I was in college right around the time Facebook was created and I avoided it like the plague until the day I got laid off. Then I realized that although I had been making art every single night and weekend since I’d graduated, no one knew me or knew my art. I had absolutely no network.
In those dark days, I became acutely aware of how important social media can be for the creative individual. So I made a few accounts and expected the jobs to roll in. They didn’t.
They didn’t because I had not been posting regularly the whole time. Why would anyone hire this mystery woman? I tired to post regularly, but I encountered an unseen problem, the social media time suck.
Before I was on social media, I’d sit down at my desk at 6 pm and work until 10pm or 12am, with no distraction. No I found myself pondering, Should I post this? Or this? Do I need to wait until tomorrow at lunch? Will I remember to do that? It’s kind of stressful to have to remember to do at this social media stuff when I just want to create.
I’m obsessed with productivity and using each minute in the day well, so this annoyed me to the utmost.
Then I heard about the fantastic world of “Social Media Automation”, and I knew this was my answer.
Automation saves time – the most precious thing you possess
• Your updates happen regardless of your crazy life. So if you or your children get sick, you still make a post everyday at the same time. If you get hit by a car or if the meeting runs long, the post still goes off. This consistency will help you build a following.
• No “social media work” during the week. During the week, you need to be creating, not poking around on social media. With automation you can load up all the posts for a week or month, and forget about it. Come back at your convenience to hangout and answer questions.
• You don’t have to be on social media everyday. I like this part the best. If you need a mental break or you need to go into a hole and seriously focus on the project, you can, and when you emerge, the posts are waiting for you. Plus addressing things a day or so later might revitalize the post.
Setup Part One
First things first, create a backlog of work
• 60 to 90 images is a good number to shoot for.
• Don’t freak out, one drawing can be a few posts. You’ll be surprised with how much content you can generate when you sit down and start saving things out.
Here’s a button I made for Patreon aka 5 days of posts
• People like seeing the process and the linework always gets more attention than I thought it would
• I would grind this out. Take an entire night or a full day and generate the biggest backlog you can. This isn’t something that you want killing your creative time. This is something you need to do quickly and efficiently so you can get back to making cool stuff. Think “good enough” a lot. I’m assuming you’ll need to dip into some older stuff to get this backlog going. That’s okay, just post the older stuff first. Then people get to see you evolve into a better artist as time goes on.
Protip – name your files in the order you would like them to post. They will load into various libraries correctly and you don’t have to hunt anything down.
• Go someplace once a week to draw. I go to the zoo once a week. It’s been a huge help for keeping my backlog stocked up.
• Finally, find a way to repeat your content. I post a #SundayRecap on my Twitter each week. Since I’m moving away from Buffer as my main program and using Busy more, I plan on posting a “Most popular this week” image on Sunday. This means that I only need six images a week over seven. It’s small but it adds up fast.
A word of warning, don’t fall prey to the “But that’s not perfect!” trap. You don’t need to be perfect. You need to post content.
A quick story about choosing to not be perfect in favor of making art now. I had generated my backlog of 90 images a few months ago. It was before I knew about Busy (buffergram). Therefore, all my images were sized to post well on Twitter, not Instagram. I had a problem, should I go back and painstakingly find all the original files for my backlog and resize them for Instagram? Hell no. I wrote a few action scripts in photoshop and in one hour, I had tiny borders about my stuff so they would automatically post. (Busy has a 612×612 min. dimension script in place) These images are not the “perfect posts” that everyone wants but they let people know about me and I’m still getting new followers daily, despite the tiny grey border on some of my images. Of course, my new content will be scaled perfectly, but I couldn’t justify spending probably two days fixing the older content. Instead, I took those two days and made new content. Remember: If no one knows you exist, how can you build a following? Start before its “perfect”. Start before you’re “ready”.
Second, create a library of hashtags.
This is huge time saver. Instagram supports 30 hashtags and I’ve found that my posts with 30 tags get a lot more interest than the ones without. Use Hashtagify to find useful tags. Then I make a document that has a list of hashtags that are image specific followed by a list if project specific tags
Third, create a library of captions
Open up your backlog folder in thumbnail view and start typing some captions for each image; a few sentences is fine. I like batching captions since you can cut/paste from other captions to generate new ones quickly. I’m not advocating using the same caption for each image, but being able to pull half a sentence from here and paste it there for an image caption you plan on posting 30 days after the original, is just more efficient than writing a 100% fresh caption each time.
Remember, it doesn’t need to be 100% perfect. You’ll develop that over time.
Here’s an example of what I’d do for the gator below.
Caption: I had a great time drawing gators at the #StoneZoo today. It’s their first day in the zoo and I will definitely be drawing and painting them all summer.
Tags specific to the drawing
#seenunseenbook #reptile #reptileart #reptiles #herpetology #lizard #reptilesofinstagram #crocodilian #alligator
Tags that apply to my book, me, and my art
#art #sciart #illustration #animal #wildlifeart #sketch #animalart #sketchbook #drawing #nature #artwork #zoo #scienceart #womeninart #ebook #illustratedbook #wildlife #OatleyAcademy #StoryTellersSummit
With their forces combined! (paste into the main section of Busy – not the first comment which limits you to 5 tags)
#seenunseenbook #reptile #reptileart #reptiles #herpetology #lizard #reptilesofinstagram #crocodilian #alligator #art #sciart #illustration #animal #wildlifeart #sketch #animalart #sketchbook #drawing #nature #artwork #zoo #scienceart #womeninart #ebook #illustratedbook #wildlife #OatleyAcademy #StoryTellersSummit
Setup Part Two
On to the “How to” portion of the post.
You’ll need to spend some money. The minimum will be $5 a month and the max will be $15 a month. It’s cheap money and very worth it.
Free – scroll down to the very bottom. I have a short, quick setup for a free version. I don’t recommend the free version.
Basic (You’ll be able to post to automatically post to Instagram, and with the addition of IFTTT, you’d have access to auto posting for Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin)
Buy Buffergram aka Busy. It’s $5.00 a month for one post a day.
Advanced (You’ll be able to post to automatically post to Instagram, and with the addition of IFTTT, you’d have access to auto posting for Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. With a addition of Buffer, you’ll be able to automatically post to G+, and Pinterest as well. )
Add on Buffer
Individual (aka Free) is a great way to start (No pinterest).
I have “Awesome” pricing – $10 a month since I use buffer to run my gecko site as well.
Steps to Implement
From what I’ve heard, the goal is 1-3 posts a day. This setup will get you the critical one post a day. The rest you can do manually (if you want to post to Instagram) or via Buffer.
1) Sign up for Busy (buffergram). Connect it to your artist Instagram account. (I recommend you have artist accounts for all the social media platforms I’ll mention. It makes linking easier. For example on facebook I have “Sarah Dahlinger” for personal stuff and “Sarah Dahlinger Art” for my business.)
2) Upload your backlog of images to Busy – 10-20 images at a time. It freaks out with more.
3)Add in your caption and 30 hashtags4) Schedule one post to go off everyday. I like to work in weekly chunks and load up seven new posts every Sunday morning. Recently, I had a morning that I was waiting around for a meeting to finish, so I loaded up my entire backlog. I don’t need to worry about social media for 2.5 months now. It won’t be perfect at all but I’m finally finishing my book and starting to focus on actually launching that, so my social media feeds will post a “thing”, while I put the finishing touch ups on a number of projects. Then my feeds will be super fancy after that.
5) Use IFTTT to link it all up to other social media platforms, after Busy is loaded and ready to go,
I have recipes for
Instagram to Buffer to G+
Instagram to Linkedin
Instagram to Twitter
Instagram to Tumblr
Instagram to Facebook Page
Instagram to Pinterest
Basically, search for one of the terms listed above, select the recipe you want, and click all the default buttons. There are hundreds of options, so search for the two things you want to link together and you’ll find what you need. Here’s what I have.
Only tricky thing with IFTTT is getting the channels right. Under the channels tab, you can search for the app you want to change, here I’ve searched for Twitter. In this screen you can change the channels to link to your “art account” and not your “personal account” if IFTTT messes that up a bit.
Both Busy and Buffer use link shortening, turn it off so people can see where they are going based on the URL
“I don’t even have $5 a month to spend!”
The free version is Buffer Individual. You’ll be able to have one Twitter, one Facebook, one G+, and one Linkedin account. You’ll only be able to load up 10 posts a week, but that’ll get you to the one post a day minimum, so you’re good to go!
Here’s a new buffer post and what the queue looks like.
The downside is I have not found a way to automatically post to Instagram without Busy. (There’s a program called Latergram that’s free. I didn’t care for it, but it’s free for one post a day to Instagram if you babysit it a bit.)
These IFTTT recipes might help too
Twitter to tumblr connection with photo posts from favorites. #Twitter#tumblr
If new tweet then add to Buffer – To Post To G+
Things I might change
I’m relatively new to Instagram. If I start getting better traction there, I might drop my Buffer subscription down to the free version and up my Busy subscription. I haven’t done it yet though.
If you are interested in seeing all this is action, here’s where you can find me in the social media verse.
The following social media platforms will all have the same content. If you follow one, you’ve followed them all. I’m posting in a lot of places because people favor different apps.
Due to it very nature, Patreon will have unique, exclusive content since it’s a paid service.
I’m just starting out with streaming and movies, but here’s where you can find me
Finally, here’s my website: Sarah Dahlinger Art
What do you think? Could this method help you? Was anything confusing? Let me know in the comments below!
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