The Abundant Artist coaches artists, from artists just starting to artists selling over $100,000 per year in art. One of the topics we discuss a lot is how Instagram can increase your sales.

Three mistakes that I see artists make on Instagram are:

  1. Focus on the number of followers.
  2. Infatuation with hashtags
  3. It is not about being smarter but working harder.

The first mistake Focus on the following count. I get it. I am a working artist, too. When our followers’ count starts increasing, there’s an occasional feeling of an endorphin rush. When you reach the next big milestone (100 or 10,000 followers), this little rush can cause you to lose sight of what is helping you sell art on Instagram.

It’s a huge industry to increase your follower count. Today, I received a message from a service offering to help me purchase 1,000-100,000. It would cost $10-$1000, depending on how many followers I needed. These messages make me mad. I know that many people on Instagram want more followers and will pay big money for it. 

I consider the business model behind these offers when I receive them. Who is this working for? Are these 1,000 followers going to be buyers? Are they good matches to my art? Is this my ideal client?

We all know the truth.

It is important to have real followers and not fake followers. Connect with other Instagram users to get to know them.

I’d rather have 1000 people who know me, my work and comment frequently and who also share my art with friends than 10,000 bots or unengaged followers.

#2: Obsessing over hashtags. 

Good hashtags are important for your posts. However, obsessing about them could distract you from the real work that gets you sales on Instagram.

How can you create great hashtags?

1. Take a look at the profiles of your top clients or collectors. What hashtags do they use? 

2. Look at the Top 9 hashtags. Does your art fit in? (I did this with ‘commission art’ and discovered that it was used primarily for custom avatars/illustrations–not a match for my audience/collectors–so I stopped using it and found hashtags that better matched. To help you find great hashtags, you can use a site like a flick. Tech and an app like Later. 

3. Choose hashtags with less than 500,000, 100,000, or 20,000 posts to increase your chances of being seen.

#3 Mistake – Work harder, not smarter 

This is a well-known and trusted statement: work smarter, not harder. What does this mean for selling your artwork online?

Artists who have trouble selling work on Instagram are different from those who are successful. This is because of how they use the various features on Instagram. Artists who consistently sell work on Instagram use every feature of Instagram strategically and thoughtfully.


Instagram’s goal is to increase sales. You do this by: 

1. Connecting directly with collectors 

2. Driving traffic to your site. 

3. Increase sign-ups to your email list.

These three goals are the foundation for more sales.

How can you use Instagram’s different features to achieve these goals? 

Instagram is much more than just your Feed. It’s your Profile and Stories, Highlights, Reels (IGTV), Direct Messages, Shop Links, and your Profile. You can connect with your ideal client by understanding how each feature works and how to use them.


This is the most important space you can curate. This is your art gallery. Preview apps such as ArtRooms can be used to show collectors where your work would fit into their space. Read more on our blog Top apps for previewing art on a wall.


The profile page bio is a way for people to get to know you quickly. You can brag quickly (aka “award winning” or “as seen at XYZ exhibit/TV”) and make clear calls to action: Visit my website, subscribe to our email list. Keep your brand in mind: If your brand is playful, play with it; if your brand is earnest and earnest, do so; if your brand’s badass is badass, then be badass.


Stories allow followers and collectors to see the real you. This is where it can get messy and even fun. It’s like the chaos at the opening night of the gallery. People are looking at art and talking about books, what they enjoy, what inspires them, and so on.


Highlights allow you to showcase past stories on your profile page. Collectors will also be able to see past stories.

Direct message 

Here is where the real magic happens. Direct messaging can be used to reach potential clients who are interested in your work. The conversation is the key to building relationships in art. Learn more about using DMs to market your art. Register for The Abundant artist Instagram Workshop Learns how to sell your art on Instagram even if you have 10,000 followers. Based on the lessons of working artists who have sold thousands of art using just a few steps, this workshop will take you one hour to complete.


Reels are the hottest Instagram feature right now (Spring 2021). Reels is the newest feature on Instagram and gets a lot of traffic. It’s similar to TikTok, which allows you to create short videos/video clips. This is a playful and fun place where you can show off your work, personality, process, and even time-lapse videos.

 Add your reels to your Stories to increase traffic – and if you like it, share it to the Feed. 

Reel is a new feature that can be tricky to understand at first. Instagram has a fantastic help page which answers many questions.


IGTV allows you to share more videos and art. Use hashtags in your description. Cross-posting an IGTV preview can be done to your Stories and Feed so that more people see it.

In the past 6-12 months, it has been easier to create shop links. Your Instagram Shop allows you to tag your artwork so that people can easily purchase your work. Although it takes some time (and perhaps a few re-watches of the help videos), it’s very easy to use once it’s done.

Pro Tip: This is a link to the help page about setting up Instagram Shops and Facebook. You can go to this link to check if your website has integrated Facebook and Instagram in the past 6-12 months.

It may seem overwhelming to try and do it all at once. You can work your way through this list to create a strategy that focuses more on connecting.

Register for the TAA workshop, which teaches you how to sell art online by connecting with collectors via Instagram.

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