Thanks to the internet and its billions of active users, it’s become easier than ever to leverage social media for artists to amass a following within niche communities, network with like-minded creators, and ultimately increase chances of finding new clients.
However, with so many active artist profiles online, a robust and unique social media presence is crucial now more than ever to set yourself apart from the rest and grab the attention of a target audience — and potential collectors.
There are many different uses for social media accounts, from personal profiles intended for sharing life’s moments with friends to professional accounts used for networking and expanding an individual or brand’s influence. A business social media profile is a professional account for artists that should act as a unique digital gallery to display your accomplishments, advertise events or gallery spots, and provide a way to connect directly to your audience. And with 81 percent of Americans touting a social media account, according to The New York Times, there’s no better time to tap into the online market and bring increased attention to your art.
From posting a teaser of your latest work to answering questions through video Q&As, social media for artists should start a conversation. But the type of conversation you want to have with viewers depends on what platforms you choose to host your profile on.
What’s the best way to promote your work on social media for artists?
It’s no surprise that there are different social media platforms for different kinds of art, services and online personalities. So, to optimize your online presence, it’s recommended to start small and focus on driving up a strong engagement on one or two platforms that most appropriately fit your needs. Your followers will migrate with you to other platforms once you build a loyal audience that understands you and your niche, but ultimately, you’ll want to promote your art on platforms where your audience already lives.
To choose which social media platforms work best for you, you first have to understand how different platforms operate and what purpose they serve artists. If you want to show off a time-lapse video of a work in progress or connect to your audience via comedy skits or quick-burst videos, TikTok will be your go-to platform. If you want to highlight the latest items available in your Etsy or Shopify storefront, Pinterest is probably better suited for your viewers.
Instagram is a classic, streamlined approach to showing off your art with its inherently visual focus, and includes other features such as Stories, Highlights and Reels to interact more closely with your audience. But if your main focus is to sell goods and link to a third party storefront, however, you may have to jump through another set of hoops and sign up for the Instagram Checkout service to add links to posts. The key to success on visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and even Tumblr is to prioritize high-quality, highly visual posts that fit aesthetically and cohesively.
First impressions: the art of the bio
In order to start building an organic following on social media for artists, your profile will have to be discoverable to social media users, whether they’re looking for your account or not. Simplicity is key when it comes to usernames: in other words, try keeping your username as close to the moniker you use as an artist or brand, if possible. Consider hyphen, period or underscore to vary your username if the desired name is already taken on the platform. Be sure you also use the same or similar username across different social media platforms to make it easier for your audience and search engines to find you.
Now that you’ve set up an account with a recognizable username, you’ll want to make sure potential followers find you interesting, immediately know what you specialize in and understand what you have for sale (or are open to work). Through these three criteria, users will instantaneously decide whether or not to follow you on social media. To make the decision a little easier, you’ll need a short, quick-to-the-point biography and a profile photo.
While the biography section can be a daunting element of social media to set up, the goal behind it is simple: you should focus on telling profile visitors what you offer and what sets you apart from the rest in just a sentence or two. Be sure to use main keywords and provide details about your benefits, niches and/or services, too. Other add-ons can include hashtags, open or closed to freelance/work and a link to a portfolio or website (you may want to use a tool like Linktree for this). Above all, aim to sound natural and let your personality shine.
Although short biographies are pretty formulaic, many artists have widely different preferences as far as profile photos go. If you’re a solo artist and want to put a memorable face to your brand, start with a headshot. The tone of these headshots can also vary from whimsical to refined to moody, depending on what best fits your personal style. Today’s audiences value personalized interactions, according to Forbes, and a high-quality headshot will earn you extra points with users. However, if you are more inclined to have a logo or graphic represent your brand, make sure the image is clear, readable and instantly recognizable. Users can’t click to enlarge a profile photo on many social media platforms, so ensure that the image is as sharp as possible.
Another important element to include in any social media profile is contact information. If you’re looking to sell an item or gain the attention of new clients, you’ll want to make your contact information obvious. Contact information is also important to include should an internet user want to use your uploaded photos for any reason: to avoid copyright infringement and unwanted use of your images, be sure to include the best way to reach you.
Posting content on social media for artists: consistency is key
Once you have a completed and straightforward personal information section that users can immediately recognize as your unique brand, you’re ready to start posting on social media. These posts can be photos of a work in progress, a time-lapsed video of your progress or still images of a completed work, as well as graphics announcing upcoming events or milestones in your career. Whatever you decide to post, be sure to make sure that your posts are consistent to a schedule as followers will expect consistent updates (scheduling posts with tools like Later can do the heavy lifting when it comes to posting on a schedule). You’ll also want to plan for several minutes a day for posting and replying to direct messages, which may come from fellow artists, potential clients or admirers of your work.
The trick to retaining first-time viewers, especially when you first launch your artist social media profile, is to already have between one and three posts up. Users will be able to not only recognize that the page belongs to you, but they’ll be able to see examples of your future posts and what kind of themes, styles and content you focus on in your work on social media — so make sure that your first posts encompass the unique style, medium and/or product that you’re trying to highlight. Pro tip: if you’re using Instagram, create different categories of Highlights to organize posts into digestible click-through mini-galleries.
Now that you have a few posts establishing your style, your goal moving forward with content will be engagement and amassing a larger following. This can be done through asking users questions, filming short videos highlighting your creative process, commemorating milestones, advertising gallery events, calling out new clients for freelance work — the sky’s the limit. Just make sure to keep updating your audience consistently and be sure to tout your growth and progress. Social media is seldom the place to be modest!
Do you have a favorite way to make your online profile stand out? What are your tips? Sound off in the comments below.
I’m a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve covered areas from breaking news to investigations to culture for publications like NBC New York, Patch, and Law360, among others. As a former manager at Patch, I led the New Jersey local news team of veteran journalists covering crime, politics, education, and features.