From Followers to Customers: Effective Strategies for Artists to Monetize Social Media




The Illusion of Social Media Success

Hey there, fellow creatives!

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get caught up in the social media game. I would know, I've been caught in the sticky web of online 'success'. Likes, comments, and follower counts can make us feel like we’re achieving something big. But here’s the hard truth: social media is just a marketing tool, not a business model.

Followers are great, but they mean nothing if they don’t convert into customers. So today I want to talk to you about why social media shouldn’t be the entire essence of your business and how you can turn those followers into loyal customers.

Followers vs. Customers

Building Trust and Authenticity

Techniques to Convert Followers to Customers

We’ve all been there – the excitement of seeing your follower count rise, the rush of likes on a new post, the thrill of positive comments, and a bite of jealousy when another account goes viral and gets a success boot overnight. Online engagement feels validating, like you’re making an impact. But do you? Having a large following doesn’t automatically translate to financial success or business growth. Social media platforms are fantastic for visibility and engagement, but they should be just one part of a broader business strategy.

First, let's define what exactly is the problem here. Very often beginner freelancers who are trying to get their name out there forget that followers are not the same as clients. Followers are people who enjoy or relate to your content; customers are people who invest in your products or services. This is why growing your online audience might be tricky, since your followers might be people who relate such as other artists, but they won't be buying anything from you. Fixing this issue requires a shift in focus from simply gaining followers to building a relationship and providing value that encourages them to make a purchase.

  • Know what your product is, and for who: Since the goal should be to convert your social media followers into paying customers, think about who your product is for. For example, are you a pattern designer seeking to license your work? Then posting art memes won't make you look legitimate in the eyes of brands that might stumble across your post. It is better to focus on creating content showcasing how your product might be applied to a product using mockups. Define what you'd like to get paid for, and who would buy it from you, and only then start to build your social media strategy.

  • Provide value: One way to turn followers into customers is by consistently providing value. This can be through educational content, behind-the-scenes looks at your creative process, or exclusive offers. Make sure your audience knows that you’re not just there to entertain them but to solve their problems or fulfill their needs with your products or services. This is great for those who want to sell their service rather than art, targeting the art community as their consumer.

  • Clear Call to Action (CTAs): Every piece of content you create should have a clear CTA. Whether it’s directing followers to your website, encouraging them to join your email list, or inviting them to check out your latest product, make sure your audience knows what steps to take next. A CTA guides your followers toward becoming customers. Make sure you plan your content strategically, making your social presence into one continuous story about who you are and what you offer. If you are struggling with content ideas, check out my post about social media channel management techniques.

Trust is a critical component of converting followers into customers. People buy from those they trust. Here’s how to build that trust:

  • Show authenticity: Be genuine in your interactions. Share your story, show the face behind the brand, and engage with your audience authentically. Authenticity builds a deeper connection and makes your followers more likely to support your business. Remember - people buy from people.

  • Customer testimonials: Share testimonials and success stories from your customers. Social proof is powerful – when potential customers see others benefiting from your products or services, they’re more likely to make a purchase themselves.

  • Use a mind map to visualize your funnel: Creating a mind map can help you visualize the flow of your online presence and ensure it works efficiently. Start by mapping out the stages of your customer journey – from awareness to consideration to purchase. Identify where your social media efforts fit into this funnel and ensure each stage leads naturally to the next. Choose an epicenter of your brand, and see how you can drive people to it.

Relying solely on social media is risky. Algorithms change, platforms evolve, and your account could get suspended without warning. Here are a few ways to diversify:

  • Own your audience: Focus on building an email list. Unlike social media platforms, you own your email list. It’s a direct line to your audience that you control, making it an invaluable asset for your business. It's the best and easiest way to stay in touch with people. Social media rises and falls, but email is forever. Regular newsletters keep your audience engaged and informed about your latest work, offers, and updates. Email marketing is also a powerful tool for converting followers into customers. Exclusive offers and new product updates will create a call to action for potential buyers. This direct line of communication helps build a stronger relationship with your audience.

  • Develop a website: Your website is your digital storefront. It’s where you can showcase your portfolio, sell products, and provide detailed information about your services. It doesn't have to be complex and expensive, just something to showcase your best work. A professional, user-friendly website enhances your credibility and offers a platform for transactions outside of social media. And most importantly - it is under your full control.

  • Create a professional email: Following up on the point above, when you are setting up your site, you'll have to purchase a custom domain that can also be used to set up a new email address. Separate your business inbox from personal, as well as make a better impression on clients when communicating with them. A professional email address helps establish credibility and trust.

  • Have several traffic sources: Do not rely on just one channel. Explore other platforms, find 2-3 that work best for you, and keep them active. If you hate making videos, maybe try out Pinterest rather than opening a YouTube channel. Just make sure whatever you do, it works for you.

Diversify Your Business Strategy

Social media is a fantastic tool for building visibility and engagement, but it’s not a standalone business model. Followers are only valuable if they convert into customers. By providing value, building trust, and diversifying your marketing strategy, you can turn your social media success into real business growth.

Remember, your business’s foundation should be solid and multifaceted. Use social media as a part of your strategy, not the whole. And if you’d like more tips on growing your creative business, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter. Let’s turn those followers into loyal customers together!

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  • Take Classes on Marketing and Sales Funnels: This might be the most important piece of advice you will hear from me. Marketing cannot be learned from a cheap pdf "course" you bought from an influencer. Stop being delusional and blame everything on the algorithm. Instead, invest some time and money in professional marketing education and resources, teach yourself how to promote your work, and embrace the fact that you cannot be just an artist, you have to be a salesman as well. Consider taking online courses or attending workshops on these topics. Platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, Hubspot Academy, and LinkedIn Learning offer excellent courses on digital marketing, sales strategies, and funnel building.

  • Be proactive: Engage your audience with interactive content like webinars or live sessions. These events allow you to showcase your expertise, answer questions, and provide value in real time. They also create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, which can drive conversions. Remember that the 'client' you are trying to attract is also a human, and they want to work with someone who is easily approachable, friendly, and proactive.

  • Create urgency: encourage purchases by offering limited-time promotions, discounts, and exclusive collections. Announce these deals on your channels to incentivize your followers to act quickly. This strategy not only boosts sales but also helps convert followers into repeat customers. While there might not be a real limit on your art, it is your job to lure people in and make their time and money worth spending on your services and products.

a diagram of a social media and social media
a diagram of a social media and social media
a number of different types of social media
a number of different types of social media
a call to action plan for a call to action
a call to action plan for a call to action