instagram.com/lisacongdon Photograph by Sarah Deragon.
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
My name is Lisa Congdon and I am an artist and illustrator. I also make and write books, so I guess you could say I am an author too. About 15 years ago when I was 31 years old, I was working in a non-profit organization and decided to take an art class for fun to give myself a challenge outside of work. I had never taken an art class before, except in school. That painting class changed my life forever and set me on a trajectory that led to making a full time living as an artist today. It didn’t happen overnight, of course! Once I discovered that I loved making art (though in the beginning I wasn’t very good at it), I didn’t want to stop, so I took lots of classes and used most of my free time to draw and paint and make collage. About four years later in 2005, I began sharing my work on the Internet and that eventually led to beginning to show and sell my work. By 2007 I left my job to become and artist and illustrator full time. Last year I wrote Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist.
2. Where can we find you on social media?
3. What is your favorite hashtag?
I am terrible at using hashtags! But I suppose the one I use most often is #tbt because I am a big fan of Throwback Thursdays!
4. Why do you use social media?
I am a really visual person, and I have found that being able to share my visual world with others (my artwork, my studio, my home, my travels, my inspiration) through Instagram and my blog (which I then share on Facebook and Twitter) helps to generate interest in what I do as an artist, which, in turn, helps me tremendously to make a living. For whatever reason, blogging and posting images is really enjoyable for me too. Sometimes it even feels like a break from work, not a part of work, which is an added perk.
5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
I post on my blog five days a week (which is a wordpress site connected to my website), and then I post that content on Twitter and on my Facebook Fan Page. I also use Instagram daily, between 1 and 6 times a day, depending on what I’m up to or what I have to share.
6. What effect does social media have on your business?
I have been pretty diligent in building my following on the internet over the past ten years, even before social media as we know it today – and this has, in turn, helped me build my business. Through social media I have sold paintings, met people who hired me for illustration jobs, licensed artwork, been asked to speak at events, and on and on. I would not be a working artist without social media. In the old days the way you sold work was to have a rep or a gallery or someone who knew the right people to promote your work. Now the internet and social media have leveled the playing field. And if you use it often and you use it well (and strategically), social media platforms are a great way for artists to build a following, sell work, promote events & classes, and continually garner interest in what they do.
7. How do you measure success on social media?
Whether I am continually building a following and whether people seem engaged in what I’m posting.
8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
Staying engaged with comments and interactions. I want to respond to every question that comes my way but I can’t, because I don’t have time.
9. What makes you follow another brand back?
Interesting and/or beautiful content or imagery and a positive and friendly tone. I also love a good sense of humor.
10. Which brands have social media you admire?
There are so many so I am sure I am forgetting some folks, but love the Stockman sisters and their company @blockshoptextiles, Jenna Park of @whimsyandspice, Anna Dorfman of @doorsixteen, Ashley Goldberg of @ashleygoldberg, and Maine shop @moreandco. They all have fantastic, curated, beautiful Instagram feeds. A few of them have great blogs, too.
11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
Don’t expect loads of followers overnight. It can take years to build your following and brand, but if you are authentic (ie: be yourself & be different) and you are consistent and thoughtful about what you post,they will come!