How to Grow Your Audience on Instagram, Part 2


Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to add new followers to your Instagram account every day? I’m talking about real followers here, not the kind you pay for. Nope. Real people who really like your art and are on your account because they really want to be. Sounds good doesn’t it? In this post I’m going to show you how to do just that, with a little technique I like to call my B.A.D.A.S.S. Instagram Moves.

But first, before I show you how to badass like a boss, I’d like to talk a little about size. You know, as in “size doesn’t matter”. Well, when it comes to having followers on your Instagram account, this statement couldn’t be more true. For the artist, it’s not the size of your audience that counts, it’s the motion of the ocean. Wait a minute, that’s not right… But really, how many followers you have doesn’t matter.

Now hold on, before you call shenanigans, let me explain. I’ll be the first to admit that having thousands and thousands of followers on your account looks really great. It probably feels pretty good too. The benefit of having a lot of followers is that when a person gets to your account and sees 30K followers, their first impression is “wow, they have a lot of followers!” There’s no denying that’s a good impression to make. But, as artists we are on Instagram to do more than just make a good impression. We are on Instagram to show and sell our art. Impressions don’t pay the bills.

Quality followers who are actually active on your account, liking, commenting, and engaging with your work, are way better than a huge number of followers you never hear from.

I’ll use my personal art account as an example. Currently I have 2,800 (give or take) followers on my Instagram account. That’s not a lot compared to some artists out there, and I’ll often get asked, “why don’t you have more followers?” The truth is, I don’t want thousands and thousands of followers on my IG. Here’s why. It’s important to me to be actively engaged on my account. I make sure to respond to every comment, and answer every question I’m asked. Why? Because my followers are kind enough to be following me. They are there because they like what I do, and I am grateful for that. They are my guests, and I try very hard to be a good host. But there’s a limit to how well I can host my account once it gets past a certain size. I’m only one guy. Honestly, 2,800 is almost more than I can manage.

As my account has grown, I’ve lost track of some of my earliest followers. People who were there liking my work, giving me shout outs, and being supportive. When I had less than 500 followers I was able to form real relationships with those people, and because of that, many of my earliest followers also became friends and customers. As my account gets bigger, it gets harder and harder to have meaningful conversations with my followers, and that sucks. I’ve learned the hard way I would way rather have 200 active followers that I can really pay attention to, than thousands of followers who get lost in the crowd. Building real relationships with the people who follow you is critical to having followers who enjoy your art enough to buy it. So I’ll take 200 followers who love my work enough to buy it, over 38K followers who don’t, any day.

The key to building great relationships with your followers is having great people follow your account. How do you get genuinely good people to like your work and follow your account? Sometimes you just get lucky, and the good ones find you on their own. But sometimes, you just gotta get a little B.A.D.A.S.S.

The B.A.D.A.S.S. System

To get good followers on your Instagram account, you’ll want to Build your Audience Deliberately by Allocating enough time each day to Search out and Secure the people you believe will be good customers. So that’s:


Pretty badass huh? The first part of the B.A.D.A.S.S. System is pretty self explanatory. We want to build our audience deliberately. To do that, we need to be able to do something actionable that will reliably add new followers to our account on a daily basis. And to do that, all you gotta do is tap that A.S.S.


(spend) enough time each day working to get more followers. You don’t have to spend a lot of time each day, but it is best to spend SOME time every day working to get new followers. 5-10 minutes is enough as long as you are laser focused for that amount of time.


Once you’ve set aside some time to grow your account, it’s time to search for the people you think will like your work. How do you find them?

1. Search the hashtags you use on your art

If you are posting up Copic art, you likely use the hashtags #Copic, #CopicArt, or #CopicMarkers. The easiest way to find people who will most likely enjoy your Copic art is to look for other Copic artists. Searching the hashtags you use most often for people who use the same hashtags is a great way to find potential new followers.

2. Search the followers of your followers

To do this, take a look at the people who are following you. Go to their account, and check out their followers. You’re looking for people who have similar interests and may be interested in your work. You’d be surprised how many followers you can find this way.

3. Search the followers of the big name artists you follow

This principal is similar to the last one except in reverse. Take a look at the artists you follow. You follow them because their work inspires you. Now go ahead and look at THEIR followers. Anyone who is following them has at least some things in common with you. Clearly you both like the same kind of art, so it’s probable that they will like the art that you make. To be sure, just pop over to their account and take a look. You should be able to tell pretty quickly if they will like the work you do by looking at the art they’ve posted to their account.

Let me give you a specific example of this. I’m a huge fan of the artist Simon Bisley. Mr. Bisley has been making kickass art since the 70’s, and was a huge influence on me as a kid. If Mr. Bisley had an Instagram account (sadly he doesn’t), I could find lots of people who like his work by searching his followers. Because HIS work has influenced MY work, chances are pretty good that at least some of his followers would like my work as well. Since Mr. Bisley does not have an IG account, the next best thing I can do is search the hashtag #simonbisley. I’ve actually added lots of followers by liking and commenting on the accounts of people who use that hashtag.

Ok, so you allocated some time each day to find new followers you believe will like your work, and you’ve searched among your hashtags and followers to find people who have shown an interest in work that is similar to the art you make. Now, how do you secure these prospects as new followers for your account? Simple. You pay attention to them.


Getting new people who already share similar taste in art to you to follow your account is actually surprisingly simple. All you have to do is pay some attention to them. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything you’ll feel dirty for after… Likes and comments will do just fine.


instagram-likesLiking the images on other peoples’ account is a great way to reach out an connect to your potential new followers. It’s fast an easy, and will get their attention for sure. Especially if they have less than 2K followers. Liking photos that interest you on their account is like dropping in with a friendly hello and a pat on the back. It makes them feel good. It’s simple but effective, and if you spend a little time each day liking the pictures on other peoples’ accounts, you’ll add hundreds of new followers in no time at all. But don’t go crazy with the cheez whiz. Don’t spam them with likes. Just honestly pick out four or five images that you like and do the double-tap.


If liking someone’s photo is similar to saying “hello friend!” then commenting on a photo is like giving them a compliment. It really gets their attention. When you take a moment out of your busy life and stop to recognize someone’s photo, or better yet, ask a question about the post, you really make an impression. If a like gets their attention, a comment piques their curiosity. And that’s a good thing. When people are curious they have a deep need to satisfy their curiosity, and the only way to do that is to head on over to your account.

instagram-commentsIt’s important that you be genuine with your comments. Fake is always fake, and no one likes it, but it’s easy to find genuine things to like about someone’s post. Even if it’s not art, and even if it’s art that’s less refined than yours. If there’s no art on the account you’re looking at, take a look at what is there. You know they at least share your taste in art, so chances are they have other things in common with you as well. Perhaps you both like cars, or music, or barbecue. You can comment on any posts that interest you, and still get their attention.

A final thought here. If you land on an artist’s account who’s art is less advanced as your own, please take an extra minute or two to really look at their work. If they are seriously working at their art, there is always something they’ve done really well in each piece. They may be struggling with anatomy or color, or some other technical aspect, but there IS something they’re doing well. Drop a couple of double-taps here for sure, and a positive comment (NOT helpful “advice”) or two if you can manage it. Everyone who’s working on their art needs a little positive encouragement from time to time, and it takes so little time to do it.

So there you have it. A proactive, actionable way to add new followers to your account that are already predisposed to like the art that you love to make. Simply, search out hashtags and people with whom you share common interests, then grab their attention with likes and positive comments. It seems simple, I know, but every time I do this on my account it never fails to add new followers.

Commit to spending ten minutes a day this next week on actively growing your account. You’ll be surprised how well this works. I would love to hear about your results in the comments section below. Give it a try. I know it’s gonna be badass.

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  1. I really like this “tutorial”! It’s nice that you emphasize that size isn’t everything. I have about 12.2k, so i have lots of ghost followers. It is, of course, nice to have lots of people looking, but like you said, I think its better to actually interact with your followers. Currently I do, but only with about 5-6 frequent commenters and maybe 10 mutual art follows.
    But anyway, this tutorial makes a lot of sense! Thank you! 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked it Elena. Thanks for sharing your insight! I think it’s way too easy to get caught up in the numbers and forget that it’s the interaction with our followers that really counts, but it sounds like you’ve got a good handle on it!

  2. Hello Chris,
    This was so informative to read. Thankyou for your helpful words of wisdom. You really inspire me to push myself further. You are a kind and generous man giving all of us the help we need . I still watch your first DVDs and listen how you remind us to not give up. To believe in our selves a move forward. I still you copics and other mediums and notice the numbers of followers go up and down. I don’t take it too serious about the numbers . I enjoy real conversations with wonderful people like you. Thankyou for your support. You’ll always be the Copic master in my home.

  3. This IS badass.
    I was amazed the number of ways I can find new follwers, and I keep getting more ideas all the time. Up to mow, my follwers have been limited to mainly my friends, family, and Facebook friends. In the last couple days, I’ve added followers that I previously had no connection with. And the potential is pretty open-ended.
    Since I’m bringing them to my art page on Instagram, I have been getting lots of likes, followers and great response. .. to my artwork!!!
    I also made some changes to my daily routine. I’ve just taken the time that I used to spend scrolling through Facebook -pretty much wasted, idle time – and turned it into productive time building an actual audience for my artwork.
    Thanks, Christopher!

  4. One idea that I want to experiment with more, is connecting with people who are interested in the subject matter I paint.
    For instance, I have a painting of a bassett hound flying a WWII fifhtet plane. I tagged it with #dogs, #bassetthound, etc.
    Today, I found people started following me that had Bassett hounds… and I had not even exerted any effort to get them to my page!
    So now I am looking at hash tags related to my subject matter, and liking/commenting on people’s posts.
    It’s great, because I’m not just interacting with other artists – I’m connecting with people who have an interest in what I paint!

    • That should say WWII fighter plane. LoL

    • That is perfect! You got it exactly right! Really, the only time we want to target other artists to our account is if we’re doing tutorials. When it comes to selling our art, the fewer artists following our account, the better. Here’s a thought – do a search through Instagram to find the largest accounts that have basset hounds, and then target their followers with likes and comments. You could do the same for WWII planes as well. You’ll be surprised how well this works.

  5. A couple things that have worked for me:
    -Tag my art with specific labels – for instance, #frenchbulldogs. People searching that tag will find your art.
    – Better yet, tag the art, and then search that tag.
    Taking the same example, I searched the #frenchbulldogs tag, and found dozens – perhaps hundreds – of people who love french bulldogs. I go to their page, find a couple photos Im fond of, and ‘Like’ them, and/or comment. If I really like their page, I’ll follow them.
    I have had quite a few people begin following my page that way.
    The thing I try to keep in mind is to find something I truly like, rather than ‘liking’ random images. If I connect with it, that connection will reflect in what they see in my art.

    • I guess that was a bit tedundant… lol
      But the point us that I’m getting more,specific. And it seems to work pretty well. 🙂

    • Yep, you got it just right. Finding that connection is the key to not only building your follower base on Instagram, but building real relationships that transform followers into customers.

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