How to be an artist on social media, grow your audience, and find your spot in the market

You’re a creative. 

You make killer work. 

You want people to see and be impacted by what you do. 

Sound familiar? 

If so, you need to market yourself. 

But how?

This is where social media comes in. 

Social media is free for everyone to use. Literally everyone (4.4 billion) is already on it and is using it daily. 

Now the question is, how do you get your art out in front of other people? 

How will others find you?

Let’s dive right in. 

1. Here’s how to be an artist on social media:

To be an artist on social media, you must share your work in service of others. 

That is, publishing work regardless of perfect (because perfect is selfish). 

You must adopt the mindset of serving others before yourself. 

You must also publish as often as you can to build up your own body of work. This will help others understand what you can do for them. 

  1. Grow your audience. 

Followers can be bought, but an audience has to be built. 

I’ll explain. 

The number of followers you have doesn’t mean anything if there is no actual community supporting you along the way. 

When it comes to content, quantity > quality. 

But when it comes to audience, quality > quantity

At the end of the day, your audience are the people who will look at your stuff and buy from you. 

And to build your audience? Simply engage with the kinds of people who will find your stuff relevant. 

  1. Find your spot in the market.

This one is the trickiest of the 3.

It’s the trickiest because your spot in the market can change over time. 

Finding your positioning isn’t an answer you can find from a google search or textbook.

Finding your positioning takes consistent execution of content and engagement with your audience. 

It will take time for you to find your spot and nail it down. 

Sometimes months, or even years. 

This is the part where you need most patience.

But I promise you if you do steps 1 and 2 consistently and successfully, your spot in the market will come. 

It will come because by then you will have built your brand. 

Being an artist on social media doesn’t have to be hard. 

There is a formula, and it’s been tried and true for many. 

Luckily for you, I’ve been working on a project specifically about social media for artists and designers. 

And it’s specifically about how to be an artist on social media, growing your audience, and finding your spot in the market. 

Want to be a part of it? We’re hosting an event on this very topic and we’d love to have you there. 

Sign up for our email list to get the updates when it comes: https://mailchi.mp/6988bd0c81c7/content-workshop

Social Media Saved Our Family Business From Going Under

Start of pandemic:

  • 80% of customer base gone
  • General fear of going outside and in public spaces
  • Uncertainty and fluctuations in demand

What’s a family restaurant to do in this situation? 

Nothing, as our entire restaurant staff collectively twiddle our thumbs while waiting for customers to order something in 2020. 

Then, something incredible happens. 

We get featured on a local news/entertainment blog, as they want to drive traffic to businesses within Toronto. 

Immediately the following plays out: 

  • Spike in sales for the next 2 months 
  • A 200% growth in social media following
  • Lots of new and old customers remembering that our restaurant exists so they come and say hi 

How did this happen? 

All because of one Tiktok video. 

We shared one Tiktok video in 2020 that got the attention of someone on the blog’s team. That video led them to follow our accounts on both Tiktok and Instagram. Fast forward a few days, they message us on Instagram telling us they’ll be making a video about our business. 

It was that simple. 

And the journey has been wild since. 

Social media saved our family restaurant from going under. I’m pinning it as one of the most valuable business skillsets to have in 2022. 

Good Influencers and Bad Influencers: How to Play the Social Game Better

Our family restaurant gets a fair share of influencers reaching out to “help” us promote our product. 

We don’t do most of them, because to me, most of them are bad deals.

What I mean is that most influencers who reach out to us aren’t in love with our products like many of our customers already are. They’re coming in cold, with little context of how we do things in our small part of town.

Their messages go something like this:  “Hey! My name is x, and I love working with all sorts of food businesses/restaurants and I see that you’ve got a great selection of product on your page. I love tasting and reviewing new foods, and it would be great to do a collaboration.”

Great. Here’s where it goes wrong.

“If you want to access my audience of over 50k, we can speak about my bookings and my compensation. Also I’m asking you to cover the expenses of the food for me. Thanks. By the way, I’m only considering your product if it’s for free.”

Not only is it completely selfish, it provides little value to a business looking to build an actual brand.

In a world where people look for brand partnerships to make themselves look like they’re worth spending money on, it’s more uncommon to come across someone who cares. 

As someone who’s on the other side, show me you care about the culture. I need to know what’s in it for me too (and it’s more than just the followers). I need to see how your community reacts to what you produce. 

Here’s how influencers can do a better job of helping businesses:  Help the business, and give a flying fladoodle.

How Our Family Restaurant is Doing Instagram in 2021

I’ve been posting regularly on our restaurant’s instagram account for about a year now, and at this point I’ve been seeing the slow but real life changes and benefits of having a social media presence as a local food business, even through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What I found to be most important in the past 365 days is this:

I shouldn’t listen to my mom.

And of course, I can’t leave without an explanation so here goes. My mom believes in something along the lines of, “If it’s not picture perfect, we shouldn’t share it.”

On the other hand, I want to post the rough, the real, and the action because I believe that’s where the charm of our restaurant really is. We don’t pride ourselves in food aesthetic, or specialty cultures, or a nicely curated feed. Instead our food is for the everyday human being who come from humble immigrant roots. It’s not fancy, nor is it supposed to be. 

Had I asked for her permission every time we had to make a post, we would not be on anybody’s radars at all. 

Since then, we’ve 10x’ed our following count (numbers beware, 10x is fun to say when you start with really low numbers), and have around 3-4 new customers on average every day who order in person via our Instagram feed.

I’d consider that a win to me in January 2021.