The Business of Art

Artist Marketing – Social Media

I love creating but the idea of marketing myself is terrifying, as there’s just so much information out there!

Sound familiar?

I am in many artist groups with creatives that are starting out, or even those more established. So often I see questions being asked about how to market yourself as an artist, particularly using the likes of social media.

Many are frustrated by the follow unfollow culture that surrounds Instagram. I was too when I started, so you’re not alone! The best advice I can give is not to let it bother you. Don’t purely follow an account because they follow you, follow accounts that you actually like. Form relationships and network!

Sure, but why should I listen to you?!

A very valid question! I could give you a run down of my Arts marketing experience – I’ve been working in the Arts for 8 years now… but really the only answer I can give, honestly, is that through my experiences and trial and error in marketing myself and OiOi Arts, I just want to share what works for me – as an artist. If that can save someone from spending time away from creating, then it’s a success! The items I mention are what currently work for me, take what you need from it and adapt a system that works for you!

Top tips for increasing engagement across social media…

  1. Check out the competition/ other artists – Super important! See what they post, how often, particular hashtags used. Look at accounts that you aspire to be like. Do NOT copy them but instead learn. Emulate certain qualities and apply these elements to your own accounts. Edit your photos, or at least think about the subject matter and composition… this is where us artist will excel! All those years being taught (or reading) how to create optimum compositions, this it what it was for haha. Seriously though, it helps and no-one wants to look at boring photos.
  2. Get a planner (more info below on what I use!) to organise your posts a week (or more!) in advance. This helps you create consistency, running themes and lets you plan out your aesthetic in advance – a key part of how you present yourself and your brand to your followers. Think of it as planning out an outfit in advance. You need to make sure all the different elements/ accessories work, and feed in together on the day! It also removes the stress as it lets you be organised in advance… so more time for creating!
  3. If you want to increase engagement to YOUR accounts, you HAVE TO increase the engagement to OTHER accounts. This will help you gain more visibility, as by commenting, liking and following other accounts in your niche, you are in turn going to pique interest in your feed from others. Think about it: if you get a lovely comment on one of your posts, does this make you more likely to visit the person who posted the comments’ page? And maybe even follow them back if you like their page? YES! Increase your engagement with others and people will see your engagement and will be more likely to check YOU out, hopefully translating into follows/likes/shares!
  4. Find pages that have a similar premise to yours and see who their followers are – these are followers that will most likely also like your page if they see it. Visit their pages and like/comment and engage. Say hi – social media is, at its core, just that- SOCIAL. So, use it to your advantage.
  5. Get a free app that helps you keep track of who unfollows you on instagram. Although a pain that this happens so often, you have to start thinking of your art page/feed as a business. By filtering out and keeping your follows to a minimum on instagram, it will help your recognition as a business page and not just a hobbyist/personal page. You want to set yourself aside from these pages. These are the pages you want to follow you, not the other way around.

Top Social Media Platforms for Artists

There are a LOT of different platforms out there, each with different merits… and pitfalls! It’s well worth doing some research into what will be the best fit for ‘your brand strategy’.

Personally, I have an Instagram, facebook page and twitter. I also have free apps for planning (Hootsuite and Plann), follower management (followers) and photo editing/marketing tools (Canva and photoshop express). These are what I currently use – I feel like i’ve Been through and tested hundreds over the past couple of years! These are my top recommendations.

Instagram

This is, I would say THE best social media platform at the moment, especially for artists. It’s designed to be purely visual, so works so well for artists! It’s easy to use/post and engage with others. I would recommend keeping your personal account separate from your art one and making your Art account a business account. This is easy to do, you can even switch your existing account to a business one with the click of a button!

I’d definitely recommend this as the business accounts also give you analytical data as well – if you’re into that! (it’s useful for tracking what posts perform better etc) and a HUGE draw is that a business account allows your followers to connect directly to your platform of choice. It allows you to place a link (to your website/email) right there in your profile. It works in a similar way to a facebook business page (because, well, facebook own instagram so that makes sense!) and through the statistics section you can view engagement data, impressions and more.

Instagram is also great for giving a snapshot into not only your art but also your studio life/practical side of working, as you can create instagram stories. These are video shorts to grab attention. They have a higher chance of being seen as they get promoted to followers differently – via a slide show style format, displayed at the top of a users feed.

They are great for tagging other users /collaborators and give an alternative insight into your feed. USE THEM 😊 These are often a more fun way to promote certain things (work in progress, blog posts, travel, paint supplies..) as they can have text/stickers and are generally a way to have a bit of fun with your content and followers WITHOUT messing with the aesthetic of your feed, and they only last 24 hours.

Facebook

I have this and I do use it but not nearly as much as I use instagram… I more or less just go through the motions with the facebook page. It’s a different audience so I post different content. It’s important not to just post the same thing on all your social media. Facebook allows for more text/images so is really great for story telling. I use it to share all my blog posts, as well as share posts/videos that I think might interest my followers. I post 2-3 times per week on fb, while I post 3 posts pretty much every day on instagram. It’s really great for lengthy posts!

The main thing I use facebook for is the community. As I mentioned before, I am a member of several art/artist/creative groups. These are great for tips and tricks, and are what gave me the idea to create this post, as so many creatives struggle with self marketing, within the Arts specifically.

These groups are great for finding communities of like minded people. Some of course have the odd troll, but overall if you are selective in what you are looking for, you will find truly helpful, inspiring creatives from all over the world. These groups are a great support tool, as well as being a key place to help grow your network, find opportunities, as well as keep up to date with latest trends!

Twitter

Oh twitter, how you elude me haha. Twitter is something I use but if i’m honest, I don’t quite ‘get’. Twitter is formatted for quick text based updates so is less appealing to those with a visual inclination… like me!

I do use it but it is definitely my least favorite platform. It’s great for networking and re-tweeting other artists and creative organisations posts – it’s also great for keeping up to date on creative opportunities. Again, I use it for direct links to my website/instagram and use a scheduler to pre-plan all my posts for the week ahead. It’s just easier that way!

A note on Youtube! – With video format still being the highest rated way to market yourself, I’d seriously consider setting up a youtube channel. If done right, this can really increase web/shop traffic as it (much like the fleeting instagram stories) gives the viewer a glimpse into who ‘you’,the artist is. You can make time lapse videos, tutorials on technique, or even just videos showing your studio set up and how you work. People are naturally curious and while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that the world of video marketing is HUGELY successful. Coming soon… OiOi Arts on Youtube! (haha).

Scheduling tools -Yay, they’re FREE!

So, a huge help to me has been the various tools that I use to pre-plan what I’d like to post. As I work full time as well as run OiOi Arts it’s great having this option, to take that weight off! I use 2 free apps for scheduling and one free app to monitor my ‘followers’, so I can watch out for pesky follow unfollow accounts – and also sneaky accounts that have gained follows without my permission! I’ll run through what I do below…

*I’m not being sponsored, these are genuinely just the apps i’ve come to reply on – I’ve tried a LOT, so figured this would save you some time!

For scheduling on facebook and twitter I use the free version of hootsuite. This lets you schedule up to 30 posts at a time, which I have found is more than enough! You can also schedule posts directly through facebook but I like being able to see them all laid out in one overview, as it helps with creating content that flows better.

For instagram I use Plann, another free app where I plan out the layout for the images i’ll use for the coming week. It lets you see how your grid will look, which is a huge help when planning your feed! It also has a section where you can save hashtags in different groupings which is extremely useful and saves so much time for future posts! I find that I plan out my week ahead so all I need to do on the day is copy and paste, which works well for me. If Hootsuite allowed full length instagram pictures I might be tempted to transfer it all over, however the grid overview alone is reason enough to keep Plann!

Build a website

Now that you have a handle on the social media side of marketing you need to make sure that all these new followers have somewhere to go to really see your work!

Use your social media as a TOOL to give a glimpse into what you do, a teaser. Now you have your audience you need to be able to direct them to a website/shop/platform to see the full package. With so many free, website building software out there this has never been easier! Squarespace and Wix have plenty of free templates you can use to get up and running.

For those wanting to step it up a bit further there is the slightly more technical: WordPress.com, again with plenty of templates to choose from but with a touch more control. Then there is the WordPress.org where you can host via a third party or self host. The main difference that separates this from others is that you own your domain. So, depending on what you’re looking for, there’s something for everyone… and every level of expertise! I have used all of the above platforms (minutes square space – but I hear great things!) so can vouch for them! I’m now self hosted with wordpress… I like a challenge haha.

Etsy

For many artists, a facebook page is enough, or at the very least is a great starting point in terms of where to direct people. Another option is to set up an Etsy shop. Easy to do, you can link customers/followers there. It’s a great option if you don’t want to go all in with a website. The downside is that it is SO SATURATED, so getting your work noticed can be an uphill slog, but that’s where your stellar social media marketing will really up your game!

Let me know in the comments below – or via my social media?! if you found this useful. If there are other ARTbusinessing” tips you’d like me to break down, or go into anything already mentioned in more detail, let me know!

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