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Instantly Instagram

by Luann Udell on 10/28/2017 9:07:18 AM

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art. She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...."  For ten years, Luann also wrote a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explored the funnier side of her life in craft. She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.




Finally, social media you can have fun with!


One of the biggest gripes about the business side of art is how much time it can suck up. Unless we already have more business and success with our art than we can handle (DARN those people!!!), the main goal of business is to grow our audience.


Back in the day, that meant doing shows (lots of shows!), buying advertising, exhibiting, getting into galleries, and mailing postcards. It was time-consuming, and expensive.


A website is an excellent way to present your work, share your resume and artist statement, announce news and events, and even sell your work. But simply sticking up a website and waiting for sales is like putting up a billboard alongside one highway. Someone might come across it, but it’s a pretty random process.


How do we get people to look at our website? Today, we have many tools available to help us get the word out. Many of us are finding social media is a great, inexpensive way to get our work in front of more people, near and far.


The joy of social media is, it’s a heckuva lot easier to get images of our work out into the world, and in front of potential collectors. The downside is, you and 100 million other people. Also, learning to use social media effectively takes time, commitment, and patience. And the last thing we want to hear is that there’s yet another platform we have to learn and utilize to do that.


Bear with me, because I have one word for you today…..




For visual artists of all kinds, anything you can “take a picture of”, Instagram is extremely effective. Because it’s all about pictures and images, even short videos. (I posted one recently showing a one minute tour of my studio.) You can point people to your website where people can buy the work you shared, too.


Yes, it’s yet another venue to master. But once you get the hang of it, you don’t really have to “master” it. If you already have a smartphone, and you take pics and send them to friends and family, or post them on Facebook, you are halfway ¾ of the way there. Plus, I have a special surprise for you near the end!


This is not a step-by-step tutorial, just a gentle introduction for you to get a sense of what’s involved. I haven’t mastered the complete menu and all the bells and whistles. I only know how to post a pic, a comment, and tag it.


First, download the Instagram app. (You can access IG on a computer, but you can only upload and post images from your phone.)


Pick a name for yourself, and set up your profile, sort of like Twitter. I use my own name (luann_udell), but many artists use nicknames, shortened versions, etc. I believe that can make it harder to figure out who you are, but if you set up your profile to include your real name and a photo of you, people will figure it out. (I now add my IG account on anything that includes my phone #, website, email, etc.)


Once you set up your account, there is an add symbol at the bottom of your screen which is a plus sign: +  Then you can choose to take a picture in IG, OR simply use an image/photo that’s already in your photo gallery. (The only shape available is a square. This was the hardest part for me to get used to, but now I don’t even notice.) There are options for making the picture slightly bigger or smaller, and editing tools to use different filters for different effects. Don’t get too carried away with these! Keep your image as realistic as possible.


Once your photo is ready to post, you can add a comment or two or three: What it is, what medium you’re using, what the challenge is, where it can be seen, what your upcoming event is, etc. Anything you’d want the viewer to know.


You can also add a location, but you don’t have to.


Last but not least, there is the tagging. Tags were a mystery to me, but I’m getting it now!


I often post tags in the initial posting. There are reasons to do this, and not to do this. More on that in a bit.


“Tags” are made with a hashtag: #  And followed immediately (no spaces!) with word or words that describe what it is, with an idea of who would be interested. #oilpaint #landscape #sonomacoast #pleinair etc.


I thought tags were supposed to “narrow down” the search so that people looking for exactly that thing would be able to find that. For example, my first tagging efforts looked like #ancienthorseartifact. Turns out that’s too specific, and not effective.


Now I know I need to start with “broad” tags, AND narrow tags. So for a small horse necklace, I might tag like this: #horse #horsejewelry #horsenecklace #whitehorse #whitejewelry #polymerclay #tribal #ancientartifact #horsesofinstagram (it’s a thing) #handmade #oneofakindjewelry #womanartist #sonomacountyarttrails (an event I’m in) #northbayart (describes the area north of San Francisco) #winecountryart #SofaSantaRosaartsdistrict #creativesonoma (an org that promotes the arts in….yup, Sonoma County!) #leagueofnhcraftsmen (because I’ve kept my membership) #lascaux #caveart


If you have an Etsy shop (or something similar) you may be familiar with creating search terms that would intrigue a large number of viewers. This is the same principle, except…you can use as many tags as you like! They’re free! Some people even use tags that nobody would use, for humor, and I love them, too: #mycrabbycatisbuggingme or #professorbobo (my daughter’s cat.)


So tags can “go wide” or they can “go narrow”, and using a combination of both is good!


The good news is, one post a day is all you need for an effective presence.


Now for the best part of all, because I know, I KNOW you are sitting there moaning, “But I don’t have time to master another social media platform, nooooooo, I’m already on Facebook and Twitter and I just can’t do another thing!!”


Instagram can actually make your social media marketing a little easier, because….


You can set your account to automatically repost your Instagram posts to Facebook and Twitter!


That’s why I said putting your hashtags in your original post can be a little awkward. If your IG post then posts to Facebook, your hashtags show up there, too.


I’m told by professionals that having those IG tags visible on FB is unprofessional. Me? I kinda like it! Sometimes the tags carry information I wouldn’t otherwise know. For example, #openstudio alerts me that the artist is having one. #pastel informs me about their medium. But that’s just me.


So to avoid looking “naïve” on Facebook, upload your photo, add your comments, and post. THEN comment on your own post with your hashtags. That way, only your original post shows up on Facebook: "Here is another sample of my New neutrals series, all ready for Sonoma County Art Trails." (With your image). Your additional comments (#polymerclay #handmade, etc.) will NOT repost to Facebook.


Short story: Take a picture of your work, or your studio, or you at your easel or pottery wheel. Add it to Instagram. Say a little about it. Add some descriptive words, aka “hashtags”. Choose to share it on Facebook and Twitter and even Tumblr. Post!


You are done for the day. Your post will be seen by your audience (if they decide to “follow” you). What’s really incredible is when someone on the other side of the planet finds you, and loves your work!


Like all marketing efforts, it takes time to build. But it will!


Thank you to artist Jamie Luoto of Healdsburg, CA, and social media consultant Kerry Rego of Santa Rosa, CA for sharing their knowledge and expertise. Check out Jamie’s work on IG under her handle missbojambo,   and Kerry’s IG account at kregobiz.


For detailed instructions, check online for tutorials, find someone who can walk you through the tricky parts, or sign up for a class. It really won’t take you very long to get started, not much longer to get the hang of it, and then it’s just fun!


And reposting to one or two other social media sites will save you some time on your marketing efforts….


So you can get back to your studio, and make more art to share!


P.S. Readers who already use Instagram, share any thoughts, tips, and suggestions—we’re all ears! #rabbitears #eagerlearners #tellmemore 




Editor's Note:

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Topics: advice for artists | art marketing | exposure tips | FineArtViews | Instagram | Instruction | Luann Udell | social media 

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Jeanne Kouhestani
Extremely helpful info - thanks so much! I've always avoided social media as a huge time sink, but this sounds pretty doable. I appreciate your taking the time to share this!

Saundra Galloway
One of the best presentations to simply explain Instagram and how to crossover to other social media I've ever read! Thank you! You've re-inspired me to get back into it!

Luann- Thanks for this info, I've been told to start using Instagram but have been procrastinating!

Ruth Armitage
Thanks for a great post, Luann! I am a fan of Instagram. One other helpful hint is to comment and like posts of your friends, and get others to do the same for you. The more likes and comments a post gets on any social media the more relevant it becomes in the algorithm that determines where it shows up in the list of new posts.

Our open studio group committed to post daily and to like and comment on each others' posts. It makes a big difference!

Mark Brockman
Luann, as always a great post, but... my opinion.

First it was email, then websites, then Facebook, then Pinterest and others. Now Instagram. Trouble is they are so crowded that to be seen is difficult. I tried both Instagram and Pinterest but stopped, my Facebook is just mostly friends, none of the venues help to sell. I keep a website, even though it's not a selling venue either, so that when I'm communicating the old fashion way, person to person, I can send the interested party to my site so they can see what I do. It is easier then trying to explain what my paintings look like.

I'm no expert, I'm not saying artists should not bother using those tools as it might work for some. But like all things internet one quickly becomes one of the minions, unheard, unseen. Just saying.

C L Owens
Thank you Luann, I am bookmarking this page. I am in the process of doing a major rewriting of all of my copy on my website. Plus adding more videos. And trying to make new paintings. And this and then get the picture. But I do want to try Instagram. Then I will need to get a real smartphone (i have been getting bugged about that for years LOL).

I do have an Ipad, can I do Instagram on that?

Thank you, user friendly information articles are wonderful.

Raymond D. Hunter, Sculpatora
Bravo Luann!!!! Excellent instructions. Joyous day and love to you and family!

Carolyn Hancock
Instagram now allows portrait and landscape format in addition to the square. Touch the tiny circle with arrows. For artists, IG is now more interesting that Facebook.

Sylvia Larkin
Luann, thank you so much for sharing! Immediately put it in action!

Jean LeGassick
Thanks for sharing this info. I just started IG. Never having done Twitter or anything else like it, I never understood what hashtags were about until now. Simply stated-- a hashtag means your post and artwork will go on to all those other sites, too. For the broadest possible exposure you might want to use the hashtag that has the largest number of views-- for instance, when you want to post something you painted in the Sierra Nevada Range, you start typing #sierranevada and lots of variations will pop up to choose, so chose the one with the highest numbers. Hope this helps other newbies!

Luann Udell
Jeanne, Saundra, and John, so glad you're energized to try, and thanks for letting me know you found this helpful. :^)

Tablet users (iPad, Kindle Fire, etc.) can also upload pictures from the device to Instagram, which some may find more convenient. However, this can be a cumbersome process if you don't use the camera on your portable device, because you then need to upload pictures to the portable device from your camera to get them onto Instagram... which is where I am at.

I don't drag my tablet everywhere with me, and have no smartphone, so no internet on my cell phone, even though the device does have a (poor quality) camera. My pictures come from a stand-alone digital camera.

Luann Udell
Ruth, YES! I'm so glad you brought this up, I didn't want to throw too much information at people who are just starting. So everybody, be sure to read Ruth's comment. As one marketing director said, "'Likes' are cheap--and nice!"

This reminds me: Some folks are tempted to follow people, in order to encourage those people to follow back. It can backfire if you use this to extreme.

Also, when savvy folks look at who you're following, and who's following YOU, you want that second number to be higher--so you don't look "needy" or a wee bit manipulative (as in following a thousand people in order to get those people to follow you back.

Luann Udell
Mark, yes, "internet fatigue" is a real thing. But I would hate for yours to discourage others from trying something new, as part of a coordinated social media campaign.

Social media is just like any other marketing venue. We often don't know what's going to work for us, and what won't. Some fall by the wayside, and some fall short of actually promoting our art. For example, Pinterest allows us to post ANY image, even someone else's pin, without credit. (Personally, I now use Pinterest as an online bulletin board for my favorite inspiration, color paletts, etc.)

Instagram, OTOH, is fast becoming a favorite venue for artists, especially a younger crowd.

Two aspects are of vital importance: A regular presence, and PATIENCE.

More about that in my next column, which you have inspired, so thank you, Mark! :^)

Luann Udell
CL Owens, firt, good on you for refreshing your online presence!

And second, I have no idea what gadgets work and which ones don't. I THINK any smartphone, and any tablet, but that will be easy for you to find out and report back.

Look, I just assigned you homework! ;^D

Luann Udell
Raymond and Sylvia, so glad you're inspired! Go forth and paint and post! And let me know how it goes.

Luann Udell
Carolyn, thanks for sharing that, I had no idea!
And YES, I hear over and over that Instagram is extremely appealing for artists, probably because the hashtags put our work in front of people who weren't specifically looking for us.

It reminds me a bit of how we find stuff on Etsy, but Etsy only allows a certain number of tags.

Luann Udell
Jean, thank you for sharing your tips, they are awesome! I wrote a lengthy reply which then disappeared. }:-{

And I've been up too long (knee surgery two days ago!) and have to lie down in a dark room. But I will follow up later!

Short version (which may be better anyway): Mix broad and narrow tags. Both are good! (Not super narrow, of course.) :^)

Marina Petro
iPhones are not the only way to post on Instagram. You can also post from iPads and other tablets.

Mark Brockman
I'm not trying to discourage anyone from your suggestions Luann, you are I think a far better marketer then I am, but I'm just trying to give a different view. I remember when it was so important to blog to be seen, now as Clint recently blogged, blogging isn't necessary. Things change and now days quickly.

”˜Internet fatigue' yup I got it. Not because I think the various venues don't get the work seen but as you say it's becoming a favorite venue for younger artists, which means it will be if not already is overcrowded. Plus in my experiance the different venues have connect me with lots of other artists, which in itself is cool, but not buyers. In the recent past here on Fine Art Views (not your post) the writer talked about how collectors probably won't find you via the internet.

I think we should try different ways to get out there, somethings will work some and not others. There is no bad way just what works.

Wow, thanks SO much. I've had an instagram account for years (? I really think it's been years) but haven't used in in years (true). I couldn't remember how or what to do or why I should do anything. This is SO helpful!
Woo Hoo, you rock Luann!
Mahalo, Patrice

Jean LeGassick
Luann-- ahhhh, so that's what you meant about broad and narrow tags! I didn't understand that. Makes sense-- and yes, the short version worked-- I finally got it, so thanks!

Anita Jesse
Doesn't it make sense to know your audience, then check out the predominant age groups on Instagrams and Facebook? Thanks for the article.

Thanks so much for sharing all this Luann. I have been avoiding instagram and all that ... I'm kind of skeptical like Mark Brockman. But I'm willing to give it try. Your information here has made it so much easier to just try it.

Luann Udell
Marina, thank you for your input. I have an Android phone, I know absolutely nothing about i stuff! :^D

Luann Udell
Yes, Jean, I got tags wrong, too, but fortunately, expert help was available. Glad this conversation gave you clarity.

Luann Udell
Oh, Patrice, so your old IG account is an #ancientartifact ?? Too funny! I'm glad you're willing to give it another go.

Luann Udell
ACK!!! I posted a long response to you, Mark and Linda, and got that same old error-u-r-doing-it-wrong message. So next week I'll respond more fully in my next column.

Marina Petro
Luann-The 'I stuff' translates to...iPad = Apple's tablet. iPhone = Apple's smart phone. Instagram can be used on phones and most tablets.

Mark Brockman
Ah ha! See, computers and the internet are out to drive us mad! :) I look forward to reading your next post Luann.

Kathy Bischak
That was a very illuminating article. Thanks for clearing up what instagram, hashtags, etc. All mean.

Debra Kay Guess
Thanks for the helpful info and encouragement, Luann. You described my feelings exactly, re: my reluctance to learn yet another social media platform. And you've also echoed advice I've heard before about Instagram's value to artists. The only thing missing from your article that I'd like to understand is how viewers actually receive an IG post (other than on a corresponding FB post). Do only the people who "follow" you immediately receive the post? Does the post just go out into the mystic beyond, waiting for someone to land on your hashtag parameters? I'd like to also understand how my post is experienced on the receiving end . . . .

Simple instructions. Thanks!

Katherine Bird
Thanks mucho!!Just what I needed to hear . Kb

Maureen Pitcher
Thanks for sharing Luann! I appreciate your sharing!

suszanne Bernat Droney
Luann, I agree with the other comments from your readers, this is a really informative article that you have taken time to write. Thank you.

So much to learn; so little time. Back to my easel I go.

Christine Kaitlyn
Thank you so much for this timely article. I needed the extra push to make this happen!

Lori Woodward
Hey Luann, I'm currently working on improving my IG presence. Because I've already been selling worm directly from my website for several years, I believe Instagram will on,y improve those sales by getting more eyes on my work.

Thanks for this info. I'm still pretty ignorant about Instagram. I'm happy that you mentioned liking to automatically have you IG posts connect to Facebook. I've also read that posts should be separate, but never saw a good explanation for why. I agree with you that it will save time. After all, if we ain't got time in the studio, we have nothing to market anyway.

Lori Woodward
LOL. I sell artwork, not art worms.

Luann Udell
Lori, yeah, I knew what you meant but it still made my laugh!

LuAnn, thanks for this! I must say, I am learning a lot about marketing on Instagram and facebook, and I am rapidly developing a following and making sales - and it has made my marketing life SOOOO much easier, interesting and fun. It's quickly becoming very intuitive and satisfying. Thanks for sharing this info!

I am finding a lot of art lovers and art buyers love connecting this way - and I sell to artists too - I also buy other artists work via the internet.
A question - when I cross post from Instagram to twitter, it only shows the text, not my image. do you have any suggestion?


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