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Selling Your Art Is Your Duty! – A Passionate Plea From The Heart…

A few weeks back I received an intriguing email from Martin Stellar. He had a particular {and traumatic} life experience to draw on which had taught him a very important lesson about art marketing. I will leave him to share this vitally important lesson with you in this guest post. Thanks Martin…

If you signed up to Helen’s ebook series (which you totally should), you’ll have read about the elephant in the room: That strange aversion to selling that so many artisans and creatives live with.

I agree with Helen’s teaching: She says that we needn’t feel anything negative when it comes to selling or marketing our art, but I want to make an even stronger point:

As an artist, it’s not enough to just accept sales, selling and marketing as a necessary part of the artist’s life.

You need to understand that selling your art is your moral and ethical duty.

Yep, I really said that.

And I have a good reason for it too:

As an artist, you owe it to the world to get mighty comfortable with marketing and selling, and to get at least moderately good at it.

Because you make a difference. You make the world a more beautiful place.

Your work, your daily toil and your innermost creativity: all of that conspires to bring more beauty to the world, one print; one canvass or one photo at a time.

If you’re an artist, you believe in the art you create (no matter how deep down that may be, hidden by a public mask of insecurity).

If you didn’t believe in your art, you wouldn’t live how you live and make what you make.

And if you believe in your art, you owe it to the world to sell as much of it as you possibly can.

Sidenote: My editor tells me I should talk about sharing your art, instead of selling – she makes a good point, but I believe selling is the single best way to share your art.

Anyway: If your art can improve a house, a room, a face or a street… bring something beautiful or meaningful into the world… Then OF COURSE you should sell it. Tons of it, if you can.

All this is of course a generously grandiloquent way to look at things.

After all, we don’t all create deeply inspired one-off pieces

I can understand that if your business is, say, selling printed t-shirts of your own design, you might not feel that you contribute as much as someone who creates unique life-size sculptures.

But think again.

Your t-shirts also add to the total.

People buy them because it gives them pleasure, they enjoy owning and wearing them, they like to be seen wearing them and so on.

I’d say that with each t-shirt sold, you just added a bit of happiness or enjoyment to someone’s life. Right? Right.

It really makes no difference what you make, how many, how big they are, how much they cost.

If you consider yourself an artist that inherently means that you make things that are meant to enhance the world

Now tell me, don’t you think this not only justifies and necessitates, but even obliges you as an artist to find as many people as you can who will buy what you make?

Should it not be your mission to make people’s lives a bit better with your art, as often as you can?

I’d say so.

It’s your duty to sell (read: share) your art.

You make the world better, more meaningful and more beautiful. Each time you create, you do the world a favour.

Each time you sell, doubly so.

What do I know?

Now, you might wonder where I get the nerve to come at you with all this high-faluting pomp and circumstance.

After all, I’m not even an artist myself. I couldn’t draw a stick-figure to save my life.

No, my genetic makeup is similar, but not quite the same: I’m what’s known as an artisan.

Specifically, I’m a bespoke tailor. Or used to be, before I became a marketing writer.

It’s a long story, but the short of it is that I used to have my own tailoring company, in which I myself created high end bespoke suits, fully handmade.

For a while I ran a blog and I ranked nicely on Google, just below Savile Row tailors, and I was getting a decent reputation on several forums.

Prices were also up there with Savile Row, and I was getting some sales.

At some point my father passed away, and I ended up with a sizeable inheritance that I decided to invest in my business.

Things looked like I was set for success.

But all that money, (all 120,000 pounds of it. Ouch.), I lost over the course of five years.

Here’s why my tailoring business tanked, forcing me to change careers:

I refused to really come to terms with the (very high) intrinsic value of what I created with my own two hands

Until the end, when I ran that company into the ground, I always approached the marketing and sales of it all as if it were a necessary evil.

And the only reason for that, I realise now, is that I didn’t value my stuff the way I should have.

The way you should value your stuff. Which I’m guessing you might not really do, just like me, back then.

And you may take all this as literally as you like (hint: the more literally you take it, the more your sales will soar).

You see, aside from the fact that creating a suit is in itself creating a piece of art (provided you do it by hand like bespoke tailors ought to), there is the value to the customer, and in that sense art and artisanry are very similar.

In both situations, the value to the customer sort of has no limits

You would be amazed by what people are willing to pay. Trust me, I’m a marketer (these days), and I know exactly how much the right people are willing to pay for art.

Or for my suits for that matter. Because that was the amazing thing I discovered: You can charge literally anything you want, and you’ll have people buying it.

It gets even better: the higher your prices, the more eager people will be to buy

That’s something I hope Helen will allow me to explain at a later point. Provided of course that she’d like to have me tell more of the story of how a young tailor had a chance and blew it.

For now, I just really want to hope that you see my point, because you so much deserve to live with the confident (and slighty bold) attitude I’ve been describing.

What you do makes a difference. Make it happen more, make a bigger difference.

Even if it’s one printed mug at a time.

You’re an artist
It’s your nature to create beauty
You’re an artist
It’s your duty to sell the beauty you create

Martin Stellar is technically a copywriter and marketing consultant, but really he’s one of those people who can’t help trying to motivate and inspire people, given half a chance. He blogs at www.martinstellar.com, where much motivating and inspiring takes place, and he’s usually good fun on twitter.

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Facebook Changes & Artists | 4 Crucial Things You Need To Know…

Facebook has undergone a RADICAL overhaul over the past few days. Changes, first outlined by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg at the f8 conference in San Francisco have already begun to roll out over the site and many more will be coming online in the coming weeks.

Many artists use Facebook as a platform for promoting their artwork so what will the new changes mean if you have an artists Facebook Page? What do artists need to know about the new Facebook?

Lets take a look at some of the new changes.

The power in the blue corner.

Facebook now marks stories that it thinks are important to you by tagging them with a blue corner in your news feed. Users have the power to “untag” these prioritised stories in their feed by simply clicking on the blue corner, meaning that Facebook then demotes similar items in your feed.

By this change, Facebook are taking a massive shift in direction, in that this will selectively weed out boring, irrelevant or annoying posts. Users can easily demote and remove all those annoying updates from friends about requests for Farmville stuff and tedious information about what they had for tea. Hoorah

What this means for artists.

However, whilst welcome in many ways, this change can also mean your work gets removed from the feed if you aren’t engaging enough or if you bombard people with things they aren’t interested in.

It will no longer be enough to accumulate loads of LIKES and then bombard your LIKERS with low quality posts. You are going to have to produce great engaging content to earn your place in the news feed.

Posting interesting content that engages people is now more crucial than ever if you and your art aren’t going to end up talking into empty space…

Too much information!!

The news ticker in the right hand column is a second by second relay of exactly what you are up to. It shows your comments on friends posts {who aren’t neccesarily friends of the people viewing} and also, will soon show any games you may be playing or music you are listening to. In short it overshares everything you do to pretty much everyone, everywhere.

Facebook will also be introducing Facebook Timelines in the next few weeks. This means that everything you do on Facebook will be evolved into a searchable personal history timeline stretching way back into the past. This video explains the concept.  Timelines could be a pretty cool feature but may have some drawbacks too.

What this means for artists.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial to be yourself and also to behave professionally. If you are using Facebook to promote your business it is essential that you are aware of how you may appear to others. Be careful about what you post and do as it is becoming even harder to be totally sure exactly who is viewing your actions. Keep it professional at all times.

Now may be a good time to go into your photo history and delete or detag the pictures of you being sick in a bush at a student party.

Build a shed in the walled garden…

Facebook is making these big changes in an attempt to be even more immersive. You will be able to do an increasing amount of actions, such as listening to music or watching films, WITHIN the Facebook framework. The changes are all designed to make Facebook even more addictive than it curently is [if this is possible].

This is the “Walled Garden” effect, where users are encouraged to stay in one place, within the same site, and never leave.

What this means for artists.

This means that it is becoming even more important to have a presence within the Facebook framework. If you don’t already have an artists Facebook page, now would be a good time to create one. If you do have one, spend a bit of time ensuring it is up to scratch and contains great content. You need to make sure you have access to the walled garden and aren’t left outside banging on the door.

But build a house outside it…

Not all the changes have been popular with Facebook users. There have been many online groups formed to protest against the way Facebook rolls out changes without consultation and doesn’t listen to user feedback, coupled with concerns over Facebook’s attitude to user privacy. It is hard to predict if Facebook can continue it’s meteoric rise or if it’s progress will be derailed somewhere along the way…

A quick glance over the shoulder to some of the internet casualties of the past, including the once mighty MySpace, AOL, Digg &  IBM illustrate that Facebook could quite easily stumble and lose ground to other social destinations like Google +, especially if they keep annoying their users every few months.

As every James Bond villain knows – world domination is by no means guaranteed.

What this means for artists.

Now, more than ever it is ESSENTIAL to base your web presence on YOUR OWN website, on YOUR OWN DOMAIN, outside of Facebook.

Whatever Facebook’s fortunes over the coming years, your own site is your home on the internet, on your own land. It is the most important piece of the jigsaw in promoting your work and will be there for you, whatever social media platform comes to the fore.

Enjoy the fun of Facebook, and use it as an extension to promote your work,  but build your main foundations on the solid ground of your own website and you can’t go far wrong…

 

What do you think of the new Facebook changes? Exciting? Frustrating? Let me know in the comments.

 

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How to add Facebook “Like” Buttons to your Art Website

A guest post from artist and web designer Paul Watson.

Adding Facebook “Like” buttons to your art website is a great way to encourage visitors to spread the word about your artwork to their friends, increasing your potential market.

When a visitor clicks a “Like” button on a page of your site, it will appear in that visitor’s Facebook News Stream, visible to their Facebook friends. This is a great way to enable the easy sharing of links to pages within your site.

The Basics

If your website uses third-party software such as WordPress or Joomla then the easiest way to add Facebook ”Like” buttons is to install a plugin/extension from the official repositories. There are many different ones that provide this functionality, so you can choose one that suits you (please feel free to recommend your favourites in the comments!).

If you’ve built your website yourself then it’s still very easy to add the basic “Like” buttons – here’s how:

1. Go to http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like

2. Use the “Get Like Button Code” generator to create the button code

3. Copy and paste the code generated onto the corresponding page of your site.

The “Get Like Button Code” generator actually produces two versions of the code: the “iframe” version and the “XFBML” version. The XFBML version requires that you install Facebook’s JavaScript SDK (Software Development Kit) on your site, so unless you’re experienced with JavaScript then use the “iframe” version as this can simply be pasted into your own HTML.

Keeping Track: Statistics

Now you could check every page of your site regularly to see how many people have “Liked” each page, but it’s far easier to let Facebook do the hard work for you.

If you go to http://www.facebook.com/insights/ and click the green “Insights for your Website” button then Facebook will provide you with a single line of HTML that you need to add to the root page of your domain (the root page is the page a visitor sees if they go to www.your-domain.com).

Once this is in place Facebook knows that you own that domain, and will give you access (at http://www.facebook.com/insights/) to details of “Likes” and “Shares” of pages from your site, details of the most popular pages, and some basic demographics of the people who have Liked your pages.

Quite rightly Facebook anonymizes this data – you can’t see who liked your pages, but you can see the age-ranges, countries, and gender distribution of your potential customers, and which are the most shared/liked pages.

Going Further

Once you’ve mastered this you might want to start using Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol – this gives you even more control over what Facebook displays in the news feed of someone who’s liked or shared one of your pages.

You can read more about the Open Graph Protocol at http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/


About the Author of this Post

paul watsonPaul Watson is an artist from Brighton, England, working in a variety of media, from assemblage and collage to print-making, drawing, artists books, and photography.

He has also been working as a Web Developer/Designer since the late 1990s, and for the past six years he has worked as the Manager of the Web & e-Marketing team for an international academic publishing company.

Paul’s main website – The Lazarus Corporation:  – displays his artwork as well as the work of a number of other artists.

You can also find him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lazcorp.

 

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Naughty domain names {and how not to get stuck with one}

When you are thinking about starting to sell art online through your own artists website, one of the first things you need to consider is your domain name.

It is one of the elements of your artists website which requires the most careful thought and unfortunately somewhere that you can easily shoot yourself in the foot if you are not careful, often only discovering the problem further down the line when nobody can find you.

But don’t worry. Sticking to a few simple rules will ensure that you get the most out of your domain and website. Lets have a quick look at what it entails.

What is it?

Your domain name is the address you type into the address bar of your browser to call up your website. You can think of it as a signpost that points visitors to where your website is hosted. It will look something like www .johnsmithsculpture.com. It is an important part of your web presence and has implications for search engine optimisation. You can register your domain name before you have a website set up in order to secure it.

Why is it crucial to get it right?

Your domain name is a very important part of your personal brand. Pick the right one and it can enhance your professional appearance. Pick the wrong one and it can let down the side {see point 6 below ;-)}.

It also has a direct bearing on your e-mail address so picking the right domain enables you to set up a professional email address along the lines of enquiries@myname.com. This looks SO much better and more professional than  email addresses like sexybex75@yahoo2h5f.com,  again tying in with your personal brand and giving the right impression. I see a surprisingly large amount of artists undermining their hard work on marketing by giving out business cards with addresses like this. It is an important element of your whole professional package so well worth sorting out properly.

Careful choice of domain is also really important from a search engine point of view as a domain name containing your name and possibly a keyword about what you do can really help your site to appear well in search engine results. You want people to be able to find your work when they type in your name.

How to choose a good domain name

When you come to buying your own domain name there are quite a few things to consider before you lay down your money. Many domain names have already been registered so it can take a bit of trial and error to find a good combination that hasn’t already gone.

Google views domain names as being one of the most important elements of a website when deciding whereabouts in the search pages to rank it so its well worth spending a bit of time on getting a good combination. Spend time doing a bit of brainstorming to come up with different combinations that may work.

Some good points to bear in mind are:

1 Include your name in the domain.
Creating a domain including at least your last name and probably your first name too will help people find you more easily. I.e. www.johnsmith.com

2 Include a keyword relating to your work.
Even better, using a descriptive keyword in your domain, helps with searches for this subject. I.e.www.johnsmithsculpture.com

3 Don’t use hyphens.
It’s tempting to hyphenate your domain name as sometimes all combinations of words seem to have been already registered. If at all possible do try and avoid the use of hyphens though as it makes it well nigh impossible to tell anyone your domain name orally.

Imagine trying to tell someone your web address over the phone. “John hyphen smith hyphen sculpture dot com” just sounds really confusing. Use hyphens as a last resort only.

4 Keep it memorable.
Try and register a domain name that people can remember easily. To this end try to keep it short and to the point. www.pamalaspotterypigemporiumandartbarn.com probably wont work so well.

Also, if there are any common misspellings of your name it can be worth registering both variations in case people forget how to spell it.

5 Try and secure a dot com
If you can, try and secure the .com version of your domain name. You may want to register a few different variations of your domain name with different “Top Level Domain”s {Top Level Domains or TLD’s are the ending part of the domain address ie .com or .org etc} If possible avoid domains ending in the more obscure .info .tv and similar for your main domain name.

You may also want to register the TLD relevant to where you live {ie .co.uk if you live in the UK. .fr for France etc} You can use the .com as your main domain and point the others to your site too.

6 Consider your choice of words carefully.
Some combinations of words, when put together, create an unforseen comedy domain name. Consider the humorous joys of the following real domain names and carefully check any domain name combinations you come up with.

www.powergenitalia.com {Italian Power Company}
www.penisland.net {Pen company}
www.speedofart.com {Designers}

Yes, they are all real! 😉

Checking if your chosen domain is available

Once you have some ideas, you need to check if they are available to register. Go to a domain registration site such as www.names.co.uk or 123-reg.co.uk and enter your desired domain name in their website checker box to see what is available. You don’t have to register your domain there if you don’t want but you will be able to find out of the domain is available for purchase.

Registering your domain

There are an almost infinite number of companies on the internet offering domain registration. It makes life easier to have your domain registered at the same place as your hosting so take a look at the domain registration services offered by your hosting company if you have one.

If you want to register the domain separately {for example, if you want to secure it before hosting or your website is set up} try www.lcn.com or www.names.co.uk

If you are using an artists website building service they will generally be able to look after the registration for you and ensure it is set up correctly to point to your website. This again is a good option as it keeps everything in the same place and allows someone else to deal with the technical side of things. Just make sure you can keep the domain name should you ever want to move to a different service.

All done

Sorting out your domain name can look like a daunting process but the steps above should enable you to choose and register a domain with reasonably little pain. Go and make sure you have secured your personal domain name as soon as you can. You don’t want to discover that someone else has registered www.yourname.com when you come to set up your artists website.

Please share any problems you have had with registering domains in the comments. Have you secured your personal name domain yet?

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How to start your Artists Newsletter in 6 easy-peasy steps – A practical guide

A very practical post this week!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post exhorting artists to start collecting names on their artists mailing list.
What is your crucial secret weapon for selling art? : Lessons from “The Apprentice”

I got feedback from lots of artists who wanted to do just that and send out a newsletter but really didn’t know where to start and were confused and daunted by the whole process. So following on from this I have put together a quick guide to help.

Follow these 6 simple steps and you should be well on your way to sending out a professional email artists newsletter which will give you a head start in promoting your work.

In the words of a famous footwear brand – Just do it.

Setting this up will probably take around an hour. Then you are all ready to go and start collecting emails and contacting your fans and collectors. It’s really not a daunting techie process and trust me, it’s worth it in terms of selling your art. It’s probably THE most powerful thing you can do to keep in touch with people who love your work.

Just dedicate an hour after dinner tonight to getting this sorted out. You can even have a glass of wine whilst you’re doing it. Bonus. 😉

This post is, due to constraints of space, just a quick overview of how to do it. Basically, the software we are going to use, MailChimp,  is very user friendly which is why it’s the best place to start if you have never done this before. Don’t be daunted by it. Jump in and have a poke about. You can’t break anything. Once you get your confidence up you will be away.

So, here we go…

1 – Register with MailChimp.com for free

You really don’t want to send out your Newsletter using your normal email software {Outlook etc} for a variety of reasons, the main ones being that the template will break, it will get classed as spam and you can’t track the results.

  • Head over to www.mailchimp.com and click on the big SIGN UP FREE button. Fill in your details and click the confirmation email you will be sent.
  • You will then be asked to fill in a CAPTCHA {typing in the strange words to confirm you are human} and then taken to a page where you fill in your details.
  • At this stage you are also asked for your website address so MailChimp can grab a colour palette from your website so that your templates match. How cool is that?
  • If you don’t have your own website yet, but only a Facebook page or Twitter presence don’t worry. You can still send out a newsletter. MailChimp explains how to deal with that at this stage.
  • Finally pick the FREE account and you are taken to the MailChimp dashboard and ready to start.

2 – Create your mailing list

So before you send out any newsletters you need to get some people to send them to. You need to start a list and start collecting names and email addresses.

  • On the dashboard, click the LISTS tab at the top, or “Create a List” on the main panel and you are taken to a page where you set up a mailing list.
  • You are guided through the process of naming the list, adding in your email address and subject name. You can leave settings on default for now if unsure. The main thing is getting this set up. You can come back later and change and refine it.
  • When you click DONE the list is saved.
  • If you already have some names {legally gathered on your website} you can import them into the new list by clicking IMPORT
  • Your list is now ready to go. Yay!

3 – Put a signup form on your site

People visiting your site need to be able to signup for your list so you need to add a signup form on your website.

  • Click DESIGN SIGNUP FORM in the left column and lets get started.
  • Auto Design is a great feature which goes to your website and grabs colours and images to match the form to your site. It made a reasonable job on my site although it added a fairly bonkers header image which I had to delete. Still its a good way to start and you can then click the DESIGN IT tab at the top to poke about and refine the form. Don’t worry, you can’t break anything. Just experiment.
  • Keep your form simple. Name and email address is really all you need. The more information you ask for the less likely people will be to sign up.
  • When you are all done you then need to get this form onto your site. Look just above the form [tucked away and not very obvious} and you will see the following links. Link to subscribe form {and the link here} or create embed code for small form. Either copy and past the link {simple} and add to your site or create the embed code and copy this into the HTML of your site {slightly more techy but better}.
  • Once you have got the form onto your site make sure you check it works OK by subscribing yourself.

4 – Create a Newsletter {campaign}

Now for the exciting bit. Actually putting your newsletter together. Mailchimp uses the adspeak word “campaign” but we know we mean newsletter right?

  • Hit the campaigns tab at the top and “Create Campaign” in the left column.
  • Then select “regular ol campaign” from the pull down menu you are provided. You are then asked which list you want to send to. Select your list and continue.
  • Next give your campaign a name and message title. You can leave the other settings on default for now.
  • When you click through to the next page you are given a great choice of template designs to use. Choose a pre designed one, start from scratch if you are feeling brave or click the “Design Genius” button to customise your own.
  • When you have chosen a template, just click edit at top right of the relevant section box and add your own content.
  • When you have finished creating your newsletter, click next and mailchimp will check your newsletter is ready for delivery.
  • VERY IMPORTANT. Send a test message to yourself to make sure everything looks right. Just keep sending tests until you are sure its all good to go.
  • That’s it!!. Your artists newsletter is ready to go! Wasn’t too painful was it?

5 – Great. But what on earth do I put in my artists newsletter?

This is the ten billion dollar question I get asked A LOT. It’s all very well setting up a newsletter but you have to have good content. We all get bombarded by massive amounts of email rubbish so your newsletter needs to stand out from the crowd. A few pointers:

Your title needs the WOW factor.
This is the only thing that will get your email opened. Make it intriguing and different.

People love stories.
Share the stories behind your work. Is there an intriguing history behind a building you painted? An anecdote surrounding the evolution of a technique you use? Share it.

Share the story of your work in progress.
Has a piece of work evolved in a strange and unexpected way? Tell people about it.

Give previews.
Show your collectors your new work before it goes on your site, giving them a VIP boost.

6 – Send it out. Talk to your people

You’ve done it. Your artists newsletter is ready to go. Sending out once a month is plenty and will mean people won’t get sick of hearing from you. Quality over quantity every time.

Have fun with your artists newsletter. Cherish your fans and customers, respect them and send them great stuff. An artists newsletter is a wonderful and direct way of connecting with the precious people who love your work.

You have done the hard part. Now go out and make the most of it.

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

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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Are you making these 6 art sales killing mistakes on your artists website?

Poking around the internet a lot, as I am wont to do, means that I look at a heck of a lot of artist’s websites and in my meanderings round the corners of cybespace I have found that there are some issues that come up again and again.

Without wanting to be overdramatic, I would say that there are a core of common mistakes, all of which have the potential to seriously damage if not kill the possibility of selling any art on the websites that make them.

So here in no particular order are my top 6 sales killing artists website mistakes. Check your site to see if you have any of these issues, and if you do, sort ’em out quick to ensure you are in the best possible position to sell art online.

{warning. I may get ever so slightly ranty in this post as I get so frustrated at the amount of sites and artists scuppering their own chances of success when their work is great. Don’t let it happen to you.}

1 } Hidden prices give us “The Fear”

There is nothing more guaranteed to prevent a sale than looking for a price and seeing “price list available on application”. It brings out in us all “the fear” of going into an expensive shop and dealing with a snotty assistant who assumes we can’t afford it and looks at us like we crawled from under a hedge.

Most people {especially us Brits} would rather pull our eyes out with spoons than ask the price.

If you are happy with your price structure you should be happy to show people the price. Make it clear on your site so that people don’t have to hunt for it.

How does it kill sales?

People will just not contact you for the price out of embarrasment in case they have to make an “Ummm, Oh yes that’s fine but I think I have just strangely changed my mind” kind of excuse. Just tell them.

2 } Muzak

Putting music on your site is really offputting to a visitor as the chances of them liking the same music as you are VERY slim. Then it just annoys them whilst they scrabble around to find a mute button. Even worse, if you haven’t included a mute button they will harbour feelings of deep and steaming resentment towards you that you inflicted Richard Clayderman on them at 6am when they were having a quiet surf and woke up their sleeping husband so he got grumpy at them [or maybe that’s just me].

How does it kill sales?

As well as the aformentioned deep and steaming resentment build up prejudicing sales, music also stops people having a sneaky look at your site at work.

3 } Splash screen lunacy

A splash page is a web page placed at the front of a site that contains a big image or an introductory flash animation, possibly of artwork swishing in and whizzing round.

They were popular about 10 years ago but can still be seen on some sites. I did think they were dying out but just this morning got a link to an artists newly launched site which had one.

Splash pages annoy and frustrate visitors [Have you ever watched an animated one through without clicking “skip intro”?] and confuse search engines, even if they are static by putting an extra, unnecessary and empty page between them and the content. It can make the site unusable on smartphones and just generally gets in the way.

How does it kill sales?

Splash screens frustrate the viewer before they even get to consider buying your work, driving them away from your site and off to look at other artists work.

See this post Artists Websites and the Attack of the Toddler Brainz to see why.

4 } Google adsense chaos. A site cluttered up with advertising.

It’s quite common to find a site where the work is lost amongst columns of Adsense ads [little text ads from Google] as well as flashing banner ads taking up half the space of the site. As these ads will be related to art [Google places ads relevant to your content] it can be hard to see where the ads end and the art begins.

Its very off-putting to users if your pages consist of large chunks of advertising. Its also very difficult for you to make money this way unless you have a very popular site with thousands of visits and constantly updated content. You won’t just get free money for cluttering your page up with a few ads. For most artist it’s better to concentrate on selling your work rather than advertising space.

How does it kill sales?

The advertising devalues your work making your site look more “bargain basement” than “Saatchi Gallery” This makes visitors far less likely to want to part with good money to buy your art.

5 } The anti-Zen. An imbalance between form and function.

The best websites keep a good balance between looking good and functioning well. A site that does either at the expense of the other will perform poorly.

We have all come across them. The beautiful sites that take ages to load and then crash your machine or the extremely functional sites that look terrible. Good website design should balance both elements to create a harmonious whole. [Ooh, I have come over all zen!}.

How does it kill sales?

An imbalance either way can prevent sales. Too much form can mean a deficit on the technical side and issues with the user having difficulty with the purchasing process. Too much function and you can devalue your artwork by placing it in an unnatractive setting {back to the “bargain basement” again}.

6 } Weird Navigation involving fairies

Visitors to your site just want to be able to view your work easily and quickly. They don’t want to play a game where they have to discover an invisible hovering fairy on the page and then chase it around the screen until a menu unfolds out of its tiny wings {I have actually seen this navigation, I’m not making it up!}

At this point they will have gone off to have a cup of tea and a lie down in a darkened room. Just make it as easy as possible for them to get around the site and find out more about you and your work. Don’t make them have to work for the information.

How does it kill sales?

Going back to the Toddler Brainz post, people have the attention spans of 3 year olds on the web. By the time they have found the hidden fairy menu they will have wandered off to do something else, thereby not even looking at your work for sale. Just make it easy for them to find it and then they have more chance of buying it.


So there are my top six sales killers. Removing any of them from your site should definately mean an improvement in your results and a general improvement in the user experience of your visitors.


Do you agree that these are killers? Has removing any of them improved the performance of your site? Do you have any more killers that annoy you? Please share your comments below.

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Best of the web | October 2010 | Don’t miss these.

Take 10 minutes at lunchtime to watch this thought provoking animation. Really important discussion touching on the reason artists often find it so hard at school.

Why being a square peg is now your greatest art sales asset
I have been looking into this subject in a guest post on The Abundant Artist which you can read here.

9 creative women share secrets to suceeding with social media
A series of blog posts curated by a group of creative women blogging about how social media has helped them and their businesses, and how you can put these ideas into action.

Art School Monsters
Do you have a monster lurking from art school that tells you you are no good at art and undermines your confidence? I certainly do. I LOVED this post from Kirsty Hall.

Social Media Cheat Sheet
Extremely useul map of where you should concentrate your attention in the social media world.

Is Etsy Dying?
Thought provoking read from Skinny Artist about Etsy’s figures. A good reason to get your own artists website and not rely on Etsy as your sole web presence.

See 10 crucial reasons why every artist needs a their own hub website

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Artist’s Websites & The Attack of the Toddler Brainz

Let me share with you a little story about Toddler Brainz.

So, it’s pouring down outside with the kind of passionate and lumpy rain only available in Yorkshire. My Other Half is attempting to keep the wee uns entertained and has got to the slightly desperate point where he has to resort to finding things of magic for a 3 year old on YouTube.

My wee toddler son loves two things more than anything in the universe {including me and his Dad} and those two things are Drumming and Trains, in no particular order. He will watch any video involving either, or preferably both {if anyone ever finds a video of a Samba band aboard Thomas the tank engine my life would be complete} ad infinitum.

OH is trying to interest small son in a video clip of particularly fine drum solo featuring Santana’s amazing drummer at Woodstock in 1969.

The video starts with a great screaming guitar solo from hairtastic Carlos Santana.

Note – Guitar solos are NOT drumming.

Son – “Want Drumming”
OH – “Its coming – just watch this and wait a minute. This is great guitar playing”
Son – Frowning deeply. “Want DRUMMING. Where’s the drumming?”


More guitar solo. Son starts squirming on seat and looking round the room. I’m thinking “jump to the drumming!! You’re losing him” Carlos has started singing now.

Finally the drumming starts but wee sons patience has run out.
Son – “Want to see TRAINS”
OH – “But look – Here’s the drumming”

Santana drummer is performing the most impressive drum solo ever but 3 year olds patience has run out and he couldn’t care less if it was a drum solo with flaming drumsticks and fireworks.

The drumming has come TOO LATE.

Son -” TRAINNNNSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Son grumpily climbs down from the computer and wanders off to pick up one of his toy trains and run it the wrong way up the sleeping cat whilst giving his Dad a disenchanted Paddington Bear hard stare…

Dad/YouTube/Drumming #Fail

So what has this little cameo of my Sunday domestic bliss got to do with artist’s websites and web design?

It was a fine example of an attack of the Toddler Brainz in action.

My son may be three, but the thing is, when any of us use the web our brains revert back to being a three year old. Even those of us who read the Guardian and have an iPad and like to think we can multitask and all that stuff.

We are all totally capable of having an ATTACK OF THE TODDLER BRAINZ when using a website.

All the grown up stuff about patience and good things come to those who wait, sloughs off like a discarded skin & we are our tiny 3 year old selves again, one disappointment away from stamping our feet and rolling about under the table bellowing, going purple and smearing chocolate in our hair if we don’t get our way immediately.

We are 3 years old and WE WANT STUFF NOW

Your audience want to see what they are looking for as soon as we get to your website, within milliseconds. There is absolutely no time to show anything else or they will be off. Even if they are already deeply interested in what you have to offer, if they have to jump through any kind of hoop to get to it you have lost them.

Unfortunately there are often toddler brain stumbling blocks in artist’s websites. They come in the shape of…

  • Splash intro screens with lovely pictures of your work fading in and out. You may think they look pretty but 3 seconds in your audience has already wandered off to run a train up a sleeping cat, or at least visit another artists website.
  • Clever and obscure navigation that makes a visitor to your site have to figure out how to find your work. Their three year old mind is off cat bothering again.
  • Flash websites that take a while to load also test the toddler mind to the limit. In the time it takes for the pretty bar to reach 100% it has found a Thomas the Tank Engine video to watch.

So you see how it’s crucial that when someone lands on your site they are offered

  • Clear information,
  • An obvious way to view your work and
  • A direct route to be able to buy it.

That’s it. The essence of good website design in a nutshell thanks to my wee un. Simple

Take a fresh look at your website through the eyes of a 3 year old. Are there any stumbling blocks which may stop a visitor in their tracks. Can they be removed or simplified?

Do it now before you lose any more visitors to the ATTACK OF THE TODDLER BRAINZ.


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Artists & Twitter. Just what IS the point?

As an artist you are always being told you need to get on Twitter. Every blog, every news item, every art newsletter you read tells you to do it. So you jump in and join. You start tweeting, a bit about your work, a bit about your blog. You do it religiously for a couple of weeks, get some followers, start to enjoy it AND THEN… you have THE TWITTER CONFIDENCE CRISIS.

It suddenly it hits you. What on earth is the point of all this tweeting, Rting, @ing and DMing? Has the world gone mad? Isn’t Twitter is just some kind of superannuated monster timesinking water cooler discussion about crap? Just what on earth is the point exactly?

Many artists never get over this hump and their tweets fade off into the ether never to return. They mark it down as some huge waste of time with no clear value.

So… I started thinking about Twitter and its uses and how it helps me as an artist. I thought it might be useful to see how I use it and the value I get from it. The value isn’t always direct and obvious, but there is a lot of it hidden away in there.

I use Twitter to:

Think Global

Being an artist who lives on top of a moor in deepest wildest Yorkshire it would be very easy to lose touch with what is going on in the rest of the art world and become isolated . Thankfully via the power of Twitter I can spend a 15 minute lunch break perusing the offerings of New York galleries or art events in Copenhagen. Twitter is a brilliant way to keep up with art news across the globe. What’s not to love?

Act Local

I find that some of the biggest success I have with Twitter {especially sales wise} is when I use it at a local level. It’s easy to search and find people on Twitter who live in your local town, county or state. Relationships that you start on Twitter often translate into real life and may become people who will visit your gallery events or open studios. I have found that this can often lead indirectly to sales of your work. I have met some lovely people this way who I would never have met under normal circumstances.

Publicise events

Following on from the point above, Twitter allows me to search for people interested in art in any area where I am exhibiting. I can then tell them about my upcoming event, preview the work and get them interested and involved in what is going on. It’s a great way to increase the audience of people who might like your work. On the opening day of an event I can send reminders that the show is open via Twitter. All more immediate and likely to be seen than e-mail.

Discover galleries who may like my work.

By following a gallery I can get a feel for their personality and the kind of work they might be interested in. I can keep track of galleries and events in my local area or further afield who might be a good match for my work.

Network with other artists.

Twitter is a great way to get in touch and see what other artists are working on. A great source of inspiration and camaraderie. Seeing others work also inspires you to keep your own work fresh.

Build my mailing list

Whenever I post a blog entry on Twitter it usually results in a few signups to my mailing list. In turn this offers me the opportunity to tell people who may be interested about any future work they might like.

Drive traffic to my latest blog posts

Whenever I write a new post on my site I link to it from Twitter. This drives quite a lot of traffic and helps to get people more involved in what I do.

Get people interested and involved in my work as it progresses.

Posting ideas and images of preparatory sketches involves people in the work from the start and builds interest. By the time a piece is ready for an exhibition there may already be people interested in coming to see. It’s also great to get feedback as the piece progresses.

And last but not least

Indirect sales

Twitter is not a good medium for direct sales. Don’t expect people to come along and just buy your work straight off there and then. However, Twitter should be seen as some kind of slow burning network system where something will come of it down the line. Someone may discover your work on Twitter, come to a gallery show, join your mailing list and then buy something 6 months down the line. I find this is how I get the most sales through Twitter

So, Twitter does definitely have a point and a great deal of value but it can be a little hidden at first. Still waters run deep and all that. Make sure you get over the Twitter hump and plumb the depths of its possibilities.

How do you find Twitter helps you as an artist? I would love to hear your experiences and how you use it. Please share your experiences in the comments

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