We asked some talented Shutterstock Contributors to weigh in on how they engage followers and promote their portfolio. Here are their top tips.
According to surveys, one-third of the most-viewed Stories on Instagram come from businesses. So, if you aren’t using the platform to promote your work and encourage sales, you could be missing out. Stories only last for twenty-four hours, so they’re the perfect way to share work on-the-go and update your followers about your everyday workflow.
“Instagram Stories is a platform that I’ve been starting to engage more often in the last couple of weeks,” Dražen Štader, the director and producer behind Produkcija Studio, tells us. “I’ve noticed a substantially higher level of engagement on Stories when compared to my feed posts, so I will make sure to keep using it and keep this trend going.”
With time, more photographers, illustrators, and videographers are finding clients directly through Instagram. So, we asked our talented Shutterstock Contributors to discuss how they’ve used — or plan to use — Stories to drive sales. Here are their secrets.
1. Post Behind-the-Scenes Videos
Express yourself as an artist by sharing your creative process with your followers. Image by guruXOX.
If your Instagram feed is like a curated art gallery, think of your Stories as more of a personal diary. This platform is where you can express who you are as an artist. Out and about gathering inspiration at a museum or gallery? Post about it. If you’ve organized a stock photoshoot or you’re spending the day drawing for your portfolio, show your followers what your creative process looks like.
“I always like to watch other artists' Stories, especially their drawing and painting processes,” Shutterstock illustrator Kotoffei tells us. Give your audience a tour of your studio, or show off your gear and materials.
2. Share Some Quick Tips
Give your followers an exclusive look into a few of your tricks of the trade. Image by kckate16.
These behind-the-scenes videos (live or pre-recorded) are also a great way to give your followers something of value to enhance their own creative practice. Host a mini-tutorial showing them how you do a quick sketch with pen and paper, or how you color correct a photo on your computer. You don’t have to spill all your secrets, but if you have some unconventional tricks you use on set or in the studio, it’s okay to give your followers an exclusive peek.
3. Tease a New Project
Tease your new project by providing a countdown sticker revealing your next collection. Image by karnoff.
If you’re creating a new set of images for your portfolio, give your followers a preview of what’s to come. If you don’t feel comfortable releasing the final images, you can share some photos from the studio, or make a short trailer for your next footage upload. You can even add a “countdown sticker” to your story to count down the days and hours until you release the collection.
4. Organize a “Swap”
Team up with another contributor on Shutterstock or Offset for a one-day Instagram “swap.” Here’s how it works: Reach out to an artist you admire, and see if they’d like to exchange some images. You’ll post a slideshow of your favorite pictures from their portfolio, and they’ll choose some from yours. Of course, you’ll tag each other on every post so your followers can head over and follow them, as well. You can both tease the swap in the days and weeks before, to get your followers excited.
Beyond your fellow photographers, stylists and collaborators can also make for great “swaps” on Instagram Stories. Ask your makeup artist or food stylist to take over your account for the day and share some insight into how they work.
5. Ask a Question
Engage your followers by providing a feedback option. Image by Rose Carson.
Sixty percent of businesses that use Instagram Stories incorporate “interactive elements,” and questions and polls are wonderful options for engaging your followers — and getting their feedback.
If your followers are mostly clients, consider asking them what kinds of content they crave, and use their responses to help guide your future shoots. If your followers are mostly colleagues and peers, pick their brains about their best-selling photos. If your question is of the “yes” or “no” variety, consider a simple poll instead.
You can also use the question sticker to answer questions your followers might have about contributing to Shutterstock or licensing stock images. Give them the floor by posting an “Ask me anything about stock!” sticker and responding to their questions.
6. Experiment with Motion
When experimenting with motion, make sure to grab your viewer's attention immediately. Image by Yulia Grigoryeva.
Even if you’re a still photographer or illustrator, Stories are a great avenue for playing around with motion, whether it’s a gif or a cinemagraph. You can also add fun text animations using a free app like Adobe Spark Post. If you’re a videographer, even better. Just make sure your clips for Stories are quick and compelling.
“I have an Instagram page that links to my Shutterstock profile,” Andrew Voskresensky of railway fx tells us. “To catch viewers’ attention, an Instagram video should impress during the first second, before they can scroll up. So, I often modify, edit, or add some post-production compositing effects to make my stock videos more ‘viral’ and easy to share.”
7. Add That Link!
Provide access to potential clients by linking your portfolio directly to your Stories. Image by Georgejmclittle.
If you have 10,000 followers or more, you can link your Shutterstock portfolio directly from Stories — just add a quick note like “Swipe up to buy!”
If you’re not yet at 10,000, you can still incorporate a link by putting it in your bio and adding a “link in bio” note to your Stories.
“I show my best patterns and illustrations on Instagram, and clients often direct message me to ask where they can buy my illustrations,” Russian-based artist Alenka Karabanova tells us. “I send them a link to my Shutterstock portfolio, and I also have that link in my profile header.” She uses Linktree, a free tool that allows her to create one link for all her web pages, including her online shops and interviews.
8. Refer Your Friends
If you haven’t already taken advantage of the Shutterstock Referral Program, now’s the time. As a Shutterstock Contributor, you can earn more by referring clients and colleagues to Shutterstock.
If you refer a contributor, you’ll earn money every time their work is downloaded — for the first two years for still images and the first one year for footage. If you refer a new customer, you’ll get twenty percent of their first payment (up to $200).
Grab your referral link and promote it on Stories, either with a series of images from your portfolio, a mini “blog” post about why you contribute to Shutterstock, or a simple call to action. If you don’t have the “swipe up” feature yet, feel free to paste in your referral code instead, or direct followers to the link in your bio.
Finally, if you create a Story you love, remember to save it in your Highlights so your followers can go back and revisit what you’ve posted. You can even do this for every new set of images you upload to Shutterstock, so people can easily find what they’re looking for and invest in your work.
Top image by gnepphoto.
Looking for more helpful tips on connecting with potential clients and collaborators? Check these out.
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