Whether you’re checking out a friend’s photos on Instagram, sourcing design ideas on Pinterest or learning about the daily news via Twitter, social media is everywhere. Today, most businesses rely on social media to advertise or grow their customer base, so it’s no surprise that various self-employed artists also use social media to gain a following. We spoke to several artists who grew their social media presence and as a result, have watched their personal businesses flourish.
1. Harness the power of the hashtag
Lifestyle photographer Janelle Darnell (@janelledarnell) first began using social media in 2011, with Instagram as her main platform. She relied on hashtags, specifically ones that other accounts would then choose to feature, to attract users to her account.
Artist Carolyn Daniel (@carolynjoeart) also found that hashtagging her art led to new followers, inquiries and collaborations. Daniel has been painting for more than 20 years with her work featured in galleries in Austin, Dallas and Atlanta. Yet, she says that social media has done more in just a few years to broaden her exposure than traditional juried shows and publications. She believes this is true for many emerging artists. “It’s brought an ease to every part of the process, photographing and sharing work, seeking and sharing critical feedback,” Daniel says.
2. Make your work look its best
Artist Lindsey Meyer (@lindseymeyerart) began to really see growth in social media when her posts became more professional and selective. “Clean and colorful photos that relate to one another in a feed are a beautiful thing,” says Meyer. Likewise, artist Sarah Otts (@sarah_otts_paintings) found that by giving her account a specific, cohesive look, she could attract more attention. For instance, Otts chose to keep most posts in a similar color palette as her paintings: high key white with strong, saturated colors and very little black or dark.
3. Every post matters
Don’t be afraid to post to every platform or post on a constant basis. “If it weren’t for social media, there is no way I would have been discovered,” says motion graphic artist Pedro Estanga, owner and creative director of Pes Motion Studio. “I had been trying to send out emails to different agency directors for weeks and getting very little feedback. I then put out my studio’s latest work on LinkedIn. Within days, I received a call from an agency who wanted my studio to work with Adidas to launch the new jersey for the World Cup Argentina team. When Argentina made it to the World Cup finals, the ads I helped create exploded all over the place.”
Just as Estanga posts his work to LinkedIn, Otts makes sure she consistently posts to Instagram and Pinterest. “I knew before I started that I’d have to start posting a whole lot more … at least once a day,” explains Otts. “Do it right or not at all — every post takes time and planning. I had a little pep talk with myself, too, because I was aware that some of my followers would get tired of seeing my posts every day. I had to become more thick skinned and remember that anyone annoyed by me could unfollow, and the ones who found my account interesting would start following if they weren’t already.”
4. Let your personality show
In addition to showcasing her work, Otts found that revealing her sense of humor or showing what her life was like “behind the scenes” made her posts more genuine. Otts says, “I found motherhood to be another platform for people to find my account relatable and therefore broadening my audience from artsy folks to women of all types who know what it’s like to sustain a growing career and a growing family.”
5. Pay attention to other people’s accounts
Today, Darnell has more than 36,000 Instagram subscribers, but in the beginning she made a point of entering daily photo contests on other user’s Instagram pages. The more she was featured by others, the more new users would click over to her account and start following. After finding Darnell’s work on Instagram, “Momazine” published Darnell’s photographs, gaining her followers.
6. Why you should give it a go
Otts loves the interaction she experiences through posting to social media. “Having a way to see the feedback from viewers and art buyers directly is an enormous advantage,” she says. “I don’t get to hear what clients who are viewing my art in galleries are saying. Since the days of Instagram, I have felt much less isolated, because there are days when the only time I leave the studio are to get in the carpool line.”
Daniel also has found that social media has “democratized viewing and sharing art in a wonderful winsome way.” She loves that one doesn’t have to visit a gallery or have a fine art degree to appreciate a painting. “It’s innate in all of us as human beings to seek beauty, even if it’s just for a moment via an iPhone Instagram feed. Art is for everyone.”
Meyer says social media is a platform she’s grateful for as it’s where 85 percent of her business comes from. Similarly, social media has opened doors for Darnell and grown her business tremendously. “I’ve had the opportunity to photograph and represent products for over 50 companies now because they found my work on Instagram. Local clients have also found me on Instagram and hired me to capture their families.”
More from Make It Better:
- How Pinterest Became ‘the World’s Catalog of Ideas’
- Parents, Kids and Social Media: How Involved Should Mom and Dad Be?
- 10 Yummy Foodie Instagram Accounts You Should Already Be Following
Jenny Muslin, Beauty Editor at Make It Better, has been writing for the magazine for seven years. She has also written for Chicago Parent, NS Modern Luxury, Red Tricycle, Stroller Traffic, and is a contributor for beauty app PrettyQuick. When she isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her 3 year old son or trying to keep her eyes open after a late night feeding with her new baby girl.