Growing Your Creative Business Through Instagram | Cat Coquillette | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Growing Your Creative Business Through Instagram

teacher avatar Cat Coquillette, Artist + Entrepreneur + Educator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Benefits For Artists


    • 3.

      Getting Noticed


    • 4.

      Personal VS Business


    • 5.

      Content Ideas


    • 6.

      Photographing Tips


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Driving Sales


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Planning & Scheduling


    • 11.

      Your Project


    • 12.



  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Are you an artist, designer, photographer, content creator, or visual creative on Instagram? This class will help you grow your brand successfully on Instagram, tailored specifically to visual creatives.

What you’ll get out of this class:

  • Strategies for driving sales
  • Tips for photographing your work
  • Content and caption brainstorming ideas
  • How to optimize your account for engagement
  • Advice for growing followers
  • Insights on how to look professional
  • A toolkit to help you strengthen your branding

Who this class is for:

  • Visual creatives of all types
  • Artists
  • Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Photographers
  • Content creators

Additional Resources:


Interested in licensing your artwork like I do? Check out my Skillshare class:

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Cat Coquillette

Artist + Entrepreneur + Educator

Top Teacher

Hello there! I'm Cat Coquillette.

I'm a location-independent artist, entrepreneur, and educator. I run my entire creative brand, CatCoq, from around the world. My "office" changes daily, usually a coffee shop, co-working space, or airport terminal somewhere in the world. 

My brand aspires to not only provide an exhilarating aesthetic rooted in an appreciation for culture, travel and the outdoors, but through education, I inspire my students to channel their natural curiosity and reach their full potential.

CatCoq artwork and designs are licensed worldwide in stores including Urban Outfitters, Target, Barnes & Noble, Modcloth, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, among many others. ... See full profile

Level: All Levels

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro: Today you'll learn how I use Instagram to build a loyal and engaged fan base, look professional to big brands that might want to work with me and sell more of my arts. Imagine this, as soon as you create something new, you post it to Instagram and it starts getting tons of attention. People are raving about your work in the comments and potential clients are taking notes of you. Instead of feeling like a tiny blip in a giant universe of Instagram, you feel excited that your work is getting noticed and reaching these high levels of attention. These are the kinds of things I've experienced after mastering Instagram for business purposes and today, you'll learn exactly how I accomplished this. My name is Cat Coquillette and I'm a designer and illustrator. Instagram is the reason I was able to grow my art business into the success that it is today. I've been using Instagram for nearly 10 years and today it's my primary channel for marketing my business. A lot of people feel that Instagram is too complicated and it can be nearly impossible to standouts and I definitely used to feel that way too. But now I figured out how to crack the code, so to speak and I'm going to help demystify things for you as well. This class is specifically for visual creatives of all types. Artists, designers, illustrators, photographers, surface designers, and content creators. Essentially, if you're a visual creative on Instagram, this class is tailored to you. Instagram is the social media platform for artists. It's launching careers, allows artists to call the shots without agents or galleries intervening and it helps artists connected directly with customers across the globe willing to pay for their work. I'm not just going to be giving generic advice, you've already got Google for that. But instead, everything a share is first-hand knowledge of the strategies that I've personally used. You can start implementing today to grow your accounts into a professional thriving page. Over the years, I have tried out a lot of social media strategies. Some have worked all rights, but most made absolutely no impact on my follower accounts, engagement or sales. However, I did unearth a few strategies that absolutely took me to the next levels and these are the exact approaches that I'll be teaching you today. It's all first-hand knowledge of what to do that will make an impact on Instagram and I will be sharing exactly what's worked best for me. This class is essentially a tool kits to help you grow your Instagram page. Everything is broken down into shorter videos, and we'll be covering each key topic using a personal accounts versus a business accounts, ideas for varying up your contents and interesting and meaningful ways, tips for photographing your work so it looks professional and captivating even if you're just using your iPhone like I do, ideas for writing compelling captions that encourages interaction with your followers, methods for driving sales by using a strong call to action. Using Instagram stories to go more in depth and generates even more engagement plus planning and scheduling methods that I use every day. I know it can be challenging to figure out what's to post and what to write, so I'll also be giving ideas for what types of contents to post and what to say about it, all in very specific, easy to implement examples. I'm going to be sharing my tried and true tips for everything I just mentioned. These are strategies that I personally use every time I open up the app, you'll get my best advice for growing an audience of active and engaged followers, plus how to convert these fans into paying customers that want to purchase your products. As a bonus, I'll also be sharing the biggest mistakes I see people make on Instagram plus some simple solutions to fixed this and what they should be doing instead. Throughout this class, if you have any questions, you can post them in the discussion thread down below. You can also follow me on skill share by clicking the follow button up top. That'll give you a notification as soon as I launched a new class or have anything to share with my students. You can follow me on Instagram @catcoq to see how I use today's strategies in practice and if you post about this class in your Instagram story, please tag me so I can re-share your story from my own accounts. All right, ready to learn my best tips for succeeding with Instagram? Let's get started. 2. Benefits For Artists: Why use Instagram as an artist? Is a visual-centric platform. As a painter, designer, illustrator, and surface designer, this is right up my alley. Visuals are the strongest component of my brands. If I were a copywriter or blogger, I'd be all over Twitter since it's all about words. If I were a blogger, I'd be focusing on TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube, but I'm an artist and designer and Instagram is the best platform for me to highlight my content of choice. Gorgeous, compelling visuals. Each post you make, gives you the chance to gain massive exposure. I'll show you how to increase your chances of winning the viral lottery with pure strategy. Some artists use Instagram as their primary portfolio and I use it that way to a degree. People open up their Instagram app and browse through their feed on the daily, people are into doing the same thing on my websites. Instagram gives your audience a more in-depth look at who you are as an artist. Not only in my showcasing my portfolio pieces, but I'm also sharing the story and inspiration behind each painting. I talked about where in the world I was when I painted these lanterns, why I chose these vibrant palettes, how I use watercolor in a non-traditional method to achieve this particular aesthetic with white space and color blooming. Honestly, people love learning these stuff that makes my painting more than just a pretty picture. It's now backed with a full-bodied story with added value and appreciation. This is just one example. You can vary your content to include not just your final pieces, but show behind the scenes of your studio. You can also walk people step-by-step through your arch process. Show how that rough sketch bloomed into this final gorgeous Canvas, show them the things around you that inspire your creativity. But people get to know you and your art on a deep and personal level. Ultimately, this is how you build a loyal and engaged audience, grow your brand and make a name for yourself. Another special part about Instagram, your audience is insanely diversified. Not only are you reaching fans and potential customers, but you're also reaching business connections and potential partnerships as well. One of the reasons I got an introduction with Urban Outfitters, was because one of their buyers saw my artwork on Society 6, which led her to following me on Instagram. She liked my posts, but one in particular, compelled her to contact me about licensing this artwork through Urban Outfitters. Making new connections like this, is awesome for business. But I also reached companies, if I'm already in partnerships with. I already have a variety of work available through bed bath and beyond. But if I post something new and they like it, chances are they'll reach out to me about carrying that new piece further stories as well. People don't have time to reload my website and review the new editions to my portfolio every day, but they do spend a few minutes scrolling through Instagram. This makes it such a prime opportunity to showcase my new work and bring old stuff back into the spotlights. Let's talk some facts and figures. One billion people use Instagram every month and over half of them log in every single day. That is a lot of potential eyes on your content. Instagram stories have revitalized the game as well. A third of the most viewed stories on Instagram, are from businesses, which means you have a massive opportunity to market yourself as a brand's. When you sum it up, there is so much potential for creatives of all types to use Instagram to their advantage. You can reach new customers who want to purchase your artwork, gets in contact with business partners who want to carry your pieces in their stories and expand your brand to reach more of both. Are you guys pumped up yet? Now that I've laid out the why, let's dive into the how. 3. Getting Noticed: If you're watching this class, chances are the number one thing you want to learn today is how to get noticed. This means getting more sales and growing your following along with your brands. Instagram is incredibly saturated with great accounts and amazing contents. It can feel pretty difficult to make a name for yourself and get noticed. This is exactly what I will be addressing today. How to break through that crowd and start growing organically. Whether you're just starting out and working on gaining your first 1,000 followers or you're already established and in the multiple thousands already, this advice pertains to everyone. Your goal is to build a strong Instagram presence with active, engaged followers who convert into paying customers. To do this, you need to appeal to two absolutely essential audiences. One, Instagram users that will become customers, you do this with consistent quality content that provides value. Two, you have to appeal to the Instagram platform itself. This means using their algorithm to your advantage. A lot of people mess up and can't grow their accounts because they don't consider both of these together. You can have awesome contents to share, but if you don't do it strategically, you are missing out big time. I'm going to explain exactly what I mean with both of these pretty thoroughly, starting with one, appealing to your key audience. Your goal is to reach other Instagram users that follow you, engage with your contents and hopefully buy what you're selling. One roadblock a lot of people run into is reaching the right audience. If you're a crochet and you use crochet specific hashtags and follow crochet specific accounts, chances are, you are going to have a lot of fellow crochet following you. That's definitely cool to have that community of like-minded individuals. But guess what? Your fellow crochet probably aren't going to be doing, buying your crochet. For that, you need people outside of your industry to follow you so they can see all your cool stuff and hopefully turn into customers. I struggled with this a lot when I was first getting started, I was posting my paintings and getting a lot of audience growth and interaction but it was only from fellow artists. I had to crack into the customer audience before I begin earning an income with my paintings. Here's how I did it. One, I introduced a call-to-action. In terms of increasing sales, this is hands down where I had seen the biggest positive results out of every other strategy I had implemented. In my caption, I started asking my audience to buy my arts. I provided links to my Society6 shop, so they knew exactly where to go to make this happen. Calls to action are absolutely crucial. If you want your audience to do something, just ask them. It sounds obvious, but I know it can be hard to put yourself out there like that. I'll dive into this a little bit later and give you a more solid understanding of how to use promotional language, especially in a way that feels on brand with you. Two, I started using more strategic hashtags. Instead of hashtagging artists, watercolor, and work in progress, I began also using hashtags that would appeal to potential customers, home decor ideas, shop arts, home improvements. This expanded my reach beyond fellow artists and put my posts in front of art connoisseurs and potential customers alike. Three, I began posting more product shots than lifestyle photos. Previously, I was only sharing final paintings on my desk with a paint palette next to the paper. It was pretty, but an image like that doesn't necessarily communicate that this is for sale. Instead, I also started posting photos of products like coffee mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, and stacks of art prints. This led to my audience to know, at first glance that the stuff you see on my page is for sale. Four, I ran a few contests, I would post a picture of a new art prints and announce a giveaway. To enter to win, I told my followers to tag three friends who would love this cute prints, whoever I selected as the winner, would get this arch print for free, plus a discount code for them and their three tagged friends to get 10 or 20 percent off everything on my Etsy shop. This did three awesome things for me. One, I gained new followers, thanks to the tag three friends terms of my contest. Two, even though they didn't win the contest, a lot of people saw the prints and wanted it anyway, so they bought it from my Etsy shop. Three, this solidified my brand's position as a commercial artist with goods for sale. My feed isn't just about pretty artwork, it also highlights the things that I have for sale to my audience. Five, and last but not least, the other way I began to crack into growing an audience of paying customers, I provided value. I gave out discount codes, so my audience could score my products on sale. Everytime Society6 ran a promotion, I announced it to my followers that for this day only they could save 20 percent off all home decor items in my Society6 shop. If there was a discount code, I shared that as well. Another value bomb, I gave tips to my audience on how to best frame art prints for their walls. I had to show an example of one of my prints, talk about how I recommended getting a 12 by 16 mat cut, so it would fit into a standard size frame. Then show how to space it out on their wall and in optimal way. Think about the value that you could provide to your audience. There is something you know, that you can share and it's going to be a huge insight or help for your audience. What is the best way you can provide this value to your ideal customer? This is how you grow your brand from a side hustle into an empire. Now that you understand how to appeal to other Instagram users and grow your accounts that way, let's talk about the other side of the coin. Appealing to the Instagram platform itself and leveraging their algorithm to be the most beneficial to you, real quick. What do I mean by algorithm? Instagram doesn't sort posts by new anymore. Instead, when you're scrolling down your homepage on Instagram, what you're seeing are the posts that Instagram thinks you should see based off of how relevant they might be to you. The way they choose these posts in this order is the algorithm. Your goal is to make Instagram think that whatever you're posting needs to be at the top of everyone's home feed and appear on the Explore page. This is how you get the most eyes on your contents. How do you make Instagram decide that your posts are high priority like this? Answer, you have got to appeal to their algorithm. The number one complaint I hear people make about the algorithm is that it is constantly changing. Every time you start gaining momentum, something changes in the code and you are back at square one. While that can be absolutely true and it does suck, it's not the end of the world. The Instagram algorithm isn't just some random set of coding that you have to crack into in order to succeed. There is a strong intention behind it, and the algorithm exists to reward you if you're doing what Instagram wants you to do. The number one thing that Instagram want it's users to do, is engage with each other, that algorithm is in place to reward users who are doing this. If you're constantly doing things that encourage high engagement, your actions are going to get noticed by the algorithm and your posts are going to get prioritized. Here are things that will benefit you in the eyes of Instagram. One, engage with your followers when they leave comments on your posts. Like the comments by tapping the little heart, this takes two seconds, then reply to their comments. If someone compliments your work, thank them. Not only does this boost engagement, but it's also the polite thing to do anyway. Two, comment on other user's posts. It's not all about people engaging with you, it's also important for you to engage with your audience on their posts. A lot of people skip this step, but it's an important one. Three, tag other accounts on your post when it's applicable. This does two things for you. One, it shows your followers who you align your brand with. Two, the accounts you tag, gets a notification. If you're lucky, they decide to follow you, like your photo or comments, and bam, there's your engagements. If a brand with a million followers repost your work, that is a big way to get seen. Always be genuine though, spammy tags will get flagged and it hurts you instead of help you. When I posted a new illustration of kombucha bottles that I did on my iPad, I tagged procreate, which is the software I use to create this illustration, plus I tagged jewel branding, which are my art reps. They go out and find new licensing partnerships on my behalf. I definitely want them in the loop with the new pieces that I'm creating. You can tag the company that makes your art brushes, the photographer who snapped your head shots, or the gallery in which this painting is currently displayed. Don't forget to tag other accounts in your stories as well. We'll go in depth with stories later but for now, know that when you tag someone in your story, it makes it very easy for them to share your story from their own accounts and if they choose to do so, it's an added bonus for you. Four, have a hashtag strategy, I see so many contrary opinions on hashtags. The algorithm changes on a moment's notice, and the truth is, no one is really sure what works best with hashtags at any given moment. But here is what's working well for me. I use a hashtag generator and I type in a few keywords that are applicable to my posts. The one I use is called display purposes, but there are a lot of hashtag generator platforms out there. Feel free to try out a few and see what works best for you. I always leave my hashtags in my comments, so they don't clutter up my caption. I also use the full allotted number of hashtags, which on Instagram is 30, try to get a variety of hashtags on there. Some should be broad, like watercolor, which has over 35 million posts, aka, a lot of eyes, but also pepper and more niche tags like watercolor cats with just shy of 16,000. Popular hashtags will get more eyes on your work, but you'll quickly be lost in a sea of posts. More specific hashtags have fewer viewers, but you'll have more long-term visibility. That's why mixing it up a bit is best. Five, post more videos. Instagram hasn't admitted that videos get a higher priority than photos. But from my personal experience, that has absolutely been the case. It also helps that videos will auto-play as your followers are scrolling down their feed. That is definitely more attention-grabbing than a static image. Six, post high-quality contents. This one is slightly ambiguous, how does Instagram know that a photo is good or not good? But what they can track is posts that are getting a lot of engagement. The ones that get the most engagement are usually visually striking, bold colors, bright light with high contrast, breathtaking scenes, detailed illustrations, gorgeous interiors. These are the photos that make people stop when they're scrolling and hit like. More likes and comments right out the gate, especially within the first hour, means a higher priority for more people to see your posts. Seven, post stories consistently. There's a lot of benefits to stories and we will definitely get into that. But one of the biggest perks here is that when you post a story, your profile will pop up at the top of your followers home feed. Eight, write compelling captions. I'm dedicating an entire lesson today to captions later on, but know that these are vital to getting your post prioritized by Instagram. The more engaging your caption, the more engagement people will have with your post. Nine, and last but not least, post during peak hours. Even though Instagram doesn't sort posts by new anymore, your timing is still crucial. If you post when all of your followers are asleep, you're losing out on a lot of eyes. It all depends on when your audience is most active on Instagram. I spend about half the year in Southeast Asia and my audience is primarily American. So any post I make in the middle of the day for me is the middle of the night in the States. Those posts have way less engagement than the post I make when my fellow Americans are awake. For me personally, I found that the first hour is the make it or break it for post success. To sum this lesson up, whether you are a brand new accounts or you already have traction, the key to getting noticed on Instagram is to appeal first and foremost, to your primary audience with high-quality content that provides value and encourages engagements. The final piece to that puzzle is to take action that Instagram likes to see, aka lots of engagement and activity. If you can do both of these things consistently, you are going to see growth and this class is packed with info that will help you get there. Without further ado, let's jump in. 4. Personal VS Business: This lesson is a quickie and I want to cover it before we start diving into anything else. It is a basic question. Should I switch my personal account to a business account or a creator account? If you are considering the switch and you haven't done it yet, it's probably because you're concerned about how it will affect your profile and whether or not you'll see a drop of engagement after switching. It's a pretty valid concern because Facebook absolutely prioritizes contents by family and friends over business pages, so it's natural to wonder if Instagram does the same thing. I am here to tell you that since the rollout of business accounts on Instagram in 2016 and creator accounts in 2018, all evidence has suggested that switching to a business or creator account will only help you. You'll get access to analytics and other perks that are completely unavailable to personal accounts. My account, CatCoq is a creator account. It started as a personal account and then I switched it to a business account, and finally I made the change to a creator account when that finally became an option. When I switched over from a personal account, I got access to features like Instagram Insights, which are essentially analytics, contact information, Instagram ads and more. If you haven't heard of creator profiles yet, here's the basic rundown. Instagram launched creator accounts, and they were aimed at users who have been using a business accounts like me, but don't operate under a traditional business model. Think influencers, celebrities, politicians, authors, or any household name. The difference between the two options aren't really significance, but the nature of the creator profile is designed for an individual user, while the business account is aimed for accounts that represent companies that are selling products or services. For me, the biggest difference I've seen between my old business account and my new creator account is that my inbox is now organized into three tabs, primary, general, and requests. It makes it easy for me to get messages from the people that I'm in regular contact with, and it hides a lot of messages that would be considered spam. Personally, I love the separation, it means that I'm no longer missing messages from close friends and business partners because it's prioritized. Access to analytics is probably the number one reason brands switch to a business profile from a personal. Instagram calls their analytics Insights, but it means the exact same thing. Insights will give you data on engagements, impressions, audience, demographics, and more. You can see your top posts and stories of the week, month, year, etc. You can even filter by types of interaction. So if you're most interested in comments, you can filter by that criteria. If you were interested in sales or people converting to whatever it is you're offering, then you probably want to know how many website clicks you got, and you can filter by that as well. This is really helpful information because it'll give you a sense of what types of posts are working best for you. If you have a laser focus and 80 percent of your posts include a call to action with the intention of getting people to click on your websites, you can see exactly which of your past posts were most successful, and then do more posts in the future along that same lane. Just copy the same format of the successful posts and roll it out from there. There's a lot for you to explore on the Insights section, but the number one thing I look for is growth. Under the audience section, I want to see that my overall follower count is continuing to grow steadily. This means that I'm on track. Here, you can see how many additional users followed you and unfollowed you and try not to take the unfollowed personally, it's just part of the process. A few extra features you get on the business accounts, on your profile page, you get contact buttons so people can easily get in touch with you. On a side note here, always have a way for people to easily e-mail you, listed right in your profile. I really never see messages from people that are on to my direct contacts. If anyone is trying to get a hold of me via Instagram, it's pretty much a dead end. That goes for a lot of other brands out there as well. Instead, e-mail is the key here. While we're at it, always, always, always include your name if you're a solo entrepreneur like me. Obviously, if you're a faceless company like Nike or Targets, you don't need the CEO's name listed on their Instagram page. But if you're a solo artist, or content creator and your brand is you, then you should have your name listed in your bio. Last but not least, another massive benefit of switching over to a business profile or a creator profile is that you now get to implement paid ads if you want to. These are called promotions. You pay money, you get more eyes on your contents. I'm not going to be speaking about this in my class today because I don't use paid ads. This class is about growing your account organically, aka without spending money on Instagram ads, plus everything I'm teaching you today is what I have personal experience with. But paid ads are an option with business accounts. If you have a personal account and you want to switch over, just type it into Google, and you'll get a step-by-step instruction list for how to do so. I'm going to end this lesson by answering the main questions I hear people ask about personal versus business accounts. What are the main perks of a business profile? You get access to Instagram analytics about your followers and posts. You can promote your Instagram post as paid ads, you can add links to Instagram stories. You can schedule and auto publish your post with Instagram approved third-party apps. Do you keep a separate personal and business feed? A lot of people do this definitely. I don't have a personal Instagram account, but only because they have enough on my plate and I don't need another thing to manage. To be honest, a lot of what I share an Instagram aligns with my personal life as well. If anything, the only thing my Instagram followers are missing are selfies, food pics, and travel photos, but nobody really cares about that and I save it for Facebook anyway. Can you use a third-party scheduler with a personal account? Right now, no. If you're looking for a way to automate or schedule your posts, your best move is to upgrade with business or creator account. You also want to make sure that whatever third-party app you're using is officially approved by Instagram. You can check this by browsing their list of official Instagram marketing partners. If you use a third-party scheduling app that is not approved, you run the risk of getting your post shadow banned or worst-case scenario, getting your account shut down entirely. Tread very carefully here. I'll give you full details here when we get to our lesson later about automation and organization. Now that you've got the basic rundown between personal, professional, and creator accounts, let's move on to our next section. 5. Content Ideas: First things first, let's dive into the core component of how you can make an impact on Instagram. Content is king. There are a million other metrics for composing a strong social media presence, but quality content outranks everything else by far. When I say contents, what I'm talking about are the photos and videos that you upload to Instagram plus the copy that goes along with these visuals. I could spend another five minutes rambling on about how important content matters to your brands, but I will spare you the lecture. Instead, let's dive right into how you can create original contents that showcases your brand in the best possible lights. Your goal is to have a killer feed with content that accomplishes three things. One, encourages engagements. We'll dive more into engagement later, but essentially what I mean here is posting content that your followers will like, comment, share, tag, friends, all that jazz. Again, we'll go into depth with this one later, but know that content that gets the conversation rolling will outperform any other contents. You want content that reflects your brand at its absolute best. These are photos of your paintings that are shots in bright daylight with gorgeous backgrounds and compelling motifs, A+ storytelling in your captions. Instagram stories that show who you are as a creator in a rod and reel lights. Peaks inside your mind that show your audience what inspires you as a creative. Essentially, you want to post content that not only reflects your brand, but elevates it to it's absolutely most aspirational and dreams. You want your posts to resonate with your audience and provide value. Your followers follow you for a reason. You've got to determine what that reason is and make sure you are fulfilling your audience. For me, my followers follow me for a few reasons. They want to scroll through their Instagram feed and see bright, beautiful artwork. My feed will definitely check that box. A good chunk of my followers are students like you who want to learn more about my process and how I run my business. I'm pretty candid about both on Instagram. Whoever follows me for that reason is definitely getting what they need. I also have followers that are digital nomads like myself. They follow me because I'll occasionally post photos and videos of wherever I am in the world and the experiences that I'm having there. I'm an art brand, so I usually tie those posts in with how it inspires my artwork. Lastly, the other chunk of my followers that I care about are the companies I work with or wants to work with. These are my partners and I want to make sure that they see me often enough in their feed. They can see my new work, learn more about who I am as an artist, traveler and educator. Hopefully that strengthens our relationship or gets a new relationship cooking with a new company. All of these groups that I just mentioned are the audience that I'm thinking about every time I publish new content to Instagram. I will make sure that what I'm posting will resonate with one or all four of these audience groups that I just mentioned. Now that we've got the purpose and strategy behind our posts, let's talk about what that will actually look like in practice. Remember, this class is all about not just why to grow your Instagram presence, but how to do it as well. I love specifics. As a visual creative, you're already five steps ahead of every other industry out there on Instagram in terms of having incredible content to share. We all have loads of visuals at our disposal and are in no short supply of contents to post. But it's all about the strategy. I'm going to help you look at your entire portfolio of visual images that exist now and the ones that you'll create in the future to decide what to post and why. One, straight up final pieces. This is the end results from a recent project, art piece, photo-shoot, whatever. It's already edited and polished to perfection. This is you showing your premium best work and absolute height of your talents. This is probably about 75 percent of what I post on Instagram. It's all finished paintings and illustrations in their final form. It doesn't have to be fancy, just a flattened JPEG of your work. Here's some examples of what I'm talking about. It's final paintings, drawings, patterns, all the stuff that winds up as a portfolio piece. This is the stuff that I license out to my partners so they can sell it to their customers as art prints or they printed on pillows, drink where apparel that works. Two, straight up final pieces in a lifestyle setting. This is the exact same things I just mentioned, except they're in environments. No more flattened JPEGs of your artwork. I'm talking about photos of your work hung up on a beautiful wall, all mattered and framed for some great lifestyle photography vibes. Pro tip. These lifestyle images don't have to be real. It's awesome if they are, but if you don't have these photos, don't let that be a stumbling block. You can definitely fake it. In fact, I think a lot of my lifestyle photos. They're just digital mock-ups that I get online and pop my artwork into with a few clicks in Photoshop. These are called product mock-ups, and I use them all the time. It really does take my work to the next level. It shows exactly what this piece will look like on this product, whether it's a framed art prints, a ceramic enamel coffee mug, wallpaper in the foyer of a living room with some soft light streaming through, you get the gist. In fact, I already have a class that shows you exactly how to make these. Please feel free to go check it out. It's called design, top-selling product mock-ups with your arts. When you enroll in the class, I provide 10 totally free mock-up files thanks to my friends at Createsy. So not only will you learn how to make digital mock-ups, but you'll also get all the files you need absolutely for free. They're worth about a 155 bucks if you were to purchase them online, so it is a great deal. Go check it out. Three, process posts. This is another form of content that people love to see. Show your initial sketches and show how they turn into this beautiful painting. Everyone loved seeing this journey, whether they are a fellow creative or not. In fact, it's probably even more interesting for non creatives to get a glimpse into your process. I'm not a sculptor, but I find it absolutely fascinating to see how a chunk of clay becomes a masterpiece. I don't get it and I definitely don't have those skills myself, but man, is it inspiring. If you're a photographer, show your original unedited first draft alongside your final photo. Not only is this cool to see, but it shows all the thoughts, effort, and skills that you implemented to get to this final results. Some artists shy away from showing their unfinished work, but I'm here to tell you to embrace that vulnerability. Not only will it help very up all the content that you're posting, but it shows a well-rounded story of how you work as a creative. Pro tip here real quick. If you're worried about your Instagram feed looking junky with a rough sketch, I totally get that. I am all about the aesthetics of my feed as well. What I do if I want to post a sketch, is I tuck it into a post of multiple images. I put the pretty one first, and then you swipe through to see the rest of the photos which include the sketches, rough draft, polishing up, etc. I have the hero shop front and center in my feed, then tuck the process photos into the lineup. Four, studio shots. The strategy behind this is similar to showing your artistic process. Gives your followers a glimpse into your workspace and let them see where the magic happens. I get that this is another vulnerable thing to show the world, but think about all the times that you've seen the creatives that you look up to that are showing their personal space. Personally, when I see Lauren Harm or Jessica Hische photos of the work-spaces. I analyze the hell out of those photos. I want to see what their desks look like, what brand of art markers are scattered around their paper? What murals they've painted on the walls and what are just propped under their shelves? I feel like it gives me an insight into their personal lives, and as a creative, I really resonate with that. Pro tip, this doesn't have to be some raw, unedited version of your home. It's not inauthentic to tidy up your desk or rearrange your succulents to look more photogenic. You can show your space in the best possible light, and you should. Show your space, be authentic, but don't be afraid to polish it up if that's. Think of it like using a selfie mode filter on your desk. I primarily work in coffee shops and co-working spaces. I'll often snap a photo of my laptop and a cappuccino for Instagram and talk about the city or country that I'm living in at the moment. Five, time-lapse videos. Instagram prioritizes video contents hard. When you post videos, you're automatically going to get more eyes on that post than if you had done a photo alone. Personally, I don't post as many videos as I should, but I do know that it's in my best interest if I want more eyes on my work and I'm posting on Instagram because that is exactly what I want. If you're watching this class and you're in the film industry or you're a vlogger, or you own a drone and have some mad footage, you're probably already doing a lot of video. But for 2D visual creatives like me, my industry is all static imagery. My final products are all flats, jpegs, patterns, drawings, you get. Because of that, I've got to work a little harder to get video contents, and the absolute simplest way for me to get good videos to share an Instagram, it is time-lapse videos. Sometimes I'll connect to my phone to a tripod over my desk while I'm painting. I'll put the video in time-lapse mode. It's literally all done for me and I don't have to do any video editing myself. Recently, I started using procreate on my iPad to illustrate and it has this function where it automatically records your process and can pump out a time-lapse video for you. That is the coolest thing ever because I don't have to do any extra steps. It's done for me as I draw, anyway. Prioritize videos when you can and time-lapse videos are an easy way to do this if you're a visual creative. I'll get more into videos later when we start talking about Instagram stories. Six, another content-type that works incredibly well for me, voting between images. This goes back to the whole engagement thing, which is the key to succeeding on Instagram. An absolute guaranteed way of getting people to comment is to ask them which one they like more? A or B. People love sharing their opinions and you can give them an outlet to do so. As an extra perk for you when you ask people for their opinions, you can use this data as a way to determine which direction you should move forward with. I do this with color palettes all the time and the input I get for my audience is super valuable. It shows me exactly what they're looking for and they are absolutely my target market. It's a win-win. Pro tip. You can ask questions and to do poll is really easily with Instagram Stories as well. Again, we're going to dive into this when we get to the Instagram Stories section of this class. Seven, show your artwork in a creative way. Lay your paper on your desk and arrange your art supplies around it so people can see what materials you used. You can also add props to make it look designedly. Flower buds, twigs, gems, crystals, ornaments. My best advice here is to keep it simple and let the artwork itself own the spotlights. But a few curated props can take it to the next level. One of my trademarks of my capped Coke brand is holding up a finished piece in front of lush greenery. Or torque always looks best in natural light. Once the paint is dry, I take my paintings outside find a blooming Bushehr or tropical leaves and use nature as the backdrop for my photo. Pro tip. I always make sure my nails are on points and I like to [inaudible] a bunch of jewelry on to make things more interesting. Another pro tip, sometimes I'll just photograph a blank piece of paper in equal setting, later, I'll pop some final artwork and with Photoshop, and I do this to get a good stock pile of beautiful backdrops to use later. That way, if I finish a painting in a dimly lit hotel room in the middle of winter and a city with no photogenic street corners, I can still pop that artwork into my tropical setting to stay on brands. It's just another cool way of showcasing my artwork in a unique way that's consistent with my brands. Eight, show yourself. I'm not talking about gratuitous selfies with the bunny face filter, although I do like those. I'm talking about showing your audience, the person behind these creative posts and what you look like. This is a great opportunity to get personal with your audience. Remember that arts versus artists mean that was really popular. It went viral for a reason. People loved to seeing the artists behind the artwork that they created and pro tip, be conscious about how you're showing yourself. A close-up selfie is probably not the path forward here. Instead, have someone snap a photo view behind your desk with all of your materials and hands and your art in front of you. If you're a photographer, get a photo of yourself holding your camera. If you're a surface designer, hold up some of your creations so the world can see what you make. If you're a muralist, get in front of that baby so we can see who painted this gorgeous piece. Trust me, some of the most successful creatives out there are front-and-center with their brands. Before we move forward to the next lesson, we're going to drop some quick technical tips. The two most important aspect ratios for Instagram are 1:1, which is square, and 4-5, which is portraits. Square is most common, but I'll use the full 4-5 vertical to get that much more space on everyone's feed as they're scrolling down. But do keep in mind that if you post a non-square orientation, it'll still get cropped to square in your feed. If you care about a beautiful feed, which I definitely do, make sure that a long vertical is still going to look good, cropped onto a Square for your grid. Another thing I have to mention as you post your contents, give yourself credits. I include my signature on every single art piece that I posted Instagram. I always find a place to tuck it in. However, if I'm showing a lifestyle photo or product, it's a little trickier and I'll only add my signature in if it makes sense. Some people use watermarks on their posts, which is another solution here. If you do go the watermark routes, just make sure that it's not detracting from your main visual. Try to tuck it into a non-obtrusive place. Truth bomb, one of the unavoidable downsides of putting your content out there is that it will get stolen and used or monetized without your permission. This will happen to you eventually, and it's an unfortunate reality. However, by making sure that your signature or watermark is on the content that you post, you can at least have a little bit of leeway. Sure, someone can always crop it out. So it's not full proof, but most individuals and companies that use my content without my permission, just sell it as a signature in place and everything. The benefit there is, at least, I get notified from fans and followers when this does happen. Honestly, putting my artwork out there for the world to see is why I've reached this level of success. It definitely sucks when it gets stolen, but the benefits of mass exposure far outweigh the cons. Next up for the visual artists out there, my best advice for photographing your artwork. 6. Photographing Tips: Here are some of the ways that I photograph my artwork to share on Instagram. This lesson is for all the visual creatives out there who create analog or hands' done work, and you want to show it beautifully as a marketing tool. This is great for you. If you create paintings, drawings, embroidery, ceramics, weaving, sculptures, murals, anything tactile, I'll specifically be talking about photographing your work for marketing purposes, aka creating gorgeous content to share on Instagram and whatever other platforms you use. When it comes to digitizing my hands' done paintings and drawings to be printed on products or licensed out to partners, I do not photograph them. Instead, I'll always scan. In my mind, these are two separate things. If I want a beautiful shot of my painting and a lifestyle setting to share on social, I'm going to snap a photo with my camera or phone. If I want a super-duper, high-quality digital replication of my artwork so it can be printed on throw pillows, I'm going to use a scanner. I'm only talking about creating beautiful lifestyle photos in this class. Do you want to learn how to scan your artwork with an art scanner at an extremely high resolutions with very high-quality? Go check out to my other class. Digitize your art to sell online, prep your paintings for print on demand. Without further ado, let's dive right in. I'm going to show you a few tricks to capturing absolutely lovely and professional photos of your work. Our number one goal is to get high-quality photos. This sounds obvious, but it's surprising how many otherwise incredible art pieces I see that are just shot terribly. You spend a lot of time and effort on your creations, so you want to do them justice when you show them to the world. Smartphones. They have come a long way. You can absolutely get professional-looking photos of your artwork only using your phone. You don't necessarily need a fancy DSLR camera to get high-quality photos. Of course, if you've got it, use it. But for me, I shoot most of my paintings with my iPhone and the rest with a point and shoot Canon that's about five years old. Don't let lack of professional photographer equipment hold you back, because it definitely does not hold me back. To get high-quality photos, you want to shoot in bright, natural lights. I usually step outside when I'm photographing my paintings. You can also set up your artwork in front of a window and let that light stream in. I like having natural backgrounds when I'm holding up my paintings and photographing them, but sometimes I prefer a less busy-looking feel. For that, I went to a hardware store and I bought two wooden planks and a can of white spray paints. I'll set the boards outside under natural sunlight and I'll photograph my paintings or products on them if I want a very clean and minimal aesthetic. I still get the professional studio shot look, but it's a completely jerry-rigged process. But as long as I get that final result I'm looking for, it doesn't really matter to me. There are so many ways to photograph your work. You can show it hanging frame on a wall. You can take an in-the-process photo of your work in the setting in which it was created. If you're a painter, show the brushes and palate you used to create your masterpiece. If you're into hands-drawing pottery, show your ceramics drying on the shelves of your studio. If you have a product of your work, you can show it in a scene where it belongs, a coffee mug held in your hands, or a pillow propped on a chair. For me, I've created a signature style for the way I photograph my paintings. If you're swiping through Instagram and you don't necessarily recognize the artwork itself because it's brand new and you haven't seen it yet, you'll at least recognize the photo style. I always have one arm outstretched, holding onto my paper in front of a lush backgrounds. This setting has become synonymous with my brands, like a trademark, and helps reinforce my CatCoq brands. I encourage you guys to look for your own signature style in the way that you photograph your artwork. Are you always adding your signature or final touches to your artwork like Ann Shen does? Do you show your artwork in the way it was created like Charly Clements does with their iPad illustrations? Are you showing your work gridded out and at a slight diagonal like Tad Carpenter does? Also, for whatever reason, flat 2D artwork always seems to look best at an angle. I have no clue why this is, but it is an unwritten fact of the art and design worlds. In terms of making sure that your photos are crystal clear, here are the three biggest mistakes I see people making. One, the light is too dim. If you don't have enough light, your photo is going to look greeny, and bright sunlight will remove this problem entirely. Two, their lens is dirty. I always do a quick and casual wipe at my iPhone lens before I snap a photo. It takes two seconds and I usually use my shirts, but now it's like this ingrained behavior every time I pull out my phone to snap a picture. As it turns out, this little step is absolutely vital since I live in the tropics most of the time. My room is air-conditioned, but outside, it's usually hot and muggy, which makes my camera lens and my sunglasses fog up every time I step outside. Luckily, it's not a problem here because I'm in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in winter. The last mistake I see people make, they don't focus their lens. On an iPhone, it's literally one tap to make sure your lens is focused on your subject. I make sure that little square is right where I want it before I snap a photo. Again, this takes milliseconds but makes a world of difference in terms of getting a crystal clear shots. I touched on this before, but aspect ratios for Instagram posts are one-to-one, which is square, and four to five, which is portraits. I use square ratios the most, but photograph my work with enough space above and below, so I can easily crop to a portrait mode if I wanted to. You absolutely want that extra space if you're going to be using these photos on an Instagram story, which is a nine to 16 ratio. What this means is when you're photographing your work, don't zoom in too closely. Give your artwork some breathing room, so you can crop it in multiple orientations and have maximum flexibility with how you decide to use this photo. In terms of photo editing, my two favorite tools here are Photoshop and VSCO Cam. In Photoshop, I open up Levels and use the eyedropper tool to sample my image and set the white points. It's a tiny little trick, but it makes a world of difference. If you're editing on your phone, I recommend using the VSCO app to make modifications. There are a lot of editing tools on VSCO, but I'll just show you the ones I use. I usually through a filter in the C or S-series onto my photo, all depending on what looks best. The C-series filters are great for deepening those green tones that I usually have in my photos. S3 is great for warming up the tones to amp up the bright, warm sunlight. While I'm in the app, I'll also bump up the contrast, a smudge, as well as increase the clarity to make my artwork sharper. Now that you know the secrets to creating beautiful lifestyle photos, let's move on with the next lesson. 7. Captions: Instagram is most definitely a visual platform, so it's easy to overlook captions or disregard them as unimportant. But I've got to tell you guys that would be doing yourself a massive disservice. When I spend time and effort writing out a compelling caption, I see a huge increase in overall engagement for my post. That being said, sometimes I do get lazy and simply slap a few emojis on is my caption, but hey, sometimes low effort is better than no effort at all. With captions, it's more than just writing a paragraph instead of a sentence. Like everything else we're covering today, there is strategy behind your copywriting. I'll be covering the tips and tricks that have worked wonders for me. Let's get started. Captions are a great opportunity to infuse your voice into your creative brands. The photo or video that you post will absolutely be the central focus, but you can control your narrative with the caption. Here's an example of what I'm talking about. When I posted this watercolor pattern of citrus slices, I could have said something simple and straightforward in the caption like, "Here's my new pattern," and then slap a few lemon emojis on or something. But that is super boring and it actually degrades the time and effort that I put into creating this vibrant design. Instead, here's what I wrote, "Citrus explosion. Every once in a while, I'll dive back into an older painting and make some slight tweaks to improve its. In this case, I decided to create a pattern out of my citrus slices. I isolated each chunk and then rearranged them onto a crisp white backgrounds. I also bumped up the saturation a smidge and adjusted the transparency so you can see the toothiness of that paper texture background coming through. Et voila. A nice refresh on an old favorites." This caption is way better than, "Here's my new design." Not just because it's longer, but because I'm taking this opportunity to share valuable insights into my art process. Remember how I mentioned earlier about knowing your audience? Well, a good chunk of my following are fellow artists and students of mine. These are people that are going to get a lot of value in learning how I work behind the scenes. By sharing this, I'm demystifying the creative process and helping people learn how they too can create artwork in a similar manner. A caption like this doesn't just apply to my art audience, it's also interesting for non industry followers to get a little glimpse of how artists like me work. Essentially, it's a win-win and the numbers prove it. This is one of my most engaging posts of last year. Because I like real world examples away more than lectures, I'm going to walk through a few examples and give you ideas of how you can create an engaging caption. One, tells a story about how you created this piece. What's the inspiration? Why did you create it? What does it mean to you? Here's an example. I wrote this, "Cactus garden, acrylic painting versus the inspiration. Swipe over to see the photo I snapped up some truly gorgeous prickly pear clusters, plus all the colorways I've been exploring. Let me know your favorites." Two, share a beautiful image and then give a recap of how your day is going even if it is entirely unrelated to the image itself. This sounds weird, but I actually do this all the time. It's a way for me to balance out the art side of my brands with who I am as a person. Example, "Yesterday, I was motorbiking game with friends in Serbia. This morning. I was snoozing away in a sleeping pod in the Moscow airports. Tonight, I'm catching up with my college BFF in New York. Life is anything but boring." This caption is entirely unrelated to the image I posted, but it's one of my highest engaging posts of all time on Instagram, so guys, this works. Example 2, you can do this same strategy, but tie your visual in more closely with what you're saying in the caption. For example, the day before Thanksgiving, I posted a photo of my slot painting with this caption, "Raise your hand if you're a fellow grown up who will be sitting at the kids table tomorrow. Side note, sloth-like is exactly I'm going to feel after horsing down Thanksgiving dinner." There it is, one little quip, and I've tied my sloth artwork into a Thanksgiving caption. Three, ask a question. Every post should start a conversation. Remember your goal is engagements and asking questions is obviously the number one way you can get the ball rolling. I literally did this when I was planning out this class. I got on Instagram and I ask my audience, you guys exactly what you wanted to learn and guess what's, I'm using those suggestions in the curriculum today. Side note, thank you if you're responded. Four, say something relatable especially if it's funny. Humor is a sure shot of getting more engagements. I don't know about you guys, but I follow a lot of meme accounts. I'm not saying you have to be a comedic genius, but if you've got a quirky sense of humor, share it and let people get to know you. For example, to accompany my NAH digital illustration, I kept the caption shortened sweets, "I woke up, I checked my inbox, then remembered it's Saturday. Current mood, see no evil monkey, emoji." Guys that got over 1,000 likes in the first 24 hours. Here's another that artists found incredibly relatable, "Shout outs to all the artists out there who accidentally take a sip of their paint water while they're in the zone. We've all been there and it's disgusting." This got a ton of comments from other artists who have absolutely been in that exact same situation, it's very relatable. Five, share your big wins with your audience. Did you get a piece selected for an important upcoming show? Did you get your work featured by publication? Did you sell an original painting? Brag about yourself. Not only does it help validate you as a creative, but your followers wants to cheer you on too. I think a lot of people shy away from us because they feel like it's boasting, but get over yourself. If you've had a big success, you want to let everybody know. Example, when my artwork made it into Target, I was freeking ecstatic. I channeled that energy right into my Instagram caption, "I am thrilled to announce that my artwork is now officially available through targets. It's so surreal that the store where I buy swimsuits, skincare, and just about everything else is now carrying my own paintings." Six, talk about your growth as a creative. All artists evolve. Picasso didn't just get stuck in his blue period for his entire career. His art style evolved into his rose period, his African influenced period, then analytic cubism followed by synthetic cubism, etc. The point is his output changed as he grew and so does yours. It doesn't have to be some pretentious caption about your self-defined art period, but you can show people how you've evolved over the years. Example, I shared this, "One motif, three different mediums, watercolor, digital, and pen. Swipe through to see them all. Can you tell I was inspired by my 10 days living on a volcanic island? Seven, hard promotion. Put a super strong call to action in your caption and make a very hard sell. I know it can feel cringy to be super salesy, believe me, I do still struggle with it from time to time. But as long as you're not bombarding your audience with sales copy, it is totally fine to ask your audience to take action, whether it's a click, a conversion, or making a purchase. Example, "Spoiler alerts. This isn't a photo. I made this simple little scene in Photoshop using a few textures and shapes. If you've always wanted to learn Photoshop, but have never really been sure where to start, check out my new Skillshare class. Link in bio." See, this is a strong call to action, but I am not being annoying or pushy. If your goal is to grow an audience, make hard promotion posts about 20 percent of your content. If your goal is to get people to buy your products right now, amp that up to about 80 percent. To wrap this up, here's a few more key tips to creating a great caption. Include a call-to-action. Use action verbs to prompt people to do something. Check out my new class, shop my new designs, tag a friend who would love this print. Front-load the important stuff. Captions are cut off and users feeds after three or four lines of text. While users can just tap the three dots to expand, most people aren't going to unless you've hooked them in your first sentence. Use emojis, they're eye-catching, and add personality to your caption. Personally, I am a huge fan. All right guys, let's move onto your next section. 8. Driving Sales: Instagram is good for business for a lot of reasons. You can grow your brand awareness, build a following, reach new customers, acquire social proof, interact with other brands and potential business partners, drive traffic to your websites and you can use Instagram to grow sales. Instagram is huge for driving sales. This applies to any brand out there, whether you're selling original paintings through your own websites, products with your artwork on them, through a print on demand site like Society Six, maybe you're a freelance designer or business coach willing to acquire clients or you want people to sign up for your e-book or newsletter, whatever the products, whether it's a physical product, an info product or a service, you're probably interested in boosting sales with Instagram. But how do you do it without scaring off followers, saying the wrong thing, being too pushy or making a mistake and devaluing your brands. This is what I'm going to walk you through in this lesson. I've got to throw this in there first. If you are brand new to monetizing your business and you're not sure if you have enough followers to start selling your work, I have news for you. You only need one follower before you start selling. You don't need to reach some milestone of a 1,000 or 10,000 followers before you start treating your page as an actual business, you can do this right now. I hear so many people say that they're not ready to transition their Instagram accounts into selling their stuff because they don't think they have enough followers, and they'd feel silly acting like a real business. You guys, this is such a limiting belief. There is no time like the present to start taking your business seriously, and everyone starts from somewhere. My best advice here is to bite the bullet, put yourself out there, and start identifying as a business owner because that is exactly what you are. It doesn't matter if this is your side hustle part-time gig or full focus. This is real and you're not opposer for identifying as a business owner or an entrepreneur. I started my CatCoq business as a side hustle while I was still working as an employee at a design agency. I worked a nine to five job, but I was building my arts business up on the side and getting ready to make it my full-time gig. When I registered my LLC, guess what I put as my title, President and CEO, baby. Yeah, my business was brand new and I barely began to monetize it. But after working in entire career as an employee, I was so pumped about the prospect of being my own boss and nothing epitomizes that to me, like the title of president and CEO. That is what it took to get me in the right headspace. So long runs over. Just know that if you're hesitant to ask people to buy your products, get over yourself and just do it. The first ask is going to be the hardest, but I promise that it gets so much easier. Now I don't even think twice about it when I'm promoting products. Let's dive into how to optimize your profile for sales. Your profile needs to look professional. If it doesn't inspire confidence and trust, people aren't going to feel comfortable giving you their money. For starters, upgrade to a business accounts, if that makes sense for you. Out of websites link in your bio, include a brief description of your brands and choose a professional-looking profile tech, whether it's your logo, a professional headshot, if you're the face of your brands or a photo of the products you sell. Just make sure that the image is high-quality and reflective of your brands. Now, let's talk about your posts. Salesy post shouldn't be the entirety of your feed. Instead, diversify it up a bit with brand-building posts where you aren't actively trying to get people to buy. This helps your brand feel more authentic and less salesy. Another tip for promoting sales without being too aggressive. You can acknowledge when something is still for sale, but be creative about it. Ending your caption with excited to see where this piece finds a home, does the trick without being too salesy. Another way to encourage sales to your Instagram followers, give them exclusive promotions and offers. Let them know that this is for your Instagram audience only. This gives them a reason to follow you. Remember, providing value is key. If you have a business accounts, you can link some platforms directly to your posts to sell a product, but take notes. You can't do this from a personal account or a creator accounts. There's also a lot of other criteria you must meet to be able to tag products, so check the Instagram Help Center if you're having any issues getting this to work. But when everything is set up, you can tag products on your posts just like you can tag other accounts and the link will take them directly to your websites. So like I mentioned before, I have a creator accounts, but I switched to business to show you how this works. You can see that when I tap the products, it takes me directly to my Shopify store and you can purchase the prince right here, and now. The key here is to make sure that your products are linking to an Instagram approved platform, like I do here with Shopify. If you aren't using a platform that's approved by Instagram, this will not work for you. For example, if you sell your products on society Six, or another prints on-demand platform, you won't be able to add these product links because you don't own that websites. When I set this up, not only did I have to have my products available on my Shopify store, but I also had to make sure that they were integrated into the Facebook catalog. Yeah, there's definitely some trial and error to get this setup. I remember it took me a few days to get it all figured out. If you proceed down this path to tag your products, do understand that it is going to take some googling. Another way to drive sales is to do exactly what I mentioned in my lesson about how to write compelling captions, do some hard promotion, put that strong call to action in place and directly ask your customers to buy your products, make it super easy for them to do so, use a link shortener like Bitly or tiny URL, and paste the link into your caption. Even though links and captions aren't clickable, someone may take the time to type it into the browser manually. If you want to simplify the process, you do get one active link in your bio, so use that for your sales page. That way you can still make a post to get sales, and then all you have to do is write in the caption, click the link in my bio to buy. It's pretty simple. Again, you want to make it as easy as possible for someone to buy your products. Another way to get live links working is Instagram stories. We're going to get into stories a little bit more later, but for now, know that you can embed live links into your stories. This has been a game changer in terms of easily getting your audience off Instagram and to your personal websites or blog, shop, Etsy, whatever. Again, we'll do a deep dive into this one in our next lesson. A lot of the essentials you need to incite sales on your Instagram page are already being covered throughout this class. Grow a real and engaged following. Use hashtags that don't just reach people in your industry, but also break into an audience of potential customers. Post high-quality, compelling photos of your products as products, showing process work is great and you should definitely do it, but don't forget to show what that beautiful painting looks like as a coffee mug in your kitchen. Show these products in action, whether it's a table tray, Latin with food, a yoga mats in use, or a testimonial from a very happy clients. Video is great for this type of stuff. Post giveaways, so that people not only get excited about the prospect of free stuff, but they also understand that this stuff is available for purchase. If any of your followers purchase your products and posted a photo, share that with your audience as well. Don't forget to thank them obviously. User-generated content is clutch for social proof. Give your audience value, share discount codes, sales events, and anything else that will give them a financial incentive to buy right now. Using Instagram organically, aka not paying for ads is definitely a slow grow, so be patients. But everything I've been talking about are the key strategies to ramping up your Instagram presence, especially for sales. Don't forget to use your analytics to see what's working best and what's been a dud. This will help you from just blindly moving forward. That data is golden, and it will help you figure out the best forward plan of action. I'm wrapping this up. Let's move on with our next lesson. 9. Stories: Instagram describes stories as something that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you wanted to keep on your profile. Stories allow you to share photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. They aren't posted on your main feed. They appear as a slideshow reel, entirely separate from your main grid. You can find stories in a bar at the top of your feed or by tapping any profile pic with a pinky-orange circle outline. I use stories as a way to break away from the perfectly curated Instagram grid. Unlike my posts, which I like to keep pretty polished, stories are like my raw, unedited footage. My posts are perfection and well thought out, but my stories are the real deal of what I'm up to on a day-to-day basis. Stories give you permission to be a little bit more loose with what you post. I don't have to worry about my content looking good in the grid. Likes and comments on stories aren't public, so there's no pressure there. Stories are like a no pressure way to still post content and get engagements, so rather than explain all the functions and in-depth details pertaining to stories, instead, I'm going to walk you through how I typically post a story. First thing's first, I'm on my home screen and I'll tap the camera on the upper right corner of my screen. You can also swipe left to get to the exact same place. This opens the camera so you can either snap a photo or video right now, or do what I normally do and open up the camera roll instead to use a photo or video that you've already taken. To be honest, I am not a super spontaneous person. So 99.9 percent of the time, I skip the built-in camera feature and pull something from my camera roll instead. Instagram doesn't prioritize one of these over the other, so in terms of engagement, it doesn't matter if you're using the camera function within the app or using a photo that's already on your camera roll. The only exception here is going to be if you're going live, in which case you'll need to be recording live from the app. Tap that little box on the bottom left of your screen to open up the camera roll. You can also swipe up to get to the exact same page. It'll automatically show you photos taken in the last 24 hours, but you can tap that text at top and filter by other parameters as well, like favorites, selfies, videos, and more. I'll tap favorites and use this pretty glamour shot of a coffee shop I worked in. If you want to add a photo filter, swipe left to see all of your options. Because I usually add my filters in VSCO already, I typically skip this step, but it's there for you if you want to use it. Instead, the first thing I usually do is add a bit of text. You can play with the formatting a bit with the options at top, like alignments, fonts, and more. I usually wind up using this typewriter font, so that is my default. Since this is a pretty busy photo, I'll add a color to the background to make the text pop. My default for this is almost always black, but this time around, I'm going to use the eyedropper, to pull some of that vibrant, minty turquoise from my laptop screen instead. That feels pretty good. Now we'll just move the text a bit and let the auto alignment guides do their thing. Next up, I'll pepper a GIF in here to make it a little bit more eye-catching. Tap the smiley face in a rounded square icon and you'll open up the stickers option. Stickers are elements that you add on top of your photo or video. You can add GIFs, today's date, do polls, or ask questions, add hashtags, add your location, or choose from a bunch of trending sticker options. I want to add an animated GIF. I'll tap GIF and you'll see the trending options. These are cool, but don't really pertain to my photo, so instead, I'm going to use the search function to type in a keyword. Sparkle has been one that I've been using a lot lately, it's subtle but adds a nice polish to my otherwise static photo. You can pinch the screen to resize it and reposition it on the composition. I want it to be hovering above my latte, so it looks magical. The last thing I'm going to add to the story before I post it is a link to purchase this artwork that you see on my screen. Heads up, you can only add links to your stories if you already have a business account, you can't do this with a personal account. I'll tap the link icon up at the top toolbar, click the plus for adding a web link, then paste in the link to my Society Six page that sells these rosettes succulents as an art print. I can always check the preview before I post to make sure it's not a broken link, and we're good. X the preview to go back to my story and I'll click "Done". Pro tip, if you're going to include a swipe up link, always add a call to action to your story so your followers will know to swipe up, and for that, I could either type it in manually and say something like swipe up to shop this print, or I could do the lazy option, which I love, and use a GIF instead. So I'll open up my GIFs, search swipe up, and choose one that looks good. I usually put swipe up calls to action at the bottom of my composition because that adds a subliminal clue to put your finger there to swipe. To publish my story, "Send to" on the bottom right and click "Share" under your story. You have options here to send your story to select people, but because my Instagram is for my business not personal, I always share it to everyone, aka select the 'Your Story' option. Now, everyone can see it. To see the story you've just published, tap your profile pic at top and there it is. Instagram only shows the story for five seconds, but if you want to spend more time looking at a story before it goes away, just hold your finger on the screen and it'll pause the countdown. To view your stats, simply swipe up and you can see everyone who has seen your story. You can also tap the bar graph and see the insights once they're available. You can see how many people clicked the link, which is our main goal with this post, since swipe up is our call to action. You can also see how many people visited your profile after they saw your story, plus all the accounts you reached. One of my favorite bits of info to look at is the back clicks. These are people who were so intrigued by my story that the full five seconds was not enough time for them and they wanted to watch it again. That's how I know I posted a good one. So now that you've got the basic walk through of an average story that I post, let's dive into some quick strategies for getting the most bang for your buck here. Remember, Instagram is all about engagement. So you want to do everything you can to maximize this. Instagram built in a few insanely simple ways to accomplish this as well. One of my favorites is to ask a question using the poll sticker. At first glance, it looks like you can only ask yes or no questions but the sticker is actually pretty customizable. I'm going to type in my question, which color palettes. Then I'm going to change the answers to top and bottom. Cool. Now because my text is getting a little lost in front of that detailed pattern, I'm going to show you a quick fix I use to make the text pop. I'll choose the squiggly icon up in the top toolbar. This one lets me draw on my story with a digital marker. I'll use the color drop option to select a tone straight from my illustrations, then squiggle away behind the text. Click "Done", and voila, your text is no longer obscured. Last but not least, I'm going to add a little GIF in there to make it more intriguing. This little otter is freaking adorable so there you go. I'll reposition it with my finger and resize with a little pinch and I'm ready to publish. If you want to publish the story to your entire audience, simply tap the icon at the bottom left corner of the screen. I have mine automatically mingled in with my Facebook page as well. So it'll publish to both Instagram and Facebook stories all in one go, which is one less thing I have to worry about. I'll give it a few minutes and then I'll watch my poll results start to come in. Usually after a few hours, I'll have a lot of engagements. After all, people love sharing their opinion, especially if you're the one actually asking for it. I'll show you one more way that I boost engagement with stories. It's called the quiz sticker. This is where you can ask questions and people can guess and see if they got the right answer. Instagram wants to do everything they can to make engagement easier for you. So they even provide sample questions that pop up if you roll the dice, so to speak. But I have a custom question that I want to ask, so I will type it in manually. A lot of people ask me what artistic medium I use when I publish a new piece, so sometimes I'll let them guess first. For this, I'll use the quiz sticker. I'll give three options, crayon, acrylic, or watercolor. The right answer is acrylic, so while tap that one and make sure it's green. Now, I'll post it to Instagram and Facebook by clicking the icons at the bottom left. There are a bunch of other ways you can make your stories engaging and interactive. You can tag friends, pop in hashtags, create countdowns, and even add a little sliding scale to ask your audience how much they love your newest illustration. All right, a few more tips to round out this speed lesson on stories. The unwritten rule is to post between one and seven stories a day. I usually wind up somewhere in that range, but I do take days off entirely and it's no big deal. If someone tags you in a story, you can share it and add it to your own story and this is considered proper Instagram etiquette. If someone tags me in their story with a picture of my artwork or designs, I'll re-share it to my own story even if I don't personally know who that follower is. Trust me, it's not weird, that's just how stories were intended to be used. I was on a road trip with friends last month through New Zealand and my friend Aga tagged me in her Instagram story. I saw it but I forgot to share it on my own story and she let me know by acting fake offended that I committed such a social media faux pas. Tag others in stories if it pertains to them and share stories that tag you in if it pertains to you or your brand. Another trick you can do is add your stories to highlights. These are the collection of stories that you see on people's profiles. Normally, stories only last 24 hours, but if you add one into your highlights, it'll be there permanently. If you ever feel like it's a waste of time to create content that will delete itself in 24 hours, highlights are your solution. Don't put every single story in your highlights, but pick and choose ones that make sense for your brand. I use highlights for evergreen content so people can get a good glimpse of my brand fairly quickly. Right now, I have two highlights groups, Art and About Me. Pretty self-explanatory. You can tap the icon to open then tap through my individual stories to work your way through the entire grouping. I put both of these together a few years ago and I'm still getting interaction from them, which is awesome because I spent a lot of time and effort planning these out. I even designed them to look more professional in Adobe Illustrator, which was totally extra of me, then give it an evergreen about my brand section of your profile. You only have a 150 characters to use in your bio, but you can share the rest within these story highlights. Checkout how other creatives in your industry are grouping their highlights. There are a million other ins and outs for Instagram stories, but because this class encompasses all of Instagram, I want to move on to cover some other basics for creating a highly engaging and successful brand page on Instagram. I might have a class in the future that is solely focused on stories, but for now, let's move forward with the other essentials you need to know for Instagram. 10. Planning & Scheduling: I know a lot of you guys have questions about using apps to help you schedule, automate, and organize your Instagram posts. Personally, I only use third party apps for planning and organizing future posts. I never use these apps to post on my behalf. The difference here is that when I schedule outposts, what I'm doing is lining up a bunch of future posts, organizing them, seeing how they looked together on a grid and writing out to the captions. Then I send a reminder for myself on the day and time I've planned for each one. Then I copy and paste the caption I've already written out and post it manually from my phone, just like any other Instagram post. Automation means that I do all of the above except I let the app itself post on my behalf and that is the difference here. I will not let third part apps get into my accounts and posts for me because quite frankly, there's some risk associated with that. One, if there's a glitch and something goes wrong, like my caption doesn't copy over or the photo isn't correct, I might not see that right away because it's been posted automatically. Two, Instagram doesn't necessarily sanction third part apps. There are some out there they claim to have Instagram's approval, but this approval changes all the time. If you're using a third party app in a way that Instagram doesn't like, they can shut down your accounts in an instance. That's where we're at. Rather than walk through a variety of scheduling apps that I don't personally use, I'm going to focus on the only one I actually do use Planoly. Here are the reasons I use this app. One, I like seeing what my posts will look like on my grid before I put them up there. The best looking Instagram grids aren't just incidental, they are meticulously plans. I won't mind to show off my brand in the best possible lights and that means being conscious about what photos I'm selecting and in what order. Using an app Planoly, helps me get a quick visual of this and play around to see what's working best. Two, another reason I use Planoly, I'm busy. Rather than spend a bunch of time every day planning out my social posts for that day, I'd rather do it in a big batch all at once that covers the next few days or week. That way, I'm fully focused on my posting strategy rather than just haphazardly posting whatever I feel like doing in the moments. That is what stories are for. Three, it helps me stay on track with posting regularly. When I take a break from scheduling stuff out in advance, it's easy for me to slip entirely and forget to post for days on ends. I know this isn't the absolute end of the worlds, but it's not optimal if I'm really wanting to grow my social media accounts. Four, Planoly's platform works on desktop too, and that is my personal preference. A lot of apps are mobile only. If that works for you, great, but for me, I keep all my visuals on hard drives that I plug into my computer. It's easier for me to schedule things out on my laptop then on my phone files. The final reason I use Planoly is solely because I can't do the same thing on the Instagram app as it exists today. If Instagram had the functionality to plan and organize future posts, I would absolutely be doing it on their platform. But instead, Planoly is what I've got. Remember, I'm using a third part app Planoly for scheduling, not automation, and here's how it works. When you sign up with Planoly, you give them permission to access your basic info, your media and the info on your profile. This is how your dashboard looks on a free plan. As you can see, Planoly does offer the options to auto post if you have a business account with Instagram, but I don't use that feature. Instead, what I like to do is tighten up my browser so I'm seeing my grid, then drag in image to see how they look as future posts. You can rearrange them to see what's working best visually. For example, if I've just posted a photo with a lot of white and light tones, I'll opt for something darker in value for the next post. Once I get everything to a place that I like, I just click on the image and type in my caption. Again, this is only for my reference. When I'm ready to post this to Instagram, I'll copy and paste the caption and do it manually from my phone. I don't use the schedule date option here. Instead, I keep it pretty simple for myself. When I'm living in Southeast Asia, I make one post in the morning when I roll out of bed and that hits my American audience in their evenings. Then I do another manual post right before I go to bed. Same thing, it gets my primary demographic Americans in their morning. There's a lot of other ins and outs you can do with Planoly, but this is really all I use it for myself. I keep it pretty simple. One question I've heard people ask is if it's okay to post the same contents to Instagram and Facebook? Best practice, it's better to vary it up and post different contents. But in reality, I'm guilty of doing this all the time. Since Instagram is integrated with Facebook, it's easier than ever to simply share it to your linked accounts with a few taps. For me, it comes down to this. My primary audience is on Instagram. I don't want to neglect Facebook entirely, but Instagram will definitely take priority over any other platform for me. If I'm feeling lazy and I don't want to write a brand new post just for Facebook, it's better for me to recycle my Instagram post over to Facebook rather than do nothing at all. Let's move on to one of our last lessons in today's class. 11. Your Project: For your class project, let's see you in action. Stories are one of my favorite ways to be creative on Instagram. They're actually pretty fun to design. You can add stickers, draw doodles at animated GIFs, and really harness your creativity to create a compelling and engaging story. What I want to see is what your best story looks like. How do you design it? Consider your color palettes, textures, topography, links, stickers, all that jazz. Screenshot it and add it to the class projects section of our class. I encourage all of you guys to check out other students projects as well. This is going to be a great source of inspiration for all of us, so please feel free to comment on other student's projects too. You can follow me on Instagram @ catcoq. If you tag me in a story about this class and I see it in time, I'll be selecting some of my favorites to share into my stories as well. I cannot wait to see what you design. 12. Bonus: It's my bonus lesson for today. I'm going to share the biggest mistakes I see when it comes to Instagram marketing plus what you should do instead. One, don't be a mystery. I can't tell you how many profiles I've seen with zero helpful information in the bio. I don't know your name, your contact information, your company name, or even a URL to your websites. It is a complete mystery. What if I were a brand and I wanted to work with you? There is no way to contact you. Do, optimize your bio, have a well-rounded bio that includes at the very minimum, your name and a way to contact you like an e-mail address or websites. Even better, include both and don't forget to make sure that your privacy settings are set to public. Two, don't be vulgar or use profanities. It's unprofessional and can turn some potential clients away. Targets won't tag me on Instagram when they promote my work if my page is full of F bombs. Do, be vulgar and use profanities if it's part of your brands. If dropping F bombs is the brand positioning that you've established, continue leading that charge. A lot of accounts have reached their success because they capitalized on being risque and incorporated it into their brands. Take a look at WTF Should I letter. Lauren Hom, one of my favorite designers and business gurus, created this novelty account as an offshoot of her own brand, Hom Sweet Hom. WTF should I letter encourages designers and typographers to create their own hand lettered masterpieces, but it adds up pretty funny twist. GFDA is another prime example of this strategy. Good Effin Design Advice started as a quirky one-page website with one liners aimed at creatives. They threw an F bomb in every piece of advice and went viral pretty much overnight. Now it's an entire community. The point I'm trying to make here, there are always exceptions to the rule. Three, don't share selfies and party picks. This is mixing work and personal in the wrong way. I've unfollowed accounts because some random selfie showed up in my feed and I had no idea who that person was. You've got to consider who your audience is and what value you provide to them. If you're posting something that's way off scope, you're risking facing a lot of unfollows. Do, let's people get to know you. You can be upfront and personal without compromising your brand image. I'll absolutely post photos of myself from time to time, but I keep it in context with my brands. I'll occasionally share cool travel photos when I'm on the road. My followers find this interesting, especially when my caption ties it in with my digital nomad lifestyle or how I get my creative inspiration from traveling. I don't post photos with drinks with my girls on the weekend because my audience doesn't really care, this is boring into them. Share a personal story, be vulnerable, let people get to know you, but be conscious of how you're doing this. Also, side note, Instagram stories can be a great outlet for showing more personal and behind the scenes snapshots of your life. Don't pay for followers. Sure, a lot of followers looks good, but other metrics are so much more important than that. If you're trying to grow a brand, the most important thing is engagements. If you buy followers or fans, you aren't getting people who are interested in you or your product. It's just a vanity metric. Fake accounts do nothing for you but harm you. Plus, if I see an account with a huge following, but almost no interactions on their posts. It's a dead giveaway that most of the followers they have are fake, it makes me lose trust in that brands. There goes their integrity and their reputation. Do grow organically. The slow grow will always be the most stable. If you're attracting followers based off the quality of your content, these people are genuinely interested in your brand and your product offering. These are the quality followers that will converts to paying customers and you cannot put a price on that. Five, don't copy other artists. Trust me, this is a bad look. Anything that can be perceived as plagiarism can turn into a massive downward spiral for your brands. Do, get inspired by other artists. Pay attention to other accounts in your industry and note what's working well for them. See if you can add your own twist on that. For example, if you notice a popular account in your industry that has started their own hashtag and encouraged their followers to implement it as well. Maybe that's an initiative you could incorporate into your own brands. Lauren Hom has hashtag homwork. Charly Clements has hashtag fun with faces. Jessica Walsh has hashtag, sorry, I have no filter images. All of these creative women have encouraged a community with their audience by introducing brand centric hashtags. Maybe you see this and inspired to create one of your own. This is what I mean by getting inspired instead of straight up copy, it's okay to take note of something that is working really well for someone else and find a way to make it proprietary to your brand's. All right guys, thank you for taking my class today. You can follow me on Instagram at catcoq and see if I practice what I preach. If you tag me in an Instagram story and I see it in time, chances are I'm going to reshare it to my own stories. If you wanted to get on my newsletter, you can sign up at This means you'll get all my latest updates like upcoming classes, new artwork, and noteworthy news straight to your inbox. Last but not least, you can follow me on Skillshare by clicking the Follow button up top. This means you'll automatically get a notification every time I launch a new class. Thank you again, and I will see you guys next time.