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Creativity

This Cartoonist Uses Social Media to Brighten Days and Build a Global Brand

Artist Liz Climo's gentle comics about animals and friendship have led to a growing international fanbase.
Emma Goo

In this series, Instagram IconEntrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

Even if you don’t know Liz Climo’s name, it’s likely that you’ve seen her adorable comics around the internet.

In 2004, Climo found herself at a crossroads. She had studied art at San Jose State University, but her application had been rejected from the School of Animation. But before she could feel too down, two weeks later, she landed a job on one of her favorite shows of all time: The Simpsons.

Climo spent 13 years working as a character artist and storyboard revisionist on the show, all the while working on comics featuring a variety of animals, from capybaras and snakes to narwhals and penguins, which she'd publish to her blog and social media.

After releasing three books and continuing to expand her reach, she left The Simpsons in September of 2017 to pursue her own work full time. The artist has more than 236,000 Instagram followers and 503,000 Facebook fans.

Her breakout character, an irrepressible green dinosaur named Rory, has starred in three of her children’s books, and she has published two other compilations. Climo’s work has been translated into eight languages and she has 1.5 million books in print worldwide.

Climo’s characters can also be found on apparel, calendars, magnets and greeting cards sold on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble, Target, Pottery Barn and Walmart. She shared her insights with Entrepreneur about wanting to create a pocket of joy on the internet and leading with your strengths.  

How did you get your start with Instagram?

I started with a personal page, then eventually opened a second page for just my art and started posting there. It took a while to figure out how to size my photos correctly, so if you look back you'll probably find a lot of oddly cropped comics in my earlier posts!

Related: This Health-Conscious Chef Reveals How She Used Instagram to Channel Her Personal Wellness Goals Into a Thriving Brand

What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram

I also have Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook pages. I mostly only use Facebook and Tumblr to post new content. I like going on Twitter to talk to people a bit more, since it's more conversational.

How much of your time do you devote to it?

I try and devote at least an hour every day on my professional social media pages. I like to try and keep them active. It was sort of daunting at first, but now it's like second nature.

How do you promote your account? What's your number one way to get the word out there and attract new followers?

I mostly just cross promote on my other pages. I will talk about something I'm posting on my Facebook page on my Twitter page, or post onto my Twitter page from my Instagram page. I just try and keep it active by posting new content, or reposting content that I think the people who follow the page might like.

Related: This Beauty Guru Turned Her Instagram Following Into Customers for an Instantly Beloved Makeup Line

What's your content strategy?

I try and keep it light. Social media, especially lately, is so heavy, and everyone is constantly arguing with one another. I mostly try and create stuff that might be a bright spot in an otherwise bad day. I also don't engage with trolls or anyone trying to get a rise out of me. I'm not a fighter -- I don't even like debating with people I'm friends with, so I'm definitely not interested in arguing with a stranger.

What's your best storytelling trick? 

I try to keep things conversational and relatable. I know what my strengths are, and I know I am best at keeping things simple. Once I overthink something, I lose sight of my original idea and am usually no longer happy with what I'm doing.

How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?

My goal is to be accessible and hopefully make people laugh, but not be maudlin. I want to make people happy with cute things without being too cutesy about it, if that's possible.

Related: How This Former TV Producer Turned His Love of Food Into a Social Media Empire

How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?

The only way I really use my Instagram to help promote my work is by putting links in my bio or stories for people to shop for my products. But I don't like to be too pushy.

What advice do you have for other people who want to build brands on the platform?

I think just using my own voice has helped me a lot. I imagine that the people who follow my page do so because they enjoy my comics, and my comics are pretty simple and to the point, so I try and do the same with my posts. This is what I do for a living, so of course I want to sell my work, but that is not my first priority when it comes to social media and hopefully people see that.

What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?

I think a lot of people -- or a lot of people my age, I'm 36 -- think of it as something people in their twenties use, to post pictures of their lunch and use hashtags like #blessed. I think it's a great tool for however you'd like to use it -- lunch and hashtags included --  so there's no reason to feel intimidated by it. It's just another way to cast a wide net and get more eyes on your work. It's your own space, and you can curate it and make it whatever you'd like it to be.

This Cartoonist Uses Social Media to Brighten Days and Build a Global Brand

 

mood. looking for that light in the darkness

A post shared by Liz Climo (@lizclimo) on Oct 2, 2017 at 11:53am PDT

This Cartoonist Uses Social Media to Brighten Days and Build a Global Brand

 

Same

A post shared by Liz Climo (@lizclimo) on Sep 26, 2017 at 5:44pm PDT

This Cartoonist Uses Social Media to Brighten Days and Build a Global Brand

 

Happy #WorldTeachersDay ?

A post shared by Liz Climo (@lizclimo) on Oct 5, 2017 at 8:04am PDT

This Cartoonist Uses Social Media to Brighten Days and Build a Global Brand

 

it’s hot here ? #heatwave

A post shared by Liz Climo (@lizclimo) on Oct 23, 2017 at 5:10pm PDT

This Cartoonist Uses Social Media to Brighten Days and Build a Global Brand

 

?? #TBT . . . For Ruthie Dean #Blu4Ru

A post shared by Liz Climo (@lizclimo) on Sep 21, 2017 at 7:38pm PDT