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018: USING INSTAGRAM STORIES TO PROMOTE AND SELL ART

 

 PODCAST EPISODE 018

 

 

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"Great stories happen to those who can tell them." --Ira Glas

 

As long as I can remember I loved stories. As a child my parents always read to us before going to bed. These magical moments transported me to another world. I could be the princess, the talking dog or even the villain, stealing my brother's sweets.

In stories anything is possible. Stories are entertaining powerful tools that connect. Connect us with our past, or help us reflect on the present and show us what is possible in the future.  

Stories are flight simulators of life where we can practice life lessons without getting injured.



Yes, and that is me on the right...loving every story moment!

Stories are the reason I make my art, record my podcasts and travel the world. Stories teach me, inspire me and connect me to you.

Whether I was living among the Hopi's in New Mexico or visiting a South African township it is the stories they told me that remain so vivid in my heart and mind.

Artists are storytellers

Our art is inadvertently connected with who we are, what we have been through and our hopes and dreams for the future. It is our stories that make us authentic and transport us to greater expressions.

 For years I worked on human interest stories for national television in The Netherlands.  First as researcher and later as producer and director of docu-drama's.

What was I doing? Telling stories through images, emotions and words. Every time a new docu-drama aired I eagerly awaited for the responses, the 'new' stories that the programma's evoked as viewers watched on television.

Stories and storytelling is a powerful tool

"Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today." --Robert McKee

In our fast-paced modern world it is rare to actually sit around a fire and share stories like the bushmen ...or sadly that even sitting around a dinner table telling stories is becoming a rare occasion. 



With all that noise out there it is our story that will keep us authentic and will help us as artists to stay connected, allowing our art audiences to identify and relate to us.

Only you can tell your story. Only you can make your art.

The power of stories is still very relevant today and we are no longer limited to firesides and dinner tables.  

Social media has introduced us to amazing channels and platforms in which we can share our artist stories. You may be thinking no, not another blog about social media!!! Bear with me.

 One of these powerful communication channels is Instagram and in particular Instagram Stories.

Have you been using these tools to tell your story? Insta stories (as pronounced by the millennials) is a great way to connect with your art audience and to promote and sell your art.

Here is why you should be using the powerful tools and it would be a waste if you were to ignore it.

Did you know that :

  • 500 million users now use Instagram Stories every day,
  • That instagram is the second largest platform after Facebook,
  • User of this app spend an average of 53 minutes connecting through Insta per day
  • The possibilities on Instagram are just in it's beginning phased is going nowhere in the near future,
  • That is it free. It will only cost you time and implementing a deliberate strategy. 
  • Is not only for artists under 25, it is for everybody.

Yes you read that right, Instagram is for everybody.

If you can follow a recipe to bake a cake then you can use instagram.

The question is not if you can use Instagram but more do you want to use Instagram.

Like so many things in life it is how you think about things that will determine your steps. If you decide you are going to embrace this platform you are going to see the results.

 

What is instagram?

Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app available on Apple iOS, Android and Windows Phone. People can upload photos or videos to our service and share them with their followers or with a select group of friends. They can also view, comment and like posts shared by their friends on Instagram. Anyone 13 and older can create an account by registering an email address and selecting a username.

There are three locations you can share your content:

  1. Instagram Feed - visible a long as you want
  2. Instagram Stories - visible for 24 hours
  3. Instagram Television, also known as IGTV - here you can share video's between 60 seconds and 60 minutes

In this blog and podcast I want to focus on Instagram Stories.

 

 What are Instagram stories?

Instagram Stories is an incredibly powerful sharing tool that you can use within the Instagram app. To share your content, promote your art, announce art events or start a conversation with your art audience.

An Insta Stories is a great way to communicate snippets of what you do, start conversations, articulate what you want to say,  to promote not only your own work but also giving a shout out to other artists and friends.

You can use photo stills and videos that are just 15 seconds long and the great thing is that they disappear after 24 hours. You can add them to your highlight roll or save them for later. This takes all the pressure off. Especially those perfectionists out there. Instagram stories need to be authentic, real and relatable. 

 And if you are not familiar with video it is a great way to get comfortable in front of the camera but using the Instagram Stories Live option.

Even though you can view the instagram feed and stories on your computer you can only upload your images, stickers and texts from your mobile device. So a smartphone mobile device is a must if you want to actively start using this tool.

The best is to use vertical photography and videos. This takes some getting used to as we are so used to horizontal orientation. But with a little practice you will discover that vertical images and video's have their advantages too. 

 Free Resource with Instagram Worksheet

There are many resources online that you can watch or download to help you get a better grasp on how to use Instagram Stories. I have created a free worksheet for you to download. This resource gives you a quick, step-by-step framework to get you started. It is easy to follow, just like that recipe when baking a cake.

 

Click the button above to access this resource. This resource will also help you decide what you are going to share in your stories and what content you can add to the images.

 

Here are 6 DON'TS when it comes to sharing and promoting your art  with Instagram stories.

  1. Don’t compare

When you first start out scrolling through the Instagram feed and stories it can be rather overwhelming. There are so many people doing such amazing things and this can leave you feeling that what you have to share is not relevant or important.

But decide upfront that you are not going to compare. It will take time to find your own Instagram voice and your unique way of sharing your story. It is a lot like the steps to follow than finding your artistic voice.

In the beginning you will try things, discover things, move from one style to another. You are in the exploratory phase . And that is fine. Of course you can learn from other. Take notes of what you like and how you could use what you see in your own stories. But do not make a value judgement of yourself by what you see.

 

  1. Be your beautiful self

You may think that you don't have anything to say and that nobody is waiting to see what you had for breakfast. This is also not the intention of Instagram Stories. You need to adopt a storytelling mindset. Think of images, captions or video (remember they are 15 seconds snippets) that share your story.

For example you can try a day in the life of... (at the end of the resource I mention 10 unique ways artists can use Instagram Stories to promote their art or art event).

Using this social media app does not mean you have to share everything about yourself. Find a balance between what makes you, you and sharing something personal. 

 

  1. Don't waste your time with meaningless scrolling

If you are active on social media you will be all too familiar to the traps of endless, mindless scrolling. Remember those mobile phones and app's have been cleverly designed to attract and distract you. It takes discipline and making conscious decisions.

In order to use the Instagram Stories app successfully you need to use it with intention.

What is your goal? What is your reason to use it?

Decide who your audience is and then set clear objectives and stick to it, consistently. Once you know who your art audience is, you can actively pursue them. When they do find you offer them something of value.

Decide what your objective is?

Is it to promote and sell your art ? Then make this your focus. This takes strategic thinking and planning as to how to do this.

Ask yourself these questions:

  •  Define who you are as an artist and how you are going to communicate this through colour, words, captions, style?
  • Who is your ideal art audience? Where do they hang out online? What profiles do they follow? What content are they consuming. It is your job to actively find them and bring them back to your content. 
  • What content will help you connect with your potential art customer? Do they like quizzes, polls, images, quotes, insights, tours etc. What possibilities with the stories app will speak to them most of all?

Once you have answers to these questions  (this will take time and some investigation) then you can edit your profile, use of photo's, filters and cations to connect with your audience.

 

' When you try and reach everybody, you will end up reaching nobody.'

 

  1. It is not about perfection. but about connecting

Contrary to what many people think Instagram Stories is a platform that you don't need to be perfect. It is not about perfectly curated photo's images and posts. It is about being you, finding your voice and sharing this in the best possible way.

People connect on social media because they want to connect with real people. Why are your mom, sister or friends on social media. It is not because they want to see absolute perfection.

They want to laugh with you, share moments with you and see life the way it really is. This is also true for your followers. They want to be able to relate to you. The good, the bad and the beautiful!

 

  1. Don't obsess about the numbers.

Instagram is not about the numbers. Of course it is great to get likes, followers and  friends but this is not what it is about.

It is about engagement and honestly it is a lot easier to understand your audience and converse with them when you don't have a huge following.

All it takes is one. Talk to the audience, ask them questions, get to know who they are and what they like. This is valuable information and also the beauty of this platform. 

This is why I love this platform. I have such great conversations with people I have never met.

My audience loves art and is busy building an art business. I love it when I hear how one single post has helped somebody pick up a brush and finish a painting that's been staring at them for months.

I am over the moon when I get a DM (direct message) about their work and it is touching as artists explain how their painting came to be and what it means to them. These moments are priceless. Trust me, there is an audience waiting to hear from you. But first you need to believe this too. If you are sincere, authentic and open you will become irresistible. This may take some time but keep at it, you will see the results. 

It is not the numbers that matter but the value you bring to those followers you already have. It is about connection, creating content that adds value to the other and that you are willing to create and share.

Instagram stories are about building a bridge and can be powerful conversations starters.

 

  1. Don't be a hit and runner

The biggest mistake I see instagram users do and I am also guilty of this, is using the hit and run method. You feel you need to post something, anything....otherwise you are not hustling or building your art business.

You put together a post, slap on some hashtags, hit post and then shut your computer. You have just left valuable gold on the table. Posting is just the start.

 It is good to be active in the newsfeed, liking, commenting and connecting with your audience before and after you post. Being active will get you more engagement and gives you the opportunity to directly connect with people.

Don't make it just about yourself. You are not only posting to get more eyes on your art. You are there to share and adding value. It is about giving and taking. So don't try and sell a painting in every post. You need to add value before you can nature a buyer and to have Instagram Stories work for you.



 

 

Some definite DO's when it comes to Instagram Stories

  1. Create a consistent visual identity. This is achieved by the captions, the photo’s, the colours you use. Does your visual identity reinforce why they follow you? Do they see your post and know that this is from you?
  2. Become a giver not only a taker. Promote your art not only to sell your art but invite your audience into a conversation with you. If you are a visual artist, tell the story behind the painting or sculpture. What made you make it and why? Add a personal note.
  3. Make sure you caption every post because viewers are turning their sound off more and more.
  4. Add a CTA (call to action)to every story.. Use a quiz, ask a question, make a poll, and spark engagement on DM.
  5. Harness the power of DM’s.  A DM is a direct message. Once people respond to your story you can DM them and thank them or ask them questions. A DM is a powerful added channel in which you can connect with your audience. In a DM you can use a personal - video, audio, custom content,  and quick reply's in order to connect with your audience. 

 

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you are ready to post something.

  • Would you respond to the post you just created?
  • Does it add value to your audience?
  • Is it worth posting?
  • Does your post reflect who you normally are? (If you normally don't say 'Hey babe', then don't use this in your posts)
  • Will your viewers understand what you have posted?
  • Is it inspiring, uplifting, encouraging and cultivate relationships,
  • Does your post invite a conversation? Did you ask questions and invite others into your world.

 

10 Instagram Stories Artists can effectively use:

  1. Art piece of the week
  2. On my easel today
  3. Voting between two pieces or when choosing a frame, colours or title etc
  4. Share your latest news, or info about your upcoming show or workshop,
  5. A material list you use and who your suppliers are,
  6. A quick tour around your studio
  7. Ask questions about their favourite art, artist or medium? Ask why and try and connect it with your story,
  8. A quick video tutorial, (preferably live as this drives more traffic)
  9. Testimonial of the week, (what did a client say about your art)
  10. Inspiring artist quotes.

 

If you want to find out more about how to use Instagram Stories then you can download this free resource. The questions and tasks will help you define your Instagram objectives and start to communicate it with more confidence and clarity.

 

 

Mojo is great app's to help you design beautiful Instagram story posts

 

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form." --Jean Luc Godard

 

 

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