This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for
FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Last week I wrote about using your mailing list. But before you can use it you must HAVE a mailing list. How do you go about compiling one? There is a multitude of ways to build a list, but most of them fall under one of two methods. In fact, I can't think of any way that doesn't fall under one of these two umbrellas.
Go to where the collectors are,
Bring the collectors to you.
Which is easier? Which will yield the greatest results? It's hard to say. Some collectors will only be reachable if you go to them and others will only be reachable if you lure them to you. Consider your marketing strategies. Do you actively do things under each category? I will list a few ideas here, but keep in mind that there are many, many more ways to build a list. You are only limited by the power of your imagination.
Go to Art Shows
This is one of the best ways to add contacts to your mailing list. If your work is on exhibit and prospective collectors show an interest, it is a given that they should be added to your list. The better shows (I'm talking juried and invitational) will give you the clients contact info when the work sells. But what about the other interested collectors who didn't purchase? They should be added as well. It is your ?job' while at the show to visit with them and invite them to join your mailing list. Sure, you can give them your card, but make sure you get theirs! Also invite them to receive your email newsletter.
What about art shows at a gallery which represents you? You need to first have an agreement with your gallery.
From your Gallery
This is a touchy topic with many gallery owners. I do feel that you have a right to have your collectors' information, but an open discussion with your gallery needs to take place first. In exchange for the gallery giving you the contact info, you must agree to never go behind the gallery's back. This must be in writing. You may use their info to communicate your story and update them on events, but channel all sales back to the gallery.
I have never gone the art fair or festival route. But everyone who visits your booth should sign a guest register. On the register you should have a question stating "Would you like receive my free email newsletter?" Have a place for both physical address and an email address and phone number.
Open Studio or Studio Gallery
You can open your studio to clients. You may choose to have it open during regular business hours or only for selected events such as an open studio night. Remember, just as with an art fair, have everyone sign your guest register.
Home Show Hosted by a Client
Invite a collector to host a show for you in their home. The details between you and your client are up to you, but I would suggest offering the collector a painting of their choice worth ?X' amount. Or they can use that amount to apply toward the purchase price of a more expensive painting. I would be very generous in this amount. But that's another topic. At the home show, have the guest register in a conspicuous place. Encourage everyone to sign it. You may also exchange business cards. Either way, get their information.
Give an Art Talk or Demonstration
Approach a local arts organization or museum about giving a talk about art or a demonstration. Mingle before and after with the attendees. Exchange cards and encourage them to sign your guest register (do you see a pattern?).
If you plein air paint, many passers-by will stop and chat for a few minutes. I have added several people to my mailing list as a result. Some of these have later purchased my work.
I am going to lump email newsletters and blogs in with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other on-line social media methods. Though each is used slightly differently, they are similar enough to categorize them together for this article. Through these, you are telling your story. You provide others with information about you and your art. You give them a glimpse into your world of creativity. All of these activities should lure people to your website and sign up for your newsletter. Tweak these messages so when the prospective client asks "what's in it for me?", there is a compelling reason for them to add themselves to your list.
Notice that I included the newsletter as a way to get info. There are two reasons. Firstly, encourage those who already subscribe to forward it to their friends who may be interested. Provide a link in the newsletter for the friends to be able to sign up.
Secondly, many who subscribe may have only provided email addresses and no other info. Some of your newsletters should be compelling enough to get your fans to want to give you more information.
Social Media Revisited
In addition to the efforts you put into your website, newsletter, blog, Tweets, Facebook pages, etc., consider adding comments to other blogs, etc. This will broaden your circles. Your name will get out there and you will often be able provide a link back to your website If others find your comments valuable, they will want to know more about you and follow your link.
Go where the collectors are on-line. Collectors have a wide range of other interests. It is impossible to know where you will find your collectors. They are everywhere. Few, however, follow blogs directed towards artists. If you only comment on art blogs, you will likely only find artists. If your blogs or tweets appeal only to artists, how will you find or lure collectors?
Consider following blogs that are not art related. Find something that you have a genuine interest in. Add your perspective to the conversation. Make your comments genuine and sincere. Don't advertise in a blog comment. Use tact. If your comments are valuable, as mentioned above, others will want to know more about you. Some will be collectors, some won't. But that's okay. They will come to your website. Some will be compelled to add themselves to your list. You won't be able to follow every possible blog which may generate leads, so choose only those you really want to follow. Limit yourself, so you aren't taken away from the studio for too long.
Whew! This article is much longer than I intended. For those of you who are still with me, thanks! There are many other methods. Remember, use a variety and be creative.
PS This article was originally going to be primarily about the on-line methods. Perhaps I will elaborate in a future article. I just want to emphasize, though, that I see many artists' on-line marketing methods and think, how will collectors ever find you? I look at my own sometimes and wonder the same thing. I am taking a serious look at how much time is spent in social media and who I am attracting. Yes, I do value having fellow artists follow me, but I also need collectors. I am currently re-thinking how I use the social media to attract collectors in addition to fellow artists. It is a work in progress.