5 Social Media Rules for Happy Artists
Posted on June 06 2019
A few weeks ago I met with college students studying art. I critiqued their work and answered any questions they might have. To my surprise, all of them had the same question. Each of them wanted to know how to be active with their art on social media without becoming unhappy.
Their unanimous question shocked me because my art instagram account actually brings me a lot of joy. After experimenting with a social media fast for a whole seven days, I discovered I felt LESS happy without all of the art I share and follow here in social media land. So why were these college students (and every other article on the internet) so anxious about social media?
I have set some guidelines for myself, and maybe that's why my social media experience is so positive. I figured I might as well share them here because isn't that what social media is for? So here are my 5 rules for social media for artists:
1. Stop all push notifications. I only allow three notifications on my home screen: text messages, voicemail, and Marco Polo (my family's favorite form of communication). Outside of those three apps, I don't allow any red bubbles with their little numbers telling me how many people have interacted with my social media accounts, and I definitely don't allow any notifications to chime or chirp at me. I noticed that seeing those red bubbles created a false sense of urgency in me to immediately open and check my apps, and I find I'm happiest when I use social media on my schedule, not its schedule.
2. Only follow what inspires you. My art account is just that: an art account. I don't follow any friends, family (except for my husband. He gets special treatment 😉), or acquaintances. I only follow other artists or occasionally people I find especially motivating and relatable. That means every time I get on my Instagram, I'm immersed in a lovely creative outpouring that fuels and encourages my own creativity. I save all my other relationships for my personal Instagram account, but I find I'm using that less and less since I'm discovering I'd rather just talk to people in person. Basically, if you keep your art account to art and inspiration, that's exactly what you'll find.
3. Don't play the games. If you're only following what inspires you, that means you won't play the follow/unfollow game or overly fret over the algorithm. I keep my social media feeds tightly curated, so I'm not going to follow someone just to catch their attention if I'm not genuinely interested in what they're posting. You'll be happier with your feed if you're not clogging it with attention grabs! Once again, follow only deeply inspiring content that motivates you or fuels your creativity.
4. Use social media on your schedule. This goes along with number 1. I try to be in charge of my phone instead of it being in charge of me. For example, instead of answering comments or questions on my posts as they appear, I set aside a specific time at the end of the day to reply to my messages and notifications. I also purposely ignore my phone whenever I can. I leave it on silent and often don't carry it with me (I usually leave it upstairs or in a random room, although my husband does get tired of me asking where I last left my phone 😂). I still check it frequently, but because it's not always with me or chiming for my attention, I get lots of uninterrupted time living in the real world instead of the digital one.
5. Keep it real. I could write a whole separate article about what I post, but for right now I'll be succinct and just say I only post things that are authentic and sincere about my life. I never want to feel like I live a double life, a fake social media one and then the real thing, so whatever I post is honestly what my life looks like. I could do better about being more open and vulnerable, even when it's negative, because I gain a lot of insights from other artists who do that. That's actually a goal of mine for this year! But while I'm working on that I'll at least refrain from exaggerating how awesome my life is (although I do think my life is pretty great!).
This is what helps me, but I'd love to hear any tips or advice on how you handle social media too! We all have a lot to learn from each other.