Instagram for artists - How to use Instagram to build your audience

'A Flourish' by Amelia Harris
Instagram is a great tool for building a network and showing people what you can do. Here are some tips to get started and get the most out of Instagram.

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Some people find their dream arts job. If you’re among the 99 percent of us who make a living from one project to the next, you need to build your profile and your name to keep the cash flowing.

Instagram is a great way to do this. Not only is it a “living portfolio”, providing easy access to your work, it’s a vehicle to connect and network with people in the same space.

I caught up with Amelia Harris, who runs Instagram accounts for art galleries, to get some tips on how artists can use Instagram as a tool to build your brand and acquire income..

Take a look at what’s out there

Follow artists in your discipline for inspiration about how to represent yourself. Think about the kind of people you follow and why you like their content. Keep an eye on how often they post and how they caption and tag their work. Then, use this to influence your own approach.

Find a #niche

According to Amelia, this is one of the easiest things to do on Instagram. The internet in general, and social media in particular, are great for carving out niches. It’s not hard to see why - since we have the ability to target and choose exactly what we see and engage with, everyone can find the specific things they’re most interested in.

This is valuable for you because the more niche you are, the less competition there is for people's attention. This means it’s easier for you to build a following and a community.

So, think about what kind of niches your work fits in. Then look to find a community around that niche. Searching the hashtag is a good place to start, as this will give you a look at what everyone else is producing in the space. If you start using that same hashtag, you’ll come up in searches when people look for that particular niche.

Be professional...but also personal

Being professional is important - you don’t want potential customers or collaborators to think you’re flakey, or immature, or anything like that. But being professional doesn’t mean you need to be completely buttoned down. Show authenticity by bringing your own personality into your posts and comments as well.

As an extension of this, don’t limit your posts to just photos of your work. Show a bit of the behind the scenes as well - show your studio (if you have one), or show some work that you started, but never finished. This gives an idea of who you are as well as what your work looks like.

@engage!

Make sure you do more than just post. You should also engage in other people's work. Comment on related work, tag collaborators, take a look at any hashtags that are relevant to your work, and comment on things you like. This helps you build a community on Instagram, which can have all kinds of wide-reaching positive effects, such as networking for potential clients, collaborators for projects and just having access to like-minded people who are producing work similar to yours.

This is on top of the direct benefit: commenting and engaging puts your profile in front of people. Some of them will click on your username, and some of them will like what they see and follow. This grows the number of people who see your work.

Get out there and get started

The last tip Amelia had was to just get out there and start posting. There’s no fixed recipe for using Instagram to build a following as an artist. Rather, you just need to try different things, see what works, see what doesn’t work, and just keep on experimenting. Just keep these basic tips in mind when you do so, and you should be well on your way to getting value out of Instagram as an artist.

See you on Instagram!  

Note from the editorial team: after some time in exile, we have resurrected The Big Idea’s Instagram account. To get you started on building your insta-audience, make sure you follow us and tag us when posting your work. We’ll follow you right back and help you share your stuff!

Written by

Sam Grover

15 Mar 2018

Sam loves telling quirky stories about The Big Idea’s community of artists and interviewing successful arts practitioners to gather insights about funding and commercialising their art. 

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