Some like to call the current time we live “The Age of Information“, and while I agree with this, I believe we also live in an age of sharing. There is no better example of this than that of ANY social media platform – they literally exist for sharing information and content in different ways.
But with this era comes a question – who is sharing? Well, that’s the beauty and the beast of this situation, everyone is sharing. But for now, I won’t focus on the bakers posting political advice and vice versa. I would like to talk about something a little closer to my heart: Sharing the art of Making, and more specifically, the best practices in doing so.
There are multiple different ways on sharing ones art – Forums, Galleries, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… you get the gist. However, I would argue that there is one platform in particular that stands out amongst the rest as the most popular for artists and makers: Instagram.
Instagram’s sole purpose is to share information by catching users attention the best way possible: pictures. Now, can you guess where that may coincide with an artists need to share their work?
Art, in the physical sense of the term, is most easily shared through images. Instagram primary format, as of writing this, is images. It’s like a match made in heaven, no?
How do I start?
Well that’s a loaded question. But let’s say you are, like me, an aspiring artist who has a need to share their art with the rest of the world. Perhaps just for fun, or maybe you’re aspiring to start a career in this industry. In the next few paragraphs I am going to attempt to give you a basic understanding of the platform, and the best habits to grow your following.
This is not going to be a detailed analysis of analytics and what numbers you should aspire for. Nor will it be how to write the perfect bio, or add a linktree to your account. This is meant to help you dip your toes into the pool, not do a cannon ball. That comes later.
That being said, how do you start? Well, as Bill Nye once said, consider the following:
- Posting Frequency
- Captions for Instagram
This is our storyboard. Lets start writing the script, shall we?
When sharing a profile/account with someone, it is significantly easier to say something like “@ryankowtecky” rather than “hypnotic_rtist!” (I don’t want to talk about it).
Your username needs to be catchy, not to long, and easy to understand. This is much easier said than done, especially due to the saturated market of usernames we live in, but put some time into it and you’ll come up with something! I believe in you.
Just remember a few things:
Avoid using symbols. DO NOT REPLACE LETTERS WITH NUMBERS. Underscores, dashes, and periods may give you the ability to get the exact wording for a username you want, but it adds another layer of explanation when sharing. You can get away with one, maybe two, but try to avoid them.
Keep it relevant. Is your artform about oil painting, 3D Printing, baking, filmmaking, or something else? Consider making your username have a word associated with your content, as it will help your followers know what you do just by looking at your username.
K.I.S.S. This acronym has a few interpretations, but we’ll go for the friendliest one – Keep It Simple, Silly! Try not to overthink your username. Spend some time, but don’t obsess. The best thing you can do to create a successful social media following is to start, and that won’t happen if you hyperfocus on your username.
Instagram awards frequent posts. If you can post everyday, DO IT. However, while some artists are able to do a drawing a day (or more!), many either do not have the time, or their artform simply takes longer. So, what to do?
In my opinion, consistency is far more important than frequency. If you have an art account for your art, then post about your art. Makes sense, right? Many people tend to post random pictures (selfies, food, etc…) that don’t match the theme of their account in order to keep their posting more frequent. All this serves to do is confuse your audience as to what your actual account is about, and that is the last thing you want to do!
Try your best to post at least once a week. In my opinion, that is the minimum for an account that doesn’t rely on viral posts in order to gain a following.
If you are concerned about consistent posting, and putting time aside to do so, I would highly recommend looking into software like Hootsuite, Later or Buffer to plan your posts ahead of time. Don’t know what those are? Check out some of the other posts on this blog, where my colleagues have posts some great intros to what these software’s are.
Captions 101 (for Instagram)
Currently, Instagram does something that I love, and others hate – they award users who post long captions. Saying “latest work #proud” as your caption doesn’t work anymore, unfortunately!
So, how do you write a successful caption for Instagram?
- Call to Action
Lets start with the hook. This is the very first line of your post, and it is the most important, as it is there to catch the attention of the reader. There are three options for creating effective hooks on Instagram captions: Question, Action, or Statement.
A question is when you ask the user a question relevant to the posts content. If you were posting about the movie inception, you could start the caption with “What’s your favorite Christopher Nolan film?“. An action is when you tell the user to do something. This is most common when there is more than one photo on the post. The hook would read something like “SWIPE to see what happened after they fell!“. Finally, a statement is the most traditional hook. It is also commonly referred to as clickbait. It is an exciting sentence that states incomplete information, causing the user to want to find out the rest. For example, a sentence like “I never expected this to happen.” is a statement style hook! Take a look at your post, and ask yourself which one works the best for you!
After the hook comes the information. Just like the username, don’t overcomplicate this. Write 3-8 complete sentences on what the post is about!
The tag is often forgotten and underrated. It is quite a simple concept – tag someone (usually an influencer or brand) that is relevant to your post, somewhere in your information. Don’t just tag and go, make sure there is a reason you are doing so, and putting that in your information. For example, if you specifically used FolkArt paint, you could say “This was painted using @plaidcrafts FolkArt paint.” Sometimes this leads to the company reposting you, or possibly reaching out to you directly!
Next is the most important thing after your hook. Your call to action. The opposite of your hook, this is the last line of your caption, and is there to tell the user to do something. This is where you can tell them to go see your other posts, sign up for a workshop, comment something, etc… It is very important, as it drives engagement for your profile!
Finally, is your caption format. All you need to know is that you want at least one section of space after your hook. This allows the user to see your hook, and once they are interested they can click “read more” and see the rest! I would recommend adding at least one more space somewhere, so as to not overwhelm the user by a massive block of text!
That is everything you need to write a successful caption, so get started!
Instagram has a constantly changing algorithm, and all the above information is relevant as of November 2020.
Instagram stories are very important for your profile to be successful. If you are going to get anything out of this section of the blog, let it be this – Post a story every time you post something, referencing or teasing that you have new post. This allows users scrolling through stories to see that you have new content, and they may go check it out!
Try to post stories frequently. If you are working on art, post a story showing it in progress, saying that you are working on a new piece! Ask questions, host surveys, do livestreams. All of these things will drive your engagement, and by extension, your followers!
Instagram is the best platform for creatives at the moment, in my opinion. There has never been a better time to jump onto the platform and just get posting your awesome stuff. Just remember, just because you don’t get 1000 followers in the first month doesn’t mean you won’t be successful – don’t give up, and keep making stuff!
If you do start a new account, follow me on Instagram (@make_a_prop) and let me know! I would love to connect.
Until next time, I’ve been your friendly neighborhood Maker!
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