Whether you’re brand new to selling art online or you’ve had your own art website for years, you’ve probably noticed there’s always a “newer, better way” to sell your art.
People will tell you to use the latest social network, to focus on SEO, to pay for a better website designer, or to hire a professional photographer. You might hear that YouTube videos are the best way to get more sales, or that you need to sign up for a mobile payment processor like Square so you can accept credit cards anywhere.
In short, there’s a lot of advice out there—and actually, most of it is pretty good.
But the one thing I’ve started recommending more and more to Foliotwist artists isn’t new, or flashy, or all that impressive. It’s old-school. And cheap. And it works.
My advice to artists who want to sell more art? Start asking for email addresses and growing your email list.
An email list? Really?
Yes! An email list for your art business isn’t like your regular list of email contacts (with your friends, family, co-workers, etc). Instead, it’s a list of email addresses that you keep separate and use only to promote your art and build relationships with potential buyers.
You can keep your email list in a word document (as just a long list of addresses) or you can keep it in a program like MailChimp, or Aweber—and there are many other options as well—whatever’s easiest for you.
But the point of HAVING a list is so that you can quickly send out one email and notify everyone on that list about new artwork, upcoming shows, special sales or discounts, or any other bit of information that you want your supporters to know.
Plus, since it usually takes several interactions before an interested individual will pull the trigger and make a purchase, your email list is actually one of the most powerful selling tools you have at your disposal.
OK, but how do I get people to join my email list?
We hear that question all the time. The answer? Just ask!
Ask anywhere that people are looking at your art. If it’s at an art fair or exhibit, if it’s at your studio when you have visitors over, if it’s at your home when a guest looks at your artwork on the wall, even if you’re in a coffee shop and you’re telling a perfect stranger what you do for a living.
Just say, “Would you like me to send you email updates occasionally about my art?” If they’re interested, even a little, they’ll say yes. Have them write down their email address for you, and you’ve just grown your email list by one.
And if you have a website (like most artists these days) don’t forget to ask there, too.
A typical art website might get anywhere from 10 to 100 visitors each week. If those individuals are just visiting and leaving, it’s a huge missed opportunity! So make sure to ask them to sign up as well—with a link to your email sign-up page, or a sign-up form in the sidebar. . . whatever works for you.
(And if you don’t have a website yet, why not? A website is pretty low-maintenance, and even if it ONLY builds your email list, it’s definitely worth having!)
Here’s one way to ask for email addresses:
At Foliotwist we’ve just finished building a new tool that allows artists to put their email sign-up invitation front-and-center, right at the top of every page so their visitors are sure to see it.
We call this our Promo Bar feature, because it’s not JUST for email sign-ups. You can actually put ANY message you want in front of your visitors, and some of our artists are already using it that way. I’ll include a few different examples below so you can see what I mean. (Click any image to view it full size, or just visit the artist’s website to see it in action).
Michael O’Sheehan is using the default wording for his email sign-up request. It’s simple, to-the-point, and you absolutely can’t miss it:
That message Michael is using is one we’ve pre-written for all of our artists, just to make things easier. This is how it looks inside our artist’s admin panels:
(Note the option to hide the Promo Bar at any time, too).
Of course, some of our artists like to change their website design and tweak the wording of the message before posting it. Helen White chose to do that on her site:
FYI, I really love the crisp colors and clean look of her entire portfolio. . . choosing blue for the “join” button really makes it stand out while still looking extremely cohesive with the rest of her page.
And if you’d rather not collect email addresses through the Promo Bar, that’s OK too! Bill Marsoun uses that space to promote his gallery instead:
In the end, however you promote your email list is fine—if you do it in the sidebar, the top of the website, or in person, what’s important is that you’re conversing, building relationships, and growing your list.
*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*
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