Let me ask you something… if you posted pictures of your work to Instagram or Facebook every day, but never, ever got a like, a nice comment, or a message in return, would you keep on posting? You might not want to, and I get that. You’re not alone in feeling that way.
But here’s the thing: if you’re serious about building a sustainable art business (and I think you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be here) then it’s important to build a quality, engaged audience.
It doesn’t matter if you get positive responses or not. If you only post to get comforting, reassuring responses, then you’re not really growing your business. You’re really just posting to feed your ego!
But feeding your ego doesn’t put food in your belly. Nice responses can’t be traded for heat and water, clothes, or new art supplies!
A quality, engaged audience is made up of people who really want to see your artwork, interact with your posts, and most importantly: buy from you.
Even if your goal is to show and sell your work through art galleries, you still need to work on this aspect of your marketing. Galleries love it when they can see that people react positively to your work and there’s already an interested market.
Unfortunately, far too many artists post and post, but get no reactions and become discouraged. They give up... and that’s a huge mistake.
So let’s talk about ways to increase your audience numbers and get them to interact with you.
How to grow your audience organically
Organic – meaning unpaid – growth doesn’t cost money upfront, but it does mean you need to invest quite a bit of your time. To be successful, you need to consistently post quality content and encourage follower engagement.
Engagement drives your audience growth. If the algorithms see people responding and commenting – good or bad! – then your content is shown to other people.That’s just how social media works.
Think about what kind of content resonates with your ideal audience. Maybe that’s showing off your final pieces, your artistic process, or inspiration you find during the day. There are also plenty of options for the type of content you post… pictures, video, podcasts… you name it!
Consider creating a content posting schedule.
Avoid the feast-or-famine approach where you are silent for months and then suddenly post 8 updates in a row.
First of all, people get annoyed when their feeds are suddenly filled one person’s posts. Second, you run the risk of losing their interest by the time you get around to posting again. Posting good content consistently – whether that’s once a week or once a month – lets your audience know what to expect.
The next challenge is getting eyes on your content – and strategies differ for each platform.
For example, you might use relevant hashtags on Instagram or Twitter, but keywords on Pinterest. It’s important to make (and tweak!) your strategy so you aren’t posting for no reason.
Don’t just assume people will come to you though – you need to go out and meet them! Try following hashtags on Instagram that are relevant to your work, and then comment on other people’s posts. Join Facebook groups of people who match your target audience. Join conversations with something interesting to say. By connecting with others, you’ll create a community of people who want to follow you.
Finally, consider how to motivate interaction with your own posts.
The more engaged your audience is, the greater your reach becomes, and your numbers start building on themselves.
There’s plenty of ideas out there – ask questions about their likes and dislikes, for opinions about photos (black and white or color!), make them laugh… the ultimate goal is to give them a reason to comment or share! Use clear calls to action to let your fans know what you want them to do. And don’t forget to respond to comments people leave for you!
Organic growth is often slow, but hard work will make this method pay off.
I have two more strategies I want to talk about, but I didn’t want this post to get too long. In my next post, I’m talking about paying to increase your reach, and how to make the most of this approach.
What is one thing you could implement today to organically grow your audience? Let me know in the comments!
Want to grow your creative business + career but feel stuck and overwhelmed? Then I've got exactly what you need! Download your free "5 Steps to Growing Your Art Business + Career Blueprint" and get the simple yet effective approach I teach my clients who want to build personally fulfilling and financially successful businesses with marketing, PR, and sales strategies that work. Or, connect with over 18,000 other artist entrepreneurs at The Artist Entrepreneur Network and find the support + community you need!