How An Artist 19X’d Their Revenue From Instagram – In Just One Month

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POSTED January 12, 2022 BY Elise Darma

Every content creator’s Instagram marketing strategy is different.

From what you post to when you post it, everyone and their second cousin seems to have an opinion on how to best grow your business (one that they’re not afraid to tell you about). 

The hard part? Deciding which strategy will work the best for your business. 

To (heavily) paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: “There are only three things certain in life: death, taxes and the struggle of growing your Instagram account as an independent artist.” 

(Remember, I did say I was paraphrasing.) 

So how do you know which strategies actually work?  You go back and check the receipts. 


Today I want to introduce you to the fierce strategy that Chicago-based artist and designer Lonnie (@lonniedraws) used to grow his community of fans and increase his sales.

One that skyrocketed his art sales from $1K to $15,482 in only ONE month. 

Hold up…he did what? How?!  Don’t worry – we’re getting to that. 

Lonnie is an ex-corporate designer turned independent painter and illustrator. He broke up with the corporate world to make art that reflected his own values and showcase the queer community he is proudly part of. 

The result? Amazing portraits of gay, queer and trans people from around the world. 

“I wanted to create artwork and things in the world that kind of reflected my culture. So a lot of the work I make the are portraits of gay and trans and people of color and people who aren’t really highlighted as like the stock photo and like a typical brand.” 

He had the art, a loyal following of fans and a badass mission to showcase the queer community.

The only thing he was missing? The sales. 

It would be easy to say money doesn’t matter in the end, but we all know we got bills to pay.

So Lonnie revved up his entrepreneur business savvy, found his way to my Story Vault, Videos Vault and free Instagram workshop to boost his Instagram game. 

And one month later? His sales grew to $15K. 

I chatted with Lonnie about the Instagram and business strategies he used to skyrocket his sales and grow his brand. 

You don’t want to miss these tips. 🙏

Here are the Instagram strategies Lonnie used to boost his sales from $1K to over $15K in one month.

1. He started putting a call-to-action in his Instagram stories 

After taking my free Instagram workshop, Lonnie found a way to make his stories more engaging. He started including a CTA (call-to-action) in the stories he was posting. Now, there was an easy option for how people could engage with his art (whether it was signing up for his email lists, following his main account and more). 

“What that allowed me to do, which had never been done before, is that I created an audience of first-time buyers who would have never thought about buying custom art for themselves.” 

Takeaway: use CTAs to show all the different ways followers can buy your services/products or join your community. Or both. 😏

2. He built relationships with his Instagram followers 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – it’s not just about the number of followers you have, but how engaged those followers are. Look at Lonnie for proof. With only a few thousand followers Lonnie managed to bring in $15K in only one month. 

Here are some of his tips to cultivate relationships:

Put people on your Close Friends list.

“Anyone who likes my work and who does start our conversation, I immediately put them on my close friends list.”

Access to exclusive content, pre-sales and sneak peaks of new art? Yes please. Adding customers to the exclusive world of the green circle helps people feel like they’re part of a community. 

Engage, engage, engage.

Lonnie checks his DMs daily to respond to customer questions, comments he gets on videos, or to nurture existing relationships. 

Know that relationships are two-way streets.

Ask people questions about their lives and the content they’re posting. That way, they won’t only feel more connected (and inclined to buy), but Lonnie can continue to strengthen his community with people who share his values. 

3. He started sharing video content

Get ready to up your engagement and get those cameras rolling. Beyond sharing his art on screen, Lonnie shares videos chatting about his process, life and values. 

“As a designer, it was always about the work and on screen and it was never about me now. It’s like, okay, I’m an artist. I want people to care about my success. So they have to know me.” 

The other type of video content he loves to share? Unboxing videos from customers.  When people get their art pieces from him, he’ll ask them to film an unboxing video so he can share it on his feed.

“Then when you repost that and say, this happened, and I don’t have to do any selling at that point, the video is the sales mechanism. Then someone can think of themselves as having that experience too.”

4. He had a clear strategy to turn his followers into customers

POV: you come across an amazing artist on Instagram, you hit the follow button, and 5 minutes later your friend sends you a hilarious Tik Tok and you’re distracted for the next 2 hours. When you finally come out of the doom scroll, you have no clue what you just saw before and continue on with your day.

Sounds familiar? 

A key part in Lonnie’s success is not only engaging with new followers, but to make himself memorable. 

“You have to give someone a reason to kind of invest at that first level because it’s so easy to turn them into buyers once they experience it.” 

Engaging with people by sliding into the DMs, responding to comments and more is an obvious way to stay top of mind. But a lesser known strategy Lonnie loves? Entice people with freebies. 

He gives away free phone wallpapers and a discount to anyone that signs up for his email lists. People will send him screenshots of their new fabulous backgrounds (courtesy of Lonnie) and he’ll post those on his story. 

And once customers are signed up for his mailing list or chatting with him in the DMs, he’s ready to go. 

“I have an entire doc of replies, sales emails, thank you emails, shipping emails, etc. Literally everything in my business has some sort of template I can leverage which helps me move quickly.”  

5. He made sure his customers knew what to buy from him and where

I know what you’re thinking: “Ummmm obviously?!” 

But trust me, when you’re caught up in sharing content and engaging with customers, it’s easy to forget to actually pitch what you’re selling. If you’re a first time art buyer, it can be intimidating to know what a commissioned piece will actually look like, or how much it will cost. 

Lonnie showcases the different kinds of work people can get through his video content, story highlights and by interacting one-on-one with his followers. He also offers payment plans, and custom commissions so he can meet multiple price points. 

6. Got people on his email list ASAP 

Risky, promiscuous portraits of beautiful queer people? Sign me up.

Unfortunately, because of the ever changing guidelines of Instagram, Lonnie is well aware of the possibility of his account being shadow banned or deleted. 

“I have to be very conscious about what I am posting on my main feed because it’s not always under Instagram guidelines and those change all the time and it’s very confusing. And so I also can’t use hashtags. I feel like in a previous account I was shadow banned and I just wasn’t getting any kind of engagement on my posts.” 

The solution? To make sure he has other ways to reach his clients beyond Instagram. 

“That’s also why I am always pushing mailing lists or pushing Twitter or just something else so that I have other ways for people to get a hold of me.” 

7. Showed off the artist behind the art

Who would you buy from? A face-less brand with a product, or a vibrant creator who aligns with your values AND has amazing products.

Hands up for the second option. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️

Tips from Lonnie to showcase your personality:

  • Don’t just message people, see if they want to hop on the phone! Send a voice note introducing yourself and your work. It may seem intimidating, but people are craving connections after over a year of being in quarantine/hermit mode. 
  • Share videos where you talk about why you make your work, what your process looks like etc. Showcase the artist behind the art. 
“I want people to care about my success. So they have to know me.” 

Want to start using videos on Instagram to boost your engagement like Lonnie did?

Know you need to be showing up on video, but not sure what to post that will actually make a difference in your business?

Videos Vault is my answer to your question, What the heck do I post on Reels?

video content marketing course

It’s 300 video ideas for the busy entrepreneur who’s ready to grow their customer base – leveraging Instagram’s Reels feature.

Videos Vault is a two-part program that’s one half TRAINING, covering both the how-tos and strategies of Reels and TikTok, and other half VAULT of 300 actionable video ideas.

Perfect for COACHES, SERVICE PROVIDERS and CREATORS, Videos Vault is the quickest and easiest way to grow your followers and organic traffic today.

With Videos Vault, you’ll create videos to:

  • Get MORE visibility in your market
  • Drive steady traffic to your videos and business, months after posting
  • Connect with your audience in a way that suits your personality – whether that’s on or off camera!
POSTED January 12, 2022 BY Elise Darma

Meet Lonnie

With the help of Videos Vault, Lonnie conquered his fear of video and grew his commissioned art sales to $15,000+ monthly only 30 days later.

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