Your Biggest Art Marketing Mistake

by Carolyn Edlund

Has this happened to you?




You’ve met people who absolutely love your artwork. It might be at an exhibit or a fair, or perhaps at a social event when you share an image of your art on your smartphone. They rave about your art, showing lots of interest, and you tell them you will stay in touch. They hand you a business card, or write down their name, email and phone number.

But you never got back to them. The opportunity was lost.

You meant to do it, but either you weren’t organized, or you didn’t know what to say, or didn’t have enough time. You end up with stacks of cards. Or you have lists of people who want to see more of your work, but you haven’t taken any action. You never followed up with all those interested people who could be converted into customers.

Perhaps you have an art website, which took a lot of time to put together. You want people to visit, and you might be putting in hours on social media to promote it. But, you don’t know who likes your work or wants to see more unless someone fills out your contact form, which is rare. You don’t have a method of collecting names of visitors for your mailing list. Or if you do, you haven’t contacted them.

All the effort you put into sharing your art has been wasted unless you choose to take further action. You must put a system into place to collect names of people who like your art, and want to know more. Then, reach out to them over and over again, because one contact isn’t enough to make art sales. Over time people get to know you, and learn your story. They see your work, feel that they know you and gain a comfortable level that can lead to making purchases.




Contacting your list is best accomplished through email marketing. It’s the most effective method you can use to reach out to collectors who have shown an interest. It’s far more effective than social media alone. And it puts you in control of your message and when you send it. You have permission to contact them; they want to hear from you. They are your prospective buyers, and as a business person, you are taking the next logical step to turn them into your newest art collectors.

Email marketing is an incredible way to drive repeat sales of artwork, too. Once you have sold a piece of work to a customer, it’s much easier to sell something else to that same person than it is to start out “cold” again.

A regular campaign of email marketing (once a month) reaches out to all of those people who indicated that they want to hear from you, as well as existing customers. This method of communication is low-stress, because you have a “friendly” audience. Introduce them to your portfolio, talk about upcoming events, and show new artwork you’ve created. If they don’t want to stay on the list, they simply unsubscribe. They can also forward your messages to friends and others who may buy from you. Watch as your list grows and you reach more people every month.

If you haven’t gotten started yet with an email marketing program, don’t worry. You can still reach out to old lists you have, and you can always begin collecting names of new people who want to find out more about your work. Start where you are now.

Email marketing campaigns are used by businesses around the world to drive billions of dollars in sales, because it works. You can take advantage of this, too. Email marketing doesn’t have to be a mystery. Templates are available to brand your messages, and let you share your personality, images of your art, and what makes each piece very special.

As a business consultant for artists, I work with people every day who want to know how they can market and sell more of their art. Email marketing is so important that I mention it in every strategy session.


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  1. Hello, i am Evi a visual artist from Cyprus. I would like to know more about art marketing and tips on promoting your work. Thanks

  2. Selling one’s art is a work in progress. Doing the basics matter. See my Tools 4 Artists on Lori McNee’s fine Art tips.
    Staying in touch with people ,the old fashioned snail mail way has worked well for me.
    I use social media in combination with USPS. Half of an artist’s time is making the art , the other half getting it seen and sold.

    • Bob, I agree that using direct mail can be a good strategy in a world where everyone seems to be getting tons of email but not so much in the way of snail mail.

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