How To Get Clients On Instagram as Freelance Artists

twine thumbnail how to get clients on instagram as a freelance artist

For artists of all types, Instagram is a great place to call home. Social media freelancing overall has gotten incredibly popular – with Instagram taking the main stage. After all, its visual nature is picture-perfect for sharing the works of animators, designers, and illustrators. Over 1 billion people use this app – so, isn’t it about time you learn how to get clients on Instagram? 

Identify your ideal client

How to get clients on Instagram, step #1: have a clear image of your ideal client. Instagram is a fantastic place to research and start creating your ideal client avatar.

What’s a client avatar? Well, your client avatar, ideally, would be someone who sends awesome referrals your way consistently, or, spends lots of money on your high-ticket items. They may even just be enthusiastic about the type of social media freelancing work you do, encouraging you often by liking and commenting on your posts. 

Imagine what this person is interested in and start researching on Instagram to locate them based on their interests. You can search using hashtags, keywords, or even specific companies you think this person or group of people might like. 

From researching, you’ll then be able to collect a series of relevant hashtags to include in your own posts, understanding what you can share on your account to grab the attention of your ideal clients. 

You should also connect with the people or companies you find in your search, by following them. This will help you commence an online relationship with your ideal client, where you’ll also learn more about what they’re seeking in artists and the social media freelancers they hire. 

Create a business account

Setting up a business account through Instagram is easy and allows you to access important tools that a personal account doesn’t provide.

This is one of the easiest ways in figuring out how to get clients on Instagram, as their activity is available at your fingertips. These include audience insights, Instagram ads, a contact button, and shoppable posts. 

Here’s how to convert your account:

Log in to Instagram, select the Menu option in the top right-hand corner by clicking on your profile picture. Select Settings > Account > Switch to Professional Account > Business to get your Business account started. 

screen grab of instagram side bar menu illustrating 'edit profile', 'change password' 'privacy and security' and 'switch to professional account'

Below, you’ll see the business account of the Montreal artist and illustrator @bentardif_illustrator – he mostly shares his own artwork and has created a beautiful portfolio for potential clients to browse. His bio includes his professional title and website – both important pieces of information to share.  

screen grab of social media freelancer page shows 3 graphic illustrations of work

Keep your brand identity and audience avatar in mind while creating this profile. It should appeal to your ideal client, but it shouldn’t stray far from the brand you want to project. Once you’ve set up your business account, you can begin fleshing it out to attract your ideal clients, using the Instagram algorithm.

Use the algorithm

Instagram’s algorithm has changed many times over the years. Despite this, there are a few concrete steps that will always determine how well you perform: posting consistently, engaging back, and, finally, using relevant hashtags for your niche

Audience members that previously interacted with your content are much more likely to see your posts in their feed again. So, post content that you know will interest and engage your audience! Don’t just post in-feed posts, but also stories – your most engaged audience members will see these at the top of their feed so make use of this engagement.

If you don’t post consistently, the algorithm will stop making your posts a priority for your audience. As a freelance artist/social media freelancer who’s looking how to get clients on Instagram, this can sometimes be hard to get back…

To avoid this, keep active (use an automation tool if you have to) and engaged online! If someone leaves a comment, engage back. Instagram’s algorithm takes into consideration the accounts you spend the most time interacting with, so engaging often will give you more opportunities to grab the attention of your ideal client. 

For some ideas, check out @lingvistov, who publishes regularly – and sometimes even multiple times a day!

screen grab image of social media freelancer showing three graphic illustrations of work

They even respond to comments. You too should come up with a good content plan, scheduling Instagram posts to go out multiple times a day. The more posts you publish, the more likes, engagement, and sales you will start to generate. 

screen grab of two comments, interaction between social media freelancer and a viewer

Create a portfolio

So, as a social media freelancer, you’ve now got a solid plan in place to market yourself on Instagram and gain the attention of your ideal client. Now, it’s time to start showing them what you’ve got! Instagram provides the perfect platform to display some of your latest and best animations, sketches, and ideas. 

Before you post your best works, however, it’s often a good idea to make sure that you have selected a style for your content. This is so your entire portfolio matches the brand you want to convey to your customer. If you’re in need of a little inspo, check out these awesome preset styles for great Instagram portfolios.

If you already have an artistic portfolio, use that as inspiration for your Instagram one! This should also be constantly updated, with all of your latest work – show the world what kind of social media freelancer you are and what you’ve been dreaming up! 

Check out @kristan.billing for some inspiration – She’s an illustrator, so she mostly shares portraits and design work from clients.

@kristan.billing instagram portfolio

Write better captions

Just as important as the images you share, are the captions you write to accompany them. 

They’re easy to write, really. Simply describe the image, write the story behind it, and even include a call to action.

For instance, if you frequently share interesting content to do with your industry, explain how you feel about the topic. Then, ask your audience to share their opinion.

Asking questions to encourage comments from your audience is a great way to keep the conversation going and make Instagram’s algorithm happy.

Here’s a great formula: express opinion + ask audience opinion = easily engaging caption! 

If you mainly share your latest work on your account, you can express what your inspiration was, or what the process of creating it was like. Then ask your audience what their creative process is like, or what they’ve been dreaming about creating lately.

Use relevant hashtags for your niche 

As well as regularly scheduled posts, hashtags are what bring the lost sheep back to the shepherd. You could post an incredibly inspired, skillful artwork to your account, but if you don’t use the relevant hashtags, your awesome post will not be seen beyond your direct following – as a social media freelancer, this isn’t ideal. 

Hashtags can be separated into three distinct tiers: low, medium, and high competition. 

Low competition hashtags are those that have been used less than 50,000 times. When you type in a hashtag, you’ll be able to see right away how many times it has been used.

screen grab of hashtags displayed in the search bar of instagram with #instadesign

You should try to use mostly low-competition hashtags to stand out, especially if you have less than 10,000 followers. But it’s important to use a mix of medium (50k-100k use) and high competition (+100k use) hashtags to drum up extra attention to your post. 

You will have to be creative to discover the low competition hashtags. Think about the keywords used in your niche, and then try adding a few extra words to them. But try not to be too creative and stumble into the Lost Land of Super-Low Competition Hashtags (less than 5k use.) Yikes! Your genius is too much for this world… 

Check out this post from @neil_a_stevens – this is a great display of how you use hashtags!

As a social media freelancer and artist, they’ve provided a good mix of low, medium, and high competition hashtags. For some quick inspiration, here’s a great list of graphic design hashtags that will instantly boost your engagement!

Network in your DMs 

The direct message feature in Instagram is your portal to a world of opportunities. Whenever possible, connect with other social media freelancers, freelance artists, and potential clients using direct messages. Start by introducing yourself and sharing what your niche is – go on to explain why you’re drawn to them and what you can offer! 

Building a solid network of fellow creatives, by simply having personal conversations, is a great way to move up in your career trajectory and an awesome way to be memorable for your ideal client! 

Engaging on potential clients’ Instagram posts is one step towards achieving a new network connection – but, writing a personal message is like taking five steps in the right direction. So, what are you waiting for? Be brave and send that message! 

Share reviews and testimonials

Having glowing reviews from clients is, essentially, the golden ticket for a social media freelancer. This is how you gain more respect and work – so, whenever you get a review, share them on your Instagram page! This includes any and all positive feedback from your network or clients – make sure to post a screenshot and share it with your network. Doing this will enforce a positive feedback loop, keeping your freelance network growing and your portfolio expanding. 

Here’s a good example from @finbo_designs.

It’s an image with a simple testimonial – it includes the name of the person who wrote the testimonial, along with the company’s name. 
You could even ask clients to record videos, as these look highly credible and are super engaging. Creating and editing video testimonials can seem like a challenge to both the client and you, but thankfully, there are tools like Vmaker that simplify the process.

Run ads

Social media ads are a high-ticket value with a surprisingly low price point (if you get them right). When you’re ready to amp up your marketing efforts, and get your social media freelancing into gear, use Instagram ads to promote your business. You can easily adjust the demographics to cater to your ideal target market, with your ad showing up in the feed of hundreds or even thousands of your new favorite fans and clients! 

Make sure to create a compelling ad that speaks to your unique value proposition, your personality, and share a piece of your favorite artwork. But watch out: you might have to stop running your ad when your calendar fills up with work quickly! 

Now, get some clients on Instagram!

If your goal is to put your art out there to catch the attention of your ideal clients – as a social media freelancer, Instagram has everything you need. 

You may be nervous about marketing your business, but don’t be! Start small: post new pictures with niche-specific hashtags to increase your audience reach. Then, start following ideal clients and interact with their content. When you feel more comfortable, send them a message to say “hi” and express how much you enjoy their work or their business. You can then scale it up – ensuring to consistently post engaging content/artwork for your followers. Eventually, your network will flourish.

Above all, don’t give up. Sometimes it can feel like you’re shouting into the void, but all of us have felt that at one point. As a social media freelancer, take the specific steps laid out here and watch as magic begins to happen for you too! 

Rachel Bowland

Rachel Bowland is the content manager at Social Marketing Writing and Creatiwitt - she likes to write about marketing and design.