Post image for What is your crucial secret weapon for selling art? : Lessons from “The Apprentice”

What is your crucial secret weapon for selling art? : Lessons from “The Apprentice”

by Helen Aldous

Lets put on our “imagining” hat for a second. {I hope you have an imagining hat? I wouldn’t go anywhere without mine}.

Imagine for some strange and unknown reason you {heaven forbid}suddenly find yourself taking part in an episode of “The Apprentice”. Your objective is to sell as many of your paintings as possible in 5 hours from a rented shop. People come in, wander round disinterested in your work and leave. They don’t come back. You gradually get more and more panicky at the thought of bearing the brunt of the gimlet eye of Sir Alan Sugar and his henchmen and resort to standing at the shop door shouting and trying to grab passers by. They cross the road to avoid you as, by this point, you have become more than a little bonkers looking. You fail the task miserably, get fired and go home sobbing in a taxi.

Stop! Rewiiiiiiind

Now lets re imagine it…
Same Apprentice style task, same scenario. But this time you have a secret weapon. You have a big list of people who you already know LOVE your work. You set up your gallery and contact them. They arrive in droves and because they are already pre-qualified to like what you do, they buy a lot of paintings. You trounce the other team, get a fabulous job with Sir Alan and get to fly off to Royal Ascot in a private jet quaffing champagne.

Your mailing list is your secret weapon.

That’s pretty much why you need an artist’s mailing list in a nutshell {omitting the champagne, jets and Sir Alan bits}. It’s your secret weapon for selling art online and off.

Many many people will visit your website or see your work in a gallery but unless you make some kind of record of who they are you will probably never see them again and an opportunity is wasted.

This is why you need to collect their details, start your artists mailing list and keep growing it.

Many people set up a site but neglect to grow their mailing list when really at the end of the day it should be the FOCUS of your entire online presence.

So what exactly is it?

An artist’s mailing list is simply a list of the details of people who expressed an interest in your work, whether they be on your site or viewing your work in a gallery. Name and email address is really all you need {unless your audience predominately don’t use the internet and you want to send out invitations by post.}

The less information you ask for, the more likely people will be to give it to you. Asking for peoples inside leg measurements and the name of their dog will result in a very small mailing list.

What do I use it for?

You use your mailing list to keep people up to date with your latest work. A good idea is to send out an email newsletter once a month detailing new work, things that you are working on and your general announcements {upcoming exhibitions etc}

Is it worth the hassle?

Absolutely! For example Artist, Hazel Dooney {some of Hazel’s work may be NSFW} has built a great deal of her success on keeping her own group of collectors informed of her work. Hazel sends out a monthly “Studio Notes” email, thus allowing her to operate independently outside the gallery system. Basically if you have your own list you aren’t reliant on a galleries list of interested folk. You have your own. Hoorah.

When do I start?

I love this Japanese saying. “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now” If you start now, a year down the line you will have a healthy list of collectors. Just do it.

So, how do I do it?

At the very basic end, just make sure you have a book for people to add their details at your next exhibition.

Read this post for some ideas about how to get people to sign up. Simple tips to increase your mailing list signup at gallery exhibitions & craft fairs

At the more high tech end, start to collect names and emails on your website. Trust is a very precious thing so make sure that you reassure people that you value their trust and will not sell or lose their email or spam them.

Very importantly – don’t use your normal email programme to send out emails or manage your list. It looks unprofessional and is likely to end in a junk mail folder. The professional services below ensure that their emails are designed to get through the spam filters. You also can’t measure how many people open your mails when you use Outlook so have no idea if anyone is actually reading them and how to improve.

Ok Mrs Smartarse. So what DO I use instead of Outlook?

There are specialist online services which you can use to manage your list and send out emails.

MailChimp offers a great FREE package which is ideal for cutting your teeth. They have loads of nice features and you can have up to 1000 subscribers on the free account. They do seem to have more problems with deliver-ability though but it is a good place to start.

Aweber
I use Aweber to send out all my emails and manage my list and it works great. It has a high deliverability rate, great templates, stats and features. It does cost $20 a month though but you can use it on multiple sites and send as many emails as you like for that fee.

Don’t be a V14gr4 Gnome

All this could start to sound a bit mercenary and it’s true that the mailing list is open to abuse by ice hearted internet marketers who use peoples emails to bombard them with ads for v14gr4 or promises of a larger willy. However, like anything in life, it’s what you do with it that counts. Always remember that your mailing list is about people, not just numbers.

Take time to connect and build relationships with the people who like your work. Don’t treat them as a commodity. Get to really know them. Grow your connections with your people and you,  your work and your audience can grow together.

How do you manage your artists mailing list? Tell us below.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Lents November 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I see a potential article here.

Reply

Helen Aldous November 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

LOL. I know it’s always the last thing on the list…but just think how big your list would be now if you had done it a few months back ;-) Like the saying says ” The second bet time is now” ;-)

Reply

Monette Satterfield November 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Hmmmm… I’m not so very good at my artist’s mailing list. It’s one of those things I’m always “getting around to.”

Thanks for the timely reminder!

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