Every artist dreams of the day they can start making money from their work.
We all draw and create because we love it.
It drives us and gives us a natural high we cannot get enough of.
But at the end of the day, we artists have bills to pay.
And maintaining a full-time job while creating art on the side isn’t easy.
That’s why we all aspire to reach the day when we can live off our art alone.
In this post, I will teach you how to sell art on Instagram.
It’s never been easy – this process.
It takes a while to build a brand as an Artist and get clients and customers.
But thanks to social media, and the ease with which we can sell our art online (physical or digital), we have reached an age where selling art on Instagram is possible!
I am super grateful to Instagram because I started as a comic artist on Instagram and it helped launch me as an Artist.
I got to work with many companies like Dove, Wella, Himalaya, and so on, and I even got to experience what it’s like to create illustrations for clients. It’s been a heck of a ride, and Instagram helped me launch my online business!
In this post, I want to cover how you can build a Brand on Instagram and start selling your work there!
You cannot sell art without building a brand first. So, let’s dive in.
1. Decide on a niche for your art type
You cannot hope to sell art on Instagram if you’re all over the place and your style keeps changing.
It’s not going to work because people will not be able to recognize your work and follow you.
Everyone likes consistency.
Look at the iPhones – they have a standard shape and follow many rules. We can instantly recognize an iPhone if we see someone using it, and their OS is also pretty recognizable.
Likewise, develop an art style that’s uniquely yours.
Take your time – don’t rush.
Be extremely patient when you’re developing your art style.
It’s okay to try new things and take multiple online courses to become better at creating art.
I highly recommend taking Domestika Courses because they have some pretty beautiful classes that will help you understand how to draw better.
Look at other artists in your field to understand what techniques or shortcuts they use to become better.
For instance, when I was learning to create digital illustrations using ProCreate, I’d take multiple online classes to watch how other digital illustrators created their illustrations.
This helped me learn a lot of ProCreate shortcuts, and it also helped me understand what I needed to know to get better.
I got better and faster at drawing, and my art style developed nicely.
I also picked up graphic novels and drawing books to help me become better.
Picking a niche involves a lot of research and practice.
And it’s okay to take your time to do both.
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 exceptionally well illustrated.
Start by drawing what you love, and you will get better at drawing.
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 improved with time: You can see how to work on your art style here.
You may also like these posts:
- How to get better at drawing
- How long does it take to learn how to draw
- How to draw digital art as a Beginner
2. Develop a Brand on Instagram
Learning how to sell art on Instagram is a lot more than just creating an Instagram profile and then just posting your art.
You are no longer just an Artist.
You’re a Marketer and a Businessperson now.
So, your Account is your business.
It’s your Online Business.
This means you need to know how to market yourself as an artist.
When creating your Instagram account for your art, you must be meticulous about how your Instagram profile reads.
Here are a few things you need to remember:
1. Set up a proper Instagram Business account
When you set up a Business account, you can use Instagram Analytics.
This will help you understand what posts resonate with your audience and which stories and reels pull in more followers.
This is super beneficial to you because you can create more similar posts, which will help you grow your Account faster.
Make sure that your Instagram name is very easy to remember and is something that people can type in the search bar without much thought – try to avoid underscores and dots in your username.
Keep your brand name cohesive so people can find you on Facebook or Pinterest the same way.
This helps you maintain a cohesive brand.
Make sure you set up a Business account to use Instagram analytics and other excellent features.
When writing your bio, make sure that you use relevant keywords to help the Instagram algorithm understand what your Account is about.
In my Account, I wrote “curly hair comics” and “comic artist” to help Instagram know that my Account was all about comics.
Look at some famous artists in your niche to understand how to draft your Instagram Bio. Here’s Magalie Foutrier’s Bio to help you understand what you need to be doing with yours:
Her bio is very clear. She’s included:
- Her author bio says she is a French Illustrator
- Her email ID if you have any requests
- Her shop link
- Buttons to message and call her
Here’s what you need to remember when you’re crafting an Instagram Bio:
- Make sure it’s in points instead of a paragraph so that it’s easier to read
- Add emojis to make your bio more fun!
- Specify your shop link if you have one to redirect traffic to your shop
- Mention if you take commissions or not
- And keep your contact button visible so people can reach you directly and know that your communication line is open.
2. 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.
Please don’t overdo the posts because you’ll burn yourself out eventually.
Art isn’t easy to create. So, go at your own pace and slowly increase the number of posts as you grow. Try to set up a schedule at the beginning of each month and week to understand your art plan for the month.
I keep all my ideas in my Notes app.
Whenever I get an idea (no matter where I am), I write it down so I will never forget it!
Also, try to post simultaneously every day – use your Instagram Analytics to find out what time your audience is most active.
I stay In India and 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 daily, dramatically upping my game.
If I was usually gaining 100-200 followers, Instagram Analytics helped me gain 1000 followers daily.
Please note that this was back in 2017 and not now. I no longer post comics.
Cross-promote your posts and reels on stories.
It helps get more traction.
3. Use hashtags wisely
A popular hashtag like #artistsoninstagram might have 11 million posts under it. So, using this hashtag when you’re just starting out will not help you in any way.
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 so many new ones are generated under the same hashtag.
Therefore, use at least 10-15 hashtags with just under 1000 posts. The more specific you get, the easier you will discover it.
See the screenshot below:
For example: Look at the hashtags under 1000 posts above, and 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.
The time-consuming bit comes after posting: Monitoring your Instagram post after posting it.
After 15-30 minutes, see if your post climbed to the Top Posts in the smaller hashtag range. If it did, you could start increasing your range to hashtags with 2000 posts.
Yes, it’s time-consuming and cumbersome. But like I said before, your Instagram account is your business now!
You need to make it to the Top Posts for a few hashtags 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).
Here are a few ways you can increase your Instagram post’s engagement:
- Write a short story in your description/caption to garner interest
- Ask a question to your followers regarding their experiences with a particular topic
- Hold a poll by asking an either-or-question. This usually gets people talking!
- Reply to followers within 30 minutes of posting so that you keep getting more comments.
This helps build your brand.
This is grueling work – I know.
But you must spend at least 60% of your time promoting your work. This is how you get people to notice your art!
4. Have a very cohesive feed
Your art or photos of your art 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 to your game.
If you’re struggling with this, take this course to understand how to take good-quality photos with your phone camera.
Likewise, ensure your feed is easy on the eyes and follows a friendly visual theme.
Check out Karoline Pietrowski’s feed.
She primarily draws women and uses a specific color palette for her work. You’ll know she makes it if you see her art anywhere else.
You need to aim for this when you’re curating your feed.
5. Build a strong base of connections
Follow other artists in your circles and constantly support them by leaving lovely comments and liking their posts.
It is easier to grow when you pay your kindness forward.
Once you start growing, you can snowball your growth by doing fun collaborations and cross-promotions.
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 long ago and am no longer on Instagram, my friends from Instagram keep in touch with me because our relationship transcends Instagram.
Just be kind and supportive. You will grow much faster.
3. Decide how you’re going to monetize your art on Instagram
Now that you know how to start and grow your Instagram account as a professional artist, you need to decide how you want to monetize your Account.
There are several ways you can do this. Here are some popular methods:
1. Start a Patreon account
You can start a Patreon account where people can support you in return for:
- Behind the scenes drawing videos/sketches
- Art tutorials
You can start a Patreon account and then ask your followers to support you in exchange for multiple goodies, depending on what you create.
Once you create a Patreon account, you can create stories to remind people what they will get in exchange for supporting you on Patreon.
Take @adesignerlife, who offers multiple goodies in exchange for supporting her on Patreon. This is how she creates her stories.
2. Selling your art
You can sell your art as prints or merchandise on your website or a platform like Etsy and RedBubble.
Here are a couple of things you can sell your work on:
- Merchandise like cups, clothes, tote bags, and so on
- Art prints
- Stickers (read my post on how to create stickers using Procreate)
- Digital files like brushes, Instagram icons, clipart, and so on
I cover more ways you can make money as an artist here.
This is an excellent way to make a passive income as an artist because people will continue to buy your work. You just have to keep directing traffic to your shop via your Instagram posts.
Take @wowocomics, who talks about her merchandise in her Instagram stories once in a while.
You can even add it to your Highlights so that people can see it anytime.
If you have an Etsy shop, you can link to your Etsy shop via your Stories and Highlights and mention that your art is now a print in your store every time you release a new post that will be sold separately as a physical item.
Take @hannahgoodart, who links to her Etsy store from her stories!
To get more sales in your shop, you can do the following:
- Offer special discounts or hold sales during holidays and special events
- Offer discounts to people who sign up to your mailing list (Try the ConvertKit free plan)
- Hold contests on Instagram (to get more followers) and offer your merchandise as the prize
3. Commissioning your work
You can take up commissions and draw portraits for people who want art in your style.
If you’re doing this, make sure you constantly advertise your work in your stories and your posts (as in the last slide) so that people know you’re accepting commissions.
If you have a very relatable drawing style, you will get a lot of commission requests via email and Instagram DMs.
Make sure you have streamlined your process so that people find it easy to pay you and get their work.
Take @essasketch, for instance, who takes commissions for her art. She includes prices in her stories and her highlight under the name “Commissions,” This is a great idea because people will know exactly what it will cost to get a portrait or drawing from you.
There are several ways you can make money as an artist.
If you have multiple links because you’re monetizing your Instagram art account in several ways, then you can create a Link Tree and post your links there like how @litterboxcomics does that:
I hope this post taught you how to sell art on Instagram.
The tedious part of this process is building a brand with which people will fall in love. But if you love drawing and creating art, it will be easy for you.
Do you have an art profile on Instagram?
Let me know your Instagram handle, and I can take a look and offer you some advice! If you have any questions about Instagram or art, let me know, and I’ll try to help out as much as possible.
Courses for Artists
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!
Online courses speed up your growth, and I’ve learned so much in the last couple of weeks just by taking these courses. They were not expensive either!
Here are some of my favorite online courses:
Delve into the world of Japanese kawaii and create lovable characters with their personalities. Illustrator Ilaria Ranauro aims to tell stories through the images and characters she illustrates. She sells her stickers, prints, washi tape, and more via her online Etsy shop and creates children’s illustrations for clients worldwide, including Penguin Random House Mexico.
This course teaches you about kawaii culture and how to illustrate unique characters of your own ready to be printed and shared with the world in sticker form. Create a unique character that sparks joy and leaves people with a smile on their faces.
Female characters do well on Instagram, and if you’re looking to gain more followers on Instagram, taking this course will help you do that!
Isabella loves to weave the stories behind her female cartoon characters into her artwork, and, in this course, she shows you how to use Procreate to bring everyday heroines to life. Discover how to create vibrant illustrations from start to finish using photos for reference. Check out the course here.
You can check out my detailed list of drawing books I suggest for beginners here.
Here are some more posts related to illustrating and drawing that you may enjoy:
- 7 ways to get back into drawing after taking a long break
- How to start digital art
- How to respond to compliments as an artist
- Does drawing increase creativity? Explained
- How to draw when you don’t feel like drawing – 13 easy ways
- 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