Okay, so have become an artist. Awesome. But without an audience how will anyone even know that you are creating new things? Without a way for your fans and art aficionados to find you, it can be difficult to truly make a living as an independent artist. Sure, of course, you create for yourself first and foremost but sometimes it’s nice to get some praise and feedback, right?
Insert social media. It may seem strange to you to have to spend time focusing on social media platforms to engage with your audience, but doing so correctly can really pay off, big time. Instagram and Pinterest are probably the easiest way to showcase your visual art since it’s all about the images. Setting up a profile can be rather simple, but how will people find you?
You’ve taken the art classes, you’ve set up your social media accounts. You’re ready! But you need followers! It may seem like a challenge to gain new followers who aren’t already your in-real life friends, but once you successfully gain some followers you’ll be in a great position as an artist. Need some help? Here are 5 steps you can take to gain followers.
1. Be Consistent About Growing Your Social Audience
Many visual artists prefer to be kept out of the spotlight. This is a natural reaction and gaining followers can seem like the exact opposite of that. But it’s also likely that you want to keep creating art and making a living that way. So you need people to find you for commissions and other job offers. You need followers.
Being on people’s minds because you’re in the social media spotlight can lead to more job opportunities. You may be the first artist someone thinks of when they’re looking to hire for a project and that’s a good thing. You need to stay relevant and consistent with your posts. Instagram is an obvious choice of platforms since it’s based on interesting visuals. (Like art!)
When your posts of new work become super consistent you will actually become a part of people’s routine. They may even seek you out should you not appear in their feed as they’re scrolling because they have grown to appreciate what you bring to the platform. Daily drawings, scratches, or paintings work best, but if that’s not possible setting a consistent schedule is key.
When you are able to make an effort to showcase your work on a consistent basis, not only will you gain creative momentum, but you will engage and entice new followers as well. When you can get that ball rolling with new followers noticing you often, your numbers will grow.
It can benefit you to post at the same time every day. Some companies have even looked at their metrics and understand the exact minute it will benefit them to have a post go live on social media. If you are struggling to understand your metrics, it can be challenging to know when to best post. (Popular times for scrolling are first thing in the morning, lunch, or at bedtime!)
Did you know you can even schedule your posts? This can take some of the pressure off of you! If you see that your followers like it when new pictures drop in the afternoon but your routine has you busy at that time, then scheduling ahead of time can be of great benefit to both keeping your creative juices flowing and gaining followers at the same time!
2. Be Personal With Your Social Audience
Every time you create a new piece of art, you put a little bit of your soul into it. When you take the time to photograph it well and push it out into the world of social media, you need to share more than just the title of the piece. Your followers appreciate your skill and your personal artistic style, that’s why they’re following you.
But they are more likely to share your work if you are personal with your postings. Explaining a little bit about why you drew this specific thing. Or you used red because it was so hot outside today. When you aren’t afraid to let your personality shine through your artwork and captions, you will be more likely to gain a deeper following.
If you get an email asking you a question, it’s generally safe to assume there are others with the same question who just haven’t taken the time to write to you. Using your regularly scheduled posts so you can both answer some of your frequently asked questions and share new and different artwork, it will make your profile be a place people will seek out.
Any time you can engage your audience by asking them questions or getting them involved somehow, you can get more traction and your social media profile will be easier to find. Use hashtags to be discovered! Try out a poll asking for what color you should feature the next day, or whenever your next piece will drop.
Even taking some time to respond to comments can show that you’re interested in what your followers have to say. Sometimes the small personal touches can go a long way to finding new followers as well. Everyone likes to feel like they have a friend on social media, so some friendly back and forths can be quite engaging! Let your social media posts reflect who you are!
3. Vary Your Social Posts
If you look at your feed and it all kind of looks the same then you definitely need this tip! People like to follow artists who are mixing it up and giving them new content. If you only post pink flowers you’ve painted for a month, people are going to lose interest and hit the dreaded unfollow button.
Just like you need to be engaging and personal you need some good old fashioned variety! Whether you mix up your mediums you use or add some time-lapse videos of you actually working your new variety can be the spice of life your social media needs. You might even want to host a question-answer session in your stories. There are a lot of options to add variety to your feed!
It is especially important to have a good mix of posts if you intend to market yourself or do sponsored posts. When suddenly out of nowhere your followers are seeing an ad, they may go on the defensive. You obviously don’t want to alienate your audience, you’re looking to gain followers!
So featuring ads mixed in with your work and maybe even some personal photos can let social media work smarter for you! Plus, the followers you have will be high-quality followers who will stick with you even if you have an occasional ad for a new project or sponsored post.
Remember that ads aren’t always a bad thing, people are highly susceptible to advertising, you just don’t want your feed to constantly be a commercial. A great ratio is for every 5 standard posts you can include 1 that is trying to promote something. Your followers are ultimately trying to see you and your work so make sure to vary your posts!
Posts that offer a behind the scenes look can also be especially interesting for visual artists. Everyone likes to see where the magic happens! If you feel like you aren’t gaining new followers adding a new type of posts could be just what you need to find some new faces. Social media can be the best way to help you keep making a living. (Fans are likely to buy from artists they follow!)
4. Talk To Your Social Media Followers
You’ve already learned that you need to engage with your page and your followers. That’s a perfect step to take to gain more followers. But when you’re ready to dive even deeper, you are going to need to talk with other artists on their social media platform. This isn’t the place to offer up a half-hearted “Great Job!” comment on a post, however.
Think of social media comments as a way to try and build relationships. Engaging comments with questions are a great way to try and forge new friendships with other artists on social media. Personal comments show that you are paying attention to who they are and not just glancing at what they’ve created. Asking questions is also a great idea!
It can be difficult to get high profile artists to engage with your comments. They’re busy people and likely get a lot of comments on every post. If you are hoping to develop a relationship with a high profile artist, begin by commenting on something new and relevant that they’re working on. Asking specific questions about something they are working on promoting can help them notice you.
You probably already realize that people love to read the comments. Users are just as likely to scroll and read through comments on a post as they are to post themselves. If your comment is interesting to someone you may even get a click-through, where they will click on your username and end up on your feed!
Comments can be a great way to make a first impression, so be careful with grammar and spelling so that you don’t alienate anyone. There is a phenomenon where people choose to “hate follow”: they follow accounts simply because they don’t like you. While that can increase your numbers of followers, they aren’t who you want on your page! Don’t engage with trolls!
Once you have established a relationship with someone you can almost piggyback off of their followers as well. Let them do an Instagram takeover, where they will take control of your social media for the day. Their followers might discover you for the first time because of things like that! You will have to put in a little effort but it’s totally worth it.
5. Fan Art, Trends and Hashtags
Here’s the thing: following trends, creating fan art, and finding the best hashtags take some effort. They are not everyone’s favorite things to try and accomplish, but if you are truly trying to gain more followers, then you need to remember that these techniques work to engage with new and different people.
Once you’ve got a lot of followers you may not need to create your own fan art as often unless that’s something that really inspires you artistically. But it’s a great way for fandoms to find new visual artists such as yourself. (And once they’re following you they will become fans of your other work as well!)
If there is a trending creative challenge: Inktober for ink drawing in October, or other similar experiences where many artists are all tackling the same thing at the same time it can be a great opportunity to participate. Not only will this give you a chance to connect with other visual artists from around the world, but you can tap into some new followers as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of the hashtag either. They work because they link similar things together. You don’t want to add 17 hashtags per image, of course, that would be the textbook definition of too much of a good thing. But one or two relevant hashtags can also help attract new followers to your social media pages.
One of the best things about Instagram is that you can link your posts so one post there can also post to your Facebook page and Twitter as well. Minimal effort with maximum coverage is definitely a way to engage audiences and find new followers.
It can be difficult as you’re starting out to both keep up with your creativity, spending enough time on your art, and manage your social media in a way to get more followers. But if you put some time to work on your posts into your schedule you will slowly gain more confidence in what you’re posting and find the followers you’re seeking!
Getting new followers isn’t something that is typically covered in school, but following your gut instincts, keeping your posts personal and engaging with others can be just the ticket to expand your online presence. Soon your artwork will be bringing a smile to the face of plenty of new followers!