How to Brand Your Instagram Account: A Guide for Artists

How to Brand Your Instagram Account

A Guide for Artists

Branding is everything, and as an artist you have a lot of freedom to craft exactly how you are portrayed in public. So much freedom that it’s actually a little overwhelming.

Your brand is a compilation of images, styles, words, and compositions that make you unique and set you apart from other artists.

Who are you? What’s your style? What are you trying to gain from your online presence? What kind of work do you do?

Discovering and creating your brand involves a lot of introspection. You are an artist and you have a brand that is true to you and I want to help you speak that truth. By genuinely and accurately portraying your work and your personality on Instagram, you can attract a meaningful group of followers.

At the moment, if a potential follower were to look at your profile, would they know what you are about? Would they know your primary medium? Would they be able to learn about your personality? Would they clearly see that you are a professional artist that’s open for business?

How you can discover your brand as an artist

Like I said, knowing your brand requires introspection. What works for one artist may not work for another. Ask yourself these questions (you can use this free worksheet to organize your thoughts)

  • Why do you create?
  • Why do you want to share your art with the world? (Aside from making money.)
  • What kind of art do you create?
  • What do you want people to feel when they look at your work?
  • How do you want people to see your personality?
  • What kind of work are you looking for? (Commissions, gallery shows, online sales, etc.)
  • Who are you? (That’s a loaded question, but one you should really try to figure out!)

How You Can Define Your Brand as an Artiston Instagram

Once you know more about yourself and art, you can use the following tips to accurately communicate your brand to your audience.

Choose a catchy, clean, and creative username.

If you are planning on creating a long term creative business, you want a name that will last for years–and work on other platforms. When I chose Messy Ever After as my creative name, I made sure to check multiple platforms to see if the name was available. Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Tumblr, .com domains, and more. Plan ahead and follow these suggestions:

  • Try not to use symbols, underscores, or gibberish in your name. If you are talking to a person face to face and they ask you your Insta name–is it easy to say? Is it catchy? Or did you just spend 2 minutes telling them where the underscore is and how many numbers go between your first name and favorite fruit?
  • If you are making a name for yourself as an artist, consider just using your actual name. Simple. To the point. (ex. @deeannrieves, @greggossel)
  • If you are like me and want to build a brand separate from your name, consider exploring something more creative that embodies your style (ex. @indigoimpressions, @biophilicart, @septemberwildflowers. @desertfox.art)
  • Or do a hybrid: @saracaudleart, @artbydeniz
Pick a great profile photo.

If you work with bold colors, showcase this. If your brand focuses more on you as a person, include yourself in the photo. Do you have a business logo? Use great lighting and choose a photo that can describe your whole brand.

Utilize your bio

Tell people a little about yourself. Space is limited, so use a couple of key things about you like the medium you use, where you are from, what you love, etc.. Check out a couple of your favorite artists you follow to see how they do it.

Make sure to link to a website. Whether it’s your online shop, a blog, or FB page. If people want to know more about you, make it easy for them to do so.

Be consistent.

Your profile should look cohesive. All posts should be connected in some way.

Even though I know artists are often multifaceted and have a diverse skill set, it’s hard to effectively showcase everything you do AND grow your following. When you are branding yourself, you need to narrow your focus on the content you post (I’m still struggling with this!).

Do you have a color palette that you use regularly? Do you have signature style? What do you create most often? What can people expect from you when they follow you? It may feel limiting, but think of your profile as a digital gallery of your work that should flow together in some way. Whether it’s the art you create, or the space you create in.

Examples

@rey.fritsch creates consistency with including herself in each photo. Her work lately has been focused on canine subjects and all of her photo compositions have a similar feel.

@saracaudleart uses the same color scheme and ocean inspiration for her posts and art.

Avoid extraneous post content.

Unless you are branding yourself as living the artist’s life or something else beyond creating and selling your art work, you want to avoid posting photos of your dog or your dinner (Exceptions: Your dog is covered in paint in your studio. Your dinner is sitting next to a piece of art. Etc.)

Always ask yourself before posting something: “Does this elevate my brand or distract from it.” and  “If this was the first post a new follower saw of mine, would they know what I’m about?”

Also, consider putting content that is a little less polished in your story. This way, you can still share more about yourself without sacrificing the posts on your profile.

Use your voice. Write interesting captions.

Captions are a great way for you to tell a story about yourself and your art. Don’t limit yourself to just stating the size and medium of your work. Encourage engagement and start a conversation around your posts.

What kind of tone do you want to communicate? I always try to inspire, spread positive energy, and not take myself too seriously with each post of mine. My topics include memories from art classes, experiences in the art world, expressing gratitude, sharing my woes of art block and lack of confidence, and random light-hearted things like just how much I like cheese. Give your audience a sense of who you are and create meaning behind your art.

Of course I have boring posts that get right to the point for sales, new items in my shop, blog posts, etc..

Interact with your followers.

Part of your brand will involve how you treat your followers and potential customers. You are a business now so make sure you have good customer service.

  • Always respond to messages. I’ve gotten multiple messages from people, and at the end of the conversation they expressed gratitude that I responded, because they’ve reached out to many artists and rarely got a response.
  • Reply to comments from followers. If they made an effort to compliment you, thank them. Not only is this kind, but it also increases engagement on your posts.
Focus on Content: Photo Quality and Variety

Your art and the photos you post are going to be the most defining aspect of your Instagram account. Unpolished art can look great in a photo, and incredibly skilled work can look terrible. It’s important to learn the basics of taking a great photo, put quality content out there, and always work on improving your skills.

  • Use good lighting (daylight bulbs, natural sunlight)
  • Photograph your art at different angles, and against neutral colors to make the work stand out. (Including a variety of photos with clean, negative space will make your profile more attractive overall.)
  • Use a variety of photo compositions (close ups for details, in progress with tools and supplies nearby, straight on photos, multiple art pieces at once, photos of the artist with your art, etc.)
  • Limit your work in progress photos to images that are 75% finished or more. The ‘ugly’ phase of art may find a better home in your story.
  • No matter where you are in your art career, always work towards growing your skill set and evolving as an artist.

Conclusion

It’s okay to not have a completely polished profile when you first start. You don’t have to be perfect immediately or know exactly what your brand is when you are just starting out. A lot of this can be discovered and tweaked over time. The important thing is that you have an awareness of branding and periodically review your post content and see what’s working for you. To be honest, Messy Ever After was born in 2014 and it took me 3 years to figure out who I am and find my direction.

Also, make sure you are using the best hashtags for your posts!

If you are hoping to get your artwork out there and grow your following, I encourage you to take a look at your profile and review the points above. I’ve created another free worksheet to help!

If you have any questions about branding in general or want help with your personal brand comment below or reach out to me directly. I’m always happy to offer my consulting services to other artists.

-Kelly

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs 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 doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers and the ability to pick my brain whenever you want through the artist Q&A perk.

Free Worksheet Downloads:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Choose the Best Instagram Hashtags

How to Photograph Your Art on a Budget

How to Choose the Best Instagram Hashtags

How to Choose the Best Instagram Hashtags

Advice for Artists

If you are new to Instagram, or have been struggling with getting new followers, your hashtags might be the issue. When I first started posting my art, I would pull tags out of my head. I’d look at my art and brainstorm all the ways to describe the piece right when I was posting.

#sketch #doodle #art #artist #abstract

My tags were generic and I only used a handful of them, because I didn’t know how important they were and I frankly didn’t feel like wasting too much time on the posting process. When I search for those tags now, I see they have millions of posts behind them. It’s no wonder why I didn’t see progress on my account for months. I was doing it all wrong.

I started researching different tags a few months ago and I believe it was one of the huge contributing factors to my quick growth. I don’t want to repeat too much of the information that’s already out there so I’ll just say: Hashtags are really important. Yes, there is a right way to use them. Don’t worry, I will show you how.

Hashtag Basics and Suggestions:

Hashtags change and grow. Some get banned, some are popular one day and obsolete the next, which is why it’s important to continually adjust and review your tags to get the maximum benefit. I’ve put together a list of helpful tips and info:

  • You can use 30 tags per post.
    • I suggest using them all, but don’t go over. If you have over 30, your image or video will post without the caption and tags. Currently, my list is around 26 tags so I can add some here and there depending on the post content.
    • If you have heard it’s spammy to use all the tags—ignore that. If your caption is genuine, your content is attractive, and you format the caption well—it won’t look spammy.
  • Make sure you have a good balance of small and large tags.
    •  If you are using all 30 tags, but each tag is generic and overused, you’re not going to benefit much. If your account has a small following, focus on small tags.
      • Don’t use more than 5 large tags, if any (1 million + posts)
      • Use 10 to 20 smaller tags (1,000 to 50,000 uses)
      • Use 5 to 10 medium tags (50,000 to 500k uses)
      • Considering creating 1 to 2 unique, branded tags (under 1,000 uses)
  • Pay attention to the top nine of your chosen hashtags.
    • The goal is to get into the top nine posts of some of the tags you use. The more engagement your post has, the more likely it will move up in rank. And if you’re in the top nine, it will drive even more people to engage with the post and follow you.
  • Post your tags in your caption and not as a comment.
    • I’ve read conflicting articles on this. Some say you shouldn’t post tags in the caption, because it looks tacky and spammy.
      • Solution: Add 5 or more symbols and lines between your caption and tags so the tags show up further down.
    • Some say posting tags in a comment will trick the Instagram algorithm into thinking your post has more engagement and then it will boost the post. (FYI: Nobody but Instagram knows definitively how the algorithm works. The rest of us are just making educated guesses.)
      • Solution: Post the tags in your caption, but ask a question to your audience to encourage genuine engagement. “What’s your favorite medium?” “What does the color scheme make you feel?” etc.
  • Sit down and do some research. I’ll show you how I do it! 
    • It’s tedious, but I will show you how I get a healthy list of tags that I just copy and paste into posts for a couple of months until I have to sit down and research new ones.

The Importance of Researching your Tags

Again, hashtags are important–but more specifically hashtags that have a narrow focus and fit your brand are important.

As part of defining your brand, you need to know where you fit into the art world. What kind of art do you create? What materials do you use? What kind of feelings do your pieces evoke? Knowing the answers to all of these questions will help you better market yourself, choose the right tags, and find your audience.

Also, a lot of share accounts choose different works to share from specific tags. Some have their own tags, and some pull from tags already in use. I wish there was a list of share accounts out there, but it’s an ever changing network. You are more likely to find these accounts when you are researching tags.

The lazy method For Choosing Hashtags

This won’t be as effective, but it’s a start if you don’t have the time to research. Find an artist similar to your style that has a larger following than you (but not too large). Look at their posts with high engagement (most likes and comments) and copy their tags. Voila. Your work is done.

The Tedious but Totally worth it method for choosing hashtags

Get on your computer. Open up a spreadsheet (or use this worksheet). Crack your knuckles and head to Instagram. Search for a tag relevant to your art. For this example, I’m going to use #acrylicpaint. Below are the top nine posts for this tag.

I happen to have two pieces in the mix at the moment, but I’m going to look at the middle row, right side for inspiration. Okay, so looking at this post, it has high engagement and actually happens to be a @brittleeart piece from share account (I’ll tell you more about what to do with this later.). Now, what I do is examine all of the tags and start clicking on each one to see if it would fit my style.

If I find a ‘good’ tag, then I explore its top nine. Select another post, check out those tags, find another good one, explore the top nine. Repeat.

While I am clicking back and forth, I have a spreadsheet open to start recording different tags and information (or use this worksheet). Below is a screenshot my research. On the left are tags that I have already been using. Blue means I’ve made it to the top nine, red means the tags are too big and my work is nowhere to be seen. I’m not going to use the red tags anymore.

The right side are the new tags I researched today. A lot of my tags are above 50k uses, but I am having success with the larger ones so I keep using them. As your following grows, you can find success with the larger ones as well. For now, start on the smaller end.

What makes a hashtag ‘good’?

Now, you can see from my list that I don’t use a lot of one word tags or simple tags. I choose much more specific tags. Don’t use #art, use #uncommonart. Don’t use #abstract, use #abstractaf . I have to admit that the more I research tags, the more excited I get when I find a really good one. So what do I look for in a tag?

  • The tag has quality content. The top nine photos are attractive and have genuine engagement.
  • The tag is related to your art and your brand in some way. Can you see your work fitting in here?
  • The tag is currently in use. Click on the first post below the top nine. Was it posted today? Then you’re good.
  • The uses are between 1k to 50k.
  • The tags are more specific and targeted to a smaller audience.
    • You’d think you would want to display to the largest audience you can to get exposure at first, but you want to do the exact opposite. Find a small dedicated audience. Their engagement is going to mean so much more for you, your account, and your business.
Basic Steps for Hashtag Research
  1. Start with a generic tag related to your work, or a tag you already have success with.
  2. Click on the post with the highest engagement in the top nine that is most similar to your art and brand.
  3. Review the tags on that post, copy the tags that are smaller and targeted. Click on them and see if the content is relevant, the post uses aren’t too high or too low, and if the tag has recent uses.
  4. If any of the posts appear to be share accounts, look to see if they have a specific tag they use. Add that to the list if you want to increase your potential for shares. (ex. #artwhisper #fluidartwork)
  5. Explore niche tags and/or unrelated tags. Some might be specific art tags, and some might be related to creativity. Either way, they tap into a different audience, but stay consistent with your brand. (ex. #creativelifehappy #createdtocreate #creativehabit)
  6. Record your tags until you have a list of 25 or more.

I honestly spend an hour or two researching tags, but once I have a list I format the basic layout and copy it into Google Keep. I have Notes for different post content–videos, new products in my store, and my standard tag list.

Now when I have new content to post, I just copy this to my clipboard and head to Instagram. I will review my tags in another 2 or 3 months and see which ones aren’t working for me and I’ll switch things around. Again, I know this process is a little tedious, but it is so beneficial!

I hope this was helpful for you! If you have any questions, please comment below. I love getting inspiration for new blog posts and your questions are always so helpful.

Also, if you want one-on-one help for your account, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am happy to offer my consulting services.

-Kelly

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs 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 doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers and the ability to pick my brain whenever you want through the artist Q&A perk.

Get your free Instagram Hashtag Research Worksheet for Artists

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How I Record and Edit Art Process Videos

How I Record and Edit Art Process Videos

How I Record and Edit Art Process Videos

The Messy Ever After Way

I love watching art time lapse and process videos. They are mesmerizing and make things look so easy! When I first started recording my art, I struggled quite a bit. I thought I needed to use a fancy camera and my DSLR would stop recording after 11 minutes due to file size limits. I’d have to stop working, restart the camera, and repeat.

Then, once I was all finished, I uploaded the clips, pieced them together and found out my lighting sucked. If you read my previous post about how to photograph your art on a budget, you already know how important lighting is. I learned my lessons the hard way…

But hey! Now I can show you what I’ve learned!

My Current Recording Set Up

Recording videos doesn’t need to be expensive. I’ve ditched my DSLR and actually use my smart phone or a webcam to record. I’m going to show you the three main ways I record and edit videos.

No matter how you record, make sure to have two or three lamps with daylight bulbs on your work. Or work in a room with a lot of windows.

quick and easy time lapse videos for Instagram

A lot of my little Instagram videos are recorded and edited with my phone. I used to awkwardly set my phone on top of things to record, until I ordered the set up pictured above. My life is much easier now.

Equipment Needed:
Editing:

I use the Movie Maker app that came loaded on my phone to speed things up and trim the video. It’s annoyingly limited in that I can only speed the clip by 2X. I usually speed up the clip, mute it, save it. Open that video, speed it up, save. Repeat until the final clip is under a minute long.

Once the final clip is saved, I delete all of the other videos to free up the space on my phone.

(Update: I feel silly for not already doing this, but @indigoimpressions informed me of a different app to use: Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile. Seriously. I’m all about shortcuts and making life easy, yet somehow I stuck with my tedious way of saving videos. SMH.)

Close up Videos for Instagram

When I’m doing close up shots of my detail work, I use the little tripod that comes with the phone holder product I copied above. It’s bendy and can easily be angled in a bunch of different ways. For editing, I still use the phone app.

Longer Videos for YouTube or Instagram

Since a lot of my detailing can take me a while, my phone didn’t have enough memory to handle the larger video files. I recently bought a webcam to use for streaming, and decided to try it out for recording. Turns out, it works really well!

Equipment:

I use the same scissor arm stand for the webcam as I do my phone. It shouldn’t need any additional attachments to screw the webcam on.

Recording:

You’ll need to download the webcam software to be able to record and save onto your computer. I love being able to control the entire process from my laptop. It makes it much easier for me when I start editing as well.

Editing:

Since I have been making longer videos with music and more extensive editing, I use Adobe Premier Pro for these. I love this program, but it does come with a fee. I actually have the whole Adobe Creative Cloud because I use Photoshop and Spark regularly.

Final Product Using Logitech c920 Webcam:

(The last close up clip was filmed with my Canon Rebel T3i DSLR, because it’s easier to handle when moving around.)

And there you have it

Those are all of the ways I currently film my art. If you are thinking about making videos, I really encourage you to do so. They are great for exposure, and it’s pretty fun to watch the end product!

If you have any questions, I would love to answer them. And if there is anything else you want to learn about let me know in the comments below.

-Kelly

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs 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 doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers and the ability to pick my brain whenever you want through the artist Q&A perk.

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