As an artist, you don’t always have new illustrations ready to be shown.
Let’s talk about a strategy to build your audience in the long term! Promised, no need to draw more, we’ll reuse your work in a smart way.

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From Art to Business – Artist Tips to monetize your art!
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Quality rather than quantity

Little disclaimer first, please don’t put pressure on yourself because of social media. The important thing is that you have fun and create because you like it, not because you need likes or because you “have to” post because you think you have to please people. If you want to make a living from art and thrive as an illustrator, your own needs and well-being are the most important.

Personally, it’s been over a year since I dropped Instagram, it hasn’t made any difference to my business and revenue whatsoever, and I feel much better without that pressure. Remember, if you post, it’s all about the happiness of sharing your work, and because you really want it. But then again, if you’re here, I guess you do want to post, so let’s see how to grow your account while engaging your audience!

Content = you as an artist

The first and most obvious type of content is the one showing your art, like finished illustrations.
The goal of publishing pretty artwork?

  • attract new people to you and make them stay because it’s pretty
  • make people want to see your next creations, because they like your style
  • make potential clients stay and contact you, be it for commissions or to buy your merch

It’s important to have quality content that you’re proud of – not designs you’ve done reluctantly because you just needed to post something to make your followers happy.

Now, however as an artist, we cannot all come up with a new illustration every single week, especially if you’re freelancing on projects or are working a nine to five.

My first tip is to reuse your content to go more behind the scenes – because people love to see how you create! Non-artists often tell me they find it fascinating to discover the drawing process, and other artists can be inspired by discovering what lies behind an illustration.

> Example: With just one illustration, you could show a carousel with the different stages of sketching / inking / colouring, film and speed up a part where you’re drawing, make a step-by-step, share sketches or research in your sketchbook. That’s four posts plus one final illustration, which will only take you a few extra minutes to prep.

Depending on what you’re creating, you can also expand with “behind the scenes” posts, such as a photo of your artist’s studio, your favourite tools, a video of you packing an order, unpacking your new prints and products, and much more, available in the downloadable list! Even if it’s not art in itself, it’s still consistent with your activity as an artist and shows what you do.

Content = You as a human being

To have a more engaged audience that appreciates and trusts you – it is also important to create content that shows you as a person. Have you ever bought from an artist because you thought they were an amazing person to talk to, or because you discovered you had similar interests? That’s the whole point of creating more personal content.

And no, it’s not unprofessional if you do it well. It can be posts or stories, for instance, you want to draw but your cat decided to lie down on your sketchbook, you’re packaging your shop products and your cute child is helping you, or you’re sharing travel pictures when you’re attending conventions abroad. How do you want people to perceive you? What are your interests and values?

> Example: @Fourseasonsfox’s stories with her daughter show her as a cool mum and entrepreneur, which her female audience can relate to. The goal is to be more strategic and humanise your brand so that people feel more connected. You’re not a big unknown business, you’re a small, real, human creative.

Secondly, you don’t even need to show yourself. If you don’t want to show your face, it’s alright. The art tutorial account @zephy.fr does a great job of this. Her stories are ultra personal but you only see her hands, feet or shadow figure in nature. You never see her face, but you feel like you know her when she posts about her walks in nature, collecting elements which she’ll draw later on, or her morning coffees next to her graphic tablet to wish us a good day.

It’s up to you to see what fits your world, your personality!

Use engaging stories

Building loyalty to your existing audience and creating a community effect is crucial because these people already know you.

From a business standpoint, it’s easier to convert them into future or recurrent customers, because they already show interest in your art, unlike someone who doesn’t know you yet and who would come across you with a random ad.

If you want to boost your community and the algorithm for more visibility at the same time, a great way is to use Instagram stories. What are the benefits?

  1. Stories allow you to share more personal content, without disturbing your feed as they disappears after 24 hours. 
  2. The various stickers, poll, Q&A, quizzes and others are great for getting your audience to interact. All it takes is a quick and easy click and people can express their opinion. Which ideas can you use? Well, how is your day with the progressive bar, or help me choose the hair colour on this illustration with the question sticker.

Show your community that they’re important, that you want them to be a part of your world!

It doesn’t seem like much, but again, people will feel closer to you and be more likely to become lifelong fans because they are invested in you.

Also, it might be interesting to know that some people on Instagram only look at the stories, as it’s faster and you’re quickly up to date with the latest news. It also goes back to our instinct of humans who love to peep into other people’s lives, we love gossip, celebrity magazines, in short, the ephemeral content of stories plays with this – following someone’s daily life. The fear of missing out factor also makes stories much more attractive than polished posts sometimes.

And I admit I’m one of those people too, who almost only looks at stories, and I do maybe, one post every 3 months on my feed? On the other hand, I regularly create stories to announce con dates, new videos, show what I’m working on, and so on. It puts a lot less pressure on me than a real post, and my audience always knows what’s new, which keeps the business going.

afterword

So, to sum up for the 3 types of content to create on Instagram: professional, personal, stories. I promise, a good mix of all 3 will help you develop a loyal and engaged audience, who loves what you do and who will be ready to buy at some point – because they love your work, and feel emotionally invested in you.

Now tell me, what kind of content do you create?
Share your experiences in the comments so we can inspire each other!

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For illustrators, mangakas, for those who sell products, do conventions, in short, it’s 100% adapted to artists according to their different styles.

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