This concept is so simple, yet most of us miss it. Myself included until more recently. Stop and ask yourself what makes you follow another artist on any given social media platform. Is their work just phenomenal? Are you drawn to the artist’s personality? Do they entertain you? Do they provide tips that you can use in your own art? Do they have giveaways that you want to be involved in? More often than not, it’s a combination of these things. When I started off with social media I completely missed the importance of understanding what makes someone want to click that like or follow button. I thought I could post a new painting every other month and the crowds would flock to me. I had a hard time reaching over 200 fans on facebook…even though my personal account had about 700 friends at the time. I couldn’t even get my own sister to follow me (although, in reality one of my sisters still doesn’t follow me /sigh). What I was posting was not enough to grab the attention of most people. Sure my work has improved over the years, but that isn’t the main factor that has my facebook page near 10,000 now. I no longer only post photos of my own work. That wasn’t enough (not to mention a post every other month is not acceptable in the social media world). So what exactly did I change?

#1 – I started posting several times a week. I posted work in progress photos and in general just started painting and drawing a lot more. On a side note if you expect to make a living as an artist and only produce one painting every few months, it’s not likely to happen. You need to plan on working your butt off to make it as an artist!

#2 – I started doing giveaways where I would paint or draw other people’s pets. Given I was focused on being a pet portrait artist at the time, this was pretty huge. Because people would share my page with other pet owners, I started getting more followers AND more commissions to paint people’s pets. I was honestly hesitant to start doing this for years because I was so broke at the time. The idea of paying shipping for something I did not make money on seemed like a bad idea, but it got me SO much more business in return that it was totally worth it! If you’re planning giveaways, make sure that you’re aware of each platform’s rules. For example, it is a violation of facebooks Terms of Service to ask people to share a post or like your page in order to enter your contest. These rules change all the time too, so double check before each giveaway!

#3 – I started doing youtube tutorials where I offered art tips to other artists. This was the biggest change in my social media growth. I was/am providing free content to help other people. My social media posts aren’t all about me and my art anymore. If you don’t want to teach, what about sharing posts from other artists. It’s not hard to find great blogs with art tips.

#4 – Re-tweeting. This is HUGE when you’re on twitter. Don’t just post about yourself and call it a day. Follow some other artists and retweet their content. Did you find a great blog post about color theory? Share it!

#5 – Don’t overdo the sales pitches. Social media is all about networking with people. Sure there is absolutely a time to make a sale, but if you’re 100% sales all the time, you will not likely grow your audience. Instead, let people get to know you. Answer questions, talk to them. Jump in on other conversations on twitter too! Hashtags are a great way to find conversations that you want to get involved in. Do a search for #AcrylicPainting or whatever it is that you’re interested in and talk to people. I’ve met so many people this way. Sometimes brands who want to work with me, sometimes other artists that I end up collaborating with,  sometimes people who end up buying my work, and sometimes just other artists who are both talented and all around awesome people to know.

The big change in growing your social media platform is to rethink why you’re using it. It can’t be all about you, all the time.  Ask yourself “what can I do to serve or assist those I want to follow me?”