Starting as an artist is not easy on Instagram today.
Creating art (just like most skills) takes a lot of discipline and commitment.
Drawing every day is doable, but a lot goes into building a brand that people love and actually becoming famous.
The key to getting your art noticed is to carve out an art niche for yourself and then continue working in that one niche so that you’ll be known for that 1 thing.
That’s how every successful artist has done it.
I’ll explain more further on.
Let’s dive in to understand this better.
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5 Fundamental Skills you require to get your art noticed
It was easy to make art years ago. It wasn’t a field most people got into, so it was easy to stand out.
But now, there is just so much competition, and you practically need to be omnipresent to be seen.
That’s what being an artist is about – being seen and heard.
To actually become a successful artist, you need to be equipped with several skills.
Apart from improving your drawing skills, you will need to develop many personal and business skills.
Before I get into the deets of getting your art noticed, I want to cover a few fundamental traits you have to possess as an artist!
1. Develop a unique art style
You have to develop an art style that is extremely unique to you.
Your main goal is for people to see your art anywhere in the world and know that this piece of art belongs to you.
So, focus on developing a style of art that is unique to you.
For instance, if anyone sees my art on the web, they immediately recognize it comes from Angela Stray Curls. My characters are pretty unique and that was what helped my blog flourish.
So, take your time to develop an art style.
This particular feat takes some time to achieve. It doesn’t happen immediately. It can take months and/or years.
Check out a few back stories of your favorite artists/illustrators, and you’ll understand how they came about drawing their particular style.
Doing this has inspired me to be patient with my drawing process and keep going.
I highly recommend these two books – The Art of Pernille Orum and Sketch Every Day because they helped me develop a relatable art style and draw and color better. The tutorials in both these books are super detailed and extremely well illustrated.
There are many excellent drawing books that I recommend in this post.
Start by drawing what you love.
And you can use multiple references.
Over time and with practice, your art style will begin to form like how mine did.
Here’s an example of how my art style evolved and became better with time:
These are the covers for my Creative Guide that I have redone with each eBook update.
Eventually, when you develop your art style, you’ll start getting recognized for your work online!
Every single artist you look up to has started from rock bottom – from scratch – developing an art style from nothing.
Carve a niche for yourself.
You can choose any art medium you want, but make sure you focus on a niche.
For example, Natália Dias draws only female characters mostly.
She even has a detailed course on this that you can take here.
They’ve both carved niches for themselves, and that’s how they became famous!
2. Put learning at the forefront
- Learn how to draw characters.
- Learn how to create good backgrounds.
- Study color theory.
- Study anatomy.
- Understand the concepts of printing and bleeding, especially if you want to become a children’s book illustrator.
Take multiple online courses to enhance your learning. Read books that will help you understand how you can better your skills.
This will help you grow much faster!
And I recommend online learning over joining a physical course any day because you can learn at your own pace and you’ll be more comfortable drawing at home.
Additionally, you can pick your favorite courses and learn anything you want to learn straight away!
3. Be consistent and disciplined
To get better at creating art, you have to draw every day.
Sorry, there is no shortcut to getting better.
And this involves overcoming the fear of imperfection and becoming a confident artist.
You will have to get through 1000 pieces of garbage to uncover true gold.
Don’t stop drawing if one piece is bad.
Remember, no one ever starts being Picasso. We are all a work in progress.
So be consistent and disciplined with your art.
4. Learn to take the good with the bad
Being a popular artist comes with its own set of pros and cons.
The major con is, that you are going to attract some form of hate or bullying.
Your art is going to be broadcast into the world.
Make peace with the fact that everyone is not going to love it.
You’ll have haters, trolls, and critics, and you will have to develop a thick skin to be in this profession. Learn to handle negative comments and criticism.
The good news is that your fans will outweigh the haters 9:1.
Additionally, if your work is good, your art is going to get stolen.
This happens to almost every good artist.
And sometimes, you may be able to track it down and nip it in the bud, especially if they’re using a 3rd party platform to distribute your work.
But more often than not, there may not be much you can do. And you’ll just have to make your peace with it.
If you keep focussing on the haters and the art thieves, your time will be poorly spent and you won’t have time to make good art at all.
So, part of learning to be a good artist is to be disciplined and ignore all the negative noise.
5. Your art is your business
You cannot take things personally, especially because your art is your business.
If you are promoting yourself every day, you cannot take criticism heavily or question your process.
You should not be ashamed to market your art because it is your bread and butter.
If you don’t talk about your art, no one else will.
This is a fact.
Marketing yourself is crucial as an artist.
Get rid of thoughts like, “I already posted this yesterday; will I be irritating people if I talk about it today as well?” And continue to promote your work.
Level up your business skills by learning how to promote your work on social media and your website unapologetically.
Now, how do you do that?
How do artists get a big following on Instagram?
You have to study your competition to understand how other artists get a big following.
Based on what type of art you decide to create and what field you’re getting into, your promotion methods will change slightly – especially if you’re choosing to pursue digital or traditional art.
You don’t need to invent a roadmap.
Because it’s already been done for you by others in the same field.
So, say you want to become a Book Illustrator. What are the steps to doing that?
Instead of wondering what to do, research.
Look at others who’ve done the same thing you want to do. Trace back their steps and see what they did to get to where they are.
Read about other book illustrators.
Watch videos on Youtube.
Buy books that will help you understand what goes into becoming a book illustrator.
Research the devil out of it.
Becoming an artist and wanting to get your art noticed involves a lot of studying.
You’re going to work on improving your art skills and business skills simultaneously.
2. Follow your competition
Next, you need to follow your competition on social media.
Stalk them if you have to.
Mark 2-3 people in your dream industry, study what they did, and trace their footsteps.
- Did they use Instagram to promote their work?
- What kind of posts do they post?
- Which books are they reading?
- How are they promoting their work?
- Who are they working with?
- Did they hold exhibitions?
- What did they do to reach that stage?
Note these techniques down. And device a plan.
3. Implement those methods
Once you study your competition, sit down and draft a business plan for yourself.
Dedicate a few hours every day to creating.
And the remaining hours to promote your work.
Focus on 40% creation and 60% promotion.
Be super disciplined.
Set goals and track your progress, weekly and monthly.
Back in the day, when I was using my art on social media to help me gain clients, I kept targets.
If I wanted to make $1000 a month, I knew I needed to get 20 clients who wanted couple portraits for $50 each. That averaged about 5 clients a week or 1 portrait a day.
I’d plan holidays in advance. So, 2 months before valentine’s day, I’d start posting on posts and stories that I had couple portrait slots open to get more clients.
There is a ton of planning involved on Social media.
Breaking down your goals really helps you make them easier to achieve.
How do I get my art noticed on Instagram? Best practices to set up your Instagram profile
Back in 2016, I used my comics to help me gain clients and recognition on Instagram. As my followers grew, more doors opened for me. And I got invited to meetups, talks, events, and many companies started writing articles about me.
Instagram’s algorithm was much easier to work with back then, but Instagram is still the best social media for Artists despite all its flaws.
I already have a detailed post on using Instagram to gain 100K followers as an artist. But here’s the gist:
1. Identify your niche
Before you even create a profile, ask yourself what your niche is.
This is the fastest way to grow on Instagram as an Artist.
Study other artists in this niche and see whether it is doable. Whether this niche is relatable and popular.
Becoming an artist means choosing a field you know will gain traction quickly.
My whole account was dedicated to hair comics – specifically comics relating to curly hair.
And this helped grow my account.
Almost every one of my followers either loved the hair topic or had curly hair and liked my art because it was relatable. Check out LizandMollie, who only posts self-care-related art.
Notice how she uses a particular shade of blue in all of her posts.
Even her drawing style is unique.
This becomes very easy for people to identify her work, even if it does get stolen.
Attracting an audience who has only 1 common interest will help you grow your account quickly! This works for any business in any field.
The more focused you are, the easier it is to identify your target audience and create content for them.
2. Set up your account correctly
Make sure you set up a Business account to use Instagram analytics and other awesome features.
Use either your name or your brand’s name as your username. Mine was Stray Curls because, well, hair.
Make sure that it’s cohesive – meaning if you’re setting up Pinterest and Facebook, make sure that your username is the same or similar throughout.
When writing your bio, make sure that you use relevant keywords to help the algorithm understand what your account is about.
It also helps people understand what you’re known for.
3. Post consistently
Instagram has already stated its preferred number of posts, reels, and stories, but don’t feel discouraged if you can’t keep up.
Do as much as you can.
Set up a schedule at the beginning of the week to know what you need to do for the remainder of the week.
If possible, spend 1-2 hours at the beginning of the week/month deciding what content you’ll be creating. This will save you a whole lot of time.
I keep all my ideas in my Notes app.
Whenever I get an idea (no matter where I am), I write it down so that I will never forget it!
Also, try to post at the same time every day – use your Analytics to find out what time your audience is most active.
I stay In India and in my country; my audience is most active at 5:00 pm for my niche. Other comic artists also post at the same time. I experimented with different times before posting at 5:00 pm every day, which dramatically upped my game.
If I was gaining 100-200 followers normally, Instagram Analytics helped me gain 1000 followers daily.
I no longer have an Instagram account because I shifted to blogging.
Not only this, but the second you convert to a business profile, a “Contact” button will appear on your profile. Make sure you put in your email address because this will help you land commissions. People that love your art/comics will want to get in touch with you and have you do work for them.
Cross-promote your posts and reels on stories. It helps get more traction.
4. Use the right hashtags
A popular hashtag like #art might have 361 million posts under it.
You’re going to get buried under a ton of posts using the same hashtag within 0.2 seconds.
Meaning, that even if you manually visit that hashtag and scroll at the speed of light, you may not be able to discover your post because there will be so many new ones being generated under the same hashtag.
So, the lesson here, kids, is to be reasonable with your hashtags.
Therefore, use at least 10-15 hashtags with just under 1000 posts. Be more specific.
See the screenshot below:
For example: Look at the hashtags under 1000 posts above. They don’t have many posts under them. Use at least 13- 15 hashtags in this range.
Use about 10 in the range of 2000-3000 posts.
And the last few can be hashtagged with a broad range like 40,000 to 50,000 posts.
Now comes the time-consuming bit: Monitoring your post after you post it.
After 15-30 minutes, see if your post climbed up to the Top Posts in the smaller hashtag range. If it did, you could start increasing your range to hashtags with 2000 posts. Get the drift?
If not, keep trying, or lower your range to 500-600 posts.
Basically, you need to make it to the Top Posts for a few hashtags that you use. The longer you stay in the Top Posts, the more likely you’ll be discovered. And the more popularity your post gets, the more likely it is that you’ll make it to the Top Posts in the hashtags (of the higher range).
Engage with Instagram 15 minutes before you post and 15 minutes after you post. Ask people extremely engaging and relatable questions so that people will comment on your post. And start engaging with those comments.
Ask more questions, and be super friendly and kind.
This helps build your brand.
This is grueling work – I know.
But like I mentioned before – you need to spend at least 60% of your time promoting your work. This is how you get people to notice your art!
5. Take better photos if you are a traditional artist
Your photos will make or break your profile.
Instagram is a very visual platform.
If you don’t know how to photograph your art, you’re not going to gain traction or gain Instagram followers. The quality of your art is as important as your photos.
And remember, you’re competing with people who will do anything for followers.
So, up your game.
If you’re struggling with this, take this course to understand how to take good-quality photos with your phone camera.
6. Focus on building a community
Follow similar artists in your niche and like their work consistently.
This encourages them to like your posts as well. When you start growing and have similar numbers, you can do fun collaborations to help increase your follower count and engagement.
Personal message your favorite artists and tell them how much you love their work.
Do it without expecting anything in return. Focus on building relationships in the beginning.
You want them to remember you and associate you with happy thoughts.
Just pass the love. Like their posts, comment on their work.
Even though I stopped posting comics a long time ago and am no longer on Instagram, my friends from Instagram still keep in touch with me because our relationship transcends Instagram.
Just be kind and supportive. You will grow much faster.
7. Hold contests and giveaways
You can check out how other artists do this to understand how it works.
But basically, it’s about driving engagement to your posts.
Contents that work with comments help your post get a lot of traction. This is why it’s important to build a following with similar interests. Because my followers loved hair, there is a good chance that they would have tagged friends who also love hair-related posts in my contests.
And this will ensure that those new people don’t unfollow you once the contest is done.
8. Focus on trending topics
Look at reels from other fellow artists.
Is there a current pattern you’re observing? Is there a trend everyone is hopping on?
Do it. Join them.
This not only helps you gain popularity but also helps you gain followers quickly. Show behind-the-scenes of your work.
People love tutorials because they’re so helpful and teach so much!
They become popular fast.
Whether it’s your blog or Instagram, create a detailed post on how you create your work. Maybe you can show the WIP of your work.
Show a pencil sketch getting transformed into the final illustration. Talk, explaining how you do it. It can be a 15-second clip, but it will help you build fans.
9. Be authentic and try to cover a variety of posts
One day you can post a sketch; the next – your finished piece.
Do a fun post on how you color, and another post about a book you’re currently reading. Just be active. In the end, social media rewards creators who are on the platform constantly.
Warning: Do not get addicted to your followers or Instagram. This platform isn’t yours. The algorithm changes heavily all the time so don’t get addicted to your growth.
Alternatively, post on Instagram and Facebook so that you’re utilizing both mediums to grow your brand.
At the end of the day, please remember social media is not under your control.
Okay, if social media is so unreliable, what do we do then?
Start a blog.
How can I promote my art via a website?
I stress this repeatedly.
Social media can succumb or crash any day. Your account can be suspended, and you could lose everything like as I did in January 2018.
For this reason alone, I highly recommend that you start an art blog and start posting your work on your website simultaneously.
By being present on social media and your website, you will enhance your presence.
This will help you build a brand. It’s also extremely professional.
Your website should always be your primary method of promotion. Your social media will work as a secondary means of promotion. Because your website will be image-heavy, use a plugin like Shortpixel to compress your images.
This will speed up your website, and Google will rank it higher because speed is one of their core web vitals.
Look at a few of your favorite artists and see what kind of pages they have on their websites.
Your audience must identify what the website is all about when they land on it.
There are loads of post ideas you can come up with:
- What got you started with your art? How did you develop and study your type of art? This is a post you can keep updating each year as you progress as an artist.
- What tools do you use? Show your Work in Progress.
- Talk about your latest piece and what inspired that.
- How do you work with people? Is there an interesting client that you had to work with?
- How do you overcome artist blocks? What do you do to get your mojo back?
- Include tips for other artists that are starting in your niche.
- Have you ever come across a roadblock? What did you do to move past it?
- Your favorite resources on your type of art.
- Create a drawing challenge and ask your readers to join you!
Include a lot of images in your blog posts.
You’re an artist, and your blog should be extremely visual. If you are a traditional artist, you will need to take many photos and embed them in your posts. Read this post
Once your art starts doing well and you’ve built an audience, you can start making money as an artist in several ways.
But the best way to build a brand is to make and sell your own merchandise.
Because this is when you basically bring your art to life!
Take a look at Vidhi from The Ink Bucket. She’s a gouache artist who decided to start selling merchandise with her work on it.
She sells everything from planners to kitchen aprons on her website, and she’s quite successful.
If you are looking for a complete course on creating a Brand on Instagram, developing an Illustration brand, and then merchandising, please take this course on Creating an Illustrated Brand: From Idea to Merchandising. This is one of my favorite courses of all time.
She goes into detail on how you can start drawing, illustrating, and then create a beautiful brand by printing your work on merchandise and selling it across the globe!
How do Artists grow their audience?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the content you create and how relatable you are with your fans.
You have to make them feel a feeling, and it needs to be very consistent – that’s when it starts making a difference.
It’s okay to try new things, but being an artist is all about communication – almost every artistic and creative field is. You have to be extremely open and loving. And that’s when your art sort of leaps off the page.
Here are a few points I want to cover:
1. Draw from joy, not pain
More often than not, artists and writers create from a place of negative feelings.
Although this produces excellent work, it will often bring about more despair in your life.
Heal through art.
And draw with joy.
Draw from a place of unharbored happiness and love.
That’s when it will move people and draw them toward you.
2. Take frequent breaks
It’s okay to take breaks from creating art. You cannot create continuously.
Not a machine.
Take breaks so that you can come back stronger and more motivated.
Dedicate some time to self-care so that you’re not tirelessly working day in and day out.
Drink lots of water, eat healthily, spend time with your loved ones and do what you do to recharge.
But no matter what, focus on moving the needle every single day.
3. Be extremely kind and courteous
The internet is hard enough as it is, and it can be extremely toxic – I’m talking mainly about social media.
Be kind. Be loving. And be nice.
Don’t engage with hatred. Remember that hateful comments say more about their author than your work.
Don’t feed the trolls.
Continue to move along the path you’ve set for yourself and interact with your fans.
Your kindness is what will finally help you succeed in life – not just as an artist.
4. Share everything you know with the world
You’re not going to lose anything by sharing what you know with the world.
Share your steps, your wins, and your losses.
Be real with your audience and speak to them like old friends.
This is how you become super relatable. People relate to losses more than wins because it makes you more human.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to post my art on Instagram?
I highly recommend posting at the end of the day towards the evening between 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. I used to post my art at around 5:00 pm in the evening because my audience was active at that time.
Experiment with different posting schedules and take note of how active your audience is. Once you find a time that works well for you, post at that time every single day!
Is Instagram dead for artists?
No. Instagram still works wonderfully for artists if they are consistent with their art style and posting. Make sure that you utilize regular posts, Instagram stories, and reels to reap the full benefit of Instagram.
Should I post every day on Instagram?
If you are an artist on Instagram, I highly recommend posting every day.
Even if you cannot finish an art piece in time, post things like:
- Your work in progress
- A commissioned piece for an old client (this will help you get sales)
- Your tools
- Some art supplies you recently purchased
- What your workspace looks like
- Maybe a helpful tip or technique
- Some before and afters to show how much you’ve progressed
- How you wind down or some self-care tips you follow to not burn out
The possibilities are endless! Just make sure you post every day to help stay on the forefront of people’s minds.
It’s okay if you skip a few days in a month – we all need time to wind down.
Becoming an artist is a lot of fun, and if you really want it with all of your heart, there is no possibility of you failing.
But you need to be extremely committed to making it work and be very consistent in practicing every day and working hard toward your goals.
Many artists have full-time or part-time jobs and make money on the side till their art starts getting noticed and their career as an artist finally takes off.
Have a plan.
Be extremely organized and focused, and start following your dreams.
If you really want this, what’s stopping you?
You might also enjoy reading these posts on the blog:
- How to draw when you don’t feel like it
- Does drawing increase creativity? Explained!
- How to respond to compliments as an artist
- How to draw without a reference
- How to get better at drawing (for beginners)
- How to find your art style when you’re a beginner artist
- 13 signs you were meant to be an artist
- How long does it take to learn how to draw? (Explained)
- How to become a full-time artist without a degree
- 13 drawing mistakes most beginner artists make
- 9 drawing books for beginners
- Fun drawing gifts for children under 10 years old
- 13 easy ways to make money online as an artist
- 13 reasons why people like drawing + drawing benefits!
- 13 Ways to be a more Confident Artist
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below, and I’ll be more than happy to help!
I highly recommend checking out Domestika’s Courses because they have courses on almost anything you want to learn, and they’re structured beautifully. It’s very well organized, and its website is super fast. Their app is lovely too.
You can download the classes and watch them offline, and the best part? Once you buy the course, you own it forever!