6 Meaty Ways for Visual Artists to Squeeze Instagram

Instagram, The Red Rabbit, photos, sharing
I'm sure most of you have heard of Instagram and I'm sure a lot of you use the social platform. How do you use Instagram?

Anyone who uses Instagram does so in their own way and that's super cool, but if you're an artist, Instagram can be a powerful tool to not only showcase your creations, but is THE ideal medium. Simply put, this is because it functions almost solely as an image based connection to other people. Aside form the new video feature that recently launched, static images are still the dominant feature utilized by Instagrammers.

My Journey.

When I first started using Instagram, I pretty much posted whatever I thought was cool, the sky, my cat, food, the cottage vacation... you know the same stuff everyone posts. This means absolutely nothing to anyone else, as my idea of cool doesn't equate to what other people think is cool, which makes total sense. It wasn't until I started doing the following 6 things that my Instagram profile really took off running. The following tips helped me go from 100 followers to over 1100 and counting. They can work for you too.

1. Find A Niche

The first thing that really brought attention to my images was posting only my artwork and art related images. As an artist, I had totally been blinded by the fact that Instagram could be a powerful platform for showcasing my work... and boy oh boy, is it ever! Almost right away, I started getting more likes, more followers and a sharp increase in interaction via comments. It didn't happen over night, but it was pretty obvious that other people using Instagram were interested in my art, not my vacation or meals. So if you create anything, I suggest posting those images and nothing else... at least at first (more on that later).

2. Relevant Hashtags
Before I added hashtags to my Instagram images, I did some research online for the best ones to use. This seemed a no-brainer. Not only was I totally misguided by what advice I found on hashtag usage, but I quickly realized that using hashtags directly connected me to other people that I actually wanted to connect with: Artists and those who appreciate art. I wasn't after popularity nor getting my image featured, I was really after meaningful connections. Once I realized this, I started using hashtags that reflected the idea of connecting to other artists and aficionados such as #ideas #pixels #minimal #surreal, #artist etc...

Now, I strictly avoid hashtags like #picoftheday #like #friend or #follow. This seems counter productive, but when you really think about if your an artist, you want the attention of people seeking art and artists, not just anyone. The new hashtags changed everything. I begun to receive invites to particular 'user-created' hashtags like #surreal42 or #the_avantgardian, hashtags that showcase artists specifically. Those invites combined with a consistant use of them and posting regularly helped me drive up my following tremdously, from a mere 100 followers when I started using them, to over 1100 followers and still growing daily.

3. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement
A vital part of growing your followers and increasing your overall influence on Instagram is engagement. This can't be emphasized enough. You must do the following to leverage any other aspect of this article:
  • Comment on other artists work with praise and positiveness. DO NOT INSULT or ARGUE... ever.
  • Return comments to those who comment on your work, artist or not.
  • Reply directly to comments on your images with thanks and humbleness
  • If you follow someone, like their images or don't follow them, it's that simple.
4. Image Surfing
friends, followers, likes, shares, The Red Rabbit
A truly powerful way to find other artists and those who love art is to surf images on Instagram. Here are the best ways to do so:

  • Once you post and image with hashtags, immediately click some of them and like and entire page of images that also use those hashtag and comment on the ones you really like. For example, I post almost exclusively pixel art, so I'll click my #pixel hashtag and like as many as I can, commenting on the ones that tickle my fancy. Do this with several of the hashtags and you'll see plenty of growth for your profile.
  • Search a hashtag you appreciate but don't really use yourself. In my case I'll type in #reptiles because I own a snake but post images of him. I'll like several images and gain some interaction but not a lot. It's a general interest idea and keeps my fan base broader.
  • Use the area under notifications, at the top you'll see two buttons: 'Following' & 'News'. Both are great sources of interaction and image surfing. Under 'Following' you'll see a breakdown of the images liked/commented on by those you follow. This area is one of the most effective ways to connect to other artists and those who appreciate art. Think about, if someone you follow likes your art then chances are they like other people's art as well... go and like it too, follow those artists and so one. You're engagement and following will grow tremendously.

5. Consistency
This is vital to securing a loyal fan base for your images. You have to be posting a minimum of once per day, aim for more. This keeps you in the feeds of your followers and shows them that you are dedicated to what you do, which as an artist you should be anyway. Posting daily is a great incentive for engagement and huge motivator for yourself to keep creating new work. Post anything related to your art form such as: finished work, work in progress, tools of your art form, images of artists you appreciate and the work that inspires you. The only cautionary advice I can give you about the frequency of posting is that many people who use Instagram may not follow a lot of people so you want to try and avoid flooding their feeds with your work. I've lost followers because of this idea, but I don't sweat it too much and neither should you. Just be aware of this idea because it will happen.

6. Posting Non-Art Related Images
After a few months of building my follower base using the above methods, I started experimenting with other things to post. The ratio of 1:10 applies as it does with most social media ads. For every 10 images I post of my actual art work I'll post an image that encourages my followers to interact with me on other social platforms. I've gained Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook Page followers by this method. I have higher engagement with my followers across all other platforms as a result of this method. Usually these posts are simple text letting them know I exist on other platforms. It really works, but only after you build a loyal following. I recommend waiting until you've reached 500+ followers before doing this. Again, be creative when using non-art related images. You are creative after all.

So, with all that said and done, any artist can begin using squeezing Instagram for all the potential is has.

While you're looking around Instagram, take a moment to find me...

About me:
I'm a full-time freelance illustrator and designer focusing on the ideas and future success of other freelancers and entrepreneurs. Contact me and lets have a chat about your idea.
Studio: 778.786.1209

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Jason Hilton
The Red Rabbit Studio

Digital Marketing | Graphic Design | Growth Hacking