136 – Why Use Instagram Live?

why use Instagram Live

136 Why Use Instagram Live?

What is Instagram Live and why use Instagram Live in your art business? You have probably heard of Instagram Live and maybe even watched the odd Instagram Live. Why should you be using it to promote your art, craft and photography? Well there are many reasons and there has never been a better time to look at this.

Many galleries and stockists have been closed for so long this year. So many shows and exhibitions have been cancelled. With Christmas looming many of you face being unable to reach the customers you usually sell to now. This is a time where you are used to making up to 80% of your annual sales. But don’t despair, there are other ways to reach your customers. There have never been better tools available to reach them. Online business is booming for those that embrace it. Many saw Black Friday type sale volumes run for many weeks during the first lockdown. We then saw a record Black Friday this year. Now as we near Christmas that online audience is there waiting to spend even more.

So What Is Instagram Live?

In my post 65- Christmas begins in August I discussed several things you can be doing as we approach Christmas. A new one to add to that list now and throughout the year is Instagram Live. This is where you can invite your online audience into your studio or workshop and show them around – live! You can use a webcam, computer, tablet or even your mobile phone. People can see and hear you, you can show them things and they can message you and ask you questions.

Yes I completely understand, appearing on video is bad enough but doing it live is terrifying! I totally get that. But doing what I do I do lots of research to see what people are doing right now. One thing many are doing and having great success with is Instagram Live. They are bringing people into their studios and workshops, talking to them, getting customers to know, like and trust them which is essential for online sales and then ultimately getting people to buy from them there and then in the Instagram Live Session.

Watching Your Processes

Well you can do whatever you want on an Instagram Live, however, there are a handful of things that I am seeing regularly. The first is a look at your processes. This can be as simple as scheduling a once a week live in your studio where your customers are invited to watch you make something. You are making anyway so nothing to lose but your customers are invited to watch and ask you questions. Doing this customers get to see you. They hear you chat. Customers see you work. They hear you answer their questions.

pottery workshop processes

Even if only a handful of people turn up make this a regularly event and you will quickly see numbers grow and those people will become engaged with you. They will get to know, like and trust you and then are therefore much more likely to buy from you. They might buy the piece you are making but that is not the goal, the goal is for them to get to know you which will pay off 10 fold later!

Exhibiting Your Work

While shows and exhibitions are not happening people still want that experience. Although interacting with people virtually has a number of disadvantages over doing it in person it also has a number of advantages too. Your customer doesn’t need to travel to see your work. You have a captive audience as you are not in amongst lots more people at a show or exhibition. There are no show or exhibition fees to pay. You do not have to get through a selection process. There isn’t the hassle and expense of getting to your show, setting up, staying overnight and so on.

art workshop

Invite people into your show in your studio. Show them your work, talk to them about your work, tell them stories about your work and tell them how they can buy your work. Make it easy for them. Just ask them to message you on the live if they want something and you will do the rest once the live is over.

People will get to know, like and trust you in this environment. You will be amazed at how many people will buy from you in this way if you let them. The key is simply getting people there in enough numbers and being yourself in front of the camera which will come when you have done one or two I promise.

What Happens Once The Live Is Over

One of the great things about an Instagram Live is that it is recorded. You can post it on your feed after the event. That means that anybody that wasn’t able to attend will still get the chance to see it. Make sure that you email your mailing list and tell your social followers afterwards so that you get as many people to see it as possible. This should create even more interest for your next one and with notice you should be able to get even more people to your next live.

When To Do Your Instagram Live

Instagram live involves a certain amount of planning to be successful. The first thing is to work out the best time to have your live. You could poll your audience and tell them what you are planning and ask them? If you are running a short exhibition perhaps, 8pm on a Friday evening might work well. People are relaxing, maybe with a glass of wine even! Maybe the weekend is better? Maybe midweek to see the processes in your workshop. Do some research before choosing your time. Look at your Instagram insights. When are the peak times that your biggest audience is online?

How To Tell People

Starting an Instagram Live will automatically alert your followers who have notifications switched on that you are starting a live. This will bring some people to your live but for best results you need to prime people too. Do an email to your mailing list perhaps a week before your live and do a post and social story. This will help people put it in their diary but then send another 15 minutes before the live. This takes carefully preparation but can dramatically increase numbers.

How To Start Your Live

Once you start your live it may take a number of minutes for everybody to join. You may have attended one or two where people are saying very little and just waiting for people to join. This can get very boring and people may leave so have something interesting to talk about for a couple of minutes before you start properly. Don’t start the main material too early so that people miss the start but perhaps start with a short story or some news outside of your main topic just for a couple of minutes before you begin.


Consider how you film the live. If you are holding your work to show people it may be hard to hold the camera too. Ask for help if someone can film you or get an extendable phone or camera stand so that you are handsfree. Position the camera well so that everything necessary is in shot and well lit. Trial this first before going live! If using your phone use the best camera. This is usually the one on the back of the phone not the front facing one that will be poorer quality.

filming instagram live

Respond To Comments

Instagram Live is intended to be interactive. Encourage people to comment and say hi and make a point of reading the comments during the session and talking back to people. This maybe difficult on a mobile phone, particularly if you are filming with your mobile. Have you ever seen people getting too close to the camera so that they can read the comments? Use a second device if possible – a 2nd phone, ipad, tablet or computer. This will make it easier to read the comments when you are on camera.

Make It Interesting

To make it interesting you need a plan of what you are going to do and roughly what you are going to say. Unless you are really good at this already you should have a clear plan of the event. If demonstrating a process, practice it first, will it come over well on camera? Talk people through it as you are doing it? Share stories, ask if people have questions. Plan several different interesting steps to show people. If exhibiting products pick some of your best selling products first, show the product from all angles – front, behind, side, above, close up and so on. Talk about how it is created. Share an interesting story. Tell people how they can reserve one.

Keep It Short

People will enjoy your lives perhaps much more than you expect but you will only be able to keep their attention for so long so keep an eye on the time and how the numbers online change over that period. Its better to have several shorter ones than a very long one. Perhaps half an hour or less to start and see how it goes from there? If you have lots of stock to show people or lots of processes plan several lives ahead of time so people know when to tune in for what.

Remember each one creates content which you can reuse so, for example, if you are showing different processes you use in different live sessions you can link people to the recorded version of them from the processes pages of your website or even directly from product listings so people get to understand how products are made which can add great value to your listing.

So How Do I Start An Instagram Live

starting your Instagram live

Perhaps not the easiest thing to find but once you know how it is easy to start a live. On your mobile just go to your Instagram homepage and click on the ‘+‘ at the top of the screen. At the bottom of the screen your will then see ‘Live’, ‘Story’ and ‘Reels’. Swipe this across until ‘Live’ is selected and click the big white button to start your live.

Good luck and let me know how it goes?

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