As a freelance illustrator, social media is a topic I think about a lot and my thoughts about it are always changing. I can see both benefits and drawbacks to being on social media, and I can never make up my mind which one is greater, or how is the best way to approach it.
Personally, I’m only on Instagram and Facebook so I can’t really comment on the others. (I was on Twitter for a short while but didn’t really get into it). Instagram is definitely my most used platform and honestly I just share my Instagram posts to Facebook.
For me personally, I think Instagram has been a great way to show my portfolio of work at a glance to potential clients (quicker than clicking through a website) and I have received work through the platform directly. I also know from the analytics that it’s been helpful in directing traffic to my Etsy shop. By documenting my process and new projects I’m working on, it’s also a quick way to keep people updated as to what I’m doing.
Another great side of Instagram is the community you can build there. I love discovering new artists to follow and interacting with people in the comments and sharing ideas. It’s definitely much harder to get that elsewhere, especially when you work from home. Personally I don’t live in an area where illustration is a big thing so having some kind of network online is really valuable to me.
The main drawback to Instagram for me is how much of a time suck it can be to please the algorithm. You have to be very consistent and the more active you are the better. Video content can be even more time consuming which leaves me wondering if the time it takes is worth it. This is the sticking point which often makes me draw back from posting.
I read something recently which said as artists we should actually be spending half our time promoting and half creating which was quite shocking to me but I guess it does make sense since we are effectively running businesses too. Recently I’ve been trying other marketing methods such as keeping my website regularly updated with these blogposts as well as my monthly newsletter. I don’t want to become so dependent on a single way of sharing my work, especially one which is so unreliable and constantly changing such as Instagram.
I’m also trying to create more balance in my time spent on social media by posting consistently but less frequently. I try to make a new piece of art every week and share a few posts from it, for example a work in progress shot and then the finished piece as separate posts. I’m going to see how this approach works for me, but so far I’m finding it much less overwhelming than trying to create new work every other day.
Which brings me to my final point and one that we’re all aware of which is the trap of self-comparison. I find myself most days looking at other artist’s work and feeling like mine isn’t as good as theirs. A little motivation is good but when it means that you never feel good enough then that can be really toxic.
I suppose it all depends on how you use social media and doing regular self checks can be a good thing. Creating a balance with other ways of self promotion can also help reduce the pressure. When it becomes stressful is when I reevaluate how much time I’m spending on it and if it’s really productive or not. I could probably write a whole essay with my thoughts butI’ll leave it here for today. Let me know what you think about this topic in the comments!