8 Instagram Tips for Artists Who Want to Grow Their Following

Image via  @el.garrobo

Image via @el.garrobo


From my first google of “why does my engagement suck” and the ensuing rabbit hole, to the beginnings of a huge learning curve on how to grow my following. 

I’ve been stuck on 3,000 followers for the best part of the year. It seems that almost the same amount of people follow and unfollow me every week, leaving me on the same number for a long time. I’m still trying to figure it out. 

Instagram is a very powerful marketing platform and as artists I would like us to be making the most of it. 
I want to have a thriving Instagram community, I want my posts to be seen. I want to make an impact! So I’ve been researching my ass off and here’s what I’ve learned so far.


1. Taking photos on a camera (as opposed to your phone)
I learned this one off World of Wanderlust - a friend from my hometown, and successful travel blogger.

I live in quite a low-light environment - my bus has small tinted windows which means its pretty dark in here most of the time. Using my 10 year old SLR to take photos allows for much more definition and better editing. Sometimes I try to sneak in an iPhone photo but then I take one on my camera and it looks 100 times better. 

Regardless of your environment, quality photos from a camera are really important for Instagram growth.


2. Lightroom editing there’s a heap of tutorials on youtube on how best to edit your photos for instagram. I have loved the tips off LifeWithFraser

Establish a theme and stick to it - through taking and editing photos I have found myself a theme, I don't know if it's something you can really choose, for me it has been something that just emerged. I began using what I learned off the LifeWithFraser videos and have now tweaked my editing style to something that suits me more. 


3. Having a cohesive feed
I have just realised this… If someone follows you then they are expecting you to post the same stuff. That’s not to say don’t grow, but quick changes are probably going to confuse your audience.

For me this looks like planning my feed. There are many apps you can use, but I have just started using Lightroom quick collections (also learned from the LifeWithFraser vids) to organise my feed, and I’m not sure what I was doing without it! Hoping for the best really. I have swapped my “real-time” posts to my insta-story and have started planning my feed by colour and theme. I email them to myself periodically and then post them throughout the day. If I have something that I want to share earlier then I slot it into my feed plan and move them around till it visually "works" 

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 8.41.35 pm.png


4. Consistent posting
Planning my feed allows me to post these images whenever I want. I've been creating content (aka taking 100s of photos from every angle whenever I paint or drive anywhere exciting) for a few months now, so I have a lot of photos I could use.  
I like the idea of the three times a day rule, one when I wake up, one at lunch and one from 5-8pm. This catches people from all over the world. If I'm working and don't have time to edit content to post then I will post minimum 1 a day.

Research the best times to post in your country, or if you have a business profile check your analytics to see when your people are online. 


5. Using the right hashtags
I’ve been researching the best hashtags to use and saving them in my notes folder. Hashtags with smallish, engaged and supportive followings are best. For example, your work is going to get buried if you use #artist… but #australianartist or #visionaryartist will get you more views in the right direction - I also read that #beautifulbizarre magazine looks through #australianartist to find new work to feature to their huge audience.

I’ve been spending large chunks of time staring into the instagram rabbit hole. Looking at my favourite artists, things I’m interested in. (at the moment its moroccan carpets), and lifestyle feeds (#vanlife, for example) and going into the page each hashtag to see if it looks like “me”. I've copied them into a notes file and use some of them in each relevant post.

6. Making the most of your Bio
I had a blank bio for quite some time after receiving the advice to "make work and let your audience define you" in regard to making art in general. But I've realised since trawling the web that I need to be telling potential followers what I'm about. 
Right now my bio says:

   BUS DWELLER ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
            🔮 🎨 🚎 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀
ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛʟʏ ɪɴ ᴛᴀsᴍᴀɴɪᴀ

I realised that my feed could look quite confusing to someone who doesn't know what I'm about. Random photos of a bus, some mystical magic shots and then photos art. It could potentially be confusing. Telling people what I'm about in my bio means that they know what to expect from me. 

A post shared by Stephanie Rose Freeman (@stephanie.rose.freeman.art) on


7. Posting videos and time lapses - I’ve had a couple of posts go viral, both were videos.

People fucking love watching satisfying videos online, and time lapses where a lot happens are the ones that seem to get the most engagement for me. Varnish porn videos where the piece changes within a few seconds, time lapses of big changes within a work (as opposed to minor details that cant be seen as much) and satisfying things like mixing paint colours, fluid art and watercolour movement.

Visual satisfaction is a huge sensation online right now - best make the most of it!

A few more examples of satisfying posts:

Cutting In Line 🌈✂️

A post shared by Adam Hillman 🌈 (@witenry) on


8. Post more of what your audience likes

Admittedly I don’t do this… yet…. but i have been looking into some analytics apps to see what my top posts are. They are almost always finished photos of my art, timelapses, videos or pics of my bus. I dont get as much engagement on random photos of my paintbrushes - but I like posting them… so I'm going to keep threading them in and see what happens… haha

Some Instagram post ideas for artists:
If I have one photo of the WIP, one photo of the palette, and one photo of the work on the easel with my bus in the background, there’s three photos of the same colour scheme which will look good together on my feed. Some more ideas - Pics during making, pics of the magical mess you've created, pics of your setup, studio, materials, palette, sketchbook etc etc etc.



NOTE: I cant guarantee this will work, I haven’t tried it yet, I’m just implementing it now…. But I might as well share it as I go so we can all rise together! 
 3,063 followers at time of writing. I'll check in in a few months and tell you if it worked or not 😉



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