10 Steps to Start Instagram for Artists
Pick a username that will quickly identify who you are, preferably some form of your real name and the fact that you are an artist. Often a clever or obscure name leaves the follower asking, “who’s work is this again?” This is your business, so make it separate from your personal life and IG account, make it start by saying “I am an Artist”. Set your account to public and be accessible as possible.
2. PROFILE PHOTO
Make sure you have a good profile photo (preferably of you) and a nice description of who you are and what you do in your about section. Be thoughtful about your brand and who you are as an artist. Are you telling the same story with all of your online profiles? Be authentic, but don’t waiver in your assertion that you are an artist. And put a link to your website or public Facebook so people can find out more about you.
3. GREAT PHOTOS
Bright and light photos get noticed more quickly. Don't use clever filters. Photographing in the shade of a sunny day is ideal, otherwise use the app settings to adjust brightness and contrast to improve the photo quality. Or use another app like A Color Story to edit your photos and then post them on your feed. Take dozens of photos to get a few good ones. They don’t have to be posted all at once; save your best and spread them out through the day or week. As “insta” as Instagram seems, you can post when you are ready to tell your story.
Be thoughtful about what you share. Think of your feed as a well curated gallery. How do your photos look together? What story are you telling your followers? Have you shared behind the scenes, events and things that inspire your art? Not all artists have the same story to share, but when you think about who you are today as an artist, are you telling that story in photos? The last photos in your feed are the first to be seen. Will these six or twelve be enough to convince someone to follow you?
Write a good description for each post. What are people looking at? How are you feeling? Ask a question. Be engaging! I find that the more I share, the better engagement I get. At the very least you should share information about the materials used and the size of the work the viewer is looking at. *Note* Be cautious of over selling. Too many "for sale" posts and you will just come off as spamming your audience.
Hashtags are useful. I know some people think it's obnoxious to use too many, but Hashtags = a way to be found. The max is 30 per post. Use the amount that feels right to you. In fact I often copy and paste from a master hashtag list and put it in my comments rather than my description just to make a little space. Use relevant hashtags. If you make a very obscure hashtag that no one uses like #wishicoulddothiseveryday, you won’t have any leads from it and if you pick something so common like #pretty, it will get lost in the feed in seconds. Find a happy middle ground that works for you, like #contemporarylandscape or #mixedmediaart or #experiencetruecolors. In time you will see what works for other artists and you can pick the best hashtags for your audience.
Follow work and artists you are interested in and leave genuine comments. You will build relationships and other people will want to follow you. You will be amazed that the Instagram community is very supportive and friendly.
Respond to your comments to show you care that someone took the time to say something to you. Reply to their user name with a thank you or nice feedback or at the very least take the time to hit the "heart" button next to their comment.
9. DON'T BE TACKY
Do Not ask for a follow back or tell a well liked artist to check out your art on your feed. It’s tacky and does not build engaged followers. And paying for or joining any group that guarantees followers will not help your business thrive because the followers you gain from these types of engagements are not actually interested in what you are sharing. Your aim should be genuine involvement in your brand as an artist. Anyone who is happy to see your work everyday has the potential to either be a customer or share your work with more people who will be engaged in you and your work.
10. THE 90/10 RULE
And finally remember the 90/10 rule. Keep your posts 90% about your business and 10% personal. Too many selfies and cat photos and kids and dinners and you will turn off your followers. Likewise, all work and no play and people will begin to think you are a robot.
**Final Disclaimer** Only you know what will work for your art career. For every word of advice I share here you can find several who will disagree. The only way to really know is through trial and error. Just do the work...and do it with integrity.