How to actually sell your art on Instagram in 2021

By Susanna read
How to actually sell your art on Instagram in 2021

As the world’s top photo-sharing social networking app, Instagram has quickly become the go-to platform for selling art online in 2021. 

According to Statista, Instagram has had more than 1 billion monthly active users worldwide since 2018. 60% of users go on Instagram to discover new products and 90% tend to follow a brand, business, or influencer.

This is great news for anyone wanting to use social media to sell art and connect with potential customers across the globe. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to become a famous artist on Instagram, you’ve just come to the right place on the internet.

We’re about to share some great Instagram tips for artists, and show you how to start selling art on Instagram in just four steps:

  1. Set up an Instagram Creator Account
  2. Link to your website
  3. Get your art noticed on Instagram
  4. Promote & sell your art on Instagram

Are you ready to set a new goal and become one of the top-selling artists on Instagram? Then let’s get started!

Step #1: Set up an Instagram Creator Account

The first step to selling art on Instagram is setting up an Instagram Creator Account (if you already have one, skip this part and go to step #2).

Having a professional profile provides a better marketing experience and helps fans connect to your art. According to Instagram, the Creator Account is best for public figures, content producers, artists, and influencers.

With the Creator Account, you get access to:

  • Instagram Insights (an overview of your top posts and videos, audience’s demographics, overall reach, and other metrics).
  • More profile information (contact options and info, category label, etc.).
  • Advanced DM sorting (primary, general, and message requests).
  • Promotions, branded content, etc.

As you can see, you can get so much more out of a professional profile than a personal one. 

how to set up instagram creator account
Instagram Creator vs Business Account comparison.

Here’s how to set up an Instagram Creator Account for selling art:

  1. Go to your profile and tap the hamburger menu on the top right of the screen.
  2. Then tap  Settings at the top of the menu.
  3. From your Settings menu, tap Account.
  4. Scroll to the bottom and tap Switch account type.
  5. If you have a Business Account, select Switch to Creator Account.
  6. If you have a personal account, select Switch to Professional Account, and then the Creator box from the next menu.

Now that you’ve switched to the Creator Account, it’s time to polish the look of your profile!

Create your Instagram aesthetic

The look and feel of your Instagram profile must stand out to attract new followers. People tend to judge a profile within seconds of seeing it for the first time (up to 90 percent of this judgment is based on color). Even Instagram has advised users to go for a cohesive look for their accounts. 

This is particularly important for artists whose profiles are viewed as portfolios of their art. In other words, treat your Instagram profile as your very own homepage and pay special attention to your:

  • Feedthe perfect place for showing off your artwork and behind-the-scenes footage.
  • Usernamepick a name that represents your art.
  • Category labelselect Art, Artist, Designer, or Graphic Designer.
  • Story Highlightsuse your art icons as cover images for the highlights (e.g. FAQ, resources, commissions, wallpapers, reviews, tools, Q&A, etc.).
  • Profile picture—an image that represents your art, logo, or username.
  • Bio—write an attractive bio using relevant emojis, or special text font.

Ideally, the entire account should reflect your identity and unique art style.

create your instagram aesthetic
Examples of inspirational Instagram artist bios.

And, last but not least, if you have a Facebook Page for your art, don’t forget to connect it to your Instagram account:

  1. Tap Edit Profile.
  2. Tap Page under Profile information.
  3. Select your Facebook Page.

Step #2: Link to your website

Before you can start selling art on Instagram, you need to have a website where people can buy or download your art.

Most artists without a website tend to go for Etsy. While selling on Etsy is good for exposure due to its high traffic, the fees eventually stack up and you’ll end up with no control over your store. 

Another factor that makes it hard for artists to stand out is the tough competition. Your product needs to have a very high market demand to get found in the marketplace.

Moreover, there are no instant payouts nor store customization. As an artist, you probably want to make sure that your store matches your art, right? The only way to make that happen is to have a fully customizable website, such as a white-label Sellfy store.

What is Sellfy?

sell art on sellfy

Sellfy is an easy-to-use eCommerce solution with a good deal of features made for selling custom products (like print-on-demand merchandise). One of the platform’s main attractions is its diverse range of product types—from digital items and subscriptions to physical products.

Unlike most platforms, Sellfy’s setup process is incredibly smooth and easy. You can build a mobile-ready art store in less than five minutes.

Sellfy has everything an artist needs:

  • A PayPal integration (read our how to sell on Instagram with PayPal guide)
  • File security and unlimited bandwidth
  • Quick payment processing
  • In-built marketing tools
  • Unlimited products

In fact, Sellfy was specifically designed for artists like you who want to sell art online without any hassles.

Set up your art store with Sellfy

sell canvas prints with sellfy

Ready to build your art store? 

Here’s how to sign up for Sellfy in three steps:

  1. Choose a subscription plan or start a 14-day free trial (you can upgrade your account at any time to enjoy more features).
  2. Once your email address has been verified, log in and go to the Products section to pick a product type (digital or physical products, print on demand, etc.), and upload your designs.
  3. Customize your store to match your art, and use every Sellfy feature to your advantage (for example, you can download Sellfy’s mobile app to keep track of new orders)!

Add your art store link to your Instagram Bio

The bio section is the first thing that people see when they find your Instagram profile. Use this to your advantage! Add your Sellfy store link to your bio so that interested customers know where to buy your art.

Follow these steps to add your store link:

  1. From your Instagram profile page, tap Edit Profile
  2. Tap Website and simply copy-paste your Sellfy store URL.
  3. If the URL is too long, you can shorten it with Bitly.
  4. Write “link in bio” in your captions to refer followers to the link.

Pro tip: Did you know that you can also share multiple links in your posts? With Linkin.bio, you can drive even more traffic from Instagram to your Sellfy store.

Step #3: Get your art noticed on Instagram

Now that you know how to set up an art store and link to your website, you’re probably thinking:

How do I get my artwork noticed on Instagram?

So, let’s go over a few Instagram tips for artists and find out!

Use the best Instagram hashtags for artists

Every time you make a post, use up to 30 different hashtags to get your art noticed on Instagram. But, not just any hashtags—you need to sort out which ones are the best hashtags for artists and then use them in your content.

For instance, here’s a great list of hashtags you can use to get your art noticed on Instagram:

best instagram hashtags for artists
The best Instagram hashtags for artists.

The trick here is to use multiple low-density hashtags (below 1M) as opposed to high-density ones (more than 1M). Why? Because too many high-density hashtags will get your art lost in an endless sea of other art posts. So, you want to make sure that you only use around 1-3 high-density hashtags.

Pro tip: Another way to discover hashtags for artists is by browsing accounts similar to yours and checking what they’re using.

Tag up to 20 Instagram accounts to get featured

Aside from using Instagram hashtags, you can also tag up to 20 different artist accounts in your posts. By doing so, you might be able to get a better reach and outsmart Instagram’s algorithm should a tagged account repost your art.

To find such accounts, research one of the trending hashtags on Instagram and you’ll find posts by different artists. Check out their profiles and see if they feature art aside from their own. 

You can also search for niche accounts that regularly share art memes by all sorts of artists. For example, if your art is about mental health awareness, you can use keywords like self-care or mental health to find relevant profiles. Or, if fantasy art is your niche, you can try keywords like witchy, occult, astrology, etc. 

tag instagram accounts to get featured
Instagram account tagging example.

Add Instagram alt text to your images

You’re probably wondering what alt text is:

Simply put, Instagram alt text literally describes what is on your photo. 

Why should you care about that, though? Most Instagram users aren’t aware of this, but it’s a very clever way to rank better on Google. So, be sure to include it in your SEO strategy!

Here’s how to add alt text to your Instagram posts:

  1. Tap on the + plus icon at the top to create a post.
  2. Choose an image and go Next.
  3. Adjust your image or add a filter and go Next again.
  4. On the New post page, scroll to the bottom and tap on Advanced settings.
  5. Scroll to the bottom again and tap on Write alt text.
  6. Write a maximum of 100 characters to describe your image.

instagram alt text

And voilà—now, watch Google do its SEO magic! 

Create engaging content and give out freebies

In addition to using hashtags, account tagging, and alt text, you should also keep your followers engaged with as much interactive content as possible.

There are several ways to do that. However, keep in mind that the real key to getting noticed lies in consistency and high-quality content. Instagram’s algorithm takes your level of activity into account, so the more actively you post, the higher the chances of getting noticed.

With that said, let’s jump right into how to increase your presence on Instagram!

One is to come up with art tutorials, personality quizzes, or Q&A polls. For instance, you can gamify your Instagram Stories with personality test templates featuring your art (e.g. “This or that?” or “What character are you?”), and then ask people to tag you in their results. This is one of the most effective methods for getting your art noticed on Instagram. 

Instagram templates
Examples of Instagram templates.

Many artists also use Instagram Reels and Stories to show some behind-the-scenes footage such as packing customers’ orders, artwork in progress, new designs, etc. And, some of them go live on Instagram to connect with their followers, share important updates, or news. You can also use IGTV to tell your fans about your personal brand story or journey into art—anything that is inspirational!

instagram reels and highlights
Examples of artists showing behind-the-scenes footage.

If you’ve researched the best hashtags for artists, you may have noticed that reels are always featured at the very top of the Explore page. This is a major clue that video content attracts the most attention! To give your video content an artistic touch, make sure you check out Instagram’s vast collection of filters.

Instagram freebies and wallpapers
Examples of Instagram wallpaper freebies.

Another popular way to spread the word is to give out freebies or do giveaways. People love free stuff! For example, you can create a separate highlight for phone wallpapers designed by you. However, if you do that, make sure your IG username is on every freebie so that interested users can find your profile. The more people love your freebies, the more traffic you’ll get! 

Pro tip: You can also make it possible for users to get freebies directly from your Sellfy store.

Looking for more ideas on how to create engaging content? Check out our article on 23 practical ways to increase engagement on Instagram.

Step #4: Promote & sell your art on Instagram

With more than 1 billion people in the world scrolling through endless heaps of Instagram content, how do you make them buy your product?

There are a couple of good old marketing strategies that you can use.

But, before we dive into all that, you need to…

Figure out what products you’re going to sell

By selling art on Instagram, you’re shooting two birds with one stone—promoting your artwork while guiding followers into your sales funnel.

Most Instagram artists sell:

  • Merchandise (mostly print on demand products like t-shirts, hoodies, etc.)
  • Stationery or accessories (notebooks, journals, stickers, prints, etc.)
  • Digital items (wallpapers, logos, fonts, portraits, Instagram Highlights icons, etc.)
what to sell on instagram
Examples of what artists sell on Instagram.

With a Sellfy store, you’ll be able to upload digital art, sell photos, prints, or crafts on Instagram, and so much more.

For example, you can easily create merch with your designs using Sellfy’s print-on-demand service. All you need to do is upload your art files, add them to products, and Sellfy will take care of the rest!

Having an automated merch business is an excellent way to earn passive income as an Instagram artist. While there are several print-on-demand products available, I’d recommend selling clothing (in a recent study, Statista confirmed that clothing is the most popular online shopping category).

So, if you already have a Sellfy store, why not give print on demand a try? 

sellfy merchandise

Here’s how to create your merch with Sellfy:

  1. Log into your Sellfy store and head to the Products section.
  2. Select Print on demand and choose one or several product categories.
  3. Upload your designs and add them to products.
  4. Click Continue to name your products, set prices, and write descriptions.
  5. Hit Save product and check your store page.

Important note about image quality: Please follow Sellfy’s print-on-demand tips and best practices to prepare the perfect design file. This is crucial for achieving great print quality.

Remember that you can always go beyond merch and sell any type of art product on Instagram as long as you have a Sellfy store!

But, now you’re probably thinking:

How do you sell things on Instagram?

How do I promote my art on Instagram

While the key to making money as an artist is largely tied to consistency and the products you’re selling, it’s also important to know how to market your art on Instagram.

Essentially, there are two ways to do that: using paid ads or free marketing tools. Let’s check out both.

Collect social proof & use word-of-mouth marketing

90% of people tend to buy from brands they trust and the same applies to artists. There’s nothing more convincing than fans, friends, and family members gushing about your products on Instagram!

So, go ahead and encourage them to tag you in their:

  • Product reviews and feedback (e.g. posts or videos about receiving and opening your package, checking the product quality, sharing their experiences and excitement, etc.)
  • Product showcasing posts (e.g. wearing your merch in their photos or videos)
social proof on instagram
Examples of social proof on Instagram.

Pro tip: To make social proof really work for you, keep an eye out for every single post and video about your art products on social media! Screenshot and repost everyone’s reviews in your stories, and then save them in one of your highlights. For example, you can create a highlight called “Reviews” or “Happy Fans” so that people can see how many customers love your art.

Get the most out of Instagram Stories, IGTV & Reels

At this point, I probably sound like a broken record, but I absolutely cannot stress how important it is to create video content.

Not only will it help you stay on top of Instagram’s algorithm, but you can also use videos to promote and sell your art online. For example, you can:

  • Create reels to give your fans a sneak peek of an upcoming product launch.
  • Go live to announce your merch and share important news.
  • Promote special offers and give discounts in Stories.
  • Add your Sellfy store link to your stories (if your account is verified or has more than 10,000 followers).
linking to your shop on Instagram
Examples of Instagram artists linking to their websites & promoting offers.

Adding links to your Instagram Stories is one of the most effective ways to increase store traffic.

Here’s how to add links to Instagram Stories:

  1. Take a photo or video, or use an existing one in your camera roll.
  2. From the stories window, tap the chain icon to add your store link.
  3. Enter the destination URL and tap the checkmark when you’re done.

Pro tip: To make video content really work for you, showcase yourself wearing your merch or designs in your stories, reels, and IGTV. Not sure how to use IGTV? No worries, just head over to our article on how to use IGTV for your brand.

Do art commissions on Instagram

If you’re mainly interested in selling digital products, you can do art commissions on Instagram. While it’s more time-consuming than e.g. selling merch, it’s a sure-fire way to get sales and make your fans happy. 

Most, if not all, top-selling artists on Instagram do commissions regularly, such as:

  • Logos and web branding for small businesses, bloggers, YouTube channels, etc.
  • Illustrations for physical products like book covers, business cards, etc.
  • Custom portraits for fans, or entrepreneurs, and social media influencers.
  • Animations for Twitch streamers and gamers.
how to do art commissions on instagram
An example of how to do art commissions on Instagram.

Here’s how to do art commissions on Instagram:

  1. Figure out what types of commissions you want to do.
  2. Use Canva’s Instagram Story templates to write down your guidelines. 
  3. Share the templates in your stories to announce your commissions.
  4. Add the stories to a separate highlight called “Commissions”.
  5. Every now and then, make a post to refer more people to your commissions.
  6. Mention it in your captions and bio.

Use Instagram Shopping and Advertising

Another bulletproof way to get more traffic and sales is to use Instagram ads. Creating an Instagram ad campaign means you’ll be posting sponsored content to reach a larger and more targeted audience.

To get started, decide on a goal and a budget for your campaign, and then pick one of the following options:

  • Photo ads (e.g. an image promoting your artwork)
  • Video ads (e.g. showcasing your merch or other products)
  • Stories ads (more than 500M+ accounts use Stories daily)
  • Carousel ads (a set of photos or videos in a single ad)
  • Collection ads (a collection of your products in image or video format)
  • Ads in Explore (200M+ daily users check the Explore page)
  • Slideshow ads (a series of still images that play as a slideshow)

To create Instagram ads:

  1. Tap Promote under your Instagram posts.
  2. Use the Ad Manager on your Facebook Page.

Pro tip: Aside from ads, you can also use Instagram Shopping to sell physical goods like merch. However, you’ll have to switch from the Creator Account to the Business one to unlock it. With Instagram Shopping, you’ll be able to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook shop (if you have an existing Facebook Page for your art). Once you’ve set it up, you can start adding product tags and stickers to your Instagram posts and stories. To learn more, follow Facebook’s guide on how to set up Instagram Shopping.

Ready to start selling your art on Instagram?

We’ve covered just about every possible way for you to promote and sell your art on Instagramit’s up to you to make it happen! The revenue you can earn from selling art on social media is enormous, so if you’ve wanted to do this on Instagram for a while, now’s the time. Good luck and feel free to tell us about your success in the comments below!

Susanna is Sellfy’s Content Guru and Editor in Chief with a genuine passion for copywriting, storytelling, and eCommerce. With years of content marketing experience behind her, she helps to create the best possible landing pages, blog posts, emails, and other types of copy. She also keeps close tabs on social media trends and enjoys digging deep into marketing psychology.
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