Instagram guide for artists: how to increase your followers


I asked my followers on Instagram what they wanted to know and this was by far the most requested, tips and tricks on how to increase your Instagram following as an artist. So, I’m going to share some of my top secret tips on how to increase that oh-so-important ‘following’ number.



Skip to the sections below that are most useful to you!

  • Engage with the community

  • Increase your Image Quality

  • Ideal image & canvas size

  • Entering Instagram Hashtags

  • Posting your image

  • Uploading via a social media scheduler app



Engage with the community

My first tip has got to be by far the most ignored aspect I've seen from people using social media. Not being social. And I’m definitely a culprit of this most weeks, but it is so important for you to engage with other IG users.


This means you need to leave comments on other peoples posts, genuine comments and questions go a lot further than leaving a few random emojis. Start a conversation with other users in your niche, make connections with people and you’re far more likely to earn engaged followers.


It’s not good enough to drop a post and forget anymore if you’re serious about increasing your follower count, you need to put in the energy to get it back. I would recommend interacting with other users like this around an hour before your post each time.


This will give people enough time to see your comment and reply back. A number of them will visit your page, and if they like what you post and click that follow button you’ll also be gaining engagement on your future posts, which in turn boosts its visibility to other users in the hashtags, and bring more eyes to your page.


Remember, the key here is not to blindly spam comments on every post, not only will that inevitably get you banned by Instagram, but it’ll also get you ignored by the vast majority of users and is a huge waste of time.


Be genuine and you’ll find a lot more people will return the favour.


Increase your Image Quality

I’ll explain here how I post to Instagram without losing any image quality here in this post step by step and talk you through how to export your image so that you can avoid Instagram's image quality automatic downscaling. By the end of this section, you’ll know how to post to Instagram without loss in quality and some other useful tips.


So you take your completed sketch, shown is a painting that I finished a little while ago, I’ll show you how I would post this to Instagram. I'll run you through this in photoshop, but Krita and procreate have a very similar process.



The first thing you need to think about is the canvas settings you’ve used while painting. I typically use pretty huge canvas settings at around 3,500 pixels by 3,500 pixels at a resolution of 300 PPI, and the reason I like to work on such a large canvas is it affords me enough space to draw on and It also gives me enough image resolution to print on late down the line if I want to.


The problem with working in this size, however, is that when you save the image and go to post it to Instagram, the app will forcibly reduce the file size, and in turn, the quality of the image, for what I’m assuming is to reduce the load time and data usage of Instagram users that see your posts.


What this means for you is that if you don’t export your image in a way that takes this file size into account your posted images can sometimes feature weird artefacts and visual quality reduction.


Another problem that I’ve seen younger artists run into is the opposite issue, using a canvas that’s too small. For example, if you use a canvas size of only 500 pixels wide, your image will be upscaled by Instagram, but when you do this you’re essentially stretching the image to larger proportions than it was intended to be, again giving you huge reductions in quality.


Ideal image & canvas size for posting to Instagram

What I would recommend for posting to Instagram is to start with a large enough canvas that when you finish your sketch or painting that you will have enough visual information that you can export to smaller sizes without a loss in quality.


So if you go to file, then click on new, there will be a little menu where you can set up your canvas settings. Now, depending on the strength of your computer you’ll want to have a size of at least 2,000 pixels wide, and 2,000 pixels tall if you want to upload with square images for that IG aesthetic.

Make sure to keep the PPI resolution to anything above 100 and click okay. Bear in mind that if you’re intending to print later I'd recommend a higher resolution to keep the image sharp (at least 350 PPI) however this will slow your PC down if it's on the weaker side of things.



Now going back to my previous image, as it was painted at 3,500 by 3,500 pixels at 350 PPI It’s way too big because Instagram hates large files. So now we need to downscale the image to make it a smaller file size and keep Instagram happy.


The way you do this is to click file, then export as and you’ll get a pop-up menu, where you’ll be able to adjust your export settings. Select the image layer that you want to export, if you haven’t already, duplicate all your image layers and flatten them into one single layer. I would recommend exporting as a JPEG as it’ll save space on your hard drive, at a value between 1500 and 2000 pixels seems to work best.



Make sure you keep the quality at 100% and press Export and you’ll have the chance to save the new reduced size, but not quality image to your Desktop where you can send it to your self via email or dropbox to upload to Instagram from your phone.



Entering Instagram Hashtags

This tip has been a massive timesaver for posting to Instagram. You can use a file on your notes to save groups of hashtags that you frequently use for later so you can quickly add them in when you post. I usually do this from my desktop as it lets me do things much quicker and in bulk, as I’ll discuss later on in this post.


Once you have these lists saved you can just copy and paste them into your caption when uploading to Instagram to save yourself a bunch of time you would usually waste entering random related hashtags

This also gives you the opportunity to find hashtags that work for you and adapt your lists over time so that you get the most out of your engagement.



Posting your image

Now open up Instagram and go to post your image, you shouldn't need to use any filters here as you finished your image on your painting application, but its usually a good idea to go to the edit tag and do some quick last-minute edits to your photo to make it look ideal on phones and tablets, the place where the vast majority of Instagram users will see your posts.


Usually, I'll slightly increase the contrast, the sharpness and the structure by about 5-10 points. Trust your eyes when doing this, less is often more. Using these settings will make your image pop just a little bit more and make it a little crisper.


Now enter your caption and copy those hashtags over from your notes and put them beneath your caption. You can also copy the tags to post in your comments right after your post if you care about keeping your captions clean, this currently doesn’t affect the placement of your post in the hashtag lists, which has been confirmed by Instagram, but be careful to copy them in fast if you do this as larger tags will ‘treadmill’ much more quickly and your post could end up buried under hundreds of others!


Uploading via a social media scheduler app


This is by far my favourite thing I’ve learned about social media. How to avoid the time-consuming part of daily uploading. In case you’re not aware, there are apps and services that allow you to schedule posts in advance, allowing you to prepare your posts in bulk and upload them automatically without you lifting a finger!


I used to do this manually every day at 6 pm, so it has been a huuuuge save in terms of effort, and it makes it impossible to miss the mark if posting at certain times is important for you. Of course, there are some pros and cons to each of these services, some are free but limited to a certain number of accounts and how many posts you can add to the queue, and some you have to pay for.


Also, you’ll need to format your images correctly to post automatically, if you don’t you’ll be sent a reminder at the scheduled time which will give you your caption copied to your clipboard and your images where you can post them from your phone manually.


I’ve tried a handful of these services over the past year or so and my personal favourite app for doing this is buffer.com. It’s free to use currently if you only have a couple of pages to post to and lets you queue up to ten posts in advance, which is perfect if like me you only really have spare time on the weekend and would like to bulk posts for the coming week.


Please bear in mind that this isn't sponsored, and there are other, perhaps better options out there, but many require a monthly fee for basic services, so I’ve chosen buffer as my recommendation for beginners. Some other options worth looking at are: loomly.com/ hootsuite.com/ and later.com/



You upload your photo and image to the scheduler just like you would to Instagram, copy your caption over and set a date and time you’d like it to post. Square images are posted automatically, if you post an image that’s the incorrect size, wrong file format or a post that has more than four images it won’t upload automatically, so keep this in mind too.


To conclude: Focus on keeping the quality of your posts, engage meaningfully with other people, use these massive time-saving tips and post your artwork regularly and you’ll be ‘crushing your Instagram game’ in no time.


Here are some great videos for more information!

e r g o j o s h "Artists on Instagram...This is Important" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijv8jSJc33E


Lena Danya

"7 Basic Instagram tips for artists, gain followers organically" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdreH3yHx6U


Hope this guide helped! Let me know if it did and as always you can contact me using my contact page and I’ll do my best to help.


All the best,

Dan

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Portrait Artist & Illustrator, London

For further details and enquiries, please email me at ophanap@gmail.com

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