10 Tips to Being a Successful Online Artist
Hey there, you. This week, I'm super excited to share this post that has been highly requested from y'all. As you can tell from the title of this post, today I'm going to be sharing some easy, yet ground-breaking tips with you on finding success as an online artist or creative small business. I just want to preface this little spiel by saying that I know I haven't by any means broke the internet with my art (yet). But, I do have a background in marketing, branding and graphic design. I have been pursuing my dreams of making art my full-time job and growing my online platforms for about a year and a half now. Like any other experience in life, I am learning more and more about what this career is all about and how to be successful at it along the way every single day. So, pull out a pen and paper, because you're going to want to remember what's coming next. These are ten things that I wish I'd known when I started sharing my art online:
Honestly, this was a part of being an artist that I was really uncomfortable with at first. I didn't want it to come across to others that I was bragging or conceited. But the truth is that nobody cares more about your passion and your small business than you, and you're not going to convince anybody else to care if your passion doesn't shine through for others to see. I would recommend practicing what you want to say to others ahead of time, especially if you're feeling nervous. Using your artists' statement as a framework can be a great place to start, and you can tailor it slightly to cater to each specific audience or situation. Try to include your name, what type of art you do, and where they can see more of your work (i.e. your website or social media platforms) or how to contact you. I promise that the more you do it, the easier it gets!
When it comes to this, I'd say remember the old saying: dress for the job you want, not the job you have! I can't tell you how many times over the years I have run into great opportunities by chance, and then that potential customer or business partner said to me, "Well, give me your business card and I'll give you a call!" or "What's your website? I'll send it to my boss to check out your work". And I had nothing to show. Simply put, it just comes off as unprofessional. When you're out there networking and promoting yourself as an artist, it is an absolute must to have a website or at least some kind of online platform through which potential customers and fans can look at your work and/or reach you.
Join Engagement Groups
This is actually something that I never knew about before I start sharing my art on social media. Essentially, engagement groups are online private chats through your DMs of other artists and creatives. When people in the group put out new content, the other members will help show them support by either "liking" the post, retweeting the post, or leaving a nice comment. This in turn, raises engagement on your post so that social media algorithms put your content at the top of more peoples feeds. Thus, more people (who otherwise maybe wouldn't have seen that post) will see it and engage with it.
These groups can also be a great place to exchange tips, get feedback on work, and network with other artists digitally. If you are trying to grow your following on social media, joining engagement groups is a great place to start. If you don't know where to join an engagement group, reach out to some other artists on social media and start your own!
Watch what is working, and do more of that.
This might sound obvious, but it really is a key step in putting out content that is successful. Start by analyzing content you have shared in the past. Your insights on Instagram, Twitter, etc. hold all of the information you need to up your social media game and put out the best possible content. So, why does content matter?
high quality content = higher engagement = more followers = more sales
When reviewing your insights, pay attention to things like which posts were shared the most, which posts had an unusually high number of comments, or which posts prompted a lot of your followers to click on your profile or website. These are the kinds of posts you should aim to create more of if you want to use your content to grow your following! Note: Google Analytics is another completely free tool that you can use to gauge the engagement and success of your content
Make content consistently
One of my favorite UK-based influencers, Molly Mae Hague, said it best when she said "Being an influencer is about getting your audience to invest in you as a person". Whether or not you consider yourself to be an "influencer", the same principle applies to being an artist or small business on social media. You want your followers to be interested in the content you're putting out there so that they invest in you and your products!
If you're putting out content once a week, that's not enough to stay memorable in people's minds and get them to invest in you. As a rule of thumb, you should be active on social media in some way, shape or form every single day. If it's not a post, you should be sharing something on your story, sending out an email campaign, etc. Sharing content consistently is key to being both memorable and relevant to your followers in order to have a successful online art business.
Note: If you don't have the time every day to post across all platforms, online applications like Hootsuite and ContentCal can be great tools to create and manage content ahead of time.
Don't get too caught up in making merchandise
This is definitely something I've struggled with personally. Especially when I first started my business, I was so excited to print my art on all kinds of products like clothing or lighters.This has just been my dream for so long! I got so caught up in the merchandise aspect of my business that I found myself letting the most important part (the art) slip to the back-burner. I always work to put out quality content for my followers, but I can confidently tell you that the pieces that I truly poured my heart and soul into received engagement and feedback that reflected the quality of my work (both in sales and in posts). Don't get so caught up in making products and merchandise that you forget why you started. Make beautiful art, and the rest will follow!
Engage with other followers and potential followers!
Interacting with current followers, as well as potential followers, is a great way to raise your engagement and grow your following on social media. The bottom line is that people like to feel seen, to feel heard, to feel appreciated---so show your followers you appreciate them! This can be as simple as spamming potential followers with "likes" and a kind comment on one of their posts. If someone "likes" your post but doesn't follow you, you could shoot them a DM thanking them for taking the time to look at your art. I always make an effort to thank followers for sharing my posts as well, because this is a huge help in growing my platform. Always be looking for opportunities to interact with your followers and potential followers, as it can only benefit your business.
Photograph your art well
Underline, highlight, and put a big red star by this step. I cannot tell you how many times I've come across pages on Instagram where very talented artists are sharing beautiful work, but they only have a few followers because their work isn't translating onto camera. This sounds harsh, but it's true: if you can't photograph your artwork well, it is essentially rendered useless on social media. This is because most of your followers aren't ever going to see your art in person, so the only way they can appreciate it is through the photos you've shared.
When it comes to the online/digital world, great art doesn't automatically equal great content. And on social media platforms, especially Instagram, great content matters. It matters if your photos have good lighting, it matters if your feed looks coherent, it matters if you can see the details of your work in your photo, etc. If you're serious about growing your social media and sharing your art online, I would definitely recommend that you familiarize yourself with Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom --- I promise you that it will make all the difference in the quality of content you're curating for your platforms.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to social media platforms
This is a mistake I made for long time when I first started sharing my art online. I first began sharing art on Instagram in December of 2018, but I didn't join Twitter or any other platforms until nearly a year later. Sharing my art on Instagram was going great at first, but after a few months, when my engagement and followers plateaued, I found myself feeling very discouraged. Once I began sharing my work on Twitter, I was so surprised so see my online success and my sales growing faster than ever before!
The point is that some of my friends have had massive success sharing their art on TikTok, while I found success on Twitter, and I know other creative business owners that are making the majority of their sales through Pinterest. It can definitely be more work to curate content for multiple platforms (in fact, it could really be a full-time job!), but I promise you it's worth it to invest in multiple social media platforms in order to gain the most growth quickly as an online artist.
Have great customer service
I learned very quickly after I began sharing my art online that word of mouth is THE most powerful advertisement tool out there. It's better than paying to promote your posts on Instagram or using hashtags or doing giveaways or you name it. I don't know about you, but, personally, I'd be far more inclined to take the word of a friend on a product they're obsessed with than I would be to listen to a random ad I saw while scrolling through Instagram. Likewise, I have gained many customers and followers through referrals.
Using word of mouth to grow your following and customer-base starts with your existing customers. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and always do your best to make amends with any unsatisfied shoppers. Some other initiatives you could take are to offer discount codes to customers who choose to leave a review after their purchase, or send out business cards with orders for customers to share with their friends!
I hope you enjoyed reading my post this week, and I hope it left you inspired with some new ways you can continue to grow your online creative business into a polished and professional brand. If there's more information you'd like to know on being a creative small business owner or other art-related topics, let me know! You can shoot me a DM, send me an email, or leave a comment below and I will definitely keep your feedback in mind when creating future posts.
Until next time XO