Today, I wanted to sit down and have a serious conversation about Instagram. It's such a fun platform, and for years, it was just that for me--a fun way to share photos and progress of my work each day. Like an online visual diary of sorts. I treated my Instagram account like a blog, and it was fun. And then I got serious and started to see some serious results.
In the past year and a half, my relationship to the social media platform has completely changed. And I've learned a tremendous amount in the few short months especially, all because of some small but crucial adjustments in my understanding of how to use this powerful tool in my art business.
Today, if you go to my Instagram account, you'll see that as of this date, I have 29,000 people following me. 3 months ago, that number was less than half of that. And a year ago, I was stuck at around 5,000 followers and quite frankly, pretty happy to have even that. But this is not about the numbers. This is about the outcome.
Numbers are great, but I'm even more excited about what's come out of me treating Instagram more seriously and of thinking more strategically about my place as an artist on social media in general.
- A year and a half ago, I received my very first licensing deal from an art company based in Australia. They found me on Instagram.
- Before I could reach 10,000 followers this year, I was contacted by the Huffington Post to be 1 of the 4 artists featured in a faith-based series. They found me on Instagram.
- An interior designer who purchased a print from me years ago, passed my name along to Ebony Magazine who recently featured me in their Home Decor lineup on stands around the country. The interior designer found me on Instagram.
- An admirer of my work and now friend, passed my details along to a beautiful venue in Los Angeles, with the likes of Coldplay, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Beyonce attending as well as TV shows, movies, and weddings filming there with my paintings on the walls as we speak. And you know the first place she sent them to have them consider my work? Instagram.
And that's just me, not doing anything really unusual or particularly special other than consistently sharing quality posts and now videos of my art and creative process. There are countless others with even bigger wins and followings than myself, and believe me, Instagram is like a full-time job for them. But so many of us artists are late to the party.
Most artists continue to treat their Instagram like a blog, when really they should look at it like a visual resume or online gallery. Furthermore, the major shift for me was when I started to realize that a successful Instagram account is less about you, and more about your audience and how you create a visual experience for them to enjoy on a regular basis.
So here's some reasons why I KNOW artists can crush it on Instagram:
- Instagram is a visual platform. Art is visual. This is a no brainer. Like Pinterest, people go to Instagram just to see beautiful things. As long as you're creating beautiful work, people will find you. And follow you in droves.
- Each of us produce artwork that is unique, from our hearts and souls. It's not a manufactured item. People resonate and admire that alone. It also provides opportunity for education because people will always want to learn how to create.
- We're one of the few industries that can post our art/handmade items ONLY and get away with that. People don't need to see your house, your cool outfit, your dog, your boo--you get the picture. You are NOT a lifestyle blogger. What a relief! We don't have to share our personal lives or pretend to be happy on those sucky days to make an impact. This is also why a lot of people get fed up with social media these days because you can get burned out. But when you keep it about the art and the art alone, you can be sustainable.
- We can produce original content everyday and never run out of material. Our art comes from an endless source of creativity and inspiration. This alone gives us a unique advantage.
- We don't need a team to share our information. We don't need hair and makeup, perfect lighting, or even props. Our art can stand on its own!
- People CRAVE creativity and color on their feeds. I can't tell you how many people message me and tell me how happy my work makes them when they scroll upon it. How they look forward to my posts each day. Every artist out there can have that same impact and should.
- We can show process and progress videos in a way that no other industry can. This is powerful!! And the best way to drive your followings through the roof.
- Artists find other artists. We can support and lift each other up along the way. The tide truly does rise all boats in this instance.
These are just some of the few examples I could come up with in a few minutes!
Instagram is largely becoming not only a major driver for online traffic and exposure, but it is also headed to be a platform for selling your work. And indeed, trends like pop-up shops, and artist collectives are proof that you can sell an original work of art right off of Instagram even with no mailing list or website. Game changer.
I really love where things are headed for creatives and online businesses in general. It's been a crazy year, and when Instagram announced it's new algorithm changes, so many of us were freaked out and thought for sure it would be the end of whatever amount of success and income we've been able to attain because of the platform. But, I wholeheartedly believe that the opposite effect is true.
I believe that the new algorithms have IMPROVED the likelihood that small accounts and emerging artists will be found by new people each day. And I believe this so strongly that I started offering one-on-one consultations and workshops to help train artists on how to do this.
Some of the most obvious things include learning how to take beautiful photos and posting regularly, but because of the new algorithm changes, there are also a lot of other techy things that you can master quickly to see the engagement and virility of your content increase.
Okay, enough of me nerding out here. I seriously could talk about Instagram for hours, but I just wanted to say, DO IT.
If you were waiting to have the perfect website first, or get gallery representation first, or even sell your first painting before you start taking Instagram seriously, don't.
I am so excited to see how Instagram and social media in general will continue to make an impact on small business owners and emerging artists worldwide and happy to have this conversation.
What has been your experience with Instagram so far? Have you had any cool things happen because of it? Share your stories (and your Instagram handle) in the comments below!
Download a free copy of the Artist's Guide on How to Rock Instagram here: