How can I get my art noticed online?


“I’ve been struggling to actually get exposure for my artwork. Although I post my pieces on Instagram, I only ever get a handful of likes – it seems like most of my followers are inactive or rarely engage. I try to comment on other artists' work, but it doesn’t help. I know I shouldn’t care so much about my online presence, but I feel like it’s important as an artist. I just don’t know what to do to get noticed and sell my work online.”

I read this comment recently, and it struck me that this is a familiar story for a lot of us as online creatives – particularly small artists and makers who don’t have much in the way of support or resources for their marketing. So I wanted to address this particular question in the hope that it will help other creatives and artists.

I’ll share a few ideas later, but the first thing that came to mind when I read this comment is that the artist seems to:

a)      Only be present on Instagram

b)     Be focused on following other artists and trying to get them to engage

My advice to anyone marketing themselves online is never to put all of your eggs in one basket. While it’s great to not spread yourself too thinly, focusing on just one platform is never going to get you very much exposure.

This artist’s second point is that they’re only engaging with other artists. The problem there is that other artists are not interested in buying from you. Even if they are kind enough to share your work with their audience (some of them will), it doesn’t necessarily follow that their audience will be interested in what you do – they may have another reason for following that artist.

So let’s delve into those points a bit more first.

Getting noticed on social media

Social media can be hard to navigate for the most savvy of us. It’s an ever-evolving beast that is always changing. Saying that though, there are a few things that are useful to remember – and might surprise you.

Here’s what happens when you post something on Instagram:

1.      The platform chooses who should see your post. Yep – not everybody on your follower list gets to see it. It’s estimated that only between 2-7% of your followers will see it at all – and that’s assuming they’re online within a specific time window, because…

2.      On average, a post on Instagram is only near enough to the top of the feed for 48 hours. After that, it’s buried underneath all the other new content that’s been posted, and people don’t generally scroll down far enough to see it.

To put this into perspective, let’s say you have 1000 people who follow you. The thing that you post will appear on, at best, 70 people’s feeds. But if half of those people (let’s be generous!) only ‘pop in’ to Instagram on a Wednesday evening, and you’ve posted on a Monday morning…you’ve already lost 35 people, because they’ll never see the post at all.

Those odds don’t look so great, do they?

On top of that, if like this artist the majority of your followers are other artists, your audience shrinks even further.

So what can you do to improve your odds?

Curate your list

Your social media marketing is only as good as the people who are on it. You could have 20,000 people following you, but if they’re not the right audience, then they are worth nothing.

Instead of just collecting people, focus on quality over quantity. It’s fine to have some other creatives on your list, but think carefully about the type of person who is likely to be interested in your art. Look at the type of people who might buy from you, but also think about galleries, publications, book publishers, web designers, government organisations, schools and colleges… anybody who could potentially be looking at buying artwork from someone like you.

Something that I always think is useful is to poke around the socials of similar artists that you admire, and perhaps appear to be a step ahead of where you are. What are they doing? What do they post, and how often? What other platforms are they on? Who are they following, and who is following them? Could you engage with some people on their list?

The thing to remember is that it’s much better to have 100 people who want to build a relationship with you than 20,000 who don’t.

Repeat yourself often

Remember when I said that only a tiny proportion of your audience gets to see your post? If you want more people to see it, post it again!

Yes, shock horror, you are allowed – and you absolutely should – repost your content! Obviously, it might get annoying if you post the exact same thing twice a day, every day, but there’s nothing wrong with having a few selected pieces of artwork and posting about them on rotation every few days or so.

Mix it up by writing about the process you went through to create the piece, the ideas behind it, the process and materials used, asking people’s opinions on it, and promoting it as a sales piece.

And if someone is kind enough to engage with a like or a comment – make sure you respond! By starting conversations, you’re building those all-important relationships, and increasing your reach so that more people see your content.

Have a super clear bio

Perhaps I should have put this one at the top. Writing a really great, clear bio is so, so vital to your social media success. Make sure that you have a title that lets people know without a shadow of a doubt what type of artist you are. Please don’t just put ‘artist’. Instead, how about:

·        Watercolour wildlife artist

·        Portrait artist, capturing your image with oil on canvas

·        Children’s book illustrator

·        Digital artist specialising in abstract designs

·        3D artist and animation consultant

Get the idea? Good!

When you’re writing your extended bio, be personable. Give as much detail as you can about what you do, who you are, and who you want to talk to. And make sure you include a link to your website or portfolio.

Spread the load

While Instagram might seem like the perfect place to share art, not all of your potential buyers use it, so think about which other platforms and online outlets you can utilise.

This doesn’t mean that you have to create 3 or 4 different lots of content – you can simply post the same content over a few different platforms – with a few tweaks to suit each of them. As a bonus tip, if you use a scheduling tool such as Buffer, you can just create a piece of content once and automatically have it shared across other social media platforms, like Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.

Social media isn’t the be-all-end-all, so look at other places online where you can share what you do. There are lots of online communities that you could get involved in, such as Reddit and Quora, as well as groups through Facebook and LinkedIn.

Getting attention online isn’t always easy – but it is worth the effort. I hope that this article has helped to inspire you – let me know if any of it resonates, and what works for you.

If you’d like to meet me (via Zoom) to talk about how you can promote your art using online content, drop me a message and I’ll send you my calendar link.