5 Ways to Boost Your Art Sales With Instagram

Savvy artists recognize that the more popular their Instagram pages, the more valuable they are as tools for selling their work. Follow these tips to make sure you're making the most of your IG posts.

By Reg Saddler

We all start at the same place on Instagram, with no followers. So how do you make your page stand out so your artwork can be seen by more people? With all the differing advice out there, it can be confusing, but there are a few tried-and-true strategies I can share.

CAPTIVATING CONTENT

Everyone posts photos of their art, but do yourself a favor and add some video. A standard Instagram video can be up to 60 seconds, but yours doesn’t have to be that long. And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy — just grab your smartphone, zoom, pan, and you’re done. Don’t overthink it.

Also, don’t just share your artwork; people want a peek behind the scenes. It’s okay to share a pet photo, some snaps from a recent trip, or even, gasp, another artist’s work you find compelling. It’s a way to pay them a compliment, while possibly getting a few fans from their network.

Nathaniel Skousen @nathaniel.skousen.art offers an excellent example of visual storytelling.
HARDWORKING HASHTAGS

Hashtags are key to reaching a wider audience. But I bet you didn’t know that tagging your newly minted masterpiece with the #art or #artist hashtag won’t do you a bit of good. The #art hashtag has an astounding 703 million posts, and in the time it took you to read this sentence, the hashtag got flooded with a few hundred pieces of new content.

Using a specialized hashtag that no one will ever see doesn’t do you any good either, unless it’s for a specific event or branding. For example, #yournameartstudio or #yournamefineart. If your name isn’t too common, like #bobsmith or #davidjones, simply go with #yourname.

So how do you find tasty hashtags? Well, there is one sure way: Borrow them from your peers. Find artists like yourself and see what hashtags they’re using. Don’t copy them exactly, but use them as a guide, a starting point, then adjust them for your audience. Use hashtags that reach between 3,500 and 500,000 people. Try to use seven to 10 hashtags to start off with and when you become more comfortable, use all 30 that you’re allowed!

Haidee-Jo Summers @haideejosummers lets followers get to know her better.
A POST (OR MORE) A DAY

How many times a day should you post? Once a day works well when you’re starting out. However, you can post several times a day to Instagram Stories. Let your hair down in Stories — share pics from a romp in the park or a video walk-through of your studio. Use Stories to share fun, lively content that might seem out of place on your Instagram timeline — just in case you don’t feel comfortable posting a picture of Fido next to your Picasso.

CUNNING CAPTIONS

Make your captions descriptive, fun, and not too long-winded. These aren’t blog posts.

Aaron Schuerr @aaronschuerr shares video of a plein air close encounter.
TALKING BACK

Another crucial piece to the Instagram equation is comments. If someone takes the time to make a comment, respond, but take it to the next level. Go to their page and return the favor. We’re all busy, but every now and then, reach out to your audience and peers on their pages. Simple emojis work just fine.

The key to a successful Instagram page is engagement. The more work you put into it, the higher the payoff.

Reg Saddler is president of Difference Theory, a Forbes Top 10 in Social Media, top 10 Web Winner, and Top 15 Digitalscoutings Social Media & Marketing Influencer. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @Zaibatsu.

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.

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