4 Ways to Create a Branded and Authentic Style

Guest Post by @adventures.of.ang

Angie Felt is a tell-it-like-it-is wellness and travel blogger with a major thing for pink. You can learn more about her and check out her other blog posts here. And make sure to follow her on Instagram. 

Today, I want to talk about the importance of building a branded style while maintaining authenticity to grow your following and ultimately your creative business. Building your following is important because more followers equals more potential customers. Getting people to land on your profile and follow you is one thing; but keeping them around is another.

While there are many social media platforms out there, I am going to focus on the area I know best, Instagram. Instagram is a powerful tool that allows you to creatively display life through your lens and provide others with a glimpse of who you are. Instagram has become an enormous platform for creatives, bloggers, and small business owners to get more eyeballs on their content without the price tag of a billboard or ads.

If you do any research on how to grow your Instagram following, the first thing you will be encouraged to do is to brand your feed. When a person clicks to view your profile, out of the millions of profiles in this great big world, you need to make them want to follow you within two seconds. In order to make them want to follow you, you need to have a profile that catches their eye and makes them interested. Having a branded feed lets them see at a glance what to expect from your profile.

What is a Branded Feed?

A ‘branded feed’ means there is a consistency among the photos on your profile. Your feed should evoke your particular style the moment someone lands on your profile.

Here are examples of different artists and their branded feeds:

Birch.house.lettering is a calligraphy and watercolor artist profile. When I go to her feed I can expect interesting close ups of her work with a light and airy vibe.

Bysamanthajo is an artist profile filled with paintings and drawings. I can expect cool tones and plain/neutral backgrounds that make her art pop when you see it.

Thelightandthelove is a photographer profile filled with warm tones that evoke a moody and desert vibe.

With each one of these profiles, the moment I click to their feed I know exactly what to expect from them and whether their content interests me. If it’s something that interests me, then I follow. As I follow them I get to know more of who they are and their authentic personality. When I feel like I really know the person behind the profile I am going to want to continue to follow them and keep up with their content This is where the trust between a creator and a follower lights up. If I trust this creator I am more likely to not only continue to follow her but I might also purchase items she sells or products she promotes.

“I’m in, but where do I even begin?”

To help you get started I am comin’ at ya with 4 Ways to Create a Branded and Authentic Style for your Instagram.

1. PHOTO EDITING

To get your feed branded and consistent start by choosing the type of vibe and style you want to evoke. Are you drawn to dark and moody photos? Bright and light photos? Tons of color? Spend some time looking at feeds that inspire you and that you are drawn to and hone in on what makes you like them. I tend to be more drawn to light and airy feeds so when I branded my feed I wanted people to see brightly lit photos with pops of pink.

There are tons of apps out there that can be used to edit photos. I recommend choosing a photo editing software that has filters that you can apply to photos. I started by using VSCO and picked a filter that gave me bright photos. I applied that filter to every single photo I posted on Instagram. I used the exact same edits for each photo regardless of what I was posting. By doing this, consistency in color and exposure started to come through my feed. I now use the free Adobe Lightroom app to edit all of my photos. With Lightroom you need to have a ‘preset’ which is just a fancy name for a filter. There are free ones out there but I bought mine for $3 on Etsy. Again, every single photo I post goes to Lightroom for editing first before I post.

Whichever editing software you use, just ensure that you are consistent with your editing. There might be some photos that you think would look better with a different filter but you have to stay committed to help you feed be cohesive. Don’t stray!

2. CONSISTENCY

How many times can I use the word ‘consistency’ in this post? I don’t know but evidently I am going for a record. Consistency is key, people! And not just with how you edit photos. To have success you need to be consistent in all areas of your online presence. When people know what to expect from you they are going to still around.

Try to post regularly throughout the week, at the same time, if possible. A lot of articles will tell you to post every single day, and you should, if you have that much content. But don’t post just for the sake of posting something. Make sure what you are putting out there meets a certain quality standard. Often times, when I am getting ready to post something I ask myself if xyz blogger that I follow would post this to her profile? If the answer is no, then I skip it and I try to get the right shot next time.

Shooting a lot of content all at once really helps with this. Spend an hour or so taking photos of all your art individually on the same canvas sheet, for example. That way, the lighting from the time of day is consistent, the background is consistent, and now you have 200 photos of 10 pieces of art that you can continue to post over the next few weeks.

Another important thing to consider when keeping your brand cohesive across all your platforms is using the same profile picture. The profile picture you use on your Instagram should be the same one you have on your email account, website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, Tinder, your mom’s fridge magnet, EVERYTHING. If I want to find you on multiple platforms I shouldn’t have to question if I am on the right page or not because the profile photos match. Branding means you are getting people acquainted with you and your style and therefore it needs to be consistent. One more time for the folks in the back: consistent.

3. BEING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

As I said earlier, people start to follow you because they like your brand and know what you have to offer them, but you keep your followers because they like who you are. You have something to offer this world and people should know it. While there are millions of different artists out there, you are the only one that provides it through your lens. Are you funny? Use comedy in your captions or be hilarious in an Instastory video. Do you like to use your craft as a method of helping people? Show us how you use art as therapy for people with mental illness. Are you an artist AND obsessed with your cats? Talk about your cats and why they are the best cats ever because they inspire your art. Show us what makes you, you.

It took me a long time to find my voice on my blog and social media. And something I am still working on. I look back at blog posts I did from three years ago and cringe a little bit because it is so obviously not me talking. I mean it was me who wrote it, yeah, but it sounded like a robot rather than a sassy social butterfly who likes a good dad joke. Think about the characteristics that make your friends like you and include those characteristics as you write and post.

Someone once told me that they think I crank out good content but that they still don’t know who I am. They suggested that when I write or post a talking video that I pretend that I am only sending it to my best friend. How does that change what you post?

4. GRAPHICS

This piggy backs off of my above lecture about consistency. Sorry. But if you are going to have the same profile photo across all of your platforms you need to have consistency with the other graphics and images that your followers will see, too. As you might have noticed, I have a thing for pink. And you know what? My followers know that. I try to wear something pink when I know that I am going to be in photos for my Instagram. But it doesn’t stop there! If I post a pic of my dogs in my Instastories the text that says how stinkin’ adorable they are is pink. When I promote a new blog post to my Instastories, the custom graphics I have are pink. When people click to check out the latest blog post they will see that my blog header is pink, the accent color on my site is pink, and the graphics within the post are pink. BRANDING people.

You don’t need to stick with a single color like I do. As long as your followers can recognize that it’s your work because of your consistent branding. Maybe you always do the same chevron pattern on your graphics. Or maybe you like to use a little fig leaf on everything. Pick something that makes your graphics a little different and use it all the time.

If you aren’t sure where to get started with graphics I highly recommend Canva. They have an app or you can use their website. They have templates for blog graphics, Pinterest, Instagram, business cards, and more. I personally use Adobe Illustrator because I have a graphic design background but you don’t need a fancy dancy program like that to create quality graphics.

If graphic design isn’t your thing, I am happy to help create blog graphics, Instastory highlight covers, pins, and more! Drop me a line and I would be happy to work with you on your individual needs.

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I hope these tips help you get started with building your online brand and staying authentic to your true self. While loads of people are going to love what you create and put out into the world, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is going to be drawn to it. And that’s okay! You are creating content for a special niche, not for everyone. Because if you are posting for everyone your posting for no one.

-Ang


You can contact Ang with questions or graphic design consultation at askingang@adventuresofang.com

Further Reading:

How to Get Free Art Supplies and Become a ‘Micro-Influencer’

Leverage your social following and work with well known companies.

The first time I got free art supplies from a company through my Instagram account was one of those “I’ve made it!” moments. Looking back, the supplies I received probably only retailed at $12, but I was still crazy excited for it. Whether you are a professional artist, or just a hobbyist you have the potential to become a micro-influencer on Instagram and get free products in exchange for social exposure.

This post isn’t really for everyone and getting the “free” supplies will require work. I will not be including resources here on how to just click a link, fill out a form, and get free supplies delivered to you. Although, I did provide something like that a long time ago that has since expired–I promise if I find more absolutely- no-strings-attached-free-supplies, I’ll let you know about it.

First, getting free supplies will require that you have a decent social presence for your art. I know. I know. It’s not easy to build a following online. I’ve written a lot of blog posts on how to grow a following on Instagram and I will continue to put out more information on that subject.  Though, lucky for you, you don’t have to have a butt-ton of followers in order to have social power as a ‘micro-influencer’.

What is a micro influencer?

Being a micro-influencer basically means that you have created a brand for yourself online and have a dedicated and engaged following. Micro-influencers are usually pretty niche and appeal to a specific audience. The exact follower range for a micro-influencer varies depending on where you get your information, but you can have anywhere from 1,000-50,000 followers.

Companies need to advertise their products, and often giving free products to a micro-influencer can be more cost effective than spending money on actual advertisements or paying big influencers. Also, micro-influencers often have a higher engagement rate than big influencer accounts.

If you currently have an account for your art above 1,000 followers, then you can start exploring your pull as a micro-influencer and approach companies for free products. Though, this will require you to step out of your comfort zone and make the opportunities happen.

Here’s How to Get free Supplies as a Micro-Influencer

1. Reach out to art supplies companies you want to work with.

Yup. I’m telling you to ask for free products. Though, you need to start thinking about how it’s not a ‘free’ product and it is actually a trade. In order to get a company’s attention you need to convince them you have something to offer. Having an engaged audience that will be interested in the products you mention is the main draw.

Customer service contact information is usually listed on company websites. I look for an email address and craft a basic email that includes a few key things:

  • Start with an intro of who you are.
  • Explain your current social power (how many followers, your engagement rate, your niche, and how you can provide a benefit to the company by promoting their products).
  • Ask if they would be interested in providing free products in exchange for social exposure or as a focal point for a review.
  • You can even ask to partner in a giveaway.
  • Consider making/offering YouTube reviews or blog posts as well.
  • Thank them for their time.

You have nothing to lose by approaching a company with an opportunity that can benefit both of you. Just focus on what you can offer them and be prepared for rejection.

2. Tag companies on social media.

When you create art and post it online, start tagging the companies that made the supplies you used. This is a really indirect way to open the door to getting free supplies, but occasionally these companies take notice and may offer up more supplies as a thank you for your dedication. Your success is their success.

Don’t hold your breath, though! The direct approach will work much better.

3. Let the universe decide.

If you want to leave everything up to chance, you can just focus on your art and growing your following. As you build a bigger presence online, companies may reach out to you completely organically to offer you free things to promote on your account. This has happened to me multiple times without tagging or mentioning any company.

One time I got free soup.

Yup. Soup.

Additional things to consider

Greedy Companies- When free supplies aren’t enough.

If a company approaches you with free products, do not let them dictate the terms of how and if you present the products on your social accounts without considering requesting additional payment for your time and work.

Free supplies can only buy so much from an influencer. Your following has a value and sometimes a free product isn’t enough. I’ll go over actually getting paid to promote products in a bit.

Whenever a company approaches me, I tell them all the same thing: I’d be more than happy to try your product. If I love it, I can share on social media as I see fit. If I don’t like it, I simply won’t say anything. If you want control over any part of the post, then you must pay for a sponsored post.

Companies weigh the cost of paying for advertisements against the cost of free products for influencers. Learn how to establish the value of your posts vs. promotions.

Companies likely aren’t just going to give you free products out of the kindness of their hearts. Free products are just another way to advertise. I know when I first started getting offers for free supplies, I didn’t realize the value of my social exposure. So, I want you be smarter than I was and to evaluate your Instagram posts through two things: 1) the ‘reach’ of your average post through the post insights (see the left picture) and 2) a hypothetical promotion spend through Instagram (see the right picture).

You will need your account to be a business account to see both of these screens (you should get on that if you haven’t already). I took a look at the insights from one of my posts in July 2018 (I had around 53,000 followers at the time). You can see the post reached 11,343 accounts. If you scroll to the bottom of the insights, you can see an option to promote the post.

I want you to go through the promotion screens until you get to the one that looks like the right picture. From here, you can slide the Budget and Duration around until you get a projected ‘reach’ that is similar to your post. That will give you an idea of how much a company would have to spend on one post in order to get the reach your average posts get already. Then just back out of the promotion.

If a company is sending you a $20 kit of supplies, and you reach an audience of that would cost more than that through paid promotions, the company will likely be happy with the results. Not to mention, the retail value of a product is marked up from the actual cost of making the product…

Greedy Influencers- Are you asking for too much?

If you approach a company first, be mindful of the value of the products you request when compared to the value you can give the company. By looking at the cost of advertising vs. the reach on your posts like we did above, you can get a better idea of what kinds of products you can realistically expect to get for free.

Breaking away from your brand- Don’t promote unrelated content.

If a company reaches out to you and their products have nothing to do with you, your art, or the brand you’ve created–then I suggest not promoting the product on your social media accounts. Building a social following takes a lot of work, and if you start to pollute your brand with content your followers have no interest in, then you risk losing dedicated followers.

Stay true to the brand you’ve created. Though, you can get away with posting company shout outs in your stories that stray from your brand a bit.

Instagram micro-influencers can make money in addition to getting free supplies.

Free supplies are great, but free supplies plus a paycheck is even better. If you are reaching out to companies, I wouldn’t push your luck with asking for free supplies AND money unless you really have a good deal to offer them. But, if companies approach you to promote their products, you have all the power to ask for more and/or turn down or accept the offer.

You can find a lot of different suggestions for what influencers should be paid, but it’s different for every company you work with and you will need to develop some negotiating skills. Though, to get a general idea of what you can be paid as an influencer check out this Influencer tool by Influencer Marketing Hub.

Moral of the story…

You can get free supplies if you work for it and create opportunities for yourself. Keep in mind that companies will be more willing to work with influencers who can clearly benefit them. Sell yourself. Start searching for email addresses and send out a couple of emails and see what happens.

Becoming a micro or macro influencer doesn’t sound like it should be a real thing but it totally is. You can start at any level and the bigger you get, the more opportunities you can create for yourself and the more free stuff you’ll be able to get in your mailbox. Though, the bigger you get, the more you should demand payment for your social posts.

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I hope you enjoyed this post! Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! And make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every Tuesday.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

Why You Should Create Videos of Your Art Process

This is what I do to get more exposure on social media and you should do it too.

I’ve written a lot of blog posts about how to grow your following as an artist online. How to pick the right hashtags, how to brand your Instagram, how often to post, and more, but there is one huge thing that helps me continually grow my following on social media and I want you to do this too: Make videos of your art process.

I have shared my recording setup in a couple of other blog posts, so I apologize if you find some of this info repetitive, but you’ll still get something out of the first bit of this post. Especially if you still haven’t gotten around to actually making videos.

Videos, videos, videos!

Process videos, time lapse videos, close up videos, slow motion videos, real time videos. Any kind of video you can think of. I’m going to give you a clear chunk of proof as to why videos will be beneficial for your social media accounts.

Take a look at the insights I pulled from my Instagram account for the last 30 days below. On the left is a screenshot of the number of accounts I reached through still photo posts, and on the right is the reach of my video posts.

All you have to do is look at the first thumbnail on each screenshot.

  • Best Photo Post: 68,793 accounts reached
  • Best Video Post: 165,999 accounts reached

My best video post clearly blows my best photo post out of the water. Same with the next 6 video posts. I could use the same hashtags, post at the same time of the day, use similar captions, or replicate any other variable, but videos get more attention than photos on average.

This has been consistent for me since September of 2017 when my following first started to grow and I’ve continued to create videos since then to maintain the momentum. Don’t delay. Start making videos. I’ll show you how I do it.

How to Create Videos of Your Art for Social Media

*Any product links provided in this post are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase. These commissions help fund the creation of more content like this at no additional cost to you. So thank you for supporting this site! Buy all the things 😉 *

You don’t need any crazy expensive equipment to get started with making videos. Most of us have high quality cameras in our pockets that we can start recording with. When I first started making videos, I used my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, a cheap smartphone tripod, and a pre-installed video app to create time lapse videos. Regardless of the equipment you use, I have some tips for you:

Basic tips for creating videos:
  1. Use good lighting: In photos and videos, you want to make sure you don’t have dimly lit or highly shadowed products. Keep things bright and clean with natural sunlight or daylight bulbs.
  2. Control the chaos around your art: Keep your work space clean and make sure the colors of the surface you’re working on don’t clash with your art. I stick with clean(ish) white surfaces. Reduce the clutter around your art so the viewer’s eyes don’t get distracted.
  3. Show an interesting part of your process, and capture dynamic moments: People who aren’t artists will not know what your pencil sketch of a bird will look like once you add your distinct watercolor style unless you show them. Capture a piece from start to finish, or capture satisfying moments of adding details during the last 25% of a piece. Show a transformation and tell a story through your videos.
  4. Don’t waste your time with video intros: You only have a couple of seconds to grab your viewer’s attention. I suggest jumping right into your art content.
  5. Consider working small to create more content: If you only work on large pieces, creating 7 videos a week may be a bit difficult. I suggest working on “content filler” pieces of art that are smaller and that you can finish quickly.

My Video Setup:

When I was at my most ambitious state, I was posting a time lapse video of my work once a day. If you want to aggressively try to grow your following, I would suggest you do the same (and don’t forget to research a good list of hashtags). At a minimum that means I needed 7 videos a week, so I basically started to record everything I did in the studio. This led me to “upgrade” my recording equipment to make it as easy as possible for me to hit record. (Smartphones run out of storage space quickly when you record that much!)

Right now, I record all of my videos using a webcam. I record right onto my laptop and I edit them with Adobe Premiere Pro. Easy peasy.

If you want to stick with using your phone to start, you can still use the lights, scissor arm, and then get your hands on that cellphone tripod and screw the phone holder onto your clamp arm.

Are you ready to get started?

I can’t stress enough how beneficial video content can be for your social exposure. Using videos on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and whatever other platform you’re on can easily grab more attention than a still photo. Making videos may seem intimidating at first, but we have so much technology around us that we can use.

If you have a smartphone, webcam, iPad, or even a camcorder, you can get started. Use what you have and hit record.

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Lastly, I want to take a moment to touch on the fear that a lot of artists have about sharing their art process. I understand that you may not want to show people how you make your art for fear that it’s giving them a blueprint of how to copy what you do. A lot of us fear having our work copied, but take a moment to read this post if that fear is holding you back from making videos. Don’t let fear get in your way.

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! And make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every Tuesday.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading: