We've previously discussed the importance of having conversations with your collectors, leading your collector clan, and, especially, the importance of using email newsletters as a core piece of your art marketing. I've mentioned artist Brian Kliewer's project in a couple of my previous articles. Even before Brian's project was completed, it was evident that it was working and generating sales for Brian. Now that his project has ended, I decided it would be a good time to do a little "case study." So let's take a look at email marketing for artists.
decided he needed to do something to ramp up his art marketing. So he came up with the idea for a project called
. The idea itself was simple: Paint one small painting each day, notify his email list of that painting, and post it on his web site and sell each painting first come first serve for $100.
I called Brian not long ago to get his thoughts about the project, here are some notes I took during that phone call:
* The original inspiration for the project was Duane Keiser
of "Painting a day" fame. Duane started years ago with a "100 paintings for $100" project during an open studio event (which evolved into the "Painting a Day" blog). So Brian decided to do something similar, the unique "spin" Brian put on the idea is that the "daily paintings" would only continue for 100 days.
* At the time Brian started this project he had only 84 people on his email list.
* At the end of the project Brian had 123 people on his list.
* He had a few people who unsubscribed who did not want to get the email every day, however almost all of the people who unsubscribed actually re-subscribed at the end of the project. If you were to try something like this, perhaps it is worth considering duplicating your list at the start so that people can unsubscribe from the special project list without unsubscribing from your main list.
* Some people forwarded the email and that resulted in other, new, people subscribing to his list.
* Brian also got some exposure on blogs as people on his list made other artists and art lovers aware of the project - specifically, I know this project was featured on Alyson Stanfield's Blog
and on the FineArtViews Blog.
* One interesting story Brian shared: one lady forwarded the daily email to a friend and the friend actually got mad at the lady because she hadn't let her know about the project sooner
(it was almost over at this point) - she wanted to know about it sooner!
* Brian burned through a lot of reference material during the project. SO much in fact that he feels he couldn't do a similar project again anytime soon.
* He actually went back to photos that were 20 years old for some pieces - a project like this could be good to "force" you to get moving with old reference material.
* The email newsletters were written in a conversational tone
, Brian told why he painted the piece, where it was, what had inspired him etc. People replied to his emails and that sparked more conversations.
* People specifically shared with Brian that his conversational tone motivated them to buy the paintings.
You have to ENTICE
* Brian's advice to other artists who try something like this: don't take a break. Brian had a lot of momentum going and then had to take a break (due to personal issues) and it was REALLY difficult to get it started again.
* CHALLENGE YOURSELF - at the beginning, he was doing really simple scenes and was feeling like he couldn't do complete paintings in such a small format (most of the paintings were 4" x 5") and later in the project thought "why not?" and started doing really complex pieces even in such a small format. I can attest that I was really impressed with the works and didn't realize they were so small, Brian really packed a lot of work into such a small format.
* People replied and made comments letting him know that they could actually see the growth in the pieces as the project progressed.
* He got lots of feedback from customers ....especially after he began challenging himself.
* When he took the break and since the project ended he's had lots of communication from people who miss his daily emails and want him to restart the project
.....I'm one of those people, I looked forward to his work each day. I tried to buy a couple and other people always beat me to the punch.
* Most people purchased the works through paypal, but some people emailed him and wanted to send checks. He allowed people to do that and you should too.
* He used the UPS store for shipping. Since the paintings were so small and were unframed, they cost $12 each to ship - the customers paid for the shipping...so really, each delivered painting was $112 with shipping.
* More advice to other artists if you try this - plan it out well, not necessarily have all the paintings planned, but plan what you're going to do. Definitely you need to have some sort of email list and you need to be persistent and consistent in your use of it.
* How did Brian build his original list of 84 people? Commenting on other art blogs, in forums, adding friends to his list, and getting referrals to add friends of friends.
Above: An Example of One of Brian's Email Newsletters
I've been trying to emphasize the critical importance of using an email list. So many people right now are telling artists that they need to be blogging, they need to be on Facebook, they need to be on Twitter. Those things are good strategies (if considered "spokes" in your "hub and spoke" strategy). But, in my opinion, properly utilizing an email list to have meaningful conversations with your followers is currently the most powerful online marketing strategy artists can pursue.
This case study of Brian's success with email marketing for artists is just one real-life example of how effective it can be.
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic