Anniko is a designer with 10+ years experience. As for now, she’s actively pursuing one of her passions - illustration. In the new episode of TemplateMonster podcast, Anniko is sharing PRO Instagram tips 2020 that helped her grow her profile to reach 21K followers.
How long have you been switching between being a designer and illustrator?
During the last twelve years I’ve had a nice opportunity to work different design-related jobs. Like, I worked for web design, for the game industry, and so on. But I’ve always had this love for illustration. So maybe in the last three or two years was when I mostly focused my efforts on being an illustrator and the growth [on Instagram].
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I saw on Instagram that you’ve launched a special offer for subscribers. What is it about?
Yeah, I’m selling some merchandise and some prints of mine on different platforms and it was the launch of a print platform of an online magazine. So, you can still buy some prints there with a discount.
What tips would you give to someone who’s only starting on Instagram as a designer?
#1 Engage with friends & family on Instagram
First would be like - interact with your friends and family. It really may sound simple and obvious but your potential visitors will see that you don’t have zero followers. Let it be 13, 14 or whatever, and they are more likely to follow you.
#2 Post regularly
The next tip would be, maybe, try to post every day. Certainly, it’s a good habit, so you educate yourself about how it’s working. But also in a couple of weeks you’ll have an attractive page [full of content], so your visitors will like it.
Also, maybe it’s a separate topic of interview about hashtags, but these are really great stuff and you may do some research to gain followers. But it’s really a broad topic. I would advise you to dig into it.
#4 Join challenges
So, my next tip is to join some challenges. It’s really helpful when you’re trying to grow your audience. Of course, not only do you meet the new people and somehow interact with the art community, but you also grow your engagement. So, other people who join the hashtag, leave a comment and say something nice to you and then follow back and it’s also the part of growing your Instagram.
#5 Keep it professional
So, my next tip would be - don’t post personal stuff if you want to keep it strictly professional. You can post some stories with your family, dishes, with your dog, but don’t put it on your Instagram posts.
#6 Collaborate with fellow artists
Um, the next would be maybe - collaboration with people who have a bigger audience than you. Ask them for some favors, not something like “follow me, and I’ll follow you back”, “please, repost me on the stories”! But something that will bring value both to you and this other person. For example, if you’re a motion designer, you can reach out to an illustrator and offer him to make a motion picture or illustration. It’s more likely that he will like your work and repost it, give it credit and his audience will engage with you. So, it’s very beneficial for both of you.
How about some more tips?
#7 Redirect followers from other platforms to Instagram
So, if you happen to have a big audience on another platform - like, maybe, Dribbble or Behance, you may try to redirect your followers from there to Instagram. Like, you can put the link in your profile. Or, if it’s Behance, you can share your works on your Instagram account.
#8 Post stories daily
Also, post your stories daily. They say that Instagram favors engagement and this way your page will always be in front of your audience, in this upper bar of Instagram.
#9 Post sneak peeks
For artists, I know that people put a lot of hours of work in their creations. So, maybe some work will take like 10 hours or so. But posting one picture a week isn’t good, so we can “cheat” by creating and posting some sneak peeks or speak about your life showing how you’re creating the content. And this will somehow boost your engagement.
#10 Be sweet and engage with people
Maybe, my last tip would be - be sweet, engage with people, answer their comments, write nice comments on their page. And who knows where good karma will take you 🙂
Was it difficult for you to learn about personal brand and marketing?
Well, I think that my full time job helped me cope with this, because I’ve been working in an advertising [digital] agency.
How to get new clients on Instagram? Do you need to adjust your bio in some way?
The most simple tip would be, like, - write in your bio that you want to get commissions and say “commissions are open!” What’s more - if you’re looking for some particular commissions, think about putting your work like in a series of mockups - so that your potential client will see this.
So, if he’s into book covers put your illustration on the cover. And so, it may sound obvious and very simple, but sometimes people don’t get that your passion can help you get paid.
So, if you’re really looking to be a book designer, make these mockups with books. It will really help you!
How do tutorials help you grow your audience? And who your audience will be actually id you post tutorials?
So, I’m not actually posting much of tutorials, I’ve had maybe a couple and they lead to my blog. It’s a full article which can tell people about... expand the topic. So for me the goal of posting it is to drive the traffic to my blog. As for my blog, I’m trying to put there the answers to common questions I receive from the followers. People always want to know how to improve their craft, how to use some programs… And I try to answer these questions.
I’m not sure that Instagram is that much a tutorial-oriented platform, I guess that YouTube is more suitable for this. But some carousels with helpful tips have been very helpful for maybe a year or so. And a lot of designers tried to apply them when trying to grow their account. You could try it if you want to.
Could you share with our audience, how much time per day do you dedicate to posting on Instagram? If you post daily...
I don’t post there daily, because I’m busy with my full time job, my side hustles and personal projects. But some art, I’m posting there. If it’s personal it really depends. If it’s my personal projects I could really dedicate from a couple of evenings to maybe a week to do it. But like I said before, it’s useful to post some sneak peeks, something to remind people about yourself and to get them to wait for your next illustration.
So, the posting process itself takes me like thirty minutes, and then you need to dedicate an hour to answering the guys’ writing comments. So, it's really nice… So that you can be engaging and really nice with your followers [and take time to do that].
So, you know in an ideal world where we don’t live in, we have plenty of time, we have presence on all the platforms, Instagram’s nice and shining, we post a couple of tweets every day. But in reality unfortunately we always have some job to do, we have side hustles, trying to socialize, so we don’t have time for all this.
Is it necessary for a creative to have accounts on all the platforms (Instagram, Dribbble, Behance)?
So my advice would be to focus on one, two, maximum three platforms you can keep track of and keep updated regularly. And to stick to it, because that’s an easy way to burnout if you’re busy with some creative work, if you’re trying to be everywhere. And still in doubt...
...you can create your accounts where you like just leave there a link to your main platform. So, that you could promote the same brand with the same avatar, the same email, you can just lead your followers where you want to. Personally I try to invest in my Instagram, in my blog, and that’s all.
I wonder, how much time did it take for you to grow your Instagram up to 21.5K?
Well, it’s a simple question. You can always check my first post on Instagram and it dates back to August 2017. But the growth wasn’t always linear, you know… umm
Yes, I understand, it’s like this (shows a sine wave)
Yeah, like this. At the beginning I didn’t take it seriously, I didn’t know if I wanted to invest my time there. Then in 2018, maybe, I tried a bit of a change, I put my time and resources, had a hashtag strategy change and at the end of the year there were like 13 thousand. So, and now we’re talking about 21K and growing.
Apart being present on all of the platforms, Is it necessary to have a website?
Well, in my experience, a website would definitely make you look more professional. It’s like your own site that you can design the way you like, there would be all the necessary links, all the necessary projects and what’s more - your potential clients won’t be distracted by anything. So, when you’re on some other platform, he can start researching for some other artists. He can be discouraged by the amount of comments that your picture gets, so it’s very cool when you have your own website.
Can you tell us about the projects that you’re really proud of in your career?
I’m already trying myself in editorial illustration and one of the projects that I really enjoyed was an illustration for the Medium article. Medium is a big digital platform with some current news and so we made this project for an article which featured various political issues about Yemen, and the war there. So the illustration was some kind of cover for the article to feel great.
On the side note I’m really enjoying creating the covers for podcasts. And also some recent works of mine include covers for music bands, they’re slightly animated. And now I’m into animation, hope it’ll grow bigger and maybe that’s my focus in the future.
A long time ago, you mentioned to me that did a project for Esquire magazine. Can you tell us about that?
As for Esquire, I worked there as a designer for like a year, and that was web design related, so it wasn't connected with illustration, but [with making their website look cool].
What are the biggest benefits of having an Instagram account as a creative professional?
Well, you know that [in the very beginning of] Instagram wasn’t considered a professional platform for designers. For many years, it was more of an entertainment platform. But I’ve seen a shift in the perception of this platform in the last, maybe two-three years. So, more and more designers are trying to keep it very professional and their audience is professional. And so, I think it’s really cool to have a platform there because this makes you more approachable. Because any person could write you a message, or an email and just contact him any way he choses there.
And secondly not all the potential clients you can think about have an account on Dribbble or Behance, but nearly all of them nowadays have Instagram. So they can contact you directly, no obstacles… So it’s a really cool way to get some side projects done and to meet some really good people for collaboration. I really advise you to make your Instagram a professional page.
Thank you Ann so much for joining us! It’s been a huge pleasure for us!
Sure, thank you! It’s been a pleasure to have this interview! This was my first interview, so sorry for my nerves. Sorry for my accent! I really hope to make some more interviews in the future. It’s very interactive and it’s really pleasant in your company. So, thank you!