Simple tips to increase your mailing list signup at gallery exhibitions & craft fairs

Whenever you exhibit your work at a gallery or have a stall at a craft fair it is a great opportunity to get people to sign up for your mailing list.

By keeping a list of people who like your work you have a ready opportunity to let them know whenever you are exhibiting or have a new piece of work ready. Collecting emails is ideal for this as it is a quick, direct and low cost way of reaching out to your audience. You can keep them abreast of what you are up to and direct them to work that you are promoting on your website.

Many artists keep a notebook on their stall or in the exhibition area for people to add comments and contact details to. However, getting people to part with their email address is not the easiest thing and you may find that you end up with more comments than contacts.

The good news is that there are quite a few simple things that you can do which will increase the number of people willing to give you their email details:

Display a clear NO SPAM! notice

Make it very clear on a little notice next to your book that email addresses will not be shared, sold or abused in any way. Maybe also make it known that you don’t send out zazillions of emails and won’t be stuffing their inbox full of rubbish. This will increase peoples confidence in you and make them more willing to share their details.

Chocolate attraction

A slightly sneaky tactic is to place a bowl of  gorgeous chocolates next to the signup book. This will draw people towards the book and a piece of chocolate will increase their feelings of goodwill towards you. This really works, and you can always eat any that are left over at the end of a long day. 😉

Make it obvious

Looking round art fairs I always notice that a lot of comments/signup books just offer a blank page for you to add what you want. This often results in just comments and no emails.

You need to make it obvious to the visitor what you want them to do. Draw columns in the book and title them NAME, COMMENT, EMAIL. This way you guide the person through the process which makes them feel comfortable and more likely to fill in each column. I guarantee if you do this it will double your email signups. Make sure that you make it clear [on a notice perhaps] that by giving their email they are agreeing to join your mailing list.

Ethical bribe

Offer people who signup to your mailing list something in return. Depending on your work perhaps you could offer a small piece of work or entry into a draw to win a larger piece.

And the most important thing you need to do…

Make sure you copy the emails into a database when you get home. Don’t just collect them and then ignore them, leaving them at the bottom of your bag or forgotten in a corner of your studio [talking from personal experience again here.]

Your mailing list is a really valuable tool for selling your art. Keep adding to it whenever you can to keep contact with the people who love your work.

Do you have problems building your email list of people interested in your work? Any good tips that work for you? Please share them with us below.

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Why redundancy might be the start of something beautiful

Now I want to say right from the start that I’m not making light of the horrible trauma of getting laid off. I’ve been there more than once and its not pleasant.

I know first hand the gut wrenching feeling of getting called into the bosses office at an odd time in the morning when you just know something is wrong because he won’t look you in the eye and all the things that you need to pay for, house, car, kids flash before your eyes and you think “What the hell am I going to do?” I’ve been in that position and it is truly horrible. Then you go home with your little box of stuff from your desk and cry into your wine and wonder why they didn’t like you enough to keep you on. It’s a stressful and confidence sapping experience.

But having said that, being made redundant CAN be one of the best things to ever happen to a creative person because it shakes you out of your comfort zone.

When you work in a nice place it can be like a comfy pair of slippers. You know what you need to do workwise. You go in, you get it done, you chat to your colleague about the last episode of Lost and flirt with the guy in the IT department and at the end of the month a nice secure dollop of money appears in your bank account. Excellent.

When you get bored around 3pm you will probably start to think about selling a bit of work on Etsy or how great it would be if you could make a living selling your paintings, but the comfort of your situation means you won’t do much about it, and its frighteningly easy to coast along like this for years. You don’t really need to try to do anything about your creative dream because nothing bad will happen if you don’t. That dollop of money will still appear and the bills will get paid. You are missing one of the major ingredients that can help you set up a successful creative business. Positive Fear.

Positive Fear comes when you step outside your comfort zone. Positive fear is not the energy sapping, panicky sweaty 3am kind of fear. It is the kind of fear that sharpens your brain and focusses your goals and makes you think “Right. I need to get this working or no one will be paying the mortgage. Lets do it!.” Fear is not your enemy. It can be your friend and an extremely useful motivator towards your creative goals.

Nothing of any great importance usually happens within your comfort zone. To achieve stuff you generally need to be outside it and sometimes your boss rudely shoving you out can be the first step on the path to great and exciting new things.

So if redundancy looms it might just be the time to become a full time artist, sell your crafts at fairs or on the internet, or work on developing your sculpture business. You have the time and the motivation and focus to make it work.

If you think there’s a good chance of redundancy looming on the horizon, start preparing now.

  • Start to formulate a plan for if it happens. Think about your options, what you love doing and if any of it would make a viable business.
  • Make stock. Start to prepare by getting a body of work together ready for sale.
  • Start researching into where you could sell your work. Could you sell at local craft fairs? Through shops, on the internet. Do you need to start setting up a website now?
  • Start networking and meeting people that might be able to help you and your creative business. Use online social networking as well as making contacts in your creative community.
  • Start creating a name and brand for your business
  • On the more mundane side, check all your financial out goings and see what you could downscale for now. If you can get by on a little less for a few months it will take the pressure off as your business may take a while to start generating money.
    Martin Lews, Money saving expert has a great online budget calculator here

If you have just been made redundant.

  • Remember that it’s not personal, it’s just economics Don’t let it upset you or knock your confidence.
  • Take a day off to let yourself recover and watch some rubbish daytime TV.
  • Then pick yourself up and focus on what you really want to do with your life from now on. Do you want another job or do you want to do something different?
  • Check if you have redundancy cover included in any of your insurance policies [say to cover your mortgage]
  • Find out what grants or training might be available to you. You should be eligible for help and advice which will make the journey of setting up on your own a lot smoother.
    In the UK, Business link have a great selection of useful information about starting up in business here
  • Take stock of your creative talents and what you love doing.
  • Start planning your creative dream business

So when the boss calls you in to the office at that odd time of the morning its not the end, its the beginning of something new and exciting. Embrace the fear and jump. You might look back in 5 years and realise that this was a wonderful pivotal moment in your life.

Ps I was last made redundant in the Dot Com crash in 2001, have worked for myself ever since and would never ever go back. Plus I’m still friends with my old boss too. Result

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10 Crucial Reasons Why Every Artist Needs Their Own Hub Website

Painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, crafters, photographers, designers, illustrators…the internet is a mass of opportunities for artists and creative folk to sell artwork and creativity online.

There are so many great sites where you can upload your art and sell it, either direct online or as part of a print-on-demand service, where a copy of your original artwork is printed as a high quality Giclée at the size and format requested by the purchaser.

Sites like Redbubble, Zazzle, Etsy, & iStock all allow you to spread the word about your work. Your creativity can be winging its way to a buyer on the other side of the world. Networking sites like Flickr, & Twitter & Facebook allow you to connect and build contacts, discussing, sharing and collaborating with like minded people everywhere.

So why on earth would you bother setting up your own website when all these great free services are available?…

When I speak to artists setting up creative businesses on the web, I always recommend that you set up a central hub website which sits at the very centre of everything you do online and is linked to all the other free sites you use.

Your hub website is your portfolio and the central connecting point around which all your other free website presences rotate. It is the sun whilst your other free web presences are the planets in orbit around it. It is your home at the centre of your little online solar system and the focus of all your efforts. It pulls all the other elements of your online world together rather than letting them spin off into space.

There are lots of very good reasons for setting up your own hub artists website. Here are just 10 of them:

  • Professionalism

    Owning your own hub website looks more professional. You can control every aspect of it and ensure that it looks exactly how you want it to look. You aren’t reliant on someone else’s template designs or constrained by their rules. Great when you are a control freak like me.

  • Build your own brand

    You can use the design of your site to build a personal brand around yourself and your work, which makes you more recognisable online and makes your work more likely to sell.

  • Customise your domain

    You can register and use your own domain name [i.e. www.yourname.com] and have a custom email address related to that too. No more hotmail addresses or hard to remember emails.

  • Stand out in the crowd

    Your hub website only features a gallery of YOUR work so you won’t get lost amongst zillions of other artists, a big problem on large showcase or shop sites. Having your own site can help you stand out in the crowd.

  • Focus

    Having your own hub website gives you a FOCUS for all your marketing and search engine optimisation efforts. You can drive traffic to your own website more successfully than to a collection of satellite sites. This central site then links to all the other sites you use but you only have to focus your promotion efforts on your hub website. Your promotion efforts, focussed on this one site, will build up over time to great results.

  • Build your list of people who love your work

    You can build your own mailing list of people who are all interested in your work and ready to buy it when you release a new piece. This is a great way to steadily build interest in what you do. This list is yours to keep and build.

  • Freedom

    If you decide to stop selling or showing your work on a satellite website you can easily do so and you won’t lose your client list or the advantage of all the promotion you have done. It will all still point to your hub website. You are free to change shops or galleries as often as you like with no problems.

  • Offline opportunities

    You can concentrate on promoting the site offline. If you get promotional items printed up advertising your site and work, you need to make sure the web address you are printing is going to stay the same over time. With your own website and custom domain name you can keep on promoting your work in the real world, at exhibitions and art fairs. This way you can capture sales after the event has finished too.

  • No commission

    You don’t pay commission. Anything you sell through your own site is commission free. [Although you will have to pay a small fee to the company who handles your payments i.e. Paypal].

  • Endless possibilities

    You can keep adding satellite websites to your little solar system and increasing the traffic to your hub website to increase your chance of sales. You aren’t tied to any one satellite site.

Setting up your own website may take a little more time and organisation but if you are serious about selling artwork online or setting up a creative business it is a crucial step that will pay dividends in the long run.

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