Selling Your Art Online
Want to make money with Instagram? You found the right place. In this post we will show you exactly how to sell your artwork online and make money with Instagram.
Why Sell Your Art on Instagram?
Every social media platform has its audience. Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn and many more. Myspace, for example has a large singer/song-writer audience. LinkedIn has a substantial group of business-oriented users.
As artists, you need to find YOUR audience and determine exactly where large groups of your audience hang out. You also need to understand which sub-groups best serve your marketing purposes.
There are always sub-groups in any community. Some sub-group in the art community might be the beginning artist, the professional artist, the buyer of art, the lover of art (that never buys), or the providers of art supplies, equipment and services.
Before promoting your artwork on any of the social media platforms, ensure that your ideal audience is really there and engaged in the activity that will suit and support your efforts to market to that sub-group.
Clearly if you want to sell your artwork to the sub-group that actually buys your style of art, you need to know where those buyers congregate online. In other words don’t invite the sports enthusiasts to your showing of renaissance oil paintings.
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How to Make Money With Instagram
Example of How to Sell Your Art
Let’s look at Chris Austin. In 2016 Business Insider wrote a nice article on his art business on Instagram.
As a dedicated artist, Chris starts and finishes a painting each day. It takes him about 5 hours to complete a painting and when he’s finished he posts a photo of his artwork in his Instagram profile.
According to the article, Chris lists the price of his artwork between $100 and $200, according to the size of the piece.
That’s when the fun begins!
Since he posts the art for sale about the same time everyday, his Instagram followers know about when to expect his art to show up for sale.
When it does, it’s a race by his followers to be the first to email him because the follower who reaches him first, gets the painting. That’s how Chris makes money with Instagram. Cool right?
After a sale, he marks the painting as SOLD in the image caption and he gets ready for the next day. At the time of the article, Austin’s followers numbered only about 8,000. Now he has many times that number and it’s growing every day.
Austin says, “It almost seems like my followers are waiting for the posts now, which is kind of crazy…within minutes, someone emails.” That’s how to sell your art on Instagram.
He only spends at most, 60 minutes per day answering emails from prospective buyers and has sold to people as far away as Japan and Australia. @chrisaustinart
With Instagram’s reputation for love of high quality images it’s not hard to see why people might gravitate there to see fine works of art and why it may be just the place to sell your art and make money on Instagram.
I think it is safe to say that Instagram has become a major social media platform for showing, admiring, and selling new art. It’s a great way for budding artists to launch their careers and find a way to make money with Instagram as an extremely affordable partner.
How To Actually Make Money On Instagram
Let’s go through the various strategies to making money on Instagram as an artist. Remember, all the steps we are about to review serve the one over-arching purpose of obtaining and retaining engaged followers.
And, for them to be engaged, you have to be engaged. Don’t be shy. Show up everyday and present yourself to your future fans.
Post High-Quality Pictures of Your Art
Pay as much attention to the details your posted images, captions, hashtags, and Instagram profile as you do your artwork.
Pose your photos as you would your art. Use photos that display clean backgrounds, proper lighting and are free from glare and annoying reflections.
Take as much pride in your posted images as you do in your art. Instagram is your display window for your art. Showcase it accordingly.
Post Often and Consistently
One of the great keys to making money with Instagram is to post frequently and post regularly. The more often you show off your art and what you’re doing, the more engagement you’ll get. Posting more often also gives you more followers quicker that you would normally.
If you really want to grow your followers in order to make money on Instagram, it’s all the more imperative that you post frequently.
You need this kind of daily dedication in order to maintain active buzz about your artwork and allow your art fans to constantly participate with you on Instagram.
Remember, your Instagram page and profile is part of your brand. You want an active vibrant brand that lots of people want to engage with.
How often should you post?
The rule of thumb is to post between one to three times daily. That’s what the big brands do and they have the money to do the research on what is cost effective and what works to build a brand. I’d follow their lead on posting frequency. A service that automatically posts to Instagram might be helpful in building your audience.
Once you get these tips and techniques down through daily practice, they will become second nature and you’ll know how to sell your art using Instagram. As you master Instagram, you can add other social media platforms and methods to you promotional toolbox.
Engage Often to Sell Your Art
Posting alone is not really engagement. Posting is only one half of the conversation. You need to interact with your new friends. If you ignore friends too long, they are no longer your friends and they become acquaintances.
Back in the late 90’s when I was selling high end automotive seat covers online, I had a customer who called herself “Party-On” Carol.
By emailing her back and forth in friendly conversation, she returned to my website time and time again to purchase my expensive line of seat covers.
I sold that business a few years back, but that’s how I built up a large clientele of returning customers and fans of my seat covers. I had customers that bought as many as 5-6 sets of seat covers over the years at $200-400 dollars a pop.
Engaging with your followers on Instagram is no different. Everybody wants to have a friend in the business. And if they can know a “famous” artist via Instagram they will be proud of that fact and tell others what cool thing you did yesterday, today and next week.
That’s the kind of strategy you need to make money with Instagram consistently.
As you implement these strategies and learn how to sell your art online, you are developing the universal skill of how to make money on Instagram for any product, in any niche. That skill then becomes marketable.
How Julia Powell Sells Artwork
An artist out of Cambridge, Massachusetts named Julia Powell receives about 90% of her inquiries by way of Instagram DMs (direct messages) and is able to sell her artwork for between $500 and $11,000 each.
She explains her Instagram (@juliaspowellart) success this way, “Doing my art is hard work. It’s not [as if] the talent magically arrived and I had 10,000 followers. Every single day, I was working on it.” By the end of 2018, Julia was getting around two sales inquiries per day.
In 2016 when Powell started her Instagram efforts in earnest, she spent around 60 minutes on Instagram each. Now she only needs 15 minutes a day.
Each day she did the following:
- Made 1-3 posts,
- Used hashtags
- Maintained artwork visibility via other Instagram-ers
- Used Instagram as her key sales platform.
Building a business requires dedication. Julia confesses that, “Instagram is hard work”. But the reward for all her hard work is that she usually sells one of her original painting each week.
Most regular employees work 9 to 5. Julia, however, works 5 to 9 – hours each day and produces four watercolors and one or two oil paintings a week.
That’s how Julia is able to make money with Instagram and her experience can serve as a perfect example of how to sell your art – by leveraging Instagram everyday.
So engage with your artwork and your followers regularly. It’s your career, so plan your work rhythm well. Julia’s Instagram page can be found at @juliaspowellart.
(The background for this post comes from the article titled, “These Artists Jump-Started Their Careers by Selling Directly to Collectors on Instagram”.)
Style with an Eye On Branding
Branding is in the eye of the beholder, but keeping a consistent brand (style) really helps your viewers fall in love with you and your work.
When I stay ‘use a consistent style’ what I mean is that when you use image filters, make sure the tone, the warmth, the framing and the over all style is consistent.
This ‘style’ is part of your Instagram branding and your fans and followers will recognize it and find ways to relate to it.
The same consistency should also apply to your captions, hashtags and manner of interacting with Instagram-ers.
Live your brand consistently in all areas of your Instagram showcase.
Tell Your Story Through Captions
Tell the story behind the painting. What was your motivation? What emotions were you feeling and why did you paint this piece? Why is this art important to you? Why should it be important to Instagram followers?
Paint a story picture behind your artwork. Paint that picture with words. Tell them your hopes for how this art will be a lasting joy to whoever the new owner will be.
Music artist want people to feel something when they tell their story through music. Tell your story in a way that creates an emotional connection in your followers.
Complete Your Instagram Bio
Remember branding? Branding starts with your bio. Your Instagram biography is like a small About Page. Its about you!
It gives your audience a starting place to get to know you, bond with you and emotionally connect with you.
Want to sell your art on Instagram? Your audience must come to know, like and trust you for that to happen. When they do that, they will be repeat customers and recommend you to their friends.
If someone is rude, distant or embarrasses you, you don’t run out and tell your friends to go meet that wonderful person. The same applies on Instagram. Be someone they can admire and be proud to associate with.
Also, your bio area is the only place on your Instagram page where your raving fans can click to buy your art. The entire idea here is to sell your art on Instagram and the link to do that is in your bio.
The clickable link in your bio can direct visitors to your website, Etsy or Shopify store, WooCommerce WordPress shop or other sales platform to sell your art. You could also offer art lessons, sketch classes or other tutorials to make money online. Either way, the idea is to direct traffic from Instagram to your art offer what ever it may be. You do this by way of the link in your Instagram bio.
You will definitely need some kind of shopping cart platform to handle the financial transaction of receiving money and gathering the buyer info and shipping details needed to complete the sales transaction.
Don’t let any of that scare you off. Everything is pretty automated these days and most shopping cart tools come plug-and-play.
If you need detailed instructions on how to start your own art blog and make money blogging, check out my Make Money Blogging post. You can find the link here.
Another cool tool that many people on Instagram use is linktree. This allows the one link Instagram gives you in your bio to offer several links to choose from. There are other ways to do this but linktree is an easy plug-and-play way to sell your art using a more menu-style approach to your bio link.
It’s true. They can direct message (DM) you or even email you, but if they want to see the price and buy it now, the link in your Instagram bio can get them there. If a customer wants to buy online, give him/her what they want.
It’s very frustration to have to jump through lots of hoops to make a simple purchase. Make it as easy as possible for your users.
Use Hashtags to Find Your New Fans
Hashtags are the GPS of Instagram for users to find you and your art. Hashtags (#ArtForSale) allow your art posts to be revealed to your future clients looking for art like yours.
This may well be one of the best marketing tools your have to bring people in the door of your Instagram art gallery.
Which hashtags do you use? (#researchit)
Just think of a word or term relating to your style of art and place a hashtag (#) in front of the word or phrase. Some example might be:
Enter the hashtagged term (#artforsale) in the Instagram search box and click one of the # suggestions that pop up in the menu. The results that pop up are just a list of images from many Instagram users that incorporated the hashtag ‘#artforsale’ in the caption or comments of the image or video.
Browse the images to find an artist that seems to have lots of likes on many photos and look at the various hashtags you find in his/her captions. Those hashtags will give you some ideas as to which hashtags you can incorporate into your post captions.
Take note of the best hashtags that fit your style of art and fit the post you anticipate posting. Keep that list handy and add to it when you find additional hashtags that truly relate to your style and brand.
As you post, evaluate what works and what does not work. Take careful note of which hashtags bring you the most engagement by your ideal customer.
Invest some time into mastering how to sell your artwork by mastering the hashtag game and you’ll more quickly increase the quality and amount of your followers. The question is, “how to do make those assessments?”
Get an Instagram Business Account
Why a business account? There are several reasons why you should change to a business account.
Probably the most useful benefit is that a business account gives you access to Instagram Analytics. You can see your follower demographics, which posts are getting more engagement and see the dates and times that give you the highest engagement.
Sponsored Instagram Posts
The point of this post is to show you how to make money with Instagram. So let’s talk about another way to make money on Instagram.
The larger your base of followers, the more influence you have on Instagram. In fact, people with very large Instagram followings are called “Influencers’.
When your group of followers is large enough, companies, marketers or other Instagram users wanting to sell something can approach you to promote their offer on your Instagram page.
As an Instagram influencer, you can make anywhere between $50 and $1000 or more per sponsored post. That’s a lot of cash for just one simple post even at the lower end of the pay scale.
Be careful though, your art fans may tolerate an ad posted now and then, but if you do it all the time you may diminish their love and adoration for you and your art.
If you want to go that route, here are the highlights to get started:
- Build rapport with influencers & businesses on IG
- Shout out to others using their IG @username
- Fill your bio with flair and flamboyance
- Use relevant hashtags with each post
- Get an Instagram business account
- Use video content to stand out
- Engage often w/ commenters
- Show wit in your captions
- Improve content quality
- Use Instagram Stories
- Post Daily
- Use emojis
The Bottom Line:
Face it. The simple truth is that the more followers you have and the more engaged those followers are, the more customers will be clamoring for your art.
The techniques in this tutorial will teach you the basics of how to make money on Instagram and how to sell you art online using Instagram.
Get excited! This can be the start of your profitable online art business or an additional revenue stream to increase your online profits.
What Do Successful Instagram Artists Say? (via: Artsy.net)
“For artists, the key to getting their work seen on Instagram is to post high-quality content and to interact with as many followers as possible” (@juliaspowellart)
Suggests using well-taken photographs showing the artist standing in front of their work. (@juliette_hayt)
Says that Instagram users love content showing the artist’s process, i.e., “messy studio pictures.” (@maggimcdonaldart)
For other ideas how to sell your art online, check out this article, ”6 Online Platforms Looking to Help Emerging Artists Make a Buck”.
Good luck, work hard and let me know of your successes. I’d love to hear how you overcame your fears, trails and other obstacles to find your success.
Full-time blogger, Internet marketer and all-around good guy. Join me here on EaselArtPro to learn how to start an art blog, make money online and enjoy the process. My wife is the artist – I’m just the messenger. Reach out if you have a comment, or thought of business idea.