Engaging with your audience

An effective email strategy is critical for selling your art online. But with the common perception that “email marketing” is spam, a strong email engagement strategy is now ever more important.

But instead of talking about email marketing tactics, I would like to take you back to basic human psychology.

Let’s start with what we know is true about people.

Giving and reciprocity

A lot of artists get stuck in the social media trap of posting links such as, “Click here to check out my store.”

This approach inevitably burns out your audience and results in lower revenue.

Remember this:

No one can buy something from you every single week

Because your audience knows they can’t afford to buy another print, original, book, or postcard from you, they naturally learn to ignore your emails and social media content.

Instead, let’s look toward the model I have adopted successfully.

The experience model

Your audience is looking for a behind-the-scenes glimpse – an experience. They are seeking authenticity, depth, and connection. Just the act of buying something cannot meet these expectations. But experience can.

An artist who can speak to their audience and share their work in a compelling way, can create revenue from their work.

This means sharing not just finished work, but the ENTIRE process.

Recently, a friend of mine reveled a new video he and a buddy directed. It was a great 2-3 minute film. They traveled to a lot of interesting locations to get some cinematic shots of nature. Here’s the thing — I had no idea they were even making a film. When they revealed the film, I watched it and that was it.

There wasn’t any build up or “sharing” of the creative process for the past few months they were working on the film. In fact, no one heard anything from them for those three months. Just silence.

You have to keep sharing the process.

Don’t over complicate this. Simply share insights into what you’re working on in a consistent way. Building up to a moment where you ask for a sale or reveal a finished work.

The experience model is built around content. Content that authentically engages with your audience. Content that not only makes your audience open your emails, but urges them to tell others about what you’re doing.

But what about sales? How are you going to stay in business.

To make your art business work, you have to be in sight 24/7. At least in people weekly cycle. A level of engagement that can only be fulfilled with content.

In contrast to the constant “product only” or “final reveals” that are rarely opened and unsustainable. “Content first” emails are opened often and are highly sustainable.

By simply adding a blog and including 1-3 pieces of its compelling content (sketchbook pages, articles about your inspirations, interesting podcasts, free downloads, etc…) to your weekly emails, you have given an awesome (and sustainable) reason to open your emails every single day.

Can you add products to sell too? Sure. But only after you’ve given them a great experience.

As a result, when it comes time to buy a product you have also instilled the psychological trigger of reciprocity.

A part of our psychology that says: if your audience has been given an interesting experience at no cost, they’ll feel indebted to repay you through the purchasing of goods and/or sharing of your new content.

Not a bad deal right?

Here’s the big question? How can you share, entertain, and authentically engage with your audience?

What kind of content do you need to develop?

If you only have the the stamina to produce one piece of high quality, compelling content per week, then you should only be sending one email per week. If the content quality drops, so will your engagement with your audience.