Val Jean writes:  I have a question about hashtags on Instagram. Is it worth tagging all the art feature pages? What are the best hashtags for WIP pics? l am trying to gain a following and realize that WIP shots are for other artists, but how do I get buyers/collectors to see my finished works? How often should I post? I started to gain a following yet soon started losing them one or two a day and realized I was probably posting too often with not enough work done on my WIP to show the difference in each session, making it feel more like spamming. Any help would be appreciated.

I used to tag the feature pages, and it didn’t seem to make a difference as to whether or not they featured me. I think every single time I’ve been featured, they found me through my use of #art or #coloredpencil or #painting. Something not related to their page. I don’t think it’s a waste to tag them though, because anytime anyone else looks up that tag, your work gets seen by those artists. Of course, that means it’s generally just other artists seeing your posts, but that’s not really a bad thing.

As for work in progress posts, I’ve never worried about posting those or tagging them differently than my completed work. You can use #workinprogress but it looks like that is more for fitness than art, although it is used by both. I’m not sure it will do much to gain followers, but it’s not going to hurt you to use it either. Don’t feel like your work in progress photos will be the thing that turns buyers away. It’s generally the exact opposite. Let them get excited about the work you’re creating! I’ve sold many pieces before they were even finished just from people seeing the WIP posts on social media. Having a link in your instagram profile to your website is the best way to send people to where they can actually buy from you. That is where all of your completed work can be seen in one place.

The frequency of your posts will definitely impact your followers. Instagram recently changed their algorithm to start going the way of facebook unfortunately. Not all of your posts will be seen by all of your followers anymore. Last I checked we weren’t sure how exactly this would work, but with Facebook I know if I post more than once a day, each additional post will be shown to less and less people. Given the spam nonstop posting a friend of mine did last night (about 20 photos one right after another), I can say that isn’t exactly how this is working now, but we don’t know at this point how each post will affect how many times it’s seen. I would say 2-3 posts per day is safe…but not all at once like my friend did last night. I actually almost unfollowed him until it clicked who he was and that I know him in person so. If I nearly unfollowed that friend to make it stop, it’s a good lesson in what no one should do!  Give it several hours between posts. If the last post from a couple of hours ago looks nearly like the one you’re considering posting right now…I probably wouldn’t post it. Wait until the next day when you have more to show, or make a short video of you working on the piece so that it’s different.

The best way to get an idea of how much is too much, how many hashtags should you use etc is to follow a lot of other artists. Over time, which ones start getting on your nerves? Make a list of what they are doing (posting non stop? Too many selfies?) and don’t do those things yourself. On the other hand, which artists are you really glad to follow? How often do they post? What types of hashtags do they use? Use others as a guideline of what you enjoy and don’t enjoy then build your own page from there. Chances are if you like or dislike what someone is doing, others would feel the same about you doing that very thing!