Posted on 16 Comments

The Art of the Mailing List

Mailing List Tips

I had been a professional artist for four years before I realized that I had been missing a really big trick. I wasn’t cultivating my mailing list. I had a small collection of email addresses that my website provided kindly collected for me, but I didn’t really do much with them. I didn’t do anything at all, in fact.

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This was a serious mistake. I was avoiding working out how to use an automated mailing list provider because I had hadn’t had the time or energy to immerse myself into finding out about aspects of social media, which was to me “new” technology. Don’t laugh. I wasn’t until quite recently that I “got” Pinterest or Instagram.

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Now, younger people are probably shaking their heads at this. My niece famously said that the mini ipad I had on loan from the school I was working for at the time was wasted on me. She was probably right. I didn’t have the time. I was either preparing lessons, marking or painting. In 2016 I left teaching and I dedicated a lot of time to finding out how online stuff worked (not just facebook and twitter). It took a lot of effort but it was worth it.

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Multi-tasking 60s-style

This was vital for taking control of my own marketing and developing long-term and (importantly) direct relationship with collectors. Online galleries may bring you one-off sales, but they don’t seem to be terribly good growing repeat customers. Yet, I knew from experience that relationships & friendships, I had developed via Facebook and Twiter, and increasingly on Instagram, encouraged art collectors to support my work on a regular basis.

imagesHow many times have you had someone tell you that they “love your work but can’t buy it right now?” The mailing list is a way in which you can keep those potential collectors in touch with what you are doing. Some collectors start off with small paintings and come back and buy larger ones. It’s also about trust. If fans get to know you through your work and your stories they will become emotionally invested in your continuing success. People buy from those they trust. Most importantly, for you, it is your list. It doesn’t belong to the online gallery, Facebook or Instagram.

Where to start? Collect names and email addresses – at craft-fairs, exhibitions, from people who have bought your work in the past. You do need their explicit permission to email them or else you are breaking EU GDPR  anti-spam laws.

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Sign up for online marketing platform – I use Mailchimp.com (it’s free for mailing list under 2,000 names). I find not find it easy to work out how to use it but I watch a lot of Youtube videos and read articles on Pinterest and I got there in the end. There are also others to choose from such as Aweber.com and Tinyletter.com. These sites also provide pop up/sign up forms that you can link to your website or blog.

You can offer free downloads of a catalog, book, or print to encourage sign-ups (not a colouring-in page).

It’s not about the hard sell.  Subscribers want to hear your latest news, the inside story on life as an artist. I have to remind myself that not everyone uses facebook, twitter and instagram or follow my blog and my newsletters are often a summary of the sort of content that is published on those platforms. A fair bit of content is similar to what I blog about, but not exactly the same.

As with social media – be consistent. Send out your newsletter regularly, whether that means twice a year or twice a month.

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Ideas for content

New Paintings

Recent Sales

Discount codes

Exhibitions (setting up, behind the scenes, opening night)

Photos of paintings in collectors’ homes

Commissions

Customer testimonials

Video

Work-in-Progress photographs (the “sneak peek”)

Remind people of your story “about me”, how I came to be an artist

New products – e.g. prints, greeting cards, tea-towels, online courses, ebooks

Encourage subscribers to follow you on other platforms

Inspirations – such as other artists or locations that inspire you

Revisit old work

Encourage subscribers to follow you on other platforms (as the content is not identical on Instagram or facebook).

Failures and challenges (hard though it can be to admit these, people like to see you overcome minor difficulties, you are human after all).

Review of Art products

Business tips for artists (quite a few artists sign up to artist’s newsletters)

Finally, remember not to put in too much. It’s not a newspaper. You want collectors to visit your website. It also needs to be visually appealing (canva.com is useful for this), have a consistent brand feel to you. You also need to proof-read it carefully!

 

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Sign up for my mailing list here  

 

Posted on 17 Comments

My top 10 tips for selling Art online

Selling Art online
My Top 10 tips for selling art online. I am sometimes asked for advice on how to sell art online. To be honest, I feel like there is so much I don’t know about Art marketing, but I did sell over 200 pieces, originals and prints last year and half of these were direct sales to collectors so something’s working. Marketing and selling art takes an enormous amount of time  and effort. At least 50% of my day is spent on marketing. The great thing about it all is that the longer you do it the more followers and fans you will gather. It’s an investment of time – but it cuts both ways. You will spend hours at the keyboard, posting away (sometimes wondering if its worthwhile) but you will develop a following. Some of it casual, some of it very loyal and dedicated indeed. You need to remember that it may may take months or even years of following an artist’s work and career before a collector buys your work. Your fans are invested their time in your you and your “journey” too so you need to keep them with you. So here are my top 10 tips (BTW there is no affliate marketing in this blog post and there’s so much more I could say but I’m sticking to 10 tips for starters).
  1. Your story – Be positive. Nothing succeeds like success. There’s enough depressing news out there and your art is (hopefully) an escape form all that unpleasantness. So it’s important to celebrate all your successes not matter how small; every sale, exhibition, painting-in-progress is a cause for celebration. Don’t ever be tempted to say that you aren’t selling or you hate online galleries. Instead talk about your latest project.
    Tip for selling art
    Celebrate where ever you can
  2. Have your own website – there are many differnt hosting platforms out there. There are some that specialise in hosting artists such as artweb, fasco and artmajeur.  They will all charge an annual fee. You need to make sure that your site has ecommerce facilities. That means it doesn’t just function as a gallery but also as shop where collectors can buy work.
    Emma Cownie's website
    Front Page of my Website
  3. Start blogging – a great way to tell your story is to write a blog. I use wordpress but there are other blogging sites like blogger and many websites will have a blog page integrated into the site. Your blogs don’t have to be great long essays but the important thing is to blog regularly. Some bloggers blog once a day, others once a week. Don’t be an occasional blogger. There’s nothing more frustrating than a blogger who only blogs three times a year. You will lose followers if you are inconsitant. Keep focused. Blog about your art and inspiration or art in general. Don’t blog about the news, your family, what you had for tea, latest fashions unless it’s directly related to art and what inspires you. Which brings me to…
    Emma Cownie's Blog
    My Blog/website
  4. Social Media – there are lots of outlets, facebook, instagram, twitter, tumblr, Youtube etc. You dont have to do them all (I dropped tumblr, for example as it was a bridge too far) but make sure which ever platform you choose to be, do it well. To honest no one platform is necessarily better than the others for promoting your work, all of them will do something to help.  Don’t post twenty times a day – it will seem like you are spamming people nad they will unfollow you. Once or twice a day is enough, maybe three times on twitter.  The important thing to remember is that it’s called social media for a reason. You have to be sociable. If someone comments on your post it’s good manners to respond, with a “like” and a “thank you”. It’s important that you support other social media users and follow other artists, photographers of any supporters who like, comment on and share your posts and retturn the favour. We all need encouragement. It’s important to encourage others. I have made many good friends out there in the online world. Again. like the blogging try not to mix business and personal stuff on your Art pages/sites – have a separate one for your own family stuff and stick to art related things on your Art accounts.
    Buy and selling Art
    Not really material for an artist’s instagram feed
  5. Pinterest – It’s not just for receipes! It has 250 million users every month,  with 25 million users in the US and about 80% are female. It’s not a social media plaform but a search engine. It’s well worth joining to get your work seen and develop a following. It also a really good source of information about art marketing. I have learnt a lot about blogging, pinning, marketing and websites from pins on pinterest. If you want to see a selection, I have saved my Buying and Selling Art pins here.
    Emma Conie' Pinterest Page
    My Pinterest page
  6. Canva – is great for creating professional looking blog covers, pinterest graphics and so on. I use it all the time. There’s also Pablo and Visme which does some pretty awesome infographics.
  7. SEO – Use Key Words in your posts so that search engines like Google and Safari can find you. A website that is well optimized for search engines “speaks the same language” as its potential visitor base with keywords for SEO that help connect searchers to your site. I find this a vast subject but there are pins on pinterst and sites like Moz.com will help you improve your SEO. Make sure that when you post your pictures on your website that you filling all the boxes.
    SEO for artists
    Fill in all the boxes
  8. Listen to Podcasts for marketing tips – Search in your podcast provider for Art Marketing or Artist podcasts. Some of my favourites are Artstorefront and Content Jam. There are plenty of others. I listen whilst I am painting.
  9. Finally, Online Galleries – there are loads and loads to choose from. There is very long list of online galleries here.   It’s a bewildering choice. Some work better than others. There are massive ones like Saatchionline where it is difficult to be seen and smaller ones that has less of a budget for advertising, there are others that charge to be on them like Artfinder and Artgallery. It makes sense to have a presence on several sites.
  10. Just remember that putting all your energies into one website or social media site is foolish, as it’s like building your house on someone else’s land. They all change their algorithm, pricing policies, curators and what might work for you one year may not the next. I’ll give you an example, last year Facebook shut down my Emma Cownie Artist Business page with no explanation. This is not uncommon on facebook.  I tried in vain to find out why it had happened and to get it restored, to no avail. I lost thousands of followers and their contact details. I was devasted. That’s not a story I usually share as it’s not a positive one but let that be a warning not to put all your eggs into one social media basket (thankfully, I hadn’t, but it still hurt).
    Facebook locks people out of their Business pages
    Facebook locks people out of their Business pages
    It’s always sensible to be on several platforms and sites and encourage your followers to follow you on different platforms. You can do with in many ways such as an email signauture with links to your social media platforms. There’s so much to learn and there are plenty of people out there who will offer tempting online courses on Art Marketing but I prefer to teach myself. I hope that this post will help other artists get seen. I welcome any comments, suggestions from other artists or commentators
Email Signature of Emma Cownie
My email signature
Summary of my 10 tips to sell art online
10 tips to sell art online