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Selling Art Online with Instagram {5 top tips + more}

by Helen Aldous

Over the last few months you have probably noticed more and more images being shared across Facebook and other social networks. These photos often have an arty quality to them and retro style image frames around them. These images are originating from the smartphone app Instagram.

Instagram is an app that you use on your iPhone, iPad or Android based device. It allows you to shoot a photo and then process it in app to add a variety of filters and frames. However, the magic is then that Instagram allows you to share that photo across a variety of social media sites with one click of the button.

Like all social media sites or apps, Instagram has it’s fair share of brain sucking rubbish to wade through. This is mostly comprised of young girls taking photos of their hair and what they are eating [usually cupcakes].  However, used carefully and intelligently, the visual nature of Instagram is brilliant for artists. Its a great way of showing your work to the world and finding new fans for what you do.

One of the great things about Instagram is that it allows you to publish your images to other social media sites too therefore making your life easier in one fell swoop. Whenever you post an image you can also share it with Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and via Email. One good picture of your work can go a long way with very little effort {always good where time sucking social media is concerned}

So how can Instagram help you grow your work, brand and visibility as an artist? Where do you start? I have put together a 5 tips below to help you get to grips with ways to use Instagram to help you sell art online…

 

1 What images should I post on Instagram?

Use Instagram to introduce people to your work. Therefore show them what you do, photographing your work and process, tools you use, places you visit, inspiration and things you like. Aim to use the app to give people a little glimpse into your art, ideas and life as an artist.

2 Keep it local

I have found the best success by using Instagram to find potential local fans and customers. By using this method I have developed a new relationship with a lovely local art gallery and found several new local customers for my work with very little effort.

My method is to search within the app for the hashtag of my local town {ie #London, #NewYork or wherever you live} Then comment on images by local people and start up a conversation. In this way I have grown my followers and made some great local connections who now see my work every time they check Instagram. If I were to hold an exhibition or local event I could easily use Instagram to help with publicity towards it. I intend to do this in the future.

It’s also a great idea to search for and follow local artists too to bring you local connections and networking opportunities that can help grow your work.

3 The secret is in the hashtags.

Post a picture alone onto Instagram and chances are you wont get much attention. However, the secret is to tag your picture correctly with the right hashtags. That way, people searching for the subject of your image can find your work.

So, for example, if you paint watercolour landscapes of New England you may want to use the hashtags #landscapepainting #NewEngland #watercolour #art #drawing or similar. A little bit of research using the hashtag search facility in the app will help you know which hashtags to use. Hashtags are definitely the key when it comes to using Instagram well and you can add many different ones to each image.

4 Can I sell my art directly through Instagram?

Instagram does not have a way to allow you to sell art directly through the app. I see it more as a way of creating or finding an audience for your work and spreading the word about what you do, leading people back to your main site or shop. However, I have seen popular artists with many followers release images of work for sale on Instagram along with a direct paypal address for payment and sell out their editions so it can definitely be done.

5 Can I use Instagram to promote my shop or sale?

Once you have an audience on Instagram you can promote items on your website or shop site. You can’t create a direct link in Instagram but I have seen people use an image very successfully to flag up sales and promotions on their site or Etsy shop. Simply prepare a nice image with the relevant information and then post to Instagram.

You can use apps like PhotoCollage, InstaCollage, PicFrame and InstaEffects or similar to create a nice promotional image for your sale.

 

But don’t Instagram want to steal all my images?

Instagram has recently come in for a lot of criticism for rewriting its terms and conditions in a way which gave them far too much legal access to users images, being able to use them for advertising. Users left in droves and the repercussions echoed around the social media sphere. Instagram was forced to look again into it’s policies and back down somewhat.

However, as with all Social Media sites it’s well to treat it with some caution as you never know what direction they will take in the future. Don’t post any clear images of work you want to fully control. Teaser images only.

 

Instagram Do’s and Dont’s

DO

  • Watermark your image – PhotoMarkr is just one app which can do this. Watermark with your website address so that wherever your image ends up people can find out who you are.
  • Follow artists you love. Then any time you log on to Instagram you have a ready stream of inspiration to look at.
  • Make every image count – don’t just post photos of cups of coffee and your new hairstyle. Post only one or two really great images a day. Quality over quantity definitely works on Instagram.
  • Link Instagram to your Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts and use it to feed them with content. You don’t even need to spend any time on them. It’s a good way to get your work seen.
  • As always, try and lead people back to your main website with an offer or other enticement. Try and get them to sign up to your mailing list.

DON’T

  • Post easily steal-able nice straight on usable images of your work. Instagram images seem particularly prone to being ripped off by unscrupulous copyright ignoring trolls. Therefore, use Instagram images as a “tease” to interest people in your work. Post photos of your work shot at a strange angle, a small part of the whole image, or blur out some of the image {you can do this in the Instagram app} The idea is to lead people back to your main content elsewhere and raise your profile.
  • Release any image that you want to keep control over. Instagram images have a life of their own. Once you have set them free you have to just let them go.

 

So give Instagram a go. Its fun, inspirational [if you follow the right people] and doesn’t take up much time. Post your instagram profile address below so we can all look at your photos. Happy snapping.

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

verwijderde bestanden herstellen December 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long coomment
but after I clickmed submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just anted to ssay fantastic
blog!
verwijderde bestanden herstellen recently posted..verwijderde bestanden herstellen

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Seema April 28, 2013 at 4:27 am

Thanks for this post! It definitely gave me very useful tips!
My instagram: @SeemaShakti

Reply

paul March 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm

There are a few decent sites such as http://inkifi.com which allow you to sell work direct the the public, they look for the better quality artwork rather than allowing anything into their galleries.
paul recently posted..poppy Art Print

Reply

Helen Aldous March 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Paul – Really like inkifi! Great site and idea.

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Marie Kazalia February 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I especially like Instagram for adding images to Tweets.
Do you do guest blog posts or allow you post to be condensed and republished? My Artist Marketing Resources blog has over 20,800 followers and I am interested in a publishing a version of this article.
Plus all blog posts autofeed into my LinkedIN group with over 2,300 artists and art professional. My LinkedIN group name is also Artist Marketing Resources.

Reply

Dorothy January 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Hi Helen-thanks for the e-mail/13. Happy New Year.
I’m a chocoholic this week while creating new card designs. I think I heard that it’s good to eat more choco when it’s cold outside!

Best
Dorothy

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