5 Things to Keep in Mind
1. Have a reason why.
This goes beyond just “I want thousands of followers.” What do you value the most? What kind of message do you have that helped you has utility to others? There are things you will post that you posted at a bad time and it doesn’t get many likes.
For me, there’s two reasons why I’m doing this: 1) I want to create the most beautiful art I can and share it with the world. 2) This has the potential to help me develop professional and social skills that will be useful throughout my life. Becoming more popular should be secondary. Probably even tertiary.
Heck, the primary thing you should be doing is developing your art philosophy (I am currently not writing it down like I told myself I would). Why is art important to you? Why should others care about the kind of art you’re making? Once you have this written, and cemented down, it will be easy to continue making quality work that you love even if you don’t feel like it, and, thirdly, put it on Instagram and share your vision with your future followers.
2. Stay Consistent!
Post at least a couple times a week. If you don’t post for long periods at a time, you will lose your audience. Try to keep a consistent theme too. The most popular art Instagram accounts have one subject, one style, or something that makes them consistent so that the people who want to follow them always know what to expect. This is also a good motivator to keep yourself working on the best quality art you can.
This rule is a little disheartening to me because I like doing everything. Surrealism, still lifes, landscapes, fantasy, you name it. Even if my Instagram account will only focus on portraits, that doesn’t mean I can’t do the other genres too though. Allow your process to change gradually, rather than letting creative ADD take over and focus on portraits today, abstract tomorrow, and comic book art on Monday.
So, it does feel like selling out to focus on one thing, but I think my art has really suffered from my lack of focus. Instead of focusing on one thing I really really love, I let myself listen to what others in the art world thought too much and tried to make art based on that, then fall into chaos when it didn’t work.
3. Think of it as a long game
You might get lucky and get thousands of followers over night. You might get struck my lightening too. Don’t be discouraged if you post something and it doesn’t get many likes right away. It’s important to be patient and makes sure this takes time. We all live in a time where we want everything now and want instant gratification, but that doesn’t apply to Instagram. Even though it’s in the name. Instagram.
I’m particularly inspired by Simon Sinek’s speech here:
Every source I’ve researched from, and I’ve experienced this personally, says you need to reach out to other users, comment on their work, and try to make connections, then you will start to see your number of followers go up. If you have five more followers by the end of the week, that is still five more followers than what you had last week, which brings me to my fifth and final point:
4. Don’t compare yourself to others, instead compare yourself to what you were yesterday.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t compare yourself to others.” This phrase really never helped me, because there’s always artists better than me that I want to reach towards my own work reaching a higher quality. Also, we’re human beings. We’re competitive. We can’t help comparing ourselves to others. We want to beat our competition, and we get depressed when we find we can’t.
Until I read the book, “Twelve Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson. It’s way too easy to see somebody succeed (especially if their art is not as good as ours), get discouraged and quit. By adding that second part, “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday” it adds an entirely new dynamic. It may impossible to compete with strangers online, but who can you compete with? Yourself. By keeping this in mind, I found myself excited when I hit 85 subscribers in just a few days after being stuck on 68 for months. Sure, it’s still a minuscule account, but it’s better than how it was before! As long as I work hard, It can only go up from here! Actually, if you just watched the Simon Sinek video. He said this exact same thing too!
I’ve even heard that after you reach 500 subscribers, the number skyrockets exponentially, so that’s something to look forward to.
5. But for goodness sake! Keep focusing on art!
Unfortunately, the deadly side effect of the addictive quality of Instagram is that it’s, well, addictive! The past couple weeks, there were many times I should have been drawing, practicing art, or working on completing a painting, or even applying for a different full time job, but all I wanted to do was check if I had more followers, likes, etc. Even now, there’s an old master copy in my studio I’ve been meaning to complete, but instead I’m writing a whole blog about Instagram while I still have less than 100 followers and therefore, have no right to give any advice on the matter.
Like I said though, I’m mostly writing this blog post for me to read once a month or so.