home resources "The Independent Artist" Issue 6, pg 4

"The Independent Artist"
Issue VI, November 2009

by Connie Mettler, ArtFairCalendar.com, Art FairInsiders.com

Connie Mettler
Top Ten Ideas for Email Newsletter Content
Your art fair schedule
Photos of your latest work
Recent publicity or awards
Discussion of your creative process, how you made the new work, why you made it
Images of the work in progress
Interesting stories about art fairs
Alert them to your next visit in their city
Testimonials from happy customers, photos too
FAQs about your work or lifestyle as an artist
Deals or discounts to move inventory

Not that long ago, websites were novelties. Only the technologically adventurousor the corporately well-endowed--had them. It was kind of a thrill when you found a site you were looking for.
My, how times have changed. Now its frustrating when you cant find someone or something on the Internet. You expect everyone to be online and to find what youre looking for.

Your buyers are just like you. They see your name in a newspaper article or a credit line in a magazine and of course they want to learn more. They see a piece of your work in a gallery or in someones home or they picked up your card at an art fair. They scribble your name on a piece of paper and stick it in a pocket.

Imagine how it feels to be them.

Alone, in front of their glowing monitors and laptops, Googling you with hope in their hearts.
Are you there? Can they find you?
Yes, they can. You have a website.

This is what you have prepared for your visitors:

1. A site that identifies you/and or your product (e.g., Eatonart.com, AndersonPhotoWorks.com, JorgeCaligiuri.com, HerzogArt.com)
2. You have chosen a service to host your website
3. You have built the site and it includes at minimum
- Your business name
- Three to five sentences about your business specialty including key words about that business so the search engines can find you
- Your updated show schedule
- Images of a signature piece of art, your art fair booth, you
- Your contact information

If you have not done the above read no further. Go back and do that today!
For the rest of you, my star pupils, you are ready for the next step!

Part I: Email Your #1 Online Advertising Strategy
You need to be doing email marketingit is your future.
The most important next step is to put your web presence to work by developing your website into a marketing tool. My thesis: no website should be without a method of collecting the email addresses of visitors to the website.

You collect the emails, then you publish. What are you publishing? Email newsletters with your stories and email reminders about your upcoming art fairs.

Why email?

1. Email is an inexpensive way to put your work in front of your customer, no printing or postage costs
2. You get immediate distribution, push the button on your computer and the email lands in your customers inbox
3. Email has worldwide reach
4. Email reaches the customer who has chosen to be on your list and wants to hear from you
5. Email is targeted. You can develop emails for distribution to different segments of your list
6. Email is trackable. You can tell who opened your mail and what they clicked on
7. Email can be automated. You can create email newsletters in advance and schedule them for delivery later
8. Email makes for easy forwarding to your customers friends and art fair buddies
9. Email can keep your business alive during the off season when you are not participating in art fairs

The best reason: the possibility that your customer is visiting your web site is dwarfed by the likelihood that she is checking her email. Right? How often do you check your email? Compare that to how often you go to even your favorite web sites?

Here is an important statistic from a Pew Internet & American Life Project:
69 percent of adults cite email as their primary method of receiving information online.

Conclusion: you need to be doing email marketingit is your future.

Now lets learn how to implement it by collecting email addresses at art fairs and on your website.

Part II: How to Collect Email on your website
Anyone visiting your website is a potential customer. Maybe they simply stumbled upon it while browsing, maybe another link brought them to it, maybe an art fair organizer is trying to get more information about you or your media, maybe a person picked up your card at an art fair, when they had said, Ill be back, or maybe it is a customer looking specifically for your new work.

Just as you would pay attention to any person who enters your booth at an art fair you want to pay the same attention to that browser on your site and encourage them to return or find you again at an art fair. How to do that? Install an email collecting widget on your site. This consists of copying and pasting a small amount of HTML onto your web site.

These email collectors are easy to add to your web site and there are many companies eager to have you install their widgets on your
site. Some are totally free, others start at a low fee and get more expensive as your email list grows. Of course, like any other business, you get what you pay for.
Why are you going to add an email collection widget to your site? To connect with your subscribers by sending them email newsletters (noozles) with news about yourself, your art and your art fairs.

There are many companies who provide an easy to install box that you can put on your website that encourages a visitor to leave their address behind.

Some providers to consider:

1. Feedblitz.com: This site offers free email widgets that you install on your website to convert visitors into subscribers. It is really easy to use. It automatically creates newsletters from your blog/website; sends a newsflash, and enables you to build your own content with their editor. Because it is free when y
ou send out your newsletters there will be ads that Feedblitz has placed there that are relevant to your subject matter. (For a fee you can have these ads removed.)
I use Feedblitz.com (the free service) for people who subscribe to my blog at ArtFairInsiders.com.

2. Aweber.com: Founded in 1998, they create email marketing software to help small businesses automate email follow-up and email newsletter delivery. Their website is easy to navigate and there is a simple two-step process for adding their signup widget. They also offer an autoresponder (a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it) and useful web analytics. It starts out at $19 a month for less than 500 subscribers. This is a very professional looking and classy service.

3. ConstantContact.com: Constant Contact provides a list building tool in the form of a sign up box to be put on your website. Your site visitors can sign up for your email list and their addresses are automatically imported into your Constant Contact account. There is a free 60 day trial then prices start at $15 a month for under 500 subscribers.

I have used ConstantContact.com for ArtFairCalendar.com subscribers since 2004. With over 12,000 subscribers the price has gone up for me but their services have become almost indispensable. My newsletters using Constant Contact are the public face of my business.

Here are some other providers in this business:

Vertical Response
Exact Target

My recommendation: choose one of these services, sign up today, get that widget for subscribers on your web site right away. You dont want to miss another visitor.

You may be saying, why spend the money? I can collect emails myself and send out announcements for my marketing. That is not a good idea. Dont you already have enough to do? Do you really want to be entering email addresses, cleaning your list from bounces, changing addresses and writing announcements on your own?

The advantage of using one of these services is they handle all subscribes, unsubscribes, changes of address, bounces, and offer you easily customizable templates for your announcements that allow you to brand yourself and your message. Many jobs are taken off your shoulders.

What you do best is make art. Spend your time where you will get the best payoff, creating, not on office duties.

Part III: Getting Visitors to Subscribe
Put the sign up box i a highly visible place on your web site, above the fold, rather than as an afterthought at the bottom. If there are several pages to your web site put the box on every page. Put it at the top and bottom of every page!

Make a simple statement such as Sign up Here for Free Updated Information as part of that box.

This may not be necessary, but you can also incentivize your visitors to sign up. Try something like 10% off coupon to be used on next purchase that you will send them when they sign up. (This can be done easily with an autoresponder that they will receive after they sign up.) Or, monthly drawing for all subscribers to receive a free 8 x 10 photo (or earrings, or wallet, or set of greeting cards).

Part IV: Collecting Email Addresses at Art Fairs
If you are participating in art fairs you have a distinct advantage in finding people to add to your email list. Instead of collecting mailing addresses (old school), you should be collecting email addresses. Do not neglect to do this! How many people do you think were in your booth at Gold Coast or the Plaza or Coconut Grove, let alone your neighborhood event?

For years I refused to do this because I wanted visitors to buy now! Dont make this mistake. Hopefully they will buy now and again later. Hang a clipboard in your booth with a sign on it, sign up for our email list and win a free print (mug, ornament, scarf, etc.)

Usually artists take names and addresses only from their buyers. You know there are many more people who are interested but the time is just not right for their purchase, but if they hear from you later, you stand a better chance of converting them into buyers.

This is what we did:

We hung a clipboard with a lined notebook on it from our display (I mean, even remove a piece of art if necessary to make room for it) with an attached pen and a small sign saying sign up for our email list and win a free photo. On the clipboard it would only ask for their name and email address. Nothing more.

At a good show we could collect five to six pages of names and addresses. It was amazing. When we got home I would enter the information into our Constant Contact database. Our list was segmented by states, so if we were in Cleveland doing the Cain Park Arts Festival I would put them on the Ohio list. For St. James Court theyd go on the Kentucky list. Easy.

Since we live in Michigan, our Michigan list was huge. When it was time to show up in Birmingham or Charlevoix I could send the announcement just to those people. But if I was announcing new work it could go to the entire mailing list. This promotional mailing was free! Much less expensive than the postcard mailings we used to do.

Part IV: Start Publishing
The terrific thing about signing up with one of the mailing list companies is that each of them has hundreds of newsletter templates. These templates can easily be customized to match your web site, color palette or style, making it simple to increase your brand awareness.

So far the steps you have taken (choosing an email service, adding its widget to your site, customizing a chosen template and starting the collection of addresses) has taken little time, but now the work begins, writing the noozles. Just remember for artists it is 50% art making and 50% art marketing. Do not neglect the second part!

After you have found an email template you like and customized it to your aesthetics it is time to connect with your subscribers. You might want to write and send a noozle before each art fair. You might want to do a quarterly mailing, or a special sale issue. Tailor your publishing schedule to your needs and remember that each mailing wont cost you a cent!

Part V: Email newsletter content
Many of us are not comfortable as writers. Remember your subscribers are definitely interested in you and your work. They relish being included in the inside details of your creative process. They have chosen to hear from you.

Here are some ideas for content:

1. Your art fair schedule
2. Photos of your latest work
3. Recent publicity or awards
4. Discussion of your creative process, how you made the new work, why you made it
5. Images of the work in progress
6. Interesting stories about art fairs
7. Alert them to your next visit in their city
8. Testimonials from happy customers, photos too
9. FAQs about your work or lifestyle as an artist
10. Deals or discounts to move inventory

Why are you doing all this work? This is not just self-promotion. You are adding value to your product. You are sharing yourself and your life. Youll build a more loyal audience and more of your emails will be opened if you use this kind of soft-sell approach.

Often at fairs you are too busy to really develop good communication with your visitors. Your noozles are a great way to deepen the relationship and build loyalty.

All of this may seem like too much additional work but sales are hard enough to come by these days, why not use every tool available to expose your work to as many people as possible? The investment in time and money is minimal in comparison to the value of showing it to new clients and building relationships with them through enhanced communication. They learn to appreciate you and the uniqueness of your work.


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