Do you want to promote your art for free? Of course, we all do, and that’s why you have to use social media. So I compiled a list of the best social media for artists that are free to use or have a free tier.
These are the top 13 social media platforms for artists and designers
You know you have to network, showcase your work, and follow leads, but the choice is overwhelming. Where do you start?
Let’s go over the pros and cons of each one so you can form a balanced idea.
(I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
Instagram – The Visual Social Media For Artists
With the increasing commercialization of the platform, the appeal of Instagram may be declining but it remains one of the most important platforms for visual artists. It’s a must for most creatives and it’s still possible to grow your traffic organically if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
It is the perfect social media for artists because the reach is broad. Not only can you network with other creatives, but you can also reach your potential customers too. Double whammy.
If you learn how to target your hashtags properly you can expand your reach easily.
And that’s the joy. The platform is easy to learn and understand.
You must post very regularly to gain traction so the platform can suck your time. As with Facebook, which owns Instagram, your post will vanish in the feed in no time. You have seconds to grab the viewer.
I met a professional Instagrammer, and she showed me her method. She followed people, waited for return follows, and then unfollowed the non-returners. She did it all day, every day. It was hard to have a conversation with her.
I tried to do it but I blew out. I’ll try again at some point but not in that way.
I know it does work because I followed some video tutorials from one artist and went on to pay him for 6 months on Patreon.
Take a look at these Instagram courses on Domestika.
They are not expensive
Scheduling tools such as Tailwind (affiliate) makes posting in advance a more viable option. Do not underestimate the value of the infrastructure supporting Instagram. Posting your artwork via third-party sites saves you so much time. It’s the only option to avoid living on the platform or paying for ads.
The big advantage of Instagram?
- You can market yourself to your peers if you intend to offer services,
- You can reach your buyers if you’re looking for sales and commission work,
- You can find students if you wish to offer art tutorials.
Three very different audiences.
Pinterest – A Search Engine For Artists
For some, Pinterest is a game-changer. It has the potential to skyrocket your blog traffic.
I say potentially because it’s so complicated you will need to buy a course to figure it out, and even then it’s not easy to succeed.
Read this post because you’ll need an active website for Pinterest: Should Artists Have a Blog? Art Blogging Pros and Cons
Strictly speaking, Pinterest is a search engine and bookmarking site. It’s not really social media for artists. Few people bother to communicate directly. Just as well because believe me, Pinterest can eat your life.
You are expected to publish new ‘pins’, daily and en-mass. There are plenty of free tools to help you but it all takes so much time, it’s insane.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Pinterest changes its algorithm on an almost monthly basis. It is so infuriating. Just when you are getting somewhere they knock you back. You are continually having to update and relearn best practices.
It’s brilliant for saving ideas and finding inspiration, but the trick is getting someone to go beyond just saving your pins to actually visiting your website. That’s a hard thing to do.
Get some up-to-date help with Pinterest and learn with Sumna and Ali Hobart on Udemy
Even with the help of third-party tools making and scheduling pins can take hours upon hours, and like google rankings, you won’t discover if you’ve got it right for many months ahead. The rankings are slow.
It is possible to use Pinterest without help but realistically most serious users join Tailwind an official Pinterest Partner. It’s not free but it does save so much time.
Is it practical for artists? Some artists and marketers get most of their traffic via Pinterest. but others get almost nothing. You have to give it 6 months to really know if it’s for you.
I suspect successful pinners subcontract the pinning when they get to a high volume. I don’t know how you would have the time otherwise.
One very notable point of interest, with Pinterest, is the customer demographic. It is a platform overwhelmingly used by women. That doesn’t mean that it’s pointless for men but it does mean the male-oriented subjects are not going to get so much traction.
One last point. I have bought courses for Pinterest marketing and they are mostly overpriced and lacking in up to date info. Good courses are thin on the ground. It’s frustrating because Pinterest is a potential goldmine.
Facebook – Social Media That Keeps On Taking
Facebook has its uses but it’s a law of diminishing returns. The platform is restricting your organic reach with every new update.
As a social media for artists, there are still good some points. It integrates with other platforms so you can repurpose your content easily, you can post links to your blogs, and showcase your portfolio.
But here’s the rub. For you to maintain the reach you already have, you must engage with your followers constantly. You must answer every comment, make comments, and post every day.
Not easily done, and don’t they know it. That’s deliberate. They want you to pay extra to reach your own audience.
And as anyone knows as they filter through the endless clutter, your post disappears in the blink of an eye, never to be seen again.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of Facebook, at least for me, is joining groups. I can find like-minded people and network. Few groups allow hard and fast self-promotion but it is possible to be so useful to others that they seek you out.
Facebook is time-consuming if you want to use it for free. It comes into its own via paid advertising. If you want to target your exact buyers there is no more powerful tool on the web. But beware, get it wrong and it will cost you.
Try this course on Udemy by Course Envy. It has over 210,000 students!
Youtube – Promotes The Real You – Yikes!
Youtube is the 2nd biggest search engine after Google and much easier to rank for search terms.
Another platform that isn’t strictly social but it does encourage comments and the more you get the higher you will rank.
You shouldn’t ignore Youtube. I’m saying that because I know it’s the search platform of the moment. Video is king.
That makes me full of crap because I’m not using it. I am procrastinating because I’m daunted.
That’s the issue with Youtube, it’s very exposed. I don’t think I’m alone in being intimidated. I admit to being on the shy side. In my experience, most artists are quite introverted.
It’s so easy to sit alone at your computer or easel, you’re hidden away, nice and safe.
Not so on Youtube. You are there for all the world to see and that has two sides. There is a ‘Twitter’ element only too happy to criticize, and on the flip side, thousands of potential fans are eager to connect in a much more personal way.
Let’s face it, people want to see the artist at work. They want to ask questions, see the process and learn how to do things. In that sense, making videos is a no-brainer. We should all be doing it.
And what’s more, the earning potential is huge. Ads, affiliate links, digital sales, print sales, and blog traffic. Successful videos make money.
This Youtube course by Alex Genadinik on Udemy has generated over 26,000 sales. Worth checking out.
At the time of writing, after Tiktok shook up the other platforms, Youtube is trying to compete directly with ‘Youtube Shorts’
These are 60-second videos in a vertical format that have no algorithm as yet to limit your potential audience. It is possible to go viral very quickly. They don’t have the direct links available with standard videos but they can still drive a lot of traffic your way.
Linkedin – Social Media Strictly For Art Business
This is the social media for artists that always gets ignored. I’ve ignored Linkedin myself until recently when a friend showed me how she was finding clients on the platform.
The key to using the site lies in writing useful content or repurposing your blog articles. My friend started with one comprehensive article about her main topic and sent it out to her small list of leads. That was followed by daily tips and insights sent to her audience.
In that sense, it acts as a shareable newsletter.
In less than one month her strategy has gained her 659 new leads! Not bad if you want to find potential customers. Think commissions and coaching.
And the best bit is re-using old content. If you blog, you have a wealth of material at hand. I’m still learning but I guess that you will have to re-write your posts to avoid duplicate content appearing on Google, but that’s easily done.
The point is your new followers will be in the loop, word will spread, and you will gain more followers.
Regular tips and hacks will remind them of you and that awareness is what it’s all about. If anyone wants work to be done, they are more likely to remember you. It’s advertising, building authority, and brand awareness. Just like any other business.
Linkedin is far better than Facebook for organically reaching your target audience. It’s a work-focused and curated forum designed to encourage sharing content.
The algorithm is not designed to limit your reach the way Facebook does.
Twitch – Your Own Livestream Art Channel
Originally a platform designed for gamers, Twitch.tv is a live video platform that’s been discovered by artists.
If you’re art happy to connect on video this platform ticks most of the buttons when it comes to social media. You are encouraged to network and make contacts.
If you like to make art and chat at the same time this platform is perfect. Let’s face it, making art is a lonely trade for most of us and this is one way to open ourselves up to the wider community.
The key to making your video channel a success is to actively engage with viewers, ask questions and get to know people. Consistency is king. Make regular content and answer questions to get regular visitors and followers.
It is possible to monetize this platform. Regular users who broadcast on 7 out of the previous 30 days and for a minimum of 500 mins can join the affiliate program and benefit from subscriptions, ads, and donations.
Another way to earn money is to chat and promote your own website and resources as you go. Urge your viewers to visit your site and have affiliate links and downloads for sale.
Discord – Complete Social Hangout
Discord is the place to hang out and chat via voice, video, and text. It’s an ideal platform for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues while you work at home, but it offers much more. Users can join open servers and find enthusiasts in their own niche from all over the world.
Discord is a lively upbeat space to interact with others. It’s a forum with good manners and that’s achieved with the active assistance of moderators who keep it civilized. It’s a positive place.
If you wish to meet new people without any pressure this is the perfect place to chill.
You can monetize your server with prior permission and accept donations from your fanbase. Another option is to form a private members area for paying customers. It’s like Patreon. You provide extra help, advice or tutorials while still providing useful info for free to attract new members.
You can add affiliate links, run ads, and direct people back to your website to buy your products and services.
TikTok – For Viral Reach
Don’t groan, TikTok is a phenomenon and not to be dismissed out of hand. At the time of writing TikTok is the 7th largest social platform in the world. That’s a lot of viewers. That said, I did question myself before including it. It’s not so much a social platform and more of a showcase.
TikTok is a light-hearted way to market yourself with very brief mini video snippets and they can go viral very easily. It is ideal for quick fun tutorials and your aim is to attract followers with regular appealing content.
To make TikTok work it’s important to be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. It’s all about being honest, authentic, and transparent. Be upfront about what you do and don’t be pushy with your marketing.
The obvious way you can monetize yourself is by referring viewers back to your website, but when you have built an audience of 10,000 followers, 100,000 viewers in the last 30 days and joined TikTok Pro you can apply to join their creator fund that pays you a share of their $1 billion pot.
To be honest I’m not sure how they divide the cash.
If you are going to try TikTok you should repurpose your content for YouTube shorts, Pinterest and Instagram.
These are the results when I searched ‘TikTok Marketing’ on Udemy
ArtStation – A Website Builder for Digital Artists
Artstation is another borderline inclusion on this list, not because it’s only for digital artists but because it’s more of an advertisement for your skills. It’s a website builder, not really a social platform.
Artstation is a showcase of talent. Artists present their portfolios primarily to be seen by the right people in their industry and to attract job offers.
Read this new post: How to Make Money With Digital Art: 10 Ways to Profit
If you don’t want to make your own website this platform could be for you. They have 4 price plans, the first being free with minimal features but including selling POD art prints and digital downloads, more than enough to get started.
Then it steps up to Plus, Pro, and Studio plans, priced, at the time of writing, at $6.99, $9.95, and $14.99 per month respectively. Each tier offers more features and benefits.
The Dots – The Linkedin for Creatives
The Dots positions itself as the Linkedin for creatives although they stretch the meaning broadly. It’s a platform where professional creatives can offer their services, look for jobs, learn new skills, get advice, and collaborate with others.
Most artists use it to promote themselves and showcase their projects. There is nothing to lose and only something to gain. More exposure can only be a good thing, and this platform provides another outlet for your artwork and at the least, more backlinks to your website.
There is a forum where you can connect with other artists and share tips, side hustles, and team up with people.
It’s another string in your bow, you may as well join.
DeviantArt – Social Hangout for a Younger Art Crowd
I joined Deviantart many years ago but even then I felt too old. Plus, and this is silly really, I’ve always been put off by the name. Why would anyone want to describe themselves as deviant?
That aside it has its devotees and if nothing else it is easy to use, has a wealth of free resources, tutorials, and downloads.
Deviantart is meant to be fun and it can be a sociable place to spend time, offer advice and get feedback. It’s a platform that attracts hobbyists and amateurs, nothing wrong with that, but unless you are into teaching your skills there is limited scope to monetize your presence directly.
You can sell your prints on Deviantart and in theory, get art commissions but in all honesty selling art to artists is a tough call. Artists are curious about other artists but few will ever buy from other artists.
You will have better luck providing resources, guides, and courses via links to your own site.
Dribbble – Showcase Your Artworks in Progress
Dribbble is a social network for artists and designers where they can share their works in progress. As the name implies it’s a place where you can tease out snapshots of your projects for all the world to see. Think of it as a glimpse behind the scenes.
The platform is informal and attracts artists from many disciplines, including graphic artists, illustrators, and animators, and the opportunity to find commission work is good. Many large companies use Dribbble to hire artists and designers.
Dribbble enables you to share your projects and network with others in your field. It’s a community. and great for sharing personal projects that don’t fit into the obvious commercial mold.
To get the most out of this platform you must share your process, post consistently, and link to your website and other social media accounts. It should go without saying that if you want to attract clients you should showcase your best work.
Behance – Build Art Portfolios and Share Them
Behance is a platform for creatives to showcase their work and discover other artists. It’s a social media and portfolio platform that encourages creatives to share their process and follow each other.
Each user creates a profile that is made up of projects. That can be images, videos, and text. Each project has its own URL that can be easily shared.
Your followers will receive your project each time you make a post and the same in reverse is true. As your profile expands with projects there’s a fair chance that your work will get featured and bring in a lot of traffic.
Artists use Behance to extend their reach with little effort, with many people re-using content from their websites and posting directly onto Behance.
If you aim to attract clients, you should showcase work you’ve completed for other happy customers. Show your best images and highlight the kind of work you are keen to do and are passionate about.
Most visitors will be other artists looking for inspiration and hopefully a few commissioning agents. To make money any other way. you’ll have to entice viewers to your website and provide services, courses, and eBooks.
Social Media For Artists: Final Thoughts
There you have an overview of the top 13 social platforms.. Choose one and give it at least 3 months of concerted effort.
Don’t do all of them at once, you will burn out. If I was starting out now, what platform would I choose? Probably Youtube. It has more potential than the rest.
Video is the future and the market is far from saturated.
But what if social media makes your heart sink?
There’s the old-fashioned way, why not set up your own market stall? It’s tried and tested, you meet your fans, and it works.
Let’s face it, social media is far from sociable.
Before you scroll down to the end you will need some editing tools to play around with images. Ideally, you’ll have Photoshop already but if not, and you need some good alternatives, try these two options Canva and Pixlr I use them both.
There is a new feature on Canva: Can You Draw on Canva? Is The New Draw App Any Good? (2023)
Both are free to use for most purposes, with paid plans for extra bells and whistles. The learning curve is much easier than Photoshop.
N.B. Update: Pixlr is no longer completely free. It has a very minimal daily download limit. The paid plan is $0.75 per month.
You can save money overall and buy this huge bundle of Digital Marketing courses by Robin and Jasper on Udemy.
If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit:
- Pentel Mechanical Pencils 0.3mm
- Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils
- Daler-Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper
- Jakar Battery Eraser
- Tombo Mono Eraser Pen
- Faber Castell Putty Eraser
- Blu Tack
- French Box Easel
If you want to meet your customers and make real contacts you should sell face-to-face, but how? My guide will show you. Check this out!
If You Want to Sell Your Art
Check this out!
Psst…it’s only $12.99!
Now take a look at these articles:
- Sell Art on Society6 Step-by-Step in 2022 (It’s FREE)
- 25 Platforms for Artists to Sell Their Art Online and Make Money
- How to Sell Art Prints on Etsy: Mega Selling Guide
- How to Write an Artist About Me Bio: In 4 Easy Steps
- Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy: Best Guide in 2023
- Pricing Art For Beginners: Originals, Art Prints, and Formulas
- How to Get Art Commissions: The Easy Way and Make Money
- Can You Copy Art and Sell a Painting of a Painting? I Found Out
- What Size Art Sells Best? Frames and Prints – FREE Chart
Plus find an ONLINE COURSE that suits you.
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Hi, my name’s Kevin and I’m a real person!
I’ve been selling my wildlife art and traveling the world for over 20 years, and if that sounds too good to be true, I’ve done it all without social media, art school, or galleries!
I can show you how to do it. You’ll find a wealth of info on my site, about selling art, drawing tips, lifestyle, reviews, travel, my portfolio, and more. Enjoy