How I Reached 10k Instagram Followers In One Year As An Artist [2024]

My 8 Tips To Grow Your Instagram Account to 10k followers

How I Reached 10k Instagram Followers As An Artist

This is a long one, folks! Worth the read, I promise! I wanted to preface this whole post by saying that I debated writing this post for some time because I genuinely believe that obsessing over the number of followers we have on our social media platforms isn’t very healthy. I’ve been there, refreshing our feed every minute to see if we gained just one additional follower. If we cracked the instagram algorithm with that one reel we JUST KNEW would go viral! Setting benchmarks like a 200, 500, 1000, 5000, 10000 follower count in those beginning days and stressing over those counts endlessly instead of creating content that matters and is authentic won’t help your business in the best way, but there are a few important things you can do to really help your online presence and create high-quality content.

But I get it. Instagram is a vital component of our business as artists. It continues to be the primary platform for small business owners to get our idea, emotion, quality and style of our artwork across. And so it does matter, right? Well, yes! But also no. Stay with me!

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If you’re a beginner artist, you’re probably trying to decide on what to post, post type (are feed posts even still relevant?) whether to use hashtags, live video, instagram shopping, more reels, fewer reels, location tags, carousel posts, offer free products, influencer marketing, new content, new products, how to manage the comments section… and so on! But how often to post, how to photograph your art, how personal you should be, how to write your bio, how much of your studio you should show are very important brand awareness tools that as artists are critical things to know to grow real followers, the right people and ultimately, potential customers.

It’s overwhelming, I know. I hadn’t planned on writing this post but I get this question a lot. You only have 10,000 followers, how do you make a living?

And my answer is always the same – quality over quantity.

Here is my strategy and what I believe are the best ways to building slowly. It took a lot of work every single day, but it’s very doable if you stop obsessing over the cound and do the following 9 steps.

How I Reached 10k Instagram Followers As An Artist

When I started my account back in 2021, I honestly had no idea what would become of it. I had two goals; to share my art and to have a positive, healthy space to build a business. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t care or understand instagram influencers and how that works and I surely didn’t know all the best practices. I just started posting what I wanted to share.

I was lucky enough to have a friend who was very successful with Instagram to sort of guide and coach me, encourage me to post when I felt I wasn’t good enough or something wasn’t worth sharing. She taught me about new features, using the right hashtags and using the platform in a good way.

I decided to establish a few principles that would keep me on track and that I knew I didn’t want to compromise on if my feed grew. These were:

  • Showing my art in an authentic, natural way.
  • Build and encourage a positive, supportive community with real people, without judgement.
  • Support other artists, regardless of whether it hurt my sales or popularity.
  • Post on a regular basis and consistently, being clear about what my followers can expect from me in terms of my content.
  • Be personal, but not too personal. I still struggle with this but the foundation remains the same. I use my instagram stories to be a bit more personal and off-feed.

Once I had these guidelines in mind, I started to post. And boy, was I all over the place. I wanted a simple and clean aesthetic, very much clean in style, but my photography was far from stellar. I remember my first post in July 2021 or so, and by December my husband gifted me a camera, a light and a tripod and my posts improved immensely!

I should mention here that I don’t believe you have to have a professional camera to take photos. A phone will do just fine. What made all the difference was the tripod and lighting. It granted me the ability to take consistent, straight and well lit photos.

My feed began to improve, my photos began to flow. That’s the first step.

how to photograph art for instagram

To this day, I use natural lighting, light backgrounds, and focus on the textural quality of the artwork and frame. I like my photographs to translate feeling, touch and quality through each image because that’s what my artwork is about and that’s what shines when someone sees a piece in person, so it’s absolutely important that my photos do the same.

The bio really matters. If it’s funny and very unique unique, it’ll always stay with someone and they’re more likely to click that follow button because you’ve caught their attention.

Here are my tips for writing a powerful instagram bio:

  • Utilize all the sections; Instagram gives you five sections to maximize in your bio: Name, Username, Bio, Links and Category. Use them all! Your name and your username should relate to each other. Your bio is where you can potential new followers who you are, what you do and how they can get more info. Provide something that builds interest to your target audience, a call to action to build a desire to click on the next section, which is a link to your website. Lastly, be sure to add your category, ie. artist.
  • Add your business info – email, address, website, and action buttons if they apply.
  • Pick a profile photo that shows your face or business logo and commit!
  • Changing things too often, especially your name or username will penalize your profile as you’ll come off as unsure of yourself.

Depending on your business, this will change slightly but what I did was try to stay within a 9-post sequence.

For many artists though, we think that as long as we showcase our artwork, the sales will come. The art is good, right? So, why wouldn’t someone buy it? Well, trying to ‘convince’ someone to pay you in exchange for something, especially if that something is online is really difficult. The decision to buy something such as art, which is in almost all cases discretionary, without physically being able to touch or see that item takes much more than a pretty photo. This is where your brand message comes in.

Here is my formula for diversity and flow of images. Because Instagram prefers reels to static posts, this strategy applies to the reel cover that will display in your feed. Though, I know a few artists that don’t create reels and have very successful feeds using just static photos.

For every 9 photos I post (using 9 as it’s a clear standard visual grouping of photos on Instagram):

1 to 2 Photos of myself

This is either a headshot or a studio shot that gives followers an idea of who is behind the product.

2 to 3 Product Highlight Images

These are top view, overall shots of products.

2 to 3 Detail Images

These showcase quality, craftsmanship, texture, feel. These images further deepen the visual message.

1 to 2 Progress Images

This could be materials you’re using using, your studio, setup, framing, packaging, labeling, finishing pieces. All good! They’re meant to build trust, authenticity, quality and professionalism.

1 to 2 Informational Images

These could be lists, blog posts, quotes, promotional info. I like to think of these as tips, freebies, verbal cues of an idea – something that might help your listener, give guidance or explain an idea you’re working on.

1 to 2 Lifestyle Images

An image that depicts how your product will fit into someone’s life and home. For most artists, this is framed piece in a living room or space in a home capturing feel and lifestyle. How is your product going to improve their life?

You may add or remove one or two to customize it to your business, but you get the general idea!

The minute you post with the only hope being to gain a follower, you’ve lost. The most successful posts I’ve had have been those that provide immense value to my followers. They’re full of information, resources, tips, honest facts and content that helps someone make a decision, solve a problem, learn something new, etc… That doesn’t mean they have to take you days and days to design, but they should be unique, clear, attractive, relatable and honest.

This is easier said that done. You’ve got 25 other things to do in that one day and posting is just one of those things you just have to do. You’ll have the urge to just post anything for the sake of posting but I find nothing fails harder than those rushed posts.

How I Reached 10k Instagram Followers As An Artist

The best way to avoid doing this is to have a clear weekly posting schedule. Stay a few days or weeks ahead of what you’ll be posting so that you know what each day’s post will be and you’re not scrambling each day to figure out what to post.

Another little tip as an artist; when you’re creating, set up a camera or your phone and record yourself painting or drawing and have that content saved so that you can go back and build your post sequence with material you already have.

What you’re after ultimately is a following of fans that genuinely love your work, want to know about what you’re up to, support your business and engage with your content.

So doesn’t it make sense that you’d do the same?

I never spent hours liking every post and followers others with the hopes that they’ll follow me back. Instead I started slowly, picked who I wanted to see on my feed everyday and was willing to like, comment and reshare their work.

This way, I built a feed that I was excited to see everyday and that inspired me. I wasn’t there to compete, steal sales or followers but instead, to support and encourage other artists so that the right customer finds the right piece of work. That’s how I’ve always seen it and I still fully believe that to be the best and right way.

There will be artists that you’ll want to be like, paint like, post like… You’ll compare yourself to them, their work and their following. But what that will lead to will be a false sense of accomplishment and your imposter syndrome will go through the roof!

And then you’ll be in a place where you’ll question what you’re doing, if it’s good enough and why you’re trying to compete with others. It happened to me. I do not recommend it!

Instead, support other artists, reshare work you love, and credit artists who inspire you. Your community will thank you!

A fellow artist friend told me about art challenges back in the early days. You can find them by searching tags like “artchallenge” or “(yourartmedium)challenge” to find various different art forms and find those that apply to you. There are also great profiles that are always hosting new challenges, and as your community builds those profiles will start showing up in your feed.

Your work will start to get noticed as a lot of these host profiles will reshare all the work that participates in the challenge.

It takes time, folks! If you’re building a following that is genuinely interested in your work, it takes time. And hard, hard work. Posting daily, engaging with others, responding to comments, updating your links to build traffic to your site.

Find the best time to post and stick to it!

To do this, go to your analytics. You have to have a business account to have access to your insights. Within your insights, you’ll click on total followers and scroll to most active times. There you’ll see when the best time and day to post is for your followers.

I created a little schedule for myself. Before I began to work, I dedicated 30 min in the morning to build my post, caption and hashtag strategy. I’d find the best time to post and post then.

Then in the afternoon I would dedicate another 30 min to respond to comments, provide links for people and engage with anyone who engaged with my post. Towards the end of my work day, I would hop on again for another 30 min and browse the platform, like and comment on things I liked, wanted to reshare and support my community of artists. This took me to about 1.5 hours per day on the platform which for me was a healthy amount without getting “sucked in”,

Staying on a schedule also kept me from spiraling and wasting time on things that I didn’t find valuable or that weren’t good for my mental health.

Why Obsessing over your Follower Growth won’t help you

We’ve gone over the exact way that I grew to 10,000 in a year, but now, I’m going to tell you why obsessing over it won’t help you.

When I reached 10,000 I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I had done it! I had reached this milestone that I had worked so hard for. I thought if I reached 10,000 my business would take off and the next 10,000 would be much easier.

What actually happened was much different. At the same time that I had reached 10,000 I began to take more commission work and a few artists reached out to me to help them start their business. My focus shifted as I became really busy with these new aspects in my business. I began to focus on my website and building a mailing list and Instagram became just one of many components to my business. I just naturally stopped obsessing over gaining followers because the ones I had were keeping me plenty busy.

This is to say that the number of followers you have doesn’t matter as much as the quality of followers. I’m grateful for each one that I have, and I don’t worry so much if my account stays at 10,000 or grows to 100,000…

My business model is diverse enough that I don’t only rely on my followers to make an income. I love engaging with them and sharing content and getting feedback that helps me stay motivated and current, but its not the only factor when you’re a small business owner. At least not in my case!

If you want ALL OF THIS and much more with my 9 steps to start your creative business from home TODAY, download the free guide below. You’ll have all the tips to get your business running!

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Looking for more resources?

If you’re curious to learn more about how to adapt a business mindset and think like an entrepreneur, and how to turn your hobby into a sustainable business from home, this guide will take you through all the steps – including modules on defining your goals, more on how to deal with imposter syndrome, mindset, goal setting, business planning, equipment branding, finding your customer, photographing your work, resources, building your website, balancing what you love with what sells, learning links, and much more!

You can also read about how to start an art business here and how to balance what you love with what sells and to help you get started if you’re an artist looking to start an online business! So many helpful resources that will without a doubt answer the questions floating around your head.

If you’re new here, I’m Donata Delano. I am the creative owner and artist behind Donata Delano Art. I started The Good Canvas in an effort to build an art community focused on art, creativity and business. Aside from art related tutorials, tips and information occasionally, I also post recipes, crafts and out adventures living abroad in Mexico.

Also, if you’d like to follow along and subscribe to the mailing list to receive more post notifications like this, including special promotions for artwork, collections and freebies, head here and join the list here!

As for my business, as some of you know, I run my art studio out of our home. I have a dedicated room where I paint, package and ship all my artwork to you. If you’re curious about my daily life and how I run my business, I post often about my process, my studio and my work on my instagram here.

You can also follow along on Pinterest, where I pin all things design, decor, crafts style and holiday goodies

Also, if you’d like to follow along and subscribe to the mailing list to receive more post notifications like this, including special promotions for artwork, collections and freebies, head here and join the list below!

Stay Kind,

Donata

BUSINESS RESOURCES AND GUIDES

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