Using Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is a vital part of an illustrators career. AOI Membership Manger Lou Bones gives her insights into why it’s important and how to make the most of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

[hidden title="Do I have to be on social media?"]

Short answer these days is yes. You have to think of your full self-promotional strategy. If a client, fan or press shares your work on a platform that you are not on, and they can’t link to your profile, then  there’s no benefit at all to you in them sharing it. It’s free advertising, and it’s a way for the public and potential clients to find your work directly. It’s a place to meet your community, your audience and, most importantly, your commissioners.


[hidden title="Are clients using social media?"]

Most definitely. Every art director, creative director, art editor, company, organisation, brand, etc, you could ever hope to work for is on social media, finding and commissioning Illustrators every day.

From a commissioner’s point of view social media is an insight into you as a person. It helps them see of they can work well with you. Are you positive and progressive? Do you have a good thought process and skillset? Not to mention, your social media is probably much more up to date and easier to navigate than your website!


[hidden title="Getting Started"]

For those not used to it, social media can be a bit daunting and it’s easy to get sucked into a vortex, so starting out it’s important you set yourself goals and parameters.


  • Invest Time. Start with spending 2 hours spread out over the week and post at least 2 different posts on each platform. It shouldn’t be a chore so work it into your day – You can use it any time your are in transit (commuting, in a train or bus journey). Check in briefly throughout the day so you can post instantly and react to any comments you get.
  • Follow Others. You want to get under the skin of the industry and your peers, so follow the fairs and other awesome industry peeps in your particular field.


Of course you should follow @theaoi so you can see who we are following and get an immediate insight into what’s happening in illustration and how your industry is using each platform. From there you can follow people and companies relevant to your work.


[hidden title="Is having a big following important?"]

There are many illustrators out there that have a huge following, however this doesn’t mean that they are getting a huge amount of client commissions.


Curate your content and tailor it right – do not post personal things that will not be relevant to your commissioners. They want to see your work process and what kind of commissions you are getting, not instagrammable food or your nightlife!

Get involved in the online community – there are many common hashtags you can use to get involved in various challenges and trends like #Inktober, #TBT, #Illustration. Comment on the work of your peers, discuss going to events and fairs online, answer polls and join discussions on twitter, mention Illustrators who you admire online. If you don’t get involved with others, then it will be harder for others to engage with you and your work.

Be careful not to get obsessed with numbers or let it dictate your life – growing your audience can be essential if you wish to sell products like comics, zines, books, ceramics, prints etc in an online shop, but at the end of the day good work delivered well is what reels people in.


[hidden title="Which platform works best for you?"]

Each platform was made to cater to different aspects of business and communication, so don’t use them the same way and don’t link them so they are all saying the same thing – chances are your audience will follow you on a few platforms, so if your posts are repeated across they may grow tired of your content and could likely unfollow.


The platforms essential for illustrators are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you are publishing a book and selling through Amazon, you may want to consider setting up an Amazon author profile. Similarly you may want to consider creating a profile on LibraryThing or Goodreads. All of these will help your discoverability online.


Instagram – made for images, not text, so the best for connecting to industry and community. There are lots of ways to upload! – make videos, time lapses, stop motion animations, etc. Use Instagram stories to update your audience on what you are working on that day.

Curate your profile; Commissioners should to get a clear understanding of who you are and what you can do for them.

You can also set your profile as a business so you can analytics one your audience and also can use Instagram stories to link directly to your products to increase sales.

Pro Tip – stories get seen more than your posts, so get creative with them!


Twitter – also a place to have your voice heard and connect with both your local and global illustration community, along with the wider creative industry. Add your voice to positive and progressive conversations about fees, copyright, mental health. Find out about events, exhibitions, fairs, opportunities.


Facebook – a space where you can use text more lengthily to expand on your projects and provide insight to your audience. Currently this is one of the most used social media platforms, and where content is heavily shared. Start an illustration page on Facebook to start growing your audience, and to link to your website and other social handles.


LinkedIn – Connect with peers, heroes, educators and potential clients. If you have contacts for your self-promotional strategy you can double check they are still in the position/company you think they are through LinkedIn. Also, nice to see what people actually look like (as we so often lack this in illustration).

Grow your reach!

You want to know if it’s working or not? Don’t rely on luck. Use the brilliant analytic tools that come with the various platforms to analyse your audience’s activity patterns, and ultimately make informed decisions about what and when to post. All platforms provide analytics and, as previously mentioned, you can link a Facebook Page to your Instagram to switch into a Business account and access all analytics.


[hidden title="A Few Do’s and Don’ts"]


… Make sure all your handles are the same for each platform, make it easy for people to find you!

… Research your industry – only follow the people that are relevant to you and your business.

… Follow your dream clients and their Art Directors/Art Editors/Creative Directors.

… Be professional – no memes or photos of your drunken night outs please.



… Be negative.

… Get obsessed. Social media should be a fun tool to add to your business.

… Tag a million people in your posts to get them to look at your work – it’s annoying, and no opportunity will be offered from doing this.

… Post the same thing on every platform – it just looks like spam.


[hidden title="Examples of social media done well"]

Below you can find a list of current AOI Members who are utilising their social media successfully, and using personality and humour to drive their content. Check them out!

Frannerd @frannerd

Shotopop @shotopop

Steve McCarthy @mrstevemccarthy

Laura Callaghan @lauracallaghan

John Bond @iamjohnbond




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