Building a successful business of any kind hinges on the ability to generate a base clientele of repeat customers. Business-building is also contingent on generating a constant stream of new clients. For tattoo artists, every tattoo is an opportunity to gain potential clients. The most reliable way to get them coming through the door is to generate a strong buzz around your work. In the age of social media, word-of-mouth buzz now happens almost entirely online, and the presence that artists can now build is unmatched.
When our friends get a new tattoo, chances are that we will see it posted on Instagram before the ink even dries. We may even see the entire tattoo process documented through the story feature that Instagram and Facebook offer. Every mention, tag, and share helps artists to build their client base, and artists are using these social media platforms as portfolios for their tattoo business — one that is available for the whole world to see. A small-town artist can now connect with clients across the country simply through the pictures they post online.
To build and maintain your following successfully, it’s important to curate your posts, post regularly, and keep your page diverse. Artists must also think beyond Instagram. Although Instagram is essential, there are also growing tattoo-focused pages like Inkably and Tattoodo, where both artists and clients can go to make connections. The following tips can help you not only promote a business on Instagram, but also turn new followers into active clients.
Curate your feed, and post regularly.
Whether you gravitate to black and grey tattoos in your work or you love tattooing in full color, it’s important to curate your Instagram feed to primarily showcase tattoos in the style that you want to do. Pictures should be clear, consistent, and vivid with ample contrast. You can capture excellent photos of your work with good lighting and a high quality camera, which come equipped in most smartphones today.
High-quality images are what will ultimately capture the attention of potential tattoo clients and encourage them to hit the follow button. Be sure to always get pictures of your work, even if you don’t ultimately post it.
Ask your clients to step outside for the perfect lighting or keep a miniature ring light at your station to snap a photo of your newest work. Don’t be afraid to ask your client if you can snap a few quick photos for your portfolio. Most clients are excited when they see their fresh ink on the artist’s page, and as an added bonus, they can share your post to their own page for their followers to see. Check out this blog on tattoo editing by Memphis Mori, owner of Grim City Tattoo Club, for tips on properly editing tattoos for your portfolio.
Connect with clients and artists.
Building a following of potential clients is important, but it’s equally important to use social media as a space to connect with other artists. Cultivating relationships with other artists will allow you to collaborate on cross promotions on Instagram and in the tattoo shop. These relationships can create opportunities for you to travel to other shops for guest tattooing stints, bringing your talents to more clients, as well as for other artists to come to your shop, resulting in more exposure for your business. Check out the PainfulPleasures featured artists page to learn about and view the portfolios of PainfulPleasures-sponsored and pro-team artists.
Grow your following organically.
It may be tempting to buy likes and followers to make your page appear more popular, but fake accounts bring little more than fake engagement. Growing your following is about increasing your ability to reach real potential tattoo clients. Paying to increase engagement may raise the number of likes and followers on your page, but it will not actually connect your page with real people searching for talented tattoo artists. Focus your energy on real growth for your tattoo business. Use hashtags to increase the likelihood of your page being discovered by new people. Plus, you can follow the PainfulPleasures Instagram, where you can follow and connect with talented artists who are featured daily.
Tools like Combin can help you get more followers on Instagram without buying fake followers. On Combin, you can search for new potential followers through the hashtags you use on your own posts. Rather than buying followers, Combin helps connect you with Instagram users who show interest in work like your own. Once you’ve found those with similar interests, you can engage with the accounts you like, and respond to comments on your own posts. Followers who actively engage with your posts help your reach far more than fake followers can.
Social media can be frustrating, as platforms are constantly making changes that make growth more difficult for small content creators. The fact remains however that social media is an unmatched tool for promoting a tattoo business. If you regularly post on your Instagram, Tattoodo, or Inkably page and use these platforms to communicate directly with potential tattoo clients and and other artists, you will undoubtedly introduce your tattoo business to new clients.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.