10 easy, essential steps to start using Instagram for creative arts

Elissa Freeman

Do you have Instagram? Are you using it?

Many creative people underestimate the power of Instagram. I personally know several artists who sell a lot of their art through this medium alone, and I highly recommend that you all get an account. If you already have one, but haven’t truly utilised it yet, you could really benefit from unlocking its full potential.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Instagram, it is a smart phone app. You can view, follow and edit photos on a computer, but you can only post from your phone.

So it’s time to whip out your phone.

You can get started with these steps from my new upcoming workshop for creative people (that’s you).

It is crucial that you complete these steps before moving on to attracting followers.

1     Choose a name. It needs to be clear, obvious and preferably short. If you have a business name, you can use it. If you are in a band, you can have an account under the band name. You can also use your own name, which I would personally recommend. When you use your own name it is like introducing yourself as a new friend. Good business is about having a relationship with people, so be real. Avoid humour, as it can go terribly wrong, unless comedy is your creative field. Mine is simply elissafreeman and when you open your account your url will look like this (except with your name):

Instagram Elissa Freeman Creative Mindset Coach


2     Keep your account open, not private. If you have a private account, your potential followers might think that you are hiding something. That’s not a great way to start a relationship, is it?




3     Use a good, clear, close-up photo of yourself. Do not hide behind your art or a blurry image. A good image helps to build trust, and good relationships are based on trust. As an example, this  photo, taken by Vincent Orrú, is the one that I am currently using:

Elissa Freeman

Elissa Freeman

4     Make sure to say what you do creatively in the Bio section. People definitely read this, so be clear. You only have 150 characters to use, so choose wisely. For example, mine says:

Elissa Freeman Instagram bio


5     Add a link to your website. If you do not have a website, use your Facebook business page. If you do not have one, add your profile page (but only if it is already set up to display your art). This is your only opportunity to have a link. You cannot put live links in your Instagram posts, so think about what the next logical step will be for people who like your posts. I have chosen to provide a link to CEN (Creative Entrepreneurina’s Network), the free group for creative people that I have founded.

Creative Entrepreneurian's Network Group


6     Post your first image and add a description, but make sure that your description is relevant to the post. It may include your thoughts or feelings about the post, or your specific reason for posting it. Here is an example of a description on a recent post:


7     Add a lot of relevant hashtags. You can have up to 25 and I recommend that you use them. When making your decisions, think about what people might search for when they are looking for stuff like yours. You can start with a general description, like “#art”, “#music” or “#creative”, then move on to more detailed descriptions, such as “#painting” or “#indipop”. After that you can include even more detailed hashtags, like “#oilpainting” or #newsong”. Add more and more detail as you go. If you are sharing an oil painting of David Bowie in a cracked mirror under water, for example, you could perhaps describe it as follows: “#davidbowie #crackedmirror  #mirror #underwater #water. If you want to post a song, describe what the song is about. For example, you could use the hashtags “#flying”, “#breakup” or “#ocean”, depending on what your song is about. Here are some hashtags that I recently used on a post regarding a member of CEN who was awarded Pick of the Week for her wonderful painting of two small children:


Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 9.14.07 AM


8     Promptly post a minimum of 12 additional images with descriptions and hashtags. Do this before you follow anyone. If you have only a few images, or none at all, people tend not to follow you back. Here is an example of what people will see if you have not posted anything. Boring, right?




9     Make sure that at least 90 percent of your images are of your art. People follow you to see more of your creations, not to see random things. People will see 12 images at a time when they are looking at your page. See the following screenshot of my Instagram account for an example of this:


Instagram for creative people


10     You can also post videos directly from your phone. Instagram allows you to use 15 seconds of footage, then it loops. If you are a musician, this function can be very useful. Use it to give a little sample of your work. You can also use it to speak directly to your audience or to do a short performance. Video is very powerful when used correctly.

Now you’re ready to get started! Yay! Congratulations!

You are welcome to visit my Instagram account and see how I have personally completed these steps. In order to learn in action, you can follow me by clicking on the following link: https://www.instagram.com/elissafreeman/. I regularly follow people back as long as they have some posts and a public account. I particularly like to follow people with creative posts who are members of CEN.

The next step is to attract heaps of followers, but that will come later. A quick hint: it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. There are plenty of spammers and annoying traps to avoid.

Feel free to post your existing instagram account in the comments below so you can all follow each other and share the love.

Love you guys <3

Elissa Freeman



  1. Here is my Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/elissafreeman/ Feel free to follow me and use what I do to create a dynamic Instagram account. If you’ve followed the steps above, I will follow you in return.

  2. Phill Manfredi says:

    Hi Elissa,

    Lovely self image and great content.
    Will definitely look closely at Instagram and have a great day.

  3. Hi Elissa, I love reading your posts, I don’t have instagram yet. I am in the process of preparing for some upcoming art shows and exhibitions, so I haven’t a lot of time to spend online. I am thinking about it, currently I’m still getting used to Pinterest, haven’t quite got the hang of it. I don’t have a website either, I just love to create. I will definitely see if I can connect with you once I have joined Instagram Elissa. Have a great evening.

  4. Hi Elissa… many thanks for putting up this instruction/construction article on how to use Instagram. I am still struggling…
    Also worry that it will further drag me away from doing my art-work which is infinitely more satisfying….
    Please tell me that these are just ‘teething problems’…
    ps you come recommended via Veronica and Simon

    • Hi Irena, thank you for your comment. Somehow your message didn’t appear to me until just now.

      What is it specifically you are struggling with? I will do my best to clarify for you.

      For an artist, social media is essential to your success particularly Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

      If you can, get someone else to do your Instagram set up for you. I can recommend someone for you. Or you could try setting aside 30 minutes each day or just do one step per day. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…then another step…then another step. Little by little you will get there if you are persistent.

      I will send you an email with a 30 minute Skype or phone consultation to help you with your social media as a gift from me at no cost to you. In this consultation you will get great steps that you can get to straight away, without them affecting your time doing your artwork. My consultation fees are valued at $250AU per hour. This will also give you an experience of how I assist artists like you, and you may wish to work further with me or recommend me. Enjoy your gift Irena xx

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