TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 067 What’s Working Now with Instagram


Miriam Schulman:
Hey there, this is your host artist, Miriam Schulman. You’re listening to episode number 67 of the Inspiration Place podcast. I am so thrilled that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all things Instagram. In this episode, you’ll discover the six most important strategies to focus on to get the most out of Instagram, what kinds of content followers are responding to now and what you should be focusing on in 2020 to get the most out of this social media platform. But before we get there, I wanted to make sure you knew about the Artist Incubator. I’m still accepting applications, but time is running out. If you join before January 1st, you can lock in the 2019 prices before it goes up, and I only have a few spots left. I’ll be dropping lots of knowledge bombs during today’s podcast. But if you don’t have the confidence or proper support structure, you’re still going to struggle to take the right inspired actions.

I know that’s true about myself, which is why over the years, I’ve invested in coaching and Masterminds. In fact, today, you’re going to hear from quite a few of my friends that I’ve met in the current Mastermind I’m in, which is going to also show the power of Masterminding. When I surround myself with people who are doing incredible things, it lifts my confidence because I see what’s possible and when I see what’s possible for them, it shows me what’s possible for me. I also love having a group to report back to about what I’m doing in my art business.

I love getting the positive feedback from them and my coach. That’s what motivates me and keeps me inspired to take bigger risks. So that’s what I offer inside the Artist Incubator, but it’s just for artists, not just painters, but I primarily work with painters, and I teach strategies in there and help them build their confidence.

So if you want more confidence, whether it’s to raise your prices, or you need the right strategy or you’re lacking a support structure around you, then I would love to have you join my Artists Incubator program. It is by application only. So it is by invitation only. So you do need to apply first. That is to your benefit because I don’t want to take people into my group if it’s not a right fit for you. To apply, just go to Click there, you’ll scroll down, find a link to fill out the application and also choose a spot that works for you. The strategy session is 100% free, will map out your passion to profit plan for 2020 and if you’re a right fit, we’ll talk about how the Artist Incubator program works. All right. Now, back to the show.

Today is all about Instagram. I actually put off doing a solo show on Instagram for a long time, even though I know that a lot of my listeners and maybe this applies to you too, a lot of my listeners think that if only they had a larger following in Instagram, they’d sell more art. I know this because on the Artist Incubator applications, a lot of people write about that, that they feel that they would sell more art if they had a bigger following. Also, people share that with me in the interviews. Now, the reason I’ve been slow to share Instagram strategy on this podcast, strategy to get more eyes on your IG, and by the way, I’m using the letters, IG and Instagram interchangeably. Whenever I say IG, it stands for Instagram. The main reason I’ve been slow to share it’s because I’m not sure that this is really the best place for most of you to be directing your marketing energy in order to sell more art. So I just want to put that thought out there, right there on the top of this podcast at the get go.

However, since I see so many of you, so many of my listeners spending time on the platform, I want to make sure that if you’re spending time there, that at least you’re using the best strategies and making the most use of your time. So before I dive into the nitty gritty, make sure you bookmark this. This is going to be a hugely actionable podcast episode with lots of juicy details. Now, if you’re driving, you may want to listen to it now, take it all in now and then listen to it again when you get home with a pen and paper because this episode is like a mini training. I’m giving away information for free in this episode that other artists would charge hundreds, or maybe even thousands of dollars for in a Instagram for artists course.

Just so you know, everything that I’m sharing today are things that I actually do for real, at the Inspiration Place. I am not going to be sharing anything that I’ve heard about that works. Everything I’m sharing are things that we actually do and I will describe exactly how we do them. So the first strategy that I think is very important so that Instagram doesn’t suck up all your time is scheduling. If you’re taking notes, this is strategy number one. I try to schedule as much content as possible in advance. Now, there are a lot of tools out there. The tool that I use is called Onlypult. I like it because it lets me schedule both images and videos, and it also lets me schedule stories.

Now, I have my team and by the way, whenever I say team, I probably should just do a little digression here and explain what I mean by team. Anna is my full time studio manager. She works 30 to 35 hours a week for me. I also have a second team member, Laura. She does mostly customer support, but she’s also very talented at doing my graphic design work. So she’s been doing a lot of that. I have a podcast editor. That’s Brian. Thank you, Brian. He makes me sound amazing, even when I screw up in the recordings. So that’s the main part of my team when I say team. So I don’t do everything myself and I don’t expect you to do that either. It’s always nice to have somebody help you. If you can’t afford three people, and nobody starts off that way, there may be a high school student who is able to help you. That’s what I started having when I first started hiring people to help me. So let’s continue with Instagram.

I have my team up load all the content to Onlypult. Sometimes, I’ll let them take a crack at writing the captions first without any of my input. But even when they do that, they’re usually pulling the words from something else I’ve already written like a description about the art from my website, or they pull it off of one of my Inspiration Place training videos that’s inside an online class, or we switch back and forth from Facebook Live or the podcasts. So they’ll pull stuff out already sad and use it there. Sometimes, I will actually log into Onlypult and rewrite things or put in something different than maybe what they thought, but they do for me. But it is my message, my words. And they’re also the ones who choose the hashtags and they’ll add geotagging if it’s appropriate. So I would love to put down now, as strategy number two, is get a millennial to help you. I don’t waste time researching hashtags. I let them do it for me, but the truth is I’m not completely sure that hashtagging is really the most effective way anymore to get more traffic.

Other people might disagree with me. If that’s you, I would love to hear from you. You can either comment below where the show notes are on the blog, which is So if you disagree with anything you hear today, go ahead and comment there, or you can even send me a direct message on Instagram. It’s @schulmanart. Okay. Strategy number three is geotagging. I actually learned this strategy from Elis Dharma. She is an Instagram expert and she was in my Mastermind this past year. So I learned that from her. Geotags are a really powerful way to get more traffic to your posts when you use them properly. So like I said, I personally no longer waste a minute of my time on hashtags. I let my team do that, but geotags definitely help. Oh, but one more thing about hashtagging, they may actually help if you use very, very specific niche hashtags.

So for example, if you are a New York photographer, you can use NYC photographer or #NewYorkphotography or #Phillyphotographers, stuff like that. So if somebody is using Instagram to look for a photographer, they might use Instagram to do that. If you have hashtags you think work and I should be using them, or you just want to join the conversation, send me a direct message over on IG. I’m @schulmanart there.,And we’re also going to have a link to my Instagram in the show notes. Okay. So those are strategies one, two, three; schedule use, geotags, find a millennial.

All right. Strategy number four, IGTV. I was a little slow to join the IGTTV game, but it was from another member of my Mastermind, Nicole Culver, who convinced me to give it a go. So Nicole is in the main Mastermind that I belong to and she teaches those in the health and wellness space how to monetize their blocks here is what she had to say.

Nicole Culver:
My name is Nicole Culver and I help women in the health and wellness industry get paid more online. The number one thing that’s really working for me on Instagram right now is IGTV. I create many pieces of content, put them on IGTV, and then I can share them into my feed on IG stories and even turn them into text posts. My audience is really loving and engaging with it.

Miriam Schulman:
Now, since Nicole was getting such great results with IGTV, I decided to give it a go as well. Before I dive into specifically what I’m doing over there, I want to circle back to strategy number one, scheduling. Since I put that number one, it needs to be addressed right now because currently, there doesn’t seem to be a way to schedule IGTV videos, whether through the Instagram app or the Facebook app or even a third party tool. Now, there is a thing called Creator Studio. It’s Facebook’s own program, and Facebook owns Instagram, and it is free to use. The problem is it doesn’t really seem to work, so we’re not using it. That might change. After this episode goes live, we may end up using it in the future, but right now we don’t use it. So what I do is I create the videos, either on my phone or using my video camera, and I put them in my Dropbox and then on my phone.

I have my Dropbox connected to my phone so I can download the video onto my phone and then upload it to IGTV, except for selfie videos, which you may have seen on my Insta stories, which I’ll get to those in a moment. I create all of my videos using an actual video camera. Now, I’m sure you can do everything with your phone. I just feel that the quality is much better when you’re using a real camera if you’re taking pictures of your art, a real video camera if you’re doing videos of your art and so what I use is a Canon VIXIA R200. I’m only mentioning the model because I know that I’m going to get a lot of emails and messages asking me which video camera I use. So the truth is the way I picked it is before I had Anna and Laura and Brian, the whole team set up, I had a summer intern, this teenage boy who worked for me, it was a boy.

Actually now, he’s a man. So he was working for me and what I had him do was I asked him to pick out the video camera, which he found on eBay and my video editing software. I’ve been using the same camera and the same video editing software since 2012, so that’s seven years later. It’s still working beautifully. Since I know you’re wondering, I’m currently using CyberLink, AKA PowerDirector to edit all my videos. So I have the video on a tripod and I film all of my art classes that way. I repurpose the footage to make speed videos for IGTV.

Now, the plan is for 2022, also turn all of them into YouTube videos. I think it’s really important to repurpose all the content you make and I’ve even passed on that philosophy to my college kids. My daughter’s creative writing piece, don’t tell her teacher she’s repurposing a college essay. Of course, she rewrote it because she’s 22 now. She’s not going to reuse what she wrote when she was 18. But the point is, is a good idea to repurpose your own content. It’s like legal cheating.

One thing I want to make sure I point out; when I’m repurposing content from my paid classes for YouTube or for IGTV, it does not mean I’m giving away all the teaching content for free. First of all, that wouldn’t be fair to my students who have invested in may. Second of all, the whole purpose of Instagram is to entertain people when they’re bored in the doctor’s office or waiting at the airport. So speed videos with or without music, with or without audio work really well here. As far as repurposing content, the other thing I do is that I cross post everything that I do on Instagram to Facebook. The way I’m currently doing that is a program called Zapier, or maybe it’s called Zapier. Someone needs to tell me which way to pronounce it. I’m going to go with Zapier by the way. There are other ways to do this as well. But since I’m scheduling my posts using a third party tool, it’s easier for me to use Zapier because it waits until I post on Instagram and then it reposts it onto my Facebook page and also into my free Facebook group.

So even though I have less free traffic on Instagram than I would like, I do get a lot of traffic on Facebook and sharing the same piece of content in both places really makes the best use of it. The strategy that I use is I use Instagram as a staging ground for content. Now, I do want to define a few terms here because there is a difference between traffic and followers. They’re different. On Instagram, I have about 18,000 followers. It might be closer to 19,000 on Instagram at this point. And on Facebook, I have about 20,000. Maybe it’s closer to 21, I’m not sure, 21,000 on Facebook. Followers is not the same thing as traffic. Traffic is how many people see your posts or how many things see your posts. The problem is there’s no way that 19,000 human beings are actually seeing my posts.

So first of all, of those, let’s round it up, those 19,000 followers on IG, many of them are not even human beings and that is not to say that I’ve bought fake followers. I’ve never done that, but here is what happens to me and to you as well. I’ve seen this happen in real time, a perfect example of something to happen. So I’m in absolutely in love with the eyewear designer, Carolyn Abraham. I have several pairs of frames that she designed and I decided to follow her on IG. Within moments of following her while I still had the app open, I got notifications, follow notifications from about three different eyeglass brands. The notifications basically said that they started following me. That is because those eyeglass brands have some sort of automation set up that they follow the followers of their competitors. Their hopes is that you’ll go to check them out and follow them as well. So I can assure you that this is true, not just of the eyeglass brands, but of a lot of other brands that I follow as well.

Of the humans that are following you, Instagram does not show them every single one of your posts. It absolutely makes sense that they don’t. And even if they did, you don’t have enough time to really look at every single post of everybody that you follow by the way. You would take a lot of time to do that. I don’t know. Most of us are following at least a couple hundred brands and people on Instagram and some of us much more. Your followers are probably falling a lot of people and brands, and when they log into their devices and open up Instagram, Instagram wants to give them the best possible experience. So what they do is they will prioritize what is shown in the news feed based on their algorithm. Now, the exact algorithm is a bit of a mystery, though we do have some ideas of how it works. I’m not going to get into that deeply today, but what I can tell you when I open my Instagram app, I usually see pictures of my nephew first or my daughter.

My nephew first because it’s my brother’s first and only child, so he and his wife are constantly posting pictures of which I like, so there is the consistency factor and the frequency factor, as well as the fact that Instagram knows that I like it. Those things go into play. I also see pictures of my daughter or people that I’ve been direct messaging with. So those people or brands will always show up first in my newsfeed. And really, that makes a lot of sense. That’s why my friend and again, this is another superstar from my Mastermind, my friend Yasmin is using both IG and direct messaging to fuel the fire of her Instagram strategy. Let me share with you what she had to say.

Hey, hey, hey. My name is Yasmin [inaudible 00:21:34] from the sales story method, and I help entrepreneurs as well as sales leaders learn how to use story to build stronger connections and get rid of all the confusion in order to close more sales. Now, what’s been working for me on Instagram has been the use of IGTV. It’s been incredible way to engage with my audience and it’s also very connected where I use a lot of the DM features, where people leave me comments as a way to engage and have deeper connections.

Miriam Schulman:
Now, I want to give you and idea of what you can expect on Instagram. If you post on Instagram, you should expect to get between 1% to 2% of your followers clicking that heart. What does that mean? If you have a hundred followers, that’s two people. Now, actually the truth is the smaller your number of followers, that percentage will probably be higher mostly because with a small number of followers, those are probably people that you are engaging with, that are your friends and family. The higher that number gets, then the more people you have following you who don’t know you as well. So with my own account as an example, I have 18,000 followers, 1% is 180 people. I would expect to have about 180 people liking my posts.

Let’s say you have 5,000 and you’re getting a hundred likes on a post. That’s really good by the way. That would be about 2% and 50 likes would be 1%. Somebody like Jennifer Orkin Lewis who has 150,000 followers, she gets about a thousand likes, which is still a lot of people, but it’s not what it was in the good old days. But here is what I’ve noticed. Whenever I post an IGTV video, I’m getting thousands of views, way more than what I do with an image post or even a regular video post on my feed. Now, that could be because there just isn’t a lot of competition yet over an IGTV land or it could be because Instagram is prioritizing IGTV in the news feed. And of course, it could also be because they’re counting a view as when somebody looks at it for just a few seconds and they really haven’t watched the whole thing. Either way, when I post videos through IGTV, I’m getting a lot more eyeballs than when I post to my feed, a simple image or a simple video post.

The beautiful thing is that people are going from IGTV to my website and they’re signing up for my mailing list. Now, I’ve been doing that by putting a call to action at the end of each of my IGTV videos for some sort of freebie I’m offering. Now, that could be a free watercolor supply list or a Masterclass I’m having. If you’re selling art rather than art classes, you might be wondering what would work for you. Well, your call to action would absolutely be your website where you’re selling your art, but you could also be asking them to join a VIP list for discounts or be on a first notification for releases of your art. I know that I recently joined a mailing list for Hester Sunshine. She was the runner up candidate for the last seasons Project Runway. I was falling on Instagram and I was so relieved when she finally put up a link to her mailing list so that instead of checking her Instagram all the time, I know that she’ll email me when she has something for sale; at least that’s the way she should be doing it.

Hopefully, that’s the way she’s doing her marketing. But I much prefer to have it on email than to be hoping that Instagram shows me a post just when a brand or person I’m following has something I really want. You need to give your followers that same sort of advantage. By asking them to join your mailing list, you are doing them a favor. Since IGTV is so powerful, almost all of my posts are now IGTV videos. They’re either speed videos of my art, like I said, or my podcast audiograms. So I used to post 15 second audiograms. If you don’t know what an audiogram is, they’re basically audio clips that have a mini video, and I’m using a free tool called I’ll make sure that all these tools, Onlypult, Zapier,, all of them are in the show notes for you in case you need to check them out.

But a few weeks ago, I told my podcast editor to give me 90 second clips instead, so I can post the audio grams to IGTV. The IGTV posts automatically populate the Instagram feed as a teaser. But the requirement for IGTV is they must be at least a minute long. So that is why I changed the length, and I also changed where they start posting from. So when I just had a regular 15 second audio gram, which was a video, I would post it to the feed, but now that it’s a 90 second audio gram, I post it to IGTV. It automatically posts to the feed and I get a lot more traffic that way. So I know I’m getting a lot more traffic, not just because of the numbers of likes and the number of views according to Instagram, but I’m also getting more comments. So that has been really helpful.

Now, if you don’t have a video camera like I do, don’t worry. You can still use your iPhone or your iPad. Almost any content that you would have posted as a still image can make a great video. So a few ideas are toward your studio, or an explanation of your art or an art fair. The only disadvantage right now I’m finding with IGTV videos is they don’t cross post to Facebook. I’ll either have to create native content for Facebook or do a different strategy for that because you remember what I said earlier in this episode that my social media strategy is to use Instagram as a staging ground and then everything cross post to Facebook. So I am going to have to change my Facebook strategy a little bit. I’m not so concerned with it right now, since I also regularly show up to do Facebook Lives. I don’t want to get into how I’m going to change my Facebook strategy today because surely, that’s another episode.

Now, if you’re wondering if you can do this too, I wanted you to hear from my client artist, Janine Najelli of Art Yourself. She’s been getting lots of commissions for her pet portraits through Instagram and here’s what she had to say.

IGTV has been a blast. I’ve been posting every other day. It’s been very fun. You’re just letting them get to know a little bit about you inside a little bit.

Miriam Schulman:
All right, my friend, moving on to strategy number five. The next most powerful Instagram strategy that still works really well, which are Insta stories. People are definitely watching and responding to my stories. Whenever I get a direct message, when people respond to the Insta stories, it turns into a direct message. So I always reply to direct messages because remember when I started this episode, I said, when I opened my Instagram app, the first thing I see are pictures of my family and also posts from people I’ve messaged. So that’s why you want to respond to as many direct messages as you can. What I find works really well is when I also repost other people’s posts onto my stories that I like. The other thing I find that works really well for Insta stories is that’s where I’ll share iTune reviews. So that’s the little hint. You might want to leave me and iTune review.

What I’ve been doing is I screenshot the review and I tag the person on Instagram who left the review, but the trick is you do have to, at the very end of the review, put in your handle, which is that @ whatever your name is, so @schulmanart. So what I do is I share that on my story. And I also, just to give the person who wrote a review a little more of a gift, I also like to share a post from their Instagram, like a post of their art. So I say, “Thanks to my listener…” whoever it is, “… Check out their art.” The other thing I do on Instagram is I’ll do a selfie video to announce a Facebook Live or a new podcast episode. It does help that I have over 10,000 followers. So I do have that swipe up feature, but you can just put a caption directly onto your story with the URL of where you want people to go. That works as well.

All right. We’re getting to the end. I know this has been a juicy podcast with lots of actionable takeaways. In fact, I would love for you to message me on Instagram, @schulmanart, what your biggest takeaway was, but there’s one more I want to share and that is consistency. So my friend, Mai, and yes, I did meet her through my Mastermind, she’s an artist and she specializes in hand lettering. With 32,000 Instagram followers, she certainly knows a thing or two about IG. Here is what she had to say.

Mai DeLeon:
My name is Mai DeLeon and I help artists make a living online with hand lettering. What’s working for me on Instagram is consistency, be it posting in the grid, stories or IGTV. If you want to see growth, you need to put out content on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be every day. It can be three times a week if you want, but make it consistent. That helps the Instagram algorithm understand your content better and show it to your followers.

Miriam Schulman:
All right, my friend, I know there’s been a lot so far. If you are still feeling stock and not sure what to post, I just want to give you a few more ideas so that you won’t run out of ideas. Make sure you have that pen ready to write this down. You can share works in progress, speed videos, pictures of your studio, pictures of you painting, completed art, sold art, art in a room setting, art being packaged for shipping, pictures of your art in an art show or a gallery display, perhaps your studio pet, or your children. Now, I want to caution you when you, when you do share more personal things like your pets, your children, I advise that you do it in context of your art life. So if you’re sharing pictures of your kids, try to do it in an art show or in your studio. People really aren’t interested in your prom pictures except for your mom. It’s about giving them a little glimpse of your life as an artist and a little bit of your personal life, as well is okay, but not necessarily in the feed.

Things that are very personal like prom pictures, I prefer to post those on Insta stories since they do disappear after 24 hours. And of course, inspirational quotes always work in the feed. And like I said, those are things that I love seeing in other people’s feed and I’m always sharing them to my stories for my followers. On your stories, you can re post anything that we just talked about that were feed posts into the stories, but since the stories are 24 hours only, you can get a little more creative here and share more personal things like travel or things that inspire you. That’s why I share other people’s quotes and inspirations. Here’s another place where I like to tag influencers or other artists I like and admire.

As far as what not to post, I would avoid things like your lunch, your dinner, things that only your mom would be interested in. Always ask yourself, “Would an art collector be interested in this?” Now, I have a lot more to say about Instagram, which is why I did a whole session for my Artist Incubator clients, whole session on Instagram. In fact, I think we even have done two sessions on it so that I could help them really review that their Instagram profiles and their feeds to do Instagram makeovers. Not only did my Incubator students learn everything we discussed today, but I also shared secrets behind the algorithm, how to write better captions and using your bio to drive sales and sign ups to your email list. If you’re interested in joining the Incubator, it is not too late for 2020 because I’m still taking applications. You need to go to, tell me about yourself and set up your free strategy call. We’ll review the passion to profit framework and see how this could work for you. I would really love to talk to you.

Now, if you found this episode helpful, here’s what you can do next. Share this episode with a friend, leave me a review on Apple Podcast. Actually, that’s probably the best way to pay it forward because it both helps other artists find the show and they’re super fun for me to read. Plus, I always give shout outs on Instagram to artists, but just make sure you leave your Instagram handle at the end of the rate and review because your Apple’s ID probably isn’t the same as your Instagram handle and then I may not know how to find you. So to leave a review, what you need to do, and I’m going to talk specifically about how to do it if you have an iPhone, you open the Instagram app, you click on, “shows,” you search for the Inspiration Place. When you find it, scroll down. Right below, “available episodes,” you’re going to see, “write a review.” Click, “five stars,” take a time to leave a review with your handle at the end and most importantly, hit, “send.”

I can’t tell you how many people, and by people, I mean marketers who know what they’re doing, forget to hit the send. And by marketers, I also mean myself. I’ve done it too. You write a review and don’t forget to hit, “send.” That’s what sends it over to Apple Podcast. I would really appreciate if you did that. All right. Thank you so much for being with me here today. I also want to thank my contributors to today’s show. So thank you, Yasmin and Elise and Janine and Nicole and Mai. Thank you so much for being part of my world and sharing today. I just also want to thank my podcast editor, Brian, thank you so much. You’re the best.

All right, everybody, we will see you next week same time, same place. Make it a great one. Oh, and don’t forget. Go to and send me a message what your biggest takeaway was today. I’d love to hear from you. All right, everyone. Bye for now.

Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram @schulmanart, and of course on

Miriam Schulman:
This episode was sponsored by the Artist Incubator. It’s my small group coaching program where I help you take your art business to the next level with practical strategies that work. Imagine what it would feel like to be easily selling your art and profiting from your passion.

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!