Social media has become the most powerful and accessible marketing platform for tattoo artists. With low barriers to entry and global reach, social media lets you share your work, establish your brand, and build a huge following for your tattoo business. In some cases, your social media account can become a business in itself.
There are many different social media platforms you can use to promote yourself and your work, but the visual focus of Instagram gives your portfolio a ton of exposure. However, with about 1 billion monthly active Instagram users, getting noticed takes some effort. Below, we’ll walk you through the basics of building a killer tattoo artist Instagram account. Get ready to get ahead of the competition.
How to get more clients as a tattoo artist using Instagram
Even if you’re familiar with Instagram’s basic functions and features, it’s important to learn everything about the platform. Educating yourself on how the platform sorts and presents content on a technical level helps you build your presence.
We’ll share some more technical features at the end of this blog — but for now, let’s talk about the basics. If you’re completely new to marketing a tattoo business on Instagram, this section is for you.
Tip 1: Set Up Your Instagram Profile Right
If you’re serious about building your tattoo business on Instagram, it’s important to do a great job setting up your profile. Think of your profile page as the digital counterpart to your real-world studio. It should be clean, organized, and give visitors an immediate sense of who you are and what you’re about.
First, you’ll want to create a business Instagram account. This will be much more beneficial for you than a personal account. A business profile on Instagram gives you access to analytics that tell you the best days / times to post, and how each of your posts are performing.
Second, if you’re setting up an account for the first time, understand that your account name is important. You’ll want to use an account name that’s as close as possible to what your clients and other artists call you, like for example @tattoosbygonzo or @mattvaught_tattoo. That way, you’re easy to find.
After creating your account name, it’s time to fill out your bio. You should provide as much identifying information as possible, including your name, studio name/location, website/portfolio links where clients can view your work and submit inquiries. Resources like LinkTree allow you to direct clients to all your accounts, such as other social media accounts (in case there isn’t enough space in your bio). This will show visitors that you’re a true professional and give them an opportunity to explore your work.
Tip 2: Post High-Quality Photos
As artists, you want your work to speak for itself and leave an impression. If you’re using grainy, low-quality photos on your Instagram, you’re doing your art a major disservice. On an app with effectively endless content, users won’t even bother looking at them — and you don’t want people to scroll past you. That’s because Instagram’s algorithms boost content that users engage with — viewing time, likes, comments, shares, and profile visits all increase the reach of your content.
For promoting your tattooing on Instagram, your photos should be well-lit, sharp, and have a blank or soft-focus background to reduce visual noise. Check out this Tattoo Photography 101 blog for tips on how to level-up your tattoo photo game. You should also consider posting both process photos and finished-product photos (with client consent, of course). This allows viewers to see and understand your creative process from start to finish. As a result, they’ll feel more connected to your work! Also, be sure to add your name, Instagram handle, or logo to the images themselves in case they get shared or reposted by other accounts.
But it isn’t just about photo content. As Tik Tok continues to rise in popularity, Instagram is now largely prioritizing accounts who post Reels and other video content. So, learning how to use Instagram Reels and regularly posting videos to your timeline will boost your Instagram presence. Film your tattoos from all angles, show your followers a clip of life around the shop, or have someone film you doing a killer tattoo. Not sure what videos to make? Then check out what songs or sounds are trending on Tik Tok and use those for your Reels on Instagram. Interested in learning more about Tik Tok? Discover how Tattoo Artist, Jake Karamol, using Tik Tok to grow his brand here.
Tip 3: Tell Your Personal Story and Connect with Your Followers
One of the most engaging things you can do on Instagram is connect with followers on a personal level. There are lots of ways to do this on Instagram, and you’d be wise to use as many of them as possible. Here are just a few options:
- Writing detailed Photo captions and responding to followers’ comments
- Posting to your stories about your equipment, style, and creative process
- Creating story surveys and polls
- Posting reels that show your growth and journey as an artist
If you’re not sure how to use some of these other Instagram features, check out Instagram’s @Creators account for tips and walkthroughs.
But don’t forget the basics, either: include questions or invitations to share experiences in your post captions, and respond to comments and messages from followers. At the end of the day, followers are more likely to engage with you if you engage with them.
Tip 4: Ask Your Clients to Follow You on Instagram
If you already have a solid clientele and following built around your brick-and-mortar tattooing business, then you already have a leg-up for building your Instagram following. Whenever you engage with a client in person, make sure to let them know about your Instagram presence as well. These followers are especially valuable because you know that they’re likely to engage with your content. To ensure consistency and maximum exposure, be sure to include your Instagram handle on all your physical marketing materials, from flyers to stickers to business cards and signage. Also, hype up your new work! What better way to build a connection with your client than posting their new piece on your page. Tag them in your content and encourage them to share with their friends.
Tip 5: Utilize the Best Tattoo Hashtags
There’s a virtually endless stream of content on Instagram, and you want to stand out. One of the best ways to help users find your content is to use hashtags. While it’s common to add many different hashtags to each post, you should always make sure you stick to 3-5 hashtags and that they’re relevant to your content and audience. Try including a selection of general tattoo hashtags like #tattooart, #tattooing, #tattooartists, #inked, and #bodyart, as well as hashtags relevant to a particular piece or to your style of tattooing. For example, if you’re a neotraditional artist, you can use hashtags like #neotraditionaltattoo, #neotraditional, or #neotraditionaltattooers.
Tip 6: Use Geolocation Tags
Geolocation tags attach a specific location to a piece of content and allow users to find all content tagged to a specific location. Using them is a great way to boost familiarity with your physical studio, or to let followers know you’re on the road and working in a different location. If you encourage clients to post and geotag the work you’ve done for them, others will be able to find you and further expand your social network. Tattoo artist Bret Bloom says geotagging was his best friend when it came to building his following on Instagram.
Tip 7: Tag, Follow, and Engage with Others in the Tattoo Community
To build your network and find your audience, engage with and support other tattoo artists and content creators. By following artists and accounts you like, you can increase your own account’s exposure. Tagging and sharing art and artists that inspire you helps to build your library of content relatively easily. But it also might encourage other artists to tag, share, and boost your work, which builds your exposure.. As we’ve said before, engagement is the single most important goal when building your Instagram presence. So, don’t hesitate to engage with others in the Instagram tattoo community.
Tip 8: Submit Photos to Your Favorite Tattoo Brands
There are many pages on Instagram dedicated to sharing the best of particular types of content, and tattoo art is no exception. In your Instagram exploration, you’re sure to encounter plenty of tattoo art shoutout pages featuring art from artists all around the world. You can tap into their audience by submitting your work to these pages via @ tag or direct message asking them to check out your profile and share your work. So, don’t be afraid to slide into their DMs. These accounts typically have a much broader reach than personal accounts, meaning a repost there might open you up to exposure in yet-untapped areas of Instagram. Also, don’t be afraid to tag your favorite tattoo brands, supply companies (like @painfulpleasures), and conventions for additional repost/exposure opportunities.
Tip 9: Be Consistent!
As with tattooing, consistency is key if you want to build and improve your Instagram presence. Instagram rewards activity, so be sure to post at least a couple times per week. If you don’t post consistently, fewer people are likely to see your content and it will be much more difficult to grow your following and client base. But if you’re consistent? Well, new followers can very easily become new clients.
Get noticed on Instagram
Getting your tattoo art Instagram account off the ground can be a daunting challenge. But building your following and establishing an online brand is worth the effort. Refer to these basic tips and tricks any time you feel like your Instagram presence needs a kick in the butt. Once you’ve got your footing, you can further refine your brand by using advanced Instagram marketing tools such as Later. Tools like this help you create strategic content and analyze and optimize your account.
Also, don’t forget to join our online tattoo art community by following PainfulPleasures on Instagram! We’ll keep you posted on the latest tattoo trends, important news, and hottest products. Plus, you’ll be part of a community of engaged artists who can help grow your following. You’ll also get more blogs like this to help advance your tattooing career.
Now, it’s time to kickstart your social media presence — happy Instagramming!