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I'm Not Surprised Your Art Isn't Selling . . .

by Clint Watson on 4/21/2009 10:02:59 AM

This Post is by Clint Watsonfounder of FineArtViews. Follow Clint on Twitter.

Today's message is going to be a dose of "tough love."  We love artists and sometimes that means telling it like it is.  I've been harping on this subject for months and I don't seem to be getting through.  So, I'm going to put this is bluntly as possible for every who is asking, "why am I not selling art?":


If you don't have an email list and aren't using it on a regular basis, then I'm not surprised if your art isn't selling.


There I said it.  I'm sorry to be so blunt, but it's true.  You might be an exception who is selling well without an email list, but, if so, I would guess that you either sell through galleries and/or are pushing your marketing messages out to your Collector Clan on a regular basis using some channel other than email (in which case you could still easily increase your sales by doing what I'm about to tell you).

At FineArtStudioOnline, we believe so strongly in email newsletter marketing that we built, at our expense, a world-class email newsletter marketing module that all of our customers can use at no extra charge.  We did this so our customers wouldn't have to go out to places like Constant Contact, Vertical Response, or Campaign Monitor and pay an additional $19/month (in the case of Constant Contact) to add email newsletters to their websites.  Don't get me wrong, those are all great newsletter services, it's just that we, frankly, want our artists to actually sell their artwork.  And with that goal in mind, we didn't want to give our customers any excuse for not sending email newsletters.  And we felt that having to deal with another service and pay additional fees would be too big of a hurdle for some artists to jump.  So we took away all your excuses and built everything you need in to our service.  The only thing we can't force you to do, is to actually do it.

So, now that you have no excuses, here is what you need to do, now, if you want to start selling your artwork.


1.  Add a "Join Email List" link to your website.

This link must automatically add people to your email list. Having it simply email your personal email address is not good enough.  Having a simple "Contact the artist" form on your site is not good enough.  You need both - a contact form AND a "Join Email List" Link.  (If you're a FineArtStudioOnline customer, you can add the "Join Email List" link by simply adding "Email Newsletter" as one of the categories in your Navigation Bar Settings).   Go do this right now....yes, it's that important.


2. Ask people you already know if you can add them to your email list

Here's how you "jump start" your email list - call or email people you already personally know.  Tell those people you've started an email newsletter about your artwork and ask them if they would like to be on your email list.  As each person replies with a "yes" (and most of them will say "yes"), stop, right then and ADD those people to your email list management software.  (For FineArtStudioOnline customers, you can add people in the "Email Newsletter" section of your control panel, simply add a "Subscriber").


3.  As soon as you've added your first person (or first group) - send an email newsletter

You have to start sometime and it needs to be now.  Even if you have only ONE subscriber - send an email newsletter. (FineArtStudioOnline Customers - click the "Start a New Newsletter" Link - it will walk you through the process).  What do you write about?  Pick one of your artworks, type a short paragraph about what inspired you to create it and send it out.   Make sure to include the image of the artwork in the newsletter itself.  You newsletter management software can assist with that. 


4.  Use proper newsletter management software - do NOT send a regular email with your subscribers' email addresses in the "BCC" field


5.  At the bottom of each newsletter, encourage your readers to forward your newsletters to friends

Do not forget to to this - this is a major way your newsletter list will grow.


6.  Be sure to include links in your newsletter back to your website

I'm surprised how often I see artists send a newsletter with no link back to their website.  Be sure you include links to your website.  Better yet, include links to the specific pages on your website for the pieces you talk about in your newsletter.  (This is another reason to avoid Flash art portfolios - you can't link to specific pieces - but that's a subject for a different message).  The links are especially important when your newsletters get forwarded to the friends of people on your list.


7.  Send your newsletter on a regular basis

I would recommend twice a month as a minimum, preferably weekly. No that's not too often.  Keep them short and informal so that they're not a big chore for you.  Don't even think of them as "newsletters" - simply as "messages from the artist."


8.  Track the results with real newsletter software

Are your newsletters bouncing?  If so, go correct those email addresses.  Are people unsubscribing?  If so, work on making your newsletters more personal, timely and relevant to your readers.  Are your newsletters being delivered and opened?  You need real newsletter software to truly track all this stuff.  This is why just sending from your regular email program or a simple sendmail or PHP script is not an optimal solution.


If you think this all sounds too simple to work, go read the case study about Brian Kliewer and how he sold 81 paintings in 100 days with an email list of 84 people.

Of course, you don't have to do the things I've outlined here - only do them if you actually want to sell your artwork.

Now, go change the world.

Sincerely,

Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS - When considering services to host your artist website, ask them if they have a true email newsletter system in place.  A true email newsletter system allows subscribes and unsubscribes automatically.  It allows you to create and send newsletters easily.  It is sends messages properly and throttles them so that your messages don't end up in spam filters, and it allows you to get detailed tracking on the deliverability and results of each newsletter you send.  You must have this capability to market and sell art online.  If your web host doesn't offer it, then you will have to go pay for it somewhere else (assuming you want to sell art).  So, if you're comparing web hosting services be sure to factor in the cost of getting set up properly to send email newsletters if they don't offer it.



[Services:
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BoldBrush Contest: Monthly Online Painting Contest with over $12,500 in awards. 

Daily Art Show: Daily Show of Art that reaches thousands of potential collectors.

Backstory: About Clint. Email Editor.  Submit a guest post.  Twitter. Republish. ]


Related Posts:

Personal, Timely, and Relevant

Artist Brian Kliewer - A Case Study in Email Marketing

Email is Still the King . . . It's Good to be the King

How to Sell Art

Focus the Lens - Send Five PERSONAL Emails

Artists: Lead Your Collector Clan

Art Marketing for Artists Who Want to Change the World


Topics: Art Business | art marketing | Best | Email Marketing | Marketing 

What Would You Like to Do Next?
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 18 Comments

Debbie Chavers
via web
Well, here I am in the inbox again! I just finished reading about the EMAIL LIST by Clint and Keith's last article about branding.
Once again, I am encouraged by your advice. One of your articles was about Personal, Timely, and Relevant. For me personally, this has been part of the blessing of the this regular newsletter. I am glad you take your own advice and keep encouragement in our inbox...spreading across the canvas!
Thank you, guys!
And yes, I do have an email list. Not very large...but I do have one.

Lee Ann
via web
Can you explain why it is a problem to use bcc on regular emails? I'm just starting out with the email list and it is really small right now. I would love to have an email management program, but can't justify the expense right now.

Nat Solomon
via web
Dear Clint,
I like your newsletter very much. I find your articles to be poignant and thoughtful for the rest of our artist out there. Regards Nat Solomon

Verna D'Alto
via web
Clint, As you can see I have changed my e mail address and will notify Fine Art Studio as well as my e mail list.
You always are an inspiration and I am so glad I have my site with you.
The question about the newsletter as I hope to understand it from your comments, is to write a short piece about one of my paintings. Also, how do I acquire the soft ware you talk about?
I have sold a painting "The Sky is Falling" and was so happy the person who bought it saw my site and loved it.
Tks, Verna

Pam Van Londen
via clintwatson.net
I'm hoping that someone will answer the question posed by LeeAnn 6 months ago. Why is it bad to put addresses in the BCC field?

Clint Watson
via clintwatson.net
Pam - BCC looks less personalized, not as professional, but, more importantly, it has an increasingly strong possibility of getting you classified as a spammer by spam filters and dropping you into the user's spam folder....which is of absolutely no use....you need to be in the INBOX. Also, you don't get any kind of feedback or metrics with the BCC method (you won't know who opened your mail, how many bounced, etc)

Erlene Flowers
via clintwatson.net
I don't have a website with you yet, but I do have a comment about bcc. BCC's don't show on the e-mail sent and because I send a lot of things to people- it helps me to keep track of business communications , not advertisements( e-mails). I really hate filing papers and often dealing with a lot of people in communicating - it is really necessary to have a copy of something that was sent and the date that it was sent. It also helps because in case of a computer crash- I have had two in 7 years - the bcc e-mails are on a web server somewhere, and I can still trace my steps in virtual space. This process saved me several times because I can back track.

I definately agree that it is a poor way to track e-mail blasts. I love your ideas- but I will still use a bcc on communications so that I h ave a copy of what was sent- unless you have a better solution that making a printed copy to physically file.
Erlene Flowers

Clint Watson
via clintwatson.net
Erlene,

I need to clarify, I am NOT advocating never using a BCC for any reason at all. By all means use it to keep a copy of personal emails you send (although I guess you could just look in the "sent" folder, but a BCC would be useful for those with studio assitants, etc).

What I am saying is DON'T use BCC for sending NEWSLETTERS (unless your list is really, really small). If you send a newsletter, your newsletter will keep track of what was sent so the BCC would be unnecessary.


Erlene Flowers
via clintwatson.net
I am so surprised that you answered me- you made me feel special. Thank you so much !!
Erlene

theresa martin
via clintwatson.net
Hello Clint
Thank you so much for the email blunt letter. I am trying, really trying. I have firefox now and can see the template, but something happened and I can not open my website. I sure one of your assistants will help me. They have been very helpful. Just becoming more visible on facebook, my hits increased over 1000 percent. I am calling this evening so I can finish my draft and I do have 82 email listings.

Hermes Hernandez
via fineartviews.com
Very good Info Clint w. I will fallow your advice as soon as possible...

Hermes H Art
New York

TJ Lynde
via fineartviews.com
Clint, i personally want to thank you and your friendly, intelligent, hard working and up-to-date staff for being Artists in your field. Simply outstanding tips, i am learning a lot.
Best,
TJ Lynde

Don Sawyer
via fineartviews.com
I don't know a whole lot about setting up programs on a computer. Do i buy a program to set up an email list? If not, how do I do it?

thanks

Veronica Brutosky
via faso.com
Fantastic! I discovered faso dot come this morning and sent the link to three friends.
I know it will be useful and worth the price.
I expect to learn a lot. I am amazed that you will answer questions if need be, especially questions that will be helpful to other artists. Now, reader, I invite you to look at my current art website. click on it and find a treasure of art.

Veronica Brutosky
via faso.com
Oops, I misspelled one word and also did not complete my link to my art website. How can I backtrack and edit my comment? I was hasty because I was so excited about finding this Faso site. Veronica Brutosky

samthor
via faso.com
BUT for the love of Thor.....

DON'T overdo it. If you have a show or major project fine, but I don't care that you doodled in your sketchbook today.

DON'T add 20MB attachments to the email. Link to your site instead.

DON'T leave the subject line blank, or leave off a signature so that I might have some clue who this is and what this is about.

And spend 2 seconds proofreading. You'll be glad you did.

Jane Morgan
via faso.com
I have read your comments on not using bcc on newsletters that are sent to clients and or just people who love art. So, how does this keep my emailing list from being copied and used by some of the people who are on my mailing list? I am a gallery owner and really don't want to share my list of clients with everyone. Please advise.

Randy Roberts
via faso.com
What is the "Socializing" tab under Newsletters?


 

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