How Any Artist

Can Create and Maintain

A Successful Online Profile

Whether you've been on social media for a while, have your own website, or are just starting out, periodically evaluating your online life is always a good idea. Assuming your presence is public and your goal is to get the word out about your art, consider the social media questions first. Why are you or do you want to be on social media? What are your main reasons? Why do you want to spread the word about your art? Most importantly, what's in it for us-- your potential audience-- and why should we care?

Before we get going, a huge distinction has to be made between public and private. This article is about public social networking profiles, not private lives or personal matters. Private lives are for private pages, not public ones. The focus here is on artists who are on social media specifically to get the word out about their art to the public.

You have to approach this task pretty much like how you would approach any other job, as a responsibility to introduce, talk about, and make an argument for your art, to show that you're dedicated and committed to being an artist by regularly posting new work, and to demonstrate that your art deserves to be included in the overall conversation.

Social media for you or any artist is all about sharing significant aspects of your artistic life with anyone anywhere who might come across your art whether on purpose or by accident, wants to know more, and could potentially be interested in increasing their engagement with you and your work. So in that context, you have to think about how you intend to and interest and involve new people.

What do you want to communicate? What type of interactions or ongoing dialogues are you hoping to have? How does your art fit into the bigger picture? What contributions do you believe that sharing your art and artistic vision will make on other people's lives? The better you're able to understand, think through, quantify, and post about your artistic aspirations and adventures, the more effective your overall impact will be.

Once you have some sense of what direction you want to take (assuming you're not doing this already), focus on establishing a narrative, storyline or consistent progression of happenings and events within your artist life and career. You not only want people to visit your page and check out what you're up to, but to hopefully friend or follow you.

If you can engage them in ways that excite them about what they see, they'll be more inclined to take the most important step of all which is to keep coming back. Why? Because they see value in making you and your art a part of their lives. So first and foremost, consistently post about the path you're on, where you've been, where you are now, and where you're headed. Why this consistency? Because there is nothing more confusing or difficult to follow than social media pages and posts that have no unifying thread or direction, where there is little or no relationship or connection between one post and the next.

If people have trouble understanding where you're coming from, what you're doing, or why you're doing it, they'll go off and follow artists who they can understand. This doesn't mean you can never ever deviate or that you'll be condemned to repeat the same kinds of posts for all eternity. You can change your direction, career path, or content of your postings, page or even your fundamental outlook on life at anytime. Just make clear to your followers, as well as anyone else who may happen to land on your page or pages, why you're making these changes and what your reasoning is for making them. The most engaging social media pages are not only consistent, but also about your ongoing artistic explorations, introspections, insights, and personal growth as an artist.

And now for the bullet points:

* Update regularly in order to show that your art life is active, ongoing, and new things are always happening. One of the most important aspects of an effective online profile is to post what you're up to at least once per week and preferably more. Infrequent or irregular posts don't generally reflect well on your artistic life, give the appearance that you're not that serious about your work, and worse yet, don't offer much in the way of encouragement to keep people coming back for more.

* In combination with regular posting, actively monitor your pages and respond to any comments, requests, emails or messages from friends, followers, and especially people you're not familiar with within reasonable periods of time (no longer than 2-3 days, preferably sooner). People who reach out to you like this are the most important people of all. They're the ones who care the most about your art. Being difficult to reach or having only minimal or infrequent engagement with your fan base is never good.

* Keep your art organized, especially your images. Gallery or image pages should be arranged by category, style, subject matter, or whatever other classification criteria you abide by. Provide brief introductions to your various galleries, series, pages or types of art and make navigating from series to series or gallery to gallery as quick and easy as possible with a minimum of confusion. That way, people can get a visual sense of what your work is about without spending much time trying to make sense out of it. Remember-- in the online world, FAST IS GOOD. Way too many artists dump all their images onto single pages without any organization or explanations whatsoever and end up confusing, or worse yet, losing potential fans.

* Organize your art by hashtags on social media. For example, if you have a series about sunsets, include a hashtag like #sunsets(yourusername) on every one of them. That way, anyone who really likes your sunsets can see the hashtag, click on it, and instantly view all the sunsets you have posted on your page rather than having to scroll through all of your art (which they won't).

* Link to your website from your social media pages whenever possible. That's one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. Your website is where you're the one in total control of your art and how you organize and present it, as opposed to social media or bulk artist gallery pages where people have all kinds of reasons, distractions, incentives, temptations, and opportunities to leave and go somewhere else. There's no better place to make a compelling case for your art than on your website. Social media pages alone is not enough.

* Think about your fans whenever you post your art. Focus on why they should care and what's in it for them to take a closer look. By making sure there's something in it for your fans to read what you post, you not only keep the ones you already have on your page longer, but also attract new ones who like your art as well as what you have to say about it.

* Show that you're actively producing art. One of the greatest advantages of social media is that you can show the world how productive, serious, and dedicated you are to creating new work. People who are attracted to or interested in your art, especially as potential buyers or collectors, tend to follow you for a while, monitor your situation, make sure you're in this for the long haul. Once they're convinced, they'll contact you or otherwise inquire about your work. Decisions about whether to engage with an artist are usually made over periods of time, rarely immediately.

* When you post new art, always include a brief explanation, introduction or description that not only involves viewers and encourages "likes", but better yet, invites "comments" and most importantly, shares or tagging. The more participation you get on your posts, the greater the numbers of people who find out about your art through their friends or fans. And the more people who find out about your art through others who they know and trust, the more friends, fans, and followers you get.

* When you post new art, say something engaging about it-- what it signifies, what it's story is, how you came up with the idea, what it stands for, what you stand for, what's the purpose or point, what you're attempting to communicate, what was happening in your life at the moment, what inspires you, what inspired it. Make it more than just an image of another piece of art. Make it something people want to think about. That's what gallery owners do when people ask about the art on their walls. Exactly that. The story almost always makes the art so much better. Don't leave it up to viewers to guess because most will guess wrong.

* Periodically post about your life as an artist. If there are interesting, unique or unusual aspects to your art or how you make it, talk about and show them, either in still images, closeups, short videos, etc. If your studio or its surroundings are engaging or unusual in some way, show images from time to time. Talk about or post images of things that inspire you or influence your art. In other words, build out the backstory. Related information like this increases and broadens out people's understanding of your art as well as who you are as an artist, and leads to a appreciation and connection to your work.

* Show the entire work of art including the frame or pedestal if it has one when you post. Many artists show only cropped images, and more often than not, that's exactly what viewers assume it looks like. Simply put, cropped images can leave important details out. Cropped images are fine as part of a post in order to call viewers' attention to certain aspects of the art, but make sure at least one image shows the whole piece.

* Show images of your art hanging on walls or otherwise on display in various circumstances. Even though they might include dimensions, most people have no idea how that translates into real life, or in other words, what the art might look like on display in their homes or offices. So help them get there by showing what your work looks like in various settings and interiors, by providing perspectives so people have some sense of your art's size, impact and effect on its immediate surroundings. Doing this brings people one small step closer to imagining how your art would add to their lives.

* Post prices from time to time, but not constantly. You want people to be aware your art is available for sale, and about how much it generally costs. Potential buyers like to know they can afford your work before they contact you about it.

* Don't continually talk money; that's can be distracting and even a turn-off when overdone. Too much money talk or selling can actually make your art harder for people to understand and appreciate.

* Avoid posting new art with little or no accompanying text other than that you made some new art. Repeatedly showing your latest art just to show that you made something new doesn't really do much for viewers. They want more in the way of narrative; they want to be involved, so involve them. Showing too much art with too little context can get boring. The same goes for showing different aspects or progress shots of the same piece art over and over again in consecutive posts. Remember to keep it fresh.

* Show your art hanging or on display at shows, festivals, fairs, fundraisers, commercial interiors, or similar venues and events. This is one more way of demonstrating that you're actively getting your work out in front of the public, and more importantly, that public places think it's good enough to show. Seeing your work on display at physical locations is always good.

* Keep your friends and followers up-to-date about upcoming exhibitions or events you're participating in or where you're showing your art. Whenever possible, include images.

* When possible, show sold art with its new owners, or on display at its new locations. You don't have to name names. Images of the work in its new surroundings is enough.

* Take the randomness out of your posts. Avoid making too many different types of posts on unrelated topics. Consistency is one of the most important aspects of successful social media pages. If visitors can't make sense of how one post relates to the next, why you post what you do, or what the overall point or essence of your page is, they likely won't return.

* Keep the focus of your posts on your art. Too many posts on unrelated topics or subjects that, for whatever reason, happen to interest you at any given moment are generally counterproductive to your cause. If you can't relate it in some way to your art or life as an artist, think twice about posting it. Or if you have followers who are interested in those types of posts, create a private page just for them.

* Post in such a way that no matter when people first visit your pages, they can get a sense of who you are, a feel for your art, what kind of page this is, what you're up to, and what the basic narrative is about. You want anyone new to be able to either pick up on or tap into your story line even if they miss a few episodes.

* Many social media sites offer affordable opportunities to advertise. If you buy advertising, make sure you have something newsworthy to advertise, like an upcoming show, new work for sale, a special offer, are starting a newsletter, etc. If you have no reason to advertise other than to call attention to yourself, your website or your page, save your money for later when you have a reason for people to take action that will benefit them in some way.

* If you decide to advertise, make sure you do it enough times to make an impression. One advertisement is nowhere near enough. A good minimum number of ads on a particular topic, body of work, or other newsworthy item is ten.

* Lastly, engage with others; follow people whose art, pages or feeds you respect. Don't make it only about you and ignore everyone else. You can learn a great deal from following artists, galleries, personalities, and others who have interesting art-related pages or are good at what they do, including successfully mastering the nuances of social social.

* Be part of the conversation, to interact with and share your impressions, feelings or opinions with others. Make it about them and not you; avoid self-serving posts on other people's pages like calling attention to your art, talking about yourself, or otherwise distracting from the matter at hand. When you get involved in discussions or threads on the pages of others, people learn about who you are and where you stand based on your comments, observations and perspectives. If they like what you have to say, they might just hop on over to your page to see what you're all about. And it's onward and upward from there....


Do you want to establish an online profile or improve the one you already have? I advise artists on how to buff up their online presences all the time. If you're interested in making an appointment or have any questions, call 415.931.7875 or email me at


(art by Russell Crotty)

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