Updated: Feb 3, 2020
Tattooers, reality check: the industry has changed a ton in the past few years and it's time you follow suit. Being a good, solid tattoo artist is no longer enough to keep busy. Between social media, marketing, and simple time management, there are a number of ways to promote your "brand" — and that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Before I share some tips, I'd like to offer one super important piece of advice: hiring a talented manager can take you from merely staying busy to having a waitlist in your preferred specialty style. Many artists don't want to spend the money to hire a manager, but think of it as an investment. With the right person, it will be more than worth it when you double or triple your income and client base.
If you can't afford a manager at this moment, here are my top eight tips that will help build your name into a brand and take your business from okay to amazing!
8. Sync your business pages on Facebook and Instagram.
Syncing your Instagram page to your Facebook business page allows you to access statistics, such as your audience demographic, engagements per post, where your followers are from, etc. By syncing the two, you can also promote ads on both platforms for the same price.
As an artist, you'll want to use your name, but keep it simple and unique. For example, if you have a more common name like James John, try to alter it slightly so that it's easily recognized and comes up towards the top when it's searched. Examples include James John Tattooer, James Jay, JJ Tattoos, etc.
7. Don't share the same content across multiple social media platforms.
If you share a post on Instagram, don't share it through the app to your other social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Why? Two reasons.
One, you're affecting the algorithm for how many people will see the post. Posting original content directly to each social media account will help bolster engagement and reach.
Two, you're giving people absolutely no reason to follow you on multiple accounts. Even if you share the same posts, you can alter how and when they're posted on each platform, thus creating more reason for people to follow you on multiple accounts. Post separate, unique content on each of your social media platforms to encourage followers from one platform to follow another.
6. Understand the respective benefits of using Facebook and Instagram.
Instagram is great for getting your name out internationally. With it being a strictly visual-based platform, posts are more easily shared and spread across hundreds of users in a short period of time.
Though Instagram is user-friendly and fans are quick to engage with the accounts they follow, Instagram doesn't bring in much actual monetary value.
It is much more difficult to gain or engage followers on a social media platform like Facebook. The algorithm is constantly evolving, which makes it harder and harder to share your content with even a fraction of the people who "like" your page. With that said, it is the lowest cost advertising medium with incredibly targeted results. You can set an advertising budget as low as $1/day or set your budget by post or goal.
For more effective advertising, promote tattoos that you want to do more of, instead of spending money to gain "likes." Not only will that engage more people, it is more likely that they'll follow or "like" your page. Double the reach for the same price!
5. Use Watermarks.
Adding a custom watermark to your tattoo photos is one of the easiest ways to market your brand. Watermarks create brand recognition and will help direct clients back to you if/when any of your tattoos are shared without credit. (Thanks Jime Litwalk for letting me use your image!)
4. Learn SEO to optimize your website.
A good website is literally one of the least expensive and most powerful ways to drive sales and book more clients. However, without Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you and your site will be hard to find. Using optimized keywords will help you come up first on Google and other search engines when a prospective client searches for your business.
Learning how to do this yourself (and being able to do it well) will cost as much as it does to host a site and own a domain. Most people don't know where to start, but there are many resources available online and it will be the most cost-effective route. A good SEO company can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to more than $4000 a month, and that's just starting out. Sometimes certain features and extensions are only available at an additional cost; as a result, you may end up overpaying for things you might not even find yourself using.
3. Keep up with your response rate & time.
Facebook has a feature that tells clients the percentage of messages you reply to and how long it takes. Take the time to reply to all of your messages — yes, including the ones that are dumb as f--- — because it can be beneficial for gaining more traffic on your page. If the message is spam, then mark it as spam so it doesn't count against you.
Set up automatic replies to keep up your reply time and rate.
2. Engage your fans on a personal level.
Use the story and live video features that come with Instagram, Faceboook, and Snapchat to give followers a glimpse into your personal and professional life. People like being involved and feeling like they know you. Reply to comments and show your fans that there is a genuine connection.
1. Take high quality images with clean backgrounds.
Allow some time for a fresh tattoo to lose its redness before snapping a picture. Use a high quality camera with the proper white balance settings to get photos without weird tints/lighting. If you have to make additional adjustments, you can make edits directly in most social media apps or in any photo editing program to correct colours. Make sure your images are sharp and clean with no blurriness. Take the photo on a clean background — gross floors, dirty drape sheets and dental bibs, wash bottles, and other supplies laying around do not encourage confidence in your brand. You can also learn how to use Photoshop for unique, interesting backgrounds.
Even though these tips are geared towards creating your brand and increasing your social media presence yourself, one thing to keep in mind is that it requires a lot of your attention. Keeping up with your brand along with other work responsibilities, like tattoo appointments, conventions, or running your shop, can be a struggle. As mentioned before, I recommend looking into getting a manager for your brand; the right person should offer multiple skills and help you come up with adaptive, creative ways to build your business. Having a manager dedicated to these things will help you make your money doing more tattoos you want to do!