I know you’ve heard and read a lot about Instagram and how it works. Still, I think that the way a creative uses Instagram is different from a food-blogger or fashion influencer.
This is why I hope this little blog post will clear some things out about this platform.
I’m not an Instagram guru, but there are a few things that I’ve learnt during these years, and I want to share with you.
DOS AND DON’TS
First of all, stop writing “follow for follow” under people pictures or asking famous artists to promote you.
That’s sooooo annoying.
Second, try to snap a good picture of your work and stop using the premade filters on IG. The X-PRO II filter is not a thing anymore. It’s Instagram for creatives, right? so get creative.
Learn how to edit pictures on your own. You don’t need Photoshop to do that. I only use Instagram for editing and sometimes Snapseed, that’s it.
Third, the algorithm has changed over the years and it was hard to see the number of followers, likes and comments drop in just a few months but that has been the same for everyone so stop thinking Instagram hates you.
That said, here are my Instagram rules:
MORE FOLLOWERS <> MORE SALES
People think that you must have millions of followers to make a living out of your art. This is so untrue, and here is why.
The content you create is seen by just 6-10% of your followers. So you may think if I have 1M followers I have more chance to sell my art. This is true but think about it.
Instagram wants you to engage with your audience and spend time on the platform. The 6% of the followers that actually see your content are those that engage with you the most.
Have you ever scrolled down the list of the people you follow and have thought “oh my goodness I forgot I was following this person”? Then you click on his/her page you see that their latest post was like yesterday?
How did you miss it? That’s because you were not engaging with that person anymore, so Instagram thought you were not interested anymore in that content.
This is precisely what happens to your page. Try to ask questions, make polls, ask for opinions, make funny jokes if you want to (I do). The more people engage with you, the more chances are that they see your feed; thus, the more opportunities you will have to sell something when the time comes.
Some people buy followers but think about it again. It’s useless to have 1M followers if none of them is interested in what you do. I know people with 1k followers that have made a living out of what they do because they know how to engage with their followers.
What Instagram wants is real engagement, not numbers.
TELL A STORY
Would you ever buy something from an artist whose caption is “DM me if you are interested in buying this”? I mean, nothing wrong with that, but who is that person?
If you let people know you more and get affectionate, they would do anything for you.
Tell your story, what makes you YOU? Why are you different?
I’m not saying that you must have a disastrous life, left without parents, living under the bridge. But let’s say that you are a mum. Let people know that. Other mums following you would die to chat with you and ask how you manage to be a mum and an artist.
You love figs? Let people know how much you love figs. I started a friendship on IG just by posting about figs and my deep love for them (oh my..I’m drooling)
Instagram loves consistency.
No one asks you to post every day or multiple times a day.
This is something I do too. I try to post every day, and then I end up with nothing left to say or just too tired to create content, so I stop posting.
What Instagram wants is you to post regularly. If you want to post only once a week, feel free to do so. But post every week once a week. Not this week twice, next week once, the other week none.
Set your pace and stick to that.
RIGHT TIME FOR POSTING.
I hated this part. All those tests I did to understand when I would get more comments and likes UGH!
You know what? They are useless.
If your post is useful, your followers will comment no matter what time you are posting.
If your caption sucks you can post on the best minute of the best hour of the best day for you to post, but you will get no engagement.
So stop focusing on what time to post and start posting.
Also, try to engage with your audience and reply to their comments the next half an hour after posting. This is when Instagram decides if that post is interesting or not.
THE HASHTAG MYTH
At the very beginning of Instagram, we were allowed to use 60 hashtags (WOW, right?). Now they are 30, but guess what? You don’t need them all.
Stop using hashtags that are not related to what you are doing. It’s so annoying when I look up for something like #compass, and I find a half-naked girl on a boat. Like, why?
Someone says to mix some popular hashtags with less popular ones to get the best out of both, but I’ve noticed is that the fewer hashtags I use, the better.
I try to stay between 10 and 15 hashtags that are tailored to what I do and post.
Again, the real thing is to engage with people, the number of likes doesn’t work anymore.
I know you are scared of doing Instagram stories, showing your face, talk to a phone camera.
I’ve been there too, and sometimes I still am. But you don’t need to make a video.
Post a picture in your story and write a caption.
They say that IG stories don’t count in the “engagement” thing, but I swear they do.
When I make stories, I usually get more followers than with posts alone.
You can, for example, post once a week and make stories every day and still get a good amount of engagement.
I know this is hard to understand but again, having 100 people really interested in what you do is better than 1M followers that don’t even know who you are.
With the extreme amount of pictures, hashtags and people on Instagram is hard to get noticed nowadays.
This is why you need to find your niche.
Someone interested in #compasses wouldn’t hit the like button on your picture but maybe someone interested in #compassforgeometry would (I don’t even know if this hashtag exists)
Niching down your audience to real people interested in exactly what you are selling isn’t always that bad.
If you are doing Islamic geometry, you have already niched down your audience, so that’s good for you.
I hope this blog post has been useful, but most of all, I hope that you stop frustrating over Instagram and the number of likes, comments and followers. Do things with your heart, serve your audience, share your passion. The rest will come.
By the way, I really encourage you to create a website if you want to step up your game as an artist. Instagram might be gone one day and you will be left with nothing. A website (and mailing list) is yours and will be yours forever.
Instagram for Creatives
October 8, 2020