Tackling social media can be a challenge, especially when you are busy in the studio. It’s easy to throw up an Instagram post and call it good, but is that really helping your art business?

Your Instagram, and really any online presence, is an extension of your art brand. People are going to judge it’s quality and associate that with your art. And, did you know that more collectors than ever are turning to Instagram to find new art?

Whether you need to post better content or learn how to hashtag the right way, it’s time to step up your game. Follow these nine steps to level up your Instagram and get more art fans and customers.

1. Complete Your Profile

When a potential buyer happens upon your Instagram account, you can start the relationship off right by making sure your name, image, and bio are in tip-top shape.

First, make your username straightforward. Try to use your real name with a keyword like “artist," the medium you work in, or the name of your art business. Then, choose a thumbnail image (beware — it’s tiny!) that fans can identify with, such as a closeup of you and your art. Finally, make your bio short, sweet, and descriptive.

TIP: Don’t forget to include a link to your website or Artwork Archive Public Profile Page. Your bio is the only place where followers can click on a link, and the whole point of your account is to sell your work! You can even change out the link depending on what you want to feature.

2. Follow The Right People

Social media maven CoSchedule explains that one of the best ways to get more Instagram followers is by following “suggested users.” Instagram creates these suggestions based on people you follow, your contact list, or previous posts you’ve liked — meaning they probably fall into your target audience.

To find them, you can click on the icon in the top right of your app with the person and a plus sign. This will take you to “Discover People” with a list of suggested users. Or, you can go to a similar artist’s profile that you enjoy. Next to the “Following” button you’ll find a triangle icon that drops down into a list of suggested users for you to peruse.

Once you follow someone, they will get a notification with your profile just waiting to be viewed. Many times, people will follow you back because they like what they see!

3. Connect Your Contact List

You may have plenty of fans and customers in real life who just haven’t found you on Instagram yet. Help them connect with you (and get their eyes on potential art to purchase) by clicking on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of your account. Then, select “Find Contacts” and follow people that you’d like to connect with and think would enjoy your Instagram.

Artists @sorrentinoart and @corinnegallastudios both have fun and complete Instagram profiles.

4. Be Social

You’d be surprised at how much it actually pays to be social on social media. You’ll gain fans and customers by doing so! Start by genuinely liking and commenting on the posts of fellow artists and influencers. Always reply to people who have commented on your pictures — a simple “thank you” might suffice. Finally, don't forget that this platform has real potential to make real connections with other artists. If you like an artist's work or they are doing something interesting, don't be afraid to reach out and let them know - you never know what can come from these relationships. 

TIP: When replying to someone in the comment section, make sure to include their username starting with the “@” symbol. This will send them a notificationotherwise, they won’t see it!

5. Create Good Content

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: always go for quality over quantity. Instagram is a wonderful chance to share your experience as an artist with your fans. Stay enthusiastic, authentic, and follow the 80/20 rule, and people will flock to your intriguing account.

If you are scrambling to find something to share, try posting works-in-progress, time-lapse videos of you creating, your favorite corner of the studio, a newfound inspiration, or a detailed close-up. Or, do a little digging on artist accounts you admire, then make their ideas your own!

6. Post Enough, But Not Too Much

CoSchedule found that posting one to two images a day is the sweet spot for Instagram. If you post more than once, remember to mix up what type of content you are sharing with your potential art buyers to keep their attention. And, try to stick to a consistent posting schedule to always stay fresh in their minds.

What are the best times to post? 2:00 a.m., 8:00 to 9:00 a.m., and 5:00 p.m. found CoSchedule. That way, your posts are seen first thing in the morning before working hours or after work when fans flip through Instagram to unwind.

7. Hashtag the Right Way

All the pop culture jokes aside, hashtags serve an important purpose on Instagram — they are the keywords and phrases that buyers can use to find your art! With one carefully selected hashtag, a collector might come across your account and snatch up a few pieces. It’s just one more way social media is changing the art world. So, which hashtags should you choose?

The easiest way is to take a look at some popular artist accounts on Instagram. See what hashtags they are using and how many, then test it for yourself and see what works best. A general rule is to use five to ten hashtags per post, but you can use up to thirty. You can even create your own brand hashtag with your studio name or something similar!

TIP: Crowding dozens of hashtags into your caption can leave your post feeling cluttered and your message overwhelmed. If you need a fix, include your hashtags a couple lines down from your caption with a dash or period on each line in between. Or, add a separate comment with your hashtags instead.

Artist @oodlies keeps the appearance of her Instagram posts clean by dropping down her hashtags.

8. Share Your Account with the World

Sometimes all it takes to get more Instagram followers is a little visibility. Get the Insta word out by including a link to your account on your other social media pages, and remind fans to follow you periodically.

Don’t stop there! Put an Instagram icon on your website, and add your username on business cards, event materials, and more. Do you have a newsletter? Share your account with your email followers. All these steps can add up to get more eyes on your art and more art customers.

9. Find What Works

With a free business account, Instagram offers insights that can make using the social media app easier for your art business. You’ll be able to see fan demographics, how often your post was viewed, commented on, liked, and more. Keep track of the best days, times, content type, and hashtags you are posting, and you’ll be on your way to using Instagram more effectively to sell more art.

What’s the bottom line?

The more you can impress art fans and customers, the more interested they will be in buying your art. And, that includes both in person and online. These days your Instagram account is an extension of your art brand, but it’s also the perfect platform to bewitch buyers. Follow these steps to level up your Instagram account, and see how far it can propel your art business.

Want to step up the rest of your social media accounts in 2017? Check out this fresh social media strategy for artists.