships.
The days of the jealous artist are gone. There are enough customers for all of us to earn a comfortable income without having to jealously guard against the other's success.
In fact it is the informed artists like ourselves, who work together, who are having the most success and the old, jealous bunch are falling by the wayside.
Connect with other Instagram artists and help each other as much as you can. It will come back to you tenfold in followers and sales.
10) Spread the Word
The Internet is an almost infinitely large place which means you have infinite opportunities to promote. By the same token you also have infinite chance of getting lost in the crowd.
Use every opportunity you have to tell people about your Instagram account in order to get the word out.
Remember that you are one of millions so need to shout loud in order to be heard above the din of the crowd.
Post about your Instagram to your Twitter account, tell your Facebook friends about it, add a link to your email signature, and so on.
When chatting to people face to face, mention your Instagram account.
Add the link onto your business card.
You get the picture.....every single opportunity you have, promote, promote, promote.
The amazing thing with Instagram is that the more it sees you are promoting your account, the more it will promote for you. This is how viral accounts happen.
You can get the ball rolling by sharing this post with your artist friends so I get some exposure, then you add the link to your art related Instagram account in the comments below so you get exposure.
11) Never Stop Learning
Instagram is not set in stone. It is like a living organism. The platform is constantly changing. The algorithm that determines how posts rank in the search results is constantly changing. The things people like to look at is constantly changing.
Keep learning what works on Instagram and keep trying small changes to your posts to see if you get a better response from those changes.
That is how you keep up to date and on trend with what works and what doesn't anymore.
Follow this process and you will see magnificent results with your Instagram marketing efforts.
Keep me updated about how it is going with your Instagram account.