I’ve compiled the information below from a wide number of sources to try and build a comprehensive bank of knowledge for young artists trying to build their career. Selling art is a major component of becoming an artist full-time.
I’m making this guide partly as a way to brush up on my own knowledge on the subject, but also because it would have been something I would have loved to have read when I first started working professionally as an artist.
I don’t believe you should be making art to make money, there are certainly easier ways to make some cash if that’s what you’re interested in but if it's your goal to sell your artwork this guide will be a perfect starting point.
I’ll begin by discussing the reasons why people buy art online and then I’ll go through as many practical tips as I can muster. I hope this helps you navigate your way through selling your artwork on the web!
Why do people buy art online?
Factors for making an art sale online
How should I price my artwork?
Use social media to your advantage
Driving traffic to your website or store
Converting traffic into sales
Create Engagement on Instagram
1. Why do people buy art online?
There are three main reasons people buy art online; emotional impact i.e how it emotionally affects them first, if it fits the aesthetic of the room they plan to hang it in and its potential investment value.
Emotion - How does it make them feel? What does it remind them of?
Emotional context plays a huge part in the way the buyer engages with an artwork. For example, they may have already met the artist and developed a personal connection with them, or the artwork may have triggered an emotional response due to the buyer's past experience.
Aesthetics - Does it fit in with the style of their home or office space?
Aesthetics and matching with home style and decor and the emotional context at the point of purchase are actually the two biggest drivers of online purchases! This can be something to remember for later when you’re trying to determine the audience of your artwork.
Investment - Will this purchase gain value over time?
Believe it or not, investment is not a significant driver of online art sales. An investment purchase is more likely to happen in person than online, this can be due to a number of factors but is most likely the fact that the buyer will not have a chance to build an authentic relationship with the artist or the piece itself by browsing online. It takes this build of trust between the buyer and the artist to spend more substantial amounts of money on an investment piece. Because of this selling online is very different from selling in person or in a gallery.
2. Factors for making an art sale online
Provide ample information on the piece and its inspiration, the edition number if its a limited print run, and of course if the buyer actually likes the work.
Information on the artwork
It's so important that you include detailed descriptions and context to the artwork when selling online as you won’t have the opportunity to chat with the buyer and gain their ever-so-important initial interest.
It’s important to deliver information about the artwork correctly since the buyer won't have the opportunity to see the artwork personally, you’ll have to deliver the closest experience possible through image and description alone. To do this you’ll need to invest time into quality pictures of the artwork, from multiple angles and as part of the decoration of a room, helping the potential buyer to see what it would look like in their own home.
Text is also an important tool for delivering information about the artwork. Be sure to tell a short story about each artwork, when and where it was made, and also mention the ideas and inspirations behind it. You need to help create an emotional connection between the art collectors and the artwork, and having a background story can help accomplish that.
The main things that a buyer concerns themselves when considering buying a piece are;
Do I like it?
Will it fit in with where I want to hang it?
There is also a limit to what they are prepared to pay. If it's not within their budget they won’t be able to buy no matter how much they love the artwork, so this is an important consideration when pricing.
Something to note; people tend to pay less when buying online rather than buying in a gallery. You are however able to sell in much greater volumes due to the larger potential audience compared to a foot-fall gallery and fast-paced nature of internet marketing.
Are a common way to drive urgency, as well as increasing investment value so I'd recommend considering them even if the investment is not the purchased reason. Limited editions are much more valuable to the buyer as there are only a limited number of the released prints which holds more value. It’s basic supply and demand. Some artists have even been known to increase the price as prints are running low, not something I’d do personally but this is entirely up to you.
Typically there are two ways to sell limited edition prints:
A time-specific event such as a weekend print release,
A limited-edition number of say 30-50 prints. Of course, the number of prints can be as many as you wish, even anywhere into the thousands. However, limiting the number printed at a lower number will increase the inherent value of these prints so selling 50 as opposed to 2000 copies is usually preferential.
Limited editions are an ethical investment agreement between the artist and the buyer, once you release the prints you should not change the total amount of prints, and no reprints either! If you plan on another print run in the future, perhaps at a different size or on canvas for example, make it explicitly clear you plan to do so. If you break this bond of trust with the buyer you risk ruining your reputation by devaluing the sold artwork. Why would someone buy from you if they can’t trust you?
3. How should I price my artwork?
I list below some suggested prices for fine art prints. These prices are intended as a rough guide to help you decide how much you should charge. Please note these prices are compiled from my own personal experience selling prints and also searching online for how other artists at various points in their career have chosen to price their artwork.
The prices above are also for fine art prints which are usually archival meaning they will stand the test of time i.e they won’t discolour, warp or fade due to the printing ingredients. Archival prints are usually expensive to produce as a result and you should consider using a print-on-demand service initially as buying a set of archival prints such as ‘Giclee’ can set you back hundreds of pounds.
Whether you are just starting out on your journey as an artist, you’re already on the rise or are fully established. Your notoriety as an artist is often a main determining factor in deciding the price of your artwork, along with your skill level, size of the artwork and total time invested. This is mostly due to the increased demand for your work.
This tends to be a correlating factor for the price of your artwork, as demand increases for your work due to the number of eyes interested, so can the price. Supply & Demand, it's simple economics.
This will usually be the first 1-3 years, depending on how quickly you develop as an artist. I’d recommend spending this time building up your skillset and developing your artwork before thinking about trying to sell your work, but when you feel as though you’re ready, go! It’s good to get your feet wet as soon as you’re ready and, just with learning anything else, finding out how best to sell your artwork is its own skill and will take time.
On the Rise
You should have begun finding your ‘style’ as an artist and have would have begun to generate a dedicated following for your work. If you've been featured on a few blogs and magazines or you've had at least one solo exhibition you are considered to be on the rise and can start to charge slightly more for your work.
To be established means you should already have a decently sized following and have a number of collectors that have purchased your work. You would have already achieved the previous types of exposure listed above for a number of years and have maybe won an award or two, or perhaps some industry accolades or recognition. This level of notoriety can take many years of hard work to reach but is often the goal for many working artists, besides, if the climb isn’t enjoyable you should probably ask yourself why you’re practicing art anyway.
Once you’ve been established for a number of years, your large audience will be familiar with your body of work and you’ve built up enough attention to the point that collectors are lining up for your prints and originals. This is the ideal time to be offering limited edition prints as they are highly likely to sell out fast! This is often the end goal for many artists financially, but it often takes your entire career to make it to this level, and most may never reach it. The investment level is reserved for career artists, those who have put great amounts of time and effort into perfecting their artistic craft and have earned a large enough following to support themselves financially solely through the sales of their drawings & paintings.
Though skill level is often considered subjective from the viewer’s point of view, and there are many artists that aren’t trained to a high standard but are still incredibly successful artists, there are a number of fundamental skills that can improve the aesthetic qualities of your artwork. You should consider learning all you can about the following fundamentals: Colour, Composition, Value, Form, and Perspective. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive and there will always be more to learn about (i.e anatomy if you work on portraits).
Work on building your knowledge of these 5 fundamentals and you’ll increase your skill level in no time. There are countless resources for these individual skills online so I won’t have space for explaining them here, but I’ll list a few recommendations down at the bottom of the page.
The time spent, or the intricacy of the process of creation of the artwork will increase its perceived value. This should include the time, effort and thought poured into concepts, as well as the craft of the work itself.
Also, note that if you are a younger artist it may take you a long time to create something that an experienced artist can make in a fraction of the time, and you shouldn’t charge more just because of this, consider each factor carefully before deciding on a price.
Size of the artwork
Generally the bigger the artwork the more people will be prepared to pay for it. This is because it will usually cost you more to reproduce works in a larger print, and original pieces will probably take longer to create. That and materials can get really expensive at higher qualities! You should raise your prices accordingly taking this into account.
If your work is limited Edition, include how many prints are in the edition, and if it is only available for a short period of time, such as over 24-48 hours. As limited editions mean limited availability, scarcity tends to increase value, this is particularly true if the work is in high demand.
This is a common way to sell prints of a piece with high buyer interest. A prime example of this are artists such as James Jean http://www.jamesjean.com/, they’ll typically sell hundreds of limited edition fine art prints in a short time, usually over a couple of days.
The number of prints matters as mentioned before, a limited edition of 20 will always be way more valuable to the interested buyer than a limited edition of 500.
As mentioned previously investment isn't the sole reason people buy online, the majority of buyers choose to buy online for aesthetic reasons. How it will look in their home, if they connect with the artist’s vision or statement, if the art reminds them of a place they have visited, a specific emotion or significant moment or memory from their life.
But for the buyers that are looking to make an investment into your work after seeing online, they’ll need to know they are buying from a reputable artist that is either on the rise or has already been established for a number of years. They’ll also need to know that you’re dedicated to improving your craft and skillset, it’s much easier to invest in an upward trajectory.
The above reasons are not an excuse to hike up the prices of your prints, however. One of the main reasons people don't purchase more art online is affordability, so you still need to price your artwork reasonably. Use the information here and do your own research elsewhere if necessary to make an informed decision at what you should charge.
4. How to use social media to your advantage
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc are an incredibly valuable tool for marketing your artwork. Instagram is a great place to start because it levels the playing field. It has the same format for all users and the same potential for views, engagement and public interest in your work. This means that you, given enough effort, can reach the coveted heights of Insta-fame that other famous artists have reached!
Be careful however when using these platforms that you don't spend too much time on marketing or branding as it will begin to feel like an advertisement void of personality. People don’t like a forced advertisement, and it can really hurt your image if not done right. This is certainly something that I have come across and something I've been guilty of in the past. Keep your self-promotion to a minimum and focus on telling stories with your artwork and you’ll perform much better.
Inversely, you don’t want to never promote either, people still need to know that you’re an artist that sells your work or you’ll never actually make any sales!
As an artist, you need to consider who you want to reach and what you are trying to accomplish with your artwork. This shouldn’t alter the direction you take your artwork in when creating but should determine how you present your work on social media. Keep your feed aesthetically similar, speak with your own voice and tell a story with your work.
It's also incredibly important to remember that being social is what actually matters. It’s easy to forget this sometimes, as it's easier to just post and leave so you can get back to working on other things. Take the time to be social. This means commenting on posts, leaving heartfelt and genuine messages to other artists, commenting back to anyone that comments on your posts but can also include the following;
Sending the occasional direct message or DM. Without spamming, if you have something nice to say. Think about how you would want to receive messages, so things such as leaving a nice compliment or asking a light-hearted question can be good places to get a conversation started
Share other user’s posts on your feed and in stories. This is especially important if you're in a position to do someone a favour, almost everyone will appreciate this gesture and shows you're not just there for your own self-promotion
Be a real person. This means opening up about your process sometimes, any challenges you are currently facing, behind the scenes pictures in your studio space, some personal pictures from your life used occasionally can encourage other people to engage with your posts on a more personal level and opens you up to followers
Be consistent. Post at least a few times a week, or every day if you can, but the more consistent you are about it the more likely you'll be able to attract people to your account and continue to engage with you once they have followed you. This doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality however, if you don’t think it’s worth posting, don’t post it.
Take the above advice with a grain of salt. The artwork should be the central focus at all times regardless of whether or not you're getting followers on Instagram or making sales.
It's also worth considering that a lot of the most popular content on Instagram is often far from the best or most interesting. If Instagram was to disappear next week is what you're doing relevant or meaningful? If the answer is yes, how can it be better? If the answer is no then maybe it's time to reflect on what you're doing.
Challenges when selling your artwork online
There are two main things you should consider when selling artwork online or almost anything else for that matter.
Driving traffic to your website or store
Converting that traffic into sales
This is by far the simplest way to think about how you should market your artwork that you’re trying to sell. It’s really that simple. Of course, the individual parts of these steps will require more knowledge and expertise and fine-tuning as you go, but by keeping the basic steps simple you aren’t in danger of building a massive, complex system that’s impossible to keep track of.
Below are a few challenges and some ways you can work around them.
5. How to drive traffic to your website
On the internet, the currency is attention. The basic considerations of how to measure this attention, either on your site or traffic on other platforms, and the average time users spend there can be done using any analytics package.
I'll go through below a few methods of generating traffic to your website by paid means and for free with a little time invested instead.
If you already have your own website this can be a great way of generating free traffic straight from Google or any other search engine.
Your posts will need to have excellent content and SEO (which stands for search engine optimisation) to start driving traffic to your site. This is where you make sure the content and marketing of your website focus on certain search terms or keywords. The more generic these keywords are, the more competitive they'll be. As a result, it’s harder to rank highly on the search results for generic terms on search engines than it is for more specific terms.
For example, it will be incredibly difficult to rank for ‘portrait painting’ as you’ll be competing with everyone else that focuses on these terms. You can adjust for this by narrowing down your focus on longer search terms. Ranking high on google for portrait painting in your town is a much more realistic target for someone with a relatively new site! Aim for this first, and world domination later.
I would highly recommend that you try and rank as highly as possible for your own artist name also, you want to be at the top of the search results when people search for you. It'll give you full control over what people find first when they search for you, otherwise, you’re at the whim of the internet gods.
Online adverts can be a powerful time-saving tool. If you have the budget for it, it’s definitely worth considering as organic methods can be incredibly time consuming and take a long time to build up. For a reference, a well-built blog with excellent content and SEO often takes at least 6-8 months to start bringing traffic to your website as search engines need time to evaluate the post and decide its quality, whereas you could send 1,000 people to your website overnight with a relatively small budget.
If you are considering online advertising the key thing to note is how much it will cost you. You should track the average cost per sale and what you make in profit for that, many beginners pump ads full of cash with no reliable way of tracking how much of that budget you’re earning back over time, it's a surefire way to burn through your budget fast.. If you’re selling prints you’ll need to factor in production costs too, with original pieces you also have to factor in how much you believe the piece is worth and not spend all of the profits on your marketing.
Advertising cost per sale is known as cost-per-conversion or CPC. It's also worth tracking whether people come back and buy more after they've made their initial purchase as it will greatly lower the average advertising cost, factor this into your CPC. It’s easiest to track these kinds of things through your chosen e-commerce option or your own website, as many have this functionality these days, or if you’re advertising through Facebook ads by setting up a FB Pixel to track conversion events.
Online advertising is another huge topic that I won't be able to cover in this post but I'll leave some good resources to start with at the bottom of this post in the references and resources section.
As an artist, I feel that social media advertising is currently the most effective way to advertise. Your adverts are visual and can be targeted to be shown to people who have liked similar posts to yours within your specific art niche.
Facebook is currently one of the best for this as you can have a highly detailed targeting and can reach a huge number of people for a fraction of the cost of GoogleAds.
GoogleAds are also mainly text-based with a shortened link and description so the potential customer has very little information before clicking to know what your work is like. This can result in a much lower click-through rate (CTR) than you’d get on social media and will hike up your overall ad costs.
However Google AdWords can work if you have a large range of styles as you can be highly specific on the other search terms. For example with ‘Michael Jackson print’ or ‘Star Wars print’ these terms tend to work a lot better as the person searching will have a close idea of what to expect when they click the link and as such are more likely to make a purchase when they land on the page.
There are tons of up-and-coming artists with massive social media followings, particularly on Instagram. Some of these artists have made significant print sales revenue by posting their new releases and limited editions.
Please note however it’s not always the case that likes and followers turn into sales and it greatly depends on the type of work you produce and your following engagement levels.
I will link a few resources for social media engagement below in the resources section.
Videos and slideshows of multiple images tend to perform better on social media, you can engage people for much longer than just a single image. This is important for the algorithms in most socials as it tells them that your posts are worth paying attention to and they’ll begin to show them to more and more people. For this reason alone you should aim to keep the content of your posts as high as possible. Many marketing gurus advice posting as frequently as possible to increase the odds that one of your posts blows up and goes viral, however unless you have a marketing team behind you this can become increasingly difficult as “posting fatigue” sets in. A successful social media presence is an art form in itself and should be treated as such.
Live videos can be a great way to add an interactive element to your online presence and will allow followers to ask questions, building a deeper relationship with you as the artist.
Sharing behind the scenes pictures, your process and images of your workspace or studio to give people an insight on how you work and create your art. That'll make your presence much more human and relatable as opposed to posting your work anonymously.
Don't be afraid to show your personality and give some backstory as to why you make the art you do.
Influencer marketing and online press releases (PR)
PR or press release is where a site or publication features you or your work. Influencer marketing works in a similar way but refers to a publication from an individual as opposed to an organisation.
Some good things about this method in particular, if you can get featured by the press or by an influencer they already have a dedicated following that trusts their opinion and this trust gets placed in you by affiliation. Ideally, they should also have a similar audience to you as this can be much more beneficial for increasing an engaged following.
Although PR will be paid for in most cases it can be free if you have something original or unique about your work. In this case, you may be approached by the magazine or blog asking for permission for an interview or to use images of your work in an upcoming release.
For example, if you can get your work featured in a newspaper or magazine, on the back of the feature you could sell years worth of prints in a week.
I would advise that you try to cultivate genuine relationships with journalists and influencers, network and communicate with them via email, events and social media. Attend talks and exhibition openings to get the opportunity to increase your media contacts.
Getting friendly with ten to twenty contacts who believe in you and have a passion for your work can be proved to be far more beneficial than sending DMs to a hundred people that you've never met.
This typically is something that you would do once you've already gained a sizable following. As you build your reputation as an artist, email marketing is a great way to cost-effectively drive traffic and repeat sales from the most engaged of your audience, the people that have purchased from you before and have opted-in to marketing emails.
You should try to email content fairly regularly. Keep the information informative and interesting, i.e give subscribers early access to new releases, special discounts, some exclusive behind-the-scenes content or sneak peeks.
If you create work that fits into a certain niche or appeals to specific fanatical subcultures such as cult films or music, then web forums are an excellent way to generate traffic to your website. You’ll be able to tap into an already engaged audience that is specifically interested in your chosen subject.
Some of the main sites for this can include Reddit, Artstation and DeviantArt as they all have large active & engaged followings. Keep in mind that it's incredibly important that you stay genuine and active in each of these communities, taking part in discussions and engaging with the audience of your passion before introducing work in a sales context. You won't get anywhere from spamming your links and you will eventually get banned and kicked out of the forums if you’re a repeating offender!
Local markets, stores or open houses are great ways to get genuine interest in your work in the eyes of potential buyers. Genuine person interaction with people creates trust for those who later visit your online store afterwards, it also creates a sense of discovery which is key for driving online sales as these often tend to come from personal experiences with the artist themselves.
Research your local market scene and consider hiring a space for a weekend or two if you're looking to take a step into the more established art fairs. Keep in mind that these fairs and exhibitions often come at a price so be prepared to pay for things such as the space, commission rates on the sales that you make and for business cards and travel, plan for this before you commit to anything.
6. How to convert views into sales
Once you've begun to generate traffic to your online store or website you can consider converting this traffic into followers and then buyers.
Keep in mind that it has to be the right kind of traffic to convert. Take a look at how many people on your site are buying something from you (your conversion rate). You can calculate this by dividing the number of people who visit your store by total the number of sales.
Conversion rate is one of the key statistics that you should track to keep an eye on your store’s performance. The average Conversion rate for the Arts is between 1-5%, and there are a bunch of factors that can influence this so don't fret if yours is below this to begin with. I’ll go through a couple of factors below and discuss how you can improve upon them.
Artwork price. The price of your artwork and prints will greatly affect conversion rate, higher-priced items will usually have a lower conversion rate, this is common among all industries. As long as your work is reasonably priced you shouldn’t need to worry about this.
Website design & user experience. If your website is poorly designed or difficult people are likely going to click off. If they’re unable to navigate your site, they won’t be able to buy any of your artwork, even if they’re eager to! Make sure your design is clear and free of clutter and that it's easy for anyone to navigate, you don’t want to miss out on a purchase because they can’t find their way to the cart.
Photographs of the artwork. Take the time to research how to take professional quality product images of your artwork before you post anything online. You’ll need a clear representation of the artwork you’re trying to sell, it’s also a good idea to show a few close-ups of the details or textures of the piece and something else in frame to show scale.
In the following points, I’ll go through some possible ways to increase your conversion rates.
Trust in the seller or artist
Once your work has been discovered, then the buyer has to develop trust with you the artist before making the leap to purchase. This is often harder online as it’s a lot easier to misinterpret something as real that isn't. Here are a few steps to enable trust and boost your store’s conversion rate.
Photo of the artist - Include pictures on your about pages in your store. Seeing that there is a real person on the other side of an online transaction helps build trust. People tend to buy from people rather than soulless machines.
Artist bio Include a short synopsis for the viewer about who you are, what you create and why.
Reviews Having trustworthy reviews so that customers can independently review each sale really helps to build trust with the buyer. Most stores come with this feature, make sure you keep this somewhere visible. To keep your 5-star rating you need to provide the buyer with a great experience, deliver when you say you will make the transaction as easy as possible, and of course make sure the artwork arrives in one piece.
Be contactable Keep your contact details shown clearly on your site as a way to provide customer service when needed. You could use a live chat function using Facebook messenger or something similar such as email or a contact form. Email is also a great way to be accessible as over 50% of the world now use email, making it extremely likely the person trying to contact you can via email.
Returns policy This gives the buyer confidence that they can return their work with no arguments if they decide they don't want it. This is extremely common to online purchases as you don’t always get an accurate idea of what you’re buying until it arrives. Your returns policy is up to you, just make sure you clearly state it somewhere on your website. It could be a good idea to offer full returns to give the buyer confidence in their purchase, it pays to be generous with your returns policy. I’ve always offered full refunds for sales, no one as of yet has asked for one and as long as the artwork isn't damaged you can still relist it on your store when it comes back to you.
Accept PayPal and AmazonPay These platforms give buyers some additional protections and give them the confidence to go through the purchase. It also makes it quicker and easier so they don't have to find the cards to make the purchase and can pay by logging into these accounts. Whether you’re able to accept these payments depends on the platform you decide to sell on, if you have your own website or you’re using a service like Shopify you should be able to set these up fairly easily. If you’re selling through services like Etsy or Bigcartel you’ll be limited to whichever selling options they currently provide.
Provide context for the work
You've established trust using the previous steps, now take a step back to consider the context of what you’re selling. This is the biggest driver of the impulse to buy, and you need this impulse to be present before you are able to utilise the trust that you’ve earned to actually make the sale.
Here is an example of what to include for the contextual description for your artwork:
Title of the artwork
Date and location of production
Details on the printing or production process
A detailed description of the work and the project
Independent writing about the project
Background on the artist
An online store with good user experience
There will be a number of factors for your online store itself that is crucial to encourage online buyers here are some key considerations:
Nice clean design Your site needs to look good but also load quickly. Use video and visual elements to show your process, your products pricing should be clear and the checkout process should be as simple as possible making it faster and easier to complete the purchase.
Mobile responsiveness Every site these days should, by standard, be mobile-friendly, meaning it is quick to load for mobile users and still retains a strong aesthetic presence.
Delivery times Faster is better in terms of delivery times. Ideally, the price you sell at should incorporate delivery prices, offering free shipping has been shown in research to drive higher conversion rates online as people don’t want to pay for postage.
Creating urgency for online purchases using something as discretionary as art is a proven e-commerce tactic. Below are a few ways to create a strong sense of urgency:
Flash sales A great way to encourage a large number of purchases over a short period of time. By doing this you are offering customers some form of discount or incentive, the fixed expiration date creates genuine urgency to purchase
The keys to a successful flash sale are short sales between 1 to 3 days promoting it extensively via social media and your marketing channels and don't over-saturate if these posts become too frequently you lose your sense of urgency as people will believe that they’ll come around again soon.
Promotions This is where some creative marketing know-how can come in handy, there is a lot you can do with promotions.
It often comes down to some trial and error to find out what works for you, however, amongst the options are call-outs on social media, i.e. first 5 followers to tag themselves in this post get 10% off a print.
This could work particularly well if your work is part of a set or a series, you could also offer ‘buy two get one free’ promotions or something more traditional like a free shipping discount code to all previous buyers for a limited time.
Each of these options has its own benefits, you need to discover what works best for you but the aim with each of these tactics is to create a spike in sales.
Limited editions Limited edition prints runs and the importance with regards to urgency is crucial.
As a rule of thumb as a limited edition is running out interested buyers are more likely to purchase as to not miss out. There are two ways to translate this:
Artwork in an edition of 50 is naturally going to create much more urgency than an artwork in an edition size of 500 prints. So offer smaller editions to increase urgency and the value of each print.
On your store clearly state what the addition size is and the number of prints that are left to clearly show the buyer how urgently they need to purchase if they are interested in owning one themselves.
7. Creating Engagement on Instagram
Engagement is one of the fundamental requirements for making art sales. This translates to any interaction your audience makes with you, the artist. You should aim to increase your audience’s engagement as much as you can, I’ll discuss below a few tried and true ways to do this.
Communicate with your audience
The key to engagement is to communicate. It may seem obvious, but genuine communication is a proven strategy for organic growth. When you're browsing your social feeds leave supporting comments on other’s art that you genuinely have an appreciation for.
When you first discover an account that you’d like to follow, consider leaving a comment on a post explaining why you decided to follow them with a short introduction.
Commenting in a constructive manner asking questions and emphasizing your interest in their practice will encourage interaction which in turn leads to real connections with people who appreciate your work. This is a two-way thing. If someone leaves a comment, reply back even if it's simple as a thank you, acknowledgement goes a long way to building organic following which in turn creates a long-lasting engagement with your own posts.
Some tips for communication on Instagram
Use your people words It is very common to see people commenting on people's posts with a single emoji. Don't do this. Most people have learnt to ignore these as they aren't really used to express our opinions. Leave genuine comments and use emojis to punctuate or emphasise if you need to.
Don't spam This is by far the most common thing people do when trying to promote their page on Instagram. However, you need to approach comments like you would an email to a friend, if you wouldn’t like to receive it they will probably feel the same way. Commenting should come naturally, if you struggle with this perhaps it's a sign not to comment and just like the post instead.
Direct messages (#slideinthoseDMS) You should send direct messages to people whose work you truly admire. By opening up this more personal communication channel you can start conversations which in turn could lead to lasting connections which make for many possibilities that can arise inspiration, collaboration, mutual appreciation and maybe even friendship.
You should aim to connect without a personal agenda as this is the best way forward. If you message with the intent of gaining something from them, it can be fairly obvious and they will be less likely to engage with you in a personal manner.
Sharing other users artwork One of the most powerful tools at your disposal when using Instagram is the ability to easily share posts.
This can include reposting, shout-outs and giving credit where it's due. Reposting content that is of interest to you creates a sense of generosity and shows that you’re not there simply to promote yourself and your work. The goal here is to share the love between other artists and if you're lucky enough they will reciprocate in kind.
You can shout out others' work that you particularly love in posts and stories. You may have read a book by an artist or a particular artwork that you enjoy. Let the artist know and comment how it made you feel, it’s a great feeling to have people appreciate the work that you put into creating your artwork, and I’m sure most artists will appreciate the kind gesture.
Resources and links:
Follow this link to see all my recommendations for art materials, books and other resources (updated regularly): https://www.ophanap.co.uk/tools
Free online resources and videos:
What Are The Fundamentals? Draftsmen S1E04 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Aplx3ETh6U
Art Fundamentals (Swatches) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax130yILbw0&list=PLVgLT-e3jXPDgeED0pD0BPq8kY1VAZAGa
Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters (Practical Art Books) https://amzn.to/2CdNLNy
Online Advertising: Everything You Need to Know in 2020 https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/online-advertising
Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips for Your Marketing Strategy www.bluefountainmedia.com/blog/top-tips-for-digital-advertising
Building Engagement on social media
How to Increase Social Media Engagement: A Guide for Marketers https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-engagement/
15 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement Quickly https://www.oberlo.co.uk/blog/social-media-engagement