How This Artist Grew An Instagram Account by 10K in 6 Months And Increased Commissions

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January 11, 2022 BY Elise Darma

Ever wonder if it’s possible to grow your Instagram account by 10K and increase your sales during a global pandemic?

Let me introduce you to Tennessee-based artist, Susan Verekar (@susanverekar), who did exactly that.

*Elle Woods voice* What, like it’s hard? 

In the early months of 2020, when Corona was known as just another beer, Susan decided to reconnect to her creative side.

She started painting using alcohol ink after seeing time-lapses on Instagram from artists.  And then? COVID hit. Sigh.

Instead of watching Tiger King and baking banana bread like most of us, Susan decided to start sharing her art on Instagram.

This was her account on May 17, 2020, when she first joined Social Bank (formerly InstaGrowth Boss).

Fast forward to January 27, 2021.  *Pause for dramatic effect* Susan had 10.8K followers.

That’s right. She grew her Instagram account by 10,000 followers in only 6 months.

Her small business also went from making $0 in sales to bringing in $1,000s per month. 

The best part?

The majority of her sales come from commission requests that come straight from Instagram.

You may be thinking, “you’re telling me that this woman picked up a hobby. Started an Instagram account. Grew over 10K in 6 months. And started making thousands of dollars per month?!” 

This isn’t a cheesy rom-com montage.

May 2020 wasn’t exactly an easy time to try to grow your Instagram. Thousands of businesses were trying to build their online presence and gain followers. (You know, due to that inconvenient global pandemic that showed up.)

After learning strategies through my course, Susan put in work to get those results.

(And she did it using the strategies below that anyone can use!) 

So where was she at with her Instagram strategy before she joined Social Bank (formerly InstaGrowth Boss)? 

“I’d post here and there but I didn’t know what I was doing. Nothing consistent.” 

Then, the stars aligned, and she got a sign that it was time to take her marketing to the next level.

Okay, so a sign is a stretch – she actually just saw one of my Instagram ads for my Story Vault

But either way, she found her way to our badass community of entrepreneurs taking control of their social media channels.  

I sat down to chat with Susan about how she grew her following and increased sales in such a competitive space.

Keep reading for the top strategies Susan used to grow her business that you can implement today. 

Instagram marketing strategies Susan used to grow her small business and increase sales

1. Post to Instagram consistently 

Susan found that posting content every day was an essential part of getting her account in front of new potential clients.

The Instagram algorithm isn’t playing games. Don’t try and play it cool like your annoying ex that only called a couple of times a week. 

“If you’re not consistent it’s not going to give you attention.” 

On top of posting every day, Susan established an aesthetic for her feed.

Susan’s alcohol ink, abstract style of painting gave her feed a distinct look that set her apart from other artists. 

She even started getting requests for her to host online workshops to show her techniques. Another easy revenue stream that came straight from follower demand! 

2. Take small steps on Instagram every day

Trying to grow your business on Instagram is a daunting task. Trying to do so while you’re taking care of a toddler like during a global pandemic like Susan was is a whole other story.

Your business to-do list can seem never-ending when you add an Instagram strategy, but it doesn’t have to be so hard. 

Here are some things Susan did to help her share more content: 

    1. Instead of stressing about putting out a new reel, IGTV, story, or post every day, pick one thing to focus on. 
    2. Don’t limit yourself to sharing only finished pieces. Share a quick Instagram story of a small part of a project you’re working on. 
    3. Post little things throughout the day on your stories – they don’t always have to be art-related either. Show your followers the artist behind the art.

The result? Susan saw steady growth and was able to hit 10K followers by the start of January. 

“Do one thing one week, and maybe work on hashtags or something else the next week.” 

3. Use Instagram hashtags strategically 

Don’t worry. Susan didn’t load up her comment section with a dictionary-sized list of hashtags related to her art. She learned how to finesse the algorithm to make sure her content was getting to people’s feeds. 

Here’s what her hashtag strategy looked like:

  • Before Susan posted a photo, she would search up the hashtags she was going to use and comment on the top posts. 
  • Then, she posted her photo and made sure to include the hashtags that she just commented on. 
  • And for her final trick… she went back to that hashtag and commented on the most recent photos that used it.

The result? Susan’s posts started showing up under the top posts for the hashtags she interacted with.

4. Build relationships with your Instagram followers 

Have you ever been on a date where the person only talks about themselves and asks absolutely nothing about your life?

Yep. That’s the equivalent of only posting on Instagram and waiting for your fans to flock to you. 

“You can’t just get on social media and expect them to come to you. It’s a party. You have to go out and engage and find people.” 

Susan could have easily bought plenty of bot followers, but that would have done nothing for her business.

She engages with her followers by responding to every comment, DM, or story reply she gets. She also goes out of her way to comment on other creators’ posts and even started a series on her stories called Artists I Love. (Where she, surprise, features other people’s artwork she loves on her IG story. It doesn’t have to be complicated.) 

“I definitely notice the same people commenting and liking and replying to your stories. Those are your core people. And don’t ignore them.” 

Besides meeting some amazing people, Susan was able to turn those followers into paying clients.

The more they got to know her and her style of art the more inclined they were to order a commission from her – the biggest revenue generator of her business. 

“All of my commissions have been through Instagram. It’s my sole growth engine right now.” 

5. Create videos for Instagram 

A study that analyzed over 48 million Instagram posts found that video content has 2x higher engagement rates than other content. 

“I definitely think videos are really feeding the algorithm right now. Time-lapses are golden.” 

The best part? You don’t need a fancy camera or expensive editing software to get started. Susan grew her Instagram following by sharing videos straight from her phone. 

“It doesn’t have to be fancy! It doesn’t have to be professional quality at all. People just want to see it being made.” 

Susan’s top advice for other creators struggling to grow their small business and be an artist at the same time:

“I think that the biggest challenge as artists is that we deal with a lot of self-doubts.” 

Put your hand up if you’ve ever doubted an idea you once loved. 

“I think as artists we get stuck in that, ‘I don’t know if people are going to like it’ trap.”

Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Just post. 

“If you post enough people get to know you as a person, not the art that you’re posting. I think that that is a really big part of drawing people into your community.” 

Remember what she said about growing relationships with your followers? That’s right, posting every day is part of earning that trust with new customers. Full circle moment. 

Ready to use Instagram to grow your small business?

Posting every day is one of the top Instagram marketing strategies Susan used to increase sales. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by what to post, or have already tried posting more stories but are getting ZERO engagement, let me introduce you to Story Vault.

My collection of an entire year’s worth of strategic Instagram Story prompts and ideas to help you grow your business.  how to use instagram for business What you get:

  • Over 800 ready-to-use Instagram Story prompts and ideas
  • Prompts to help grow brand visibility
  • Prompts to help grow engagement
  • Prompts to help generate leads
  • Prompts to help close sales

As nice as aesthetically pleasing IG stories are – if they aren’t getting any engagements, there’s no point in posting them.

Story Vault was specifically designed to boost engagement and grow your small business. 

January 11, 2022 BY Elise Darma

Meet Susan

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