Promoting yourself as an artist on social media is basically the number one way to get your creations out there and in front of people. From sharing with existing friends and fans to having them share so that new people are exposed to your work, to finding other artists to collaborate with, this is definitely where a good chunk of our energy should be focused.
To be clear, I’m not going to talk about paid advertising or any paid boosting in this post. This is just about how to organically promote yourself on social media. We’ll go over some basics to improve each account, and ideas for content and ways to get yourself and your art out there.
Profile: Your Twitter should include either your real name or the name of your art biz/persona (if it’s different from your real name). Your profile picture should be you or art of you or a representation of your art. In your bio, make sure you have a link to your site, art, or store. Also be sure to add a banner image – either promoting your site, your comic, your shop, or any upcoming show appearances.
Pinned tweet: Link to your portfolio with a brief description of the kind of work you do/are looking for OR link to your commissions page OR link to your current shop promotion. Whatever is relevant and helpful for you right now.
Content: You can share text, images, and videos. Vary and combine your content types instead of always posting text. Interact with others! Comment and reply to followers and people you follow! Share/retweet other projects or artists you care about. Hashtags are nice but use them sparingly because of your character limit. Make sure they are really relevant to your post. As for WHAT to talk about, I’ll go in to more of that below.
Amount of promotion: Try to aim for 10 content tweets for each 1 promotional tweet.
Fully fill out your profile options (this is just going to start sounding like a broken record, because it’s true for all accounts). Aim for at LEAST 1 post per day, and try to take advantage of the Stories feature as often as possible to post more photos and videos and go live. The Stories are at the top of your feed and will help keep you visible and on people’s minds.
Respond to your commenters! Comment and interact with other accounts, too. And always use hashtags. Rules around hashtags have been changing recently, so do some research for current trends and try to avoid using “banned” hashtags (basically ones that have been so over-used or misused that they no longer rank or show up in searches).
As far as numbers go, when you start typing in a hashtag Instagram will tell you how many posts have that tag. You want hashtags that have more than 500 uses (so at least someone is searching that tag) but less than 600,000 so you aren’t completely lost in the search results. The rules of thumb on choosing tags that will rank you in search results depend on your average number of likes per post.
- If you average 0-149 likes per photo, you’ll rank best with hashtags that have 500-20,000 posts.
- If you average 150-499 likes, aim for 10,000 to 50,000.
- 500-999 likes, aim for 40,000 to 150,000.
- 1000-1999 likes, aim for 80,000-300,000.
- 2000 and up (in our wildest fantasies, right?) likes, aim for hashtags with 150,000-600,000 posts.
If you haven’t yet set up a fan page or business page for your art, you should do it now! This way you can promote your work and connect with your customers and fans without having to let them into your personal Facebook account. On your page, again, make sure you fill out as much as the information and profile sections as possible. Link to your art site or store, write about your art, post a relevant banner image. Invite friends and family to like your page and start sharing.
On Facebook, mix up your posts between text, links, and photos. Live videos are especially great with Facebook algorithms right now, and are fun for broadcasting while you’re working or at events.
As with all the other accounts, use all the personalization options you can for setting up your account and about page. If you’re focusing on your art, the account name should be representative of your name or art persona/name. Tumblr is a little more unique, in that timing of posts doesn’t matter too much, and there aren’t hard and fast rules about quantity. What will help on tumblr is tagging – make sure your posts of artwork are tagged with your style, the subject, anything relevant. And make SURE all your work is labeled, signed, watermarked, and/or has something that says “Do not remove credit”.
Content ideas for all accounts
Follow the 80/20 rule: The 80/20 rule is 80% entertaining/personal/content posts and 20% sales/promotion. This doesn’t mean you can’t post more than 20% artwork or your creations, it just means trying to limit your actual “please give me your money” posts to that percentage. Basically, if all you post is things promoting sales and items and asking for money without ever sharing personal things, showing your process, showing you are human – you’ll lose people’s interest.
If not sales, then what? Since you can’t make every post “look at my work, please buy it”, break it up with showing your process, how you create, and works in progress. Involve your followers in your hows and whys. Talk about new ideas or upcoming plans (as long as you’re at liberty to discuss). Ask what your followers might want to see you do or make next. Questions are a great way to encourage interaction.
Have contests or giveaways! Encourage fans to share pictures or comments about their favorite pieces, have photo or commenting contests, offer incentives or prizes like getting a special print or custom piece or imperfect product for participation.
Other content ideas: Industry news (or news from other artists). Share best practices and tips – things that work for you and might help others. You can share articles you find relevant that your followers might too. Talk about your motivation. Share good things that happen. Share when you’re down, too! Not everything has to be positive. You’re human, and your followers want to see that. Show your personality!
Your goal for any account is interaction! Getting likes, hearts, comments, questions, and your posts getting reblogged and shared.
Sharing convention plans: Talk about your travel plans and show appearances, especially in the month leading up to one! Talk it up, remind your followers about it multiple times, share any new items or show exclusives you’ll be offering, and change your banners to reminders of the show dates/location.
Once you have your booth location, share an image of the map highlighting where on the floor you will be. On the accounts that have that option, pin that post or change your banner image to the map.
Though I encourage you to post as much as you can during a show, many convention centers have crappy reception AND you’re likely to get busy and forget to post. For this reason, it’s a good plan to schedule some posts for during the show to remind people where you are and what you have.
Make sure any posts about shows are tagging the social media account of the show if they have on, and use any hashtags the show is using. Many shows monitor these and re-share posts on their own accounts.
Try to post at LEAST once a day (more if possible). Create a schedule, such as time of day or what days you’ll post what sorts of content like new art or sharing tips.
You Don’t Have to Focus on All of Them
Try at least several social media platforms. Play around with posting times and types of posts and content. Give them some time and see what’s working for you. If one is working great and one isn’t doing much at all, then focus more energy on the account working for you! Maintain the others, keep them current, but feel free to invest less time on what doesn’t work and focus on continuing to grow the account that is bringing you more attention and success.
Recap: Everything in a nutshell
- Make sure you fully set up your profiles with links and info and use your banner and pinned post options.
- Post regularly! Use schedulers!
- Interact with your followers and people you follow – comment and respond and share!
- Offer something regularly – a certain day you post WIPs or completed items.
- Promote your shop or other sites.
- Share your events and appearances.
- Follow the 80/20 rule of 80% entertaining/personal/content posts and 20% sales/promotion.