The two things you need to grow an email list for your art business

Most artists fall into the same vicious circle when they try to sell there art online:

  1. Post there work online announcing, “I have a new *PRODUCT* in the shop, go check it out!”
  2. No one buys anything.
  3. You come to the conclusion it’s impossible to sell your art online.


Maybe your art sales online seem sporadic. Leaving you unsure of when they’ll happen again.

Regardless, it can feel like you’re hitting a wall with art sales.

Leaving you stuck trying to figure out how to consistently make measurable art sales.

Shifting away from social media

When you change your focus from trying to grow your social media following and focus on growing your email list you’ll start selling your art consistently.

Here’s some quick numbers to illustrate this point:

SOCIAL MEDIA: Expect 3-5% of your followers to see your new content.

EMAIL LIST: Expect 40-50% of your followers to see your new content.

Once you’ve grown an email list, any time you have a new art product, something to offer your collectors, or a new service – all you have to do is send an email.

  • No waiting around to be discovered on social media.
  • No crazy pitches.

Just an email.

That is the power of building a list.

So how do you start building your list?

Building an email list is straightforward. You need two key ingredients:

  1. Thing #1: Traffic (people visiting your art website)
  2. Thing #2: Conversions (visitors to your art website joining your newsletter)

Let’s talk about Thing #1: Traffic.

“What is the secret to driving traffic to your art website?”

This is actually a pretty complicated question, so I want to dig deep into it.

A lot of people will tell you:

  • “You need to do SEO.”
  • “You need to do advertising.”
  • “You need to get on social media.”

It’s important to remember there are different stages in your art business.

In each one of those stages, you can focus on different strategies and tactics.

But you don’t need to overcomplicate things in the beginning.

At different stages of your business, you can try different things, moving from beginner to more advanced later on. But you can’t do it all upfront.

For example, PPC, or “pay per click,” refers to paid advertising.

You’ve probably seen these types of ads on Google, Facebook, and Twitter. PPC is great for more advanced businesses because when you get it working, it’s very scalable and provides a predictable ROI.

For every dollar you put in, you might make two dollars, three dollars or even four dollars. It can be a really powerful tool to help your art business grow.

But the downside is that you need to know your numbers. You need to know what your LTV, or lifetime value, is for every art collector. You need to know your conversion numbers.

For example, I know for every 100 affordable prints I sell (< $500 USD), 6 of those collectors are going to later buy a much more expensive offerings again and again. They’ll become a collector for life.

To really do PPC right, it also takes a lot of analytics. Most people hire other people to handle this for them.

That’s why I recommend that you DON’T start with PPC ads. You should really wait to do this because you can get free traffic in the early stages of growth.

Here’s another advanced online business topic: SEO or “Search engine optimization.”

SEO is when you type something into Google, results come up, you click, and you’re like, “Yes! This is exactly what I wanted.”

That’s an example of good SEO in action. This tool can be incredibly powerful for your online business.

Anytime that you generate leads or get traffic to your art website from SEO, you’re getting really high-quality people coming to your site with what’s called “search intent.” All that means, in a nutshell, is that the person was searching for what you have to offer.

The problem with SEO is that it takes a lot of work and time to start seeing results. It’s also not directly in your control where you rank.

Google might change their policies or how they rank certain key terms. It also takes time for your site and posts to rank really well.

The best recommendation I have for you on SEO is to write authentically about you and your work on your art website and blog.

And in fact, you can get a ton of traffic from Google, even if you don’t look at keywords, title tags, or any other advanced stuff that other people will tell you to do.

The reason it works is because people will click on the posts they care about, and if they find what they read interesting, they’ll come back.

The best way to get traffic to your art website is to get featured, create guest posts, and/or get interviewed.

Getting in front of the already established audiences of others is the most effective way you can start getting FREE traffic to your site right now.

Getting featured in front of the right audience tomorrow could mean hundreds or thousands of people on your email list this week.

It doesn’t cost you money like PPC. It doesn’t require you to know your conversion numbers, like paid advertising does.

It’s actually really straightforward.

Getting in front of the already established audience of others just involves you going to sites that have more traffic than you do and saying:

  • “Hey, I have something that I think your readers would find interesting.”
  • “Can I do a guest post for you?”
  • “Would you like to set-up a quick interview?” or “I see you feature _____, will you feature my work?”

To this day, I still get traffic from small features and quick write-ups I had on sites from over 7 years ago.

So how does it work?

First of all, you don’t need to go directly to top notch blog and publications in the beginning. That’s really important. Don’t go find the biggest publication or blogger on the planet and pitch them. It doesn’t make any sense, and you don’t have the credibility just yet.

You start off small, finding people who are one level above you, and you say, “Hey, I noticed that you have an audience that’s interested in this topic. I think that your readers will probably find my work interesting.”

Then based on the type of content they publish (interviews, guest posts, features, etc…) Ask to be a part of it.

Most blog owners and publications would love to feature you and your work.

You’re making their job of creating compelling content for their audiences easier by offering up you and your work.

As you get good at this, you’ll be able to leverage this domino effect of reaching out to higher and higher audiences.

For example you could say, “Hi Blogger #2, Nice to meet you. I did an interview with Blogger #1. Their audience loved it! Do you think we could do an interview?”

Then, you could do this again and again, and again.

You’ll keep moving up the chain, and, soon enough, you’ll be on massive sites.

Once you’ve started getting traffic to your art website, you need to get them to sign-up for your email list.

Here’s where Thing #2: Conversions comes into play…

Let’s talk about Thing #2: Conversions


Thing one was all about getting Traffic to your art website.

Now you need to get your website visitors to actually sign-up for your art newsletter.

Which involves using what’s called – a lead magnet

Your lead magnet is a compelling reason for website visitors to signup for your mailing list.

This compelling reason is called your lead magnet.

A lead magnet is something you offer for free to compel the visitors to your art website to sign up for your email art newsletter.

Understand that asking and getting a stranger’s email address is a transaction.

You have to offer something of interest in return for their email address. Preferably something related to you and your art.

If what you offer is something people want and it seems to be worth going through the hassle (typing the email address, worrying about spam, etc…), you’ll gain a new email address to your art newsletter.

The speed of growing your art newsletter subscribers depends on your lead magnet.

Yes, the look, location on your site, and usability of the email optin form all matter – but the actual lead magnet itself is what ultimately get’s people to sign-up for your art newsletter.

The higher perceived value of this, the more email subscribers you’ll get.

Why should you create a lead magnet?

Even if someone comes to your website for the first time and LOVES your work. The chances of them ever coming back on their own is SLIM.

This has nothing to do with you or your art. It’s just how people behave online.

People have to be reminded and stay in the loop about you and your art. The most effective way for staying on the radar of your interested fans is with your email art newsletter.

Even if someone follows you on social media, the chances of them seeing your new content and updates is low. On social media you can expect 3-5% of your followers to see your new content.

On your email art newsletter, you can expect 40–60%+ of your subscribers to see your new content.

It takes time to build trust, instill confidence, and build a relationship with your fans before they decide to buy. Engaging with your mailing list establishes a relationship. A relationship based on consistent content surrounding you and your art.

This is the long game of sharing your ongoing creative story.

Having an attractive lead magnet will dramatically accelerate your email list building.

Here’s my best performing lead magnet:

I’m offering a simple two minute video of me drawing a raven. That’s it. As soon as someone signs up, they’re taken to a simple thank you page on my website with the video.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend creating a 12-21 page downloadable PDF art book of your art.

This doesn’t have to be anything epic. Just a written intro, bio, and single image on each page will work. You can easily create this for free using Google Docs.

Downloadable PDFs are great lead magnets because they’re as tangible as you can get in the digital world. They’re a digital “thing” or “item”.

Other ideas could include a PDF of any of the following:

  • Who and what inspires you.
  • 3 of your most interesting blog posts (with images)
  • An illustrated story or comic (if this aligns to your work)

Creating a compelling lead magnet will be worth your initial investment of time in the long run if it means growing an audience of fans.

Remember, you’re putting in the hard work of getting traffic to your art website by doing the following three things:

  1. Getting featured on a relevant blog, website, or online publication.
  2. Getting interviewed
  3. Guest posting

So you want to make sure your lead magnet is interesting, compelling, and most importantly – related to your art.

You don’t want your lead magnet to be attractive to everyone, just your ideal collectors.

Sure, you could give away free iPads all you want, but how many of the people interested in those would be interested in actually buying your art later? Lead quality is very important and you only want to focus on your target audience.

Making a lead magnet that’s ultra-specific and aligned with what you’re ultimately selling (your art) is the best way to grow a highly engaged audience for your art business.

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