How Artists Can Leverage a Contact List to Get Results

Artwork Archive | July 14, 2015 (Updated April 12, 2021)

You’ve been a networking superstar. You’ve amassed a tower of business cards and a notebook of emails of people who love your work. You’ve added them to your contact list. Now what?

Don’t just collect contacts, use them to grow your art business! The more times that interested buyers and contacts see your art and get to know you as a person, the more inclined they will be to purchase your work or partner with you.

So, what are you waiting for? Here are six ways to put your contact list to good use today:

1. Keep Track of Your List

Your contacts are gold, so treat them accordingly. Much like any precious material, your contacts are no good if you don’t keep track of them. Every time you meet someone that loves your art make sure to get their full name, email address, and phone number. Ask for their mailing address if you think they’re a snail mail candidate - see tip #5.

Make notes on where you met the person - e.g. an art fair or a gallery show - and any other important details about them. This could include a specific piece they are interested in or a request they had for more information. Providing context for a contact will help you to foster a relationship with them in the future.

Now that you have the information, treasure it. Put it in an easy to use contact tracking system like Artwork Archive, not on an easy to lose sticky note.

2. Send a “Nice to Meet You” Follow Up Every Time

Every time you meet someone who’s interested in your art, send them a follow up email. It doesn’t matter if you met them at an art festival or at a party where they looked at your art on a smart phone. People who love your art are worth building a relationship with. The more they get to know you and your work, the more likely they will want to support you and buy your art.

Follow up with them via email within 24 hours of the meeting. Say “nice to meet you,” and thank them for their interest in your work. If you didn’t ask them in person, ask if they’d like to be part of your mailing list. If not, see tip #3.

3. Check in with Personal Emails

Build personal connections with your most avid admirers by sending them a quick email note every so often. It keeps you top of mind so you won’t be forgotten. These notes can include upcoming show announcements, studio visit invitations, and new pieces you think they’d like. Remember not to overwhelm them -- “quality over quantity” is a good motto. Above all, be sure to concentrate on the person and create a real connection.

4. Share Your World Via Email Newsletter

Newsletters are an excellent way to keep your admirers and past customers in the loop about you and your work. You’re emailing people who have asked to be there or have shown interest in your work, so they are a friendly audience. You can send out your newsletter every week, twice a month, once a month -- whatever you think is a reasonable commitment while maintaining quality content.

Make sure to give your recipients a window into your world as an artist, not just business info such as sales and signups. Share your personal art achievements, inspiration, and images of works in progress. Seeing works in progress creates a more intimate connection with the final piece. Notify them first about gallery openings with your work, new pieces, exclusive prints, and commission opportunities. Make your contacts feel special.

5. Surprise Top Contacts with Snail Mail

In our email-heavy world, it’s a nice surprise to get a personal card in the mail. What’s more, it can’t be considered “spam” and won’t be deleted. Pull this trick out for your top contacts like key prospects, strong supporters, and collectors. Send a card with your artwork on the cover to remind them who you are and show off new work!

Writing cards is more time consuming than email, so be selective and only mail them out three to four times a year. It’s good to send a “nice to meet you” card straight after meeting someone who showed great interest in your art. Make a point to listen to what people talk about so your note is thoughtful and genuine. And, keep a file so you can acknowledge special events in the lives of your top contacts. You can also consider sending a discount certificate or an offer of a free sketch with their next purchase.

6. End Emails With a Soft Sell

While it’s important to foster a personal connection with your contacts, you don’t want to forget to boost your business at the same time. Consider finishing off your emails with a “thank you” and then direct them back to an online venue where they can view more of your art.

All you need is something like: “Want to see more of my work, check out my Artwork Archive Public Profile here.” This can go at the bottom of your newsletter and on personal follow up emails when appropriate. Driving potential buyers back to your art leads to more exposure. And more people viewing your art is always a good thing!

Looking for more ideas to impress your contact list? Check out 9 Artist Newsletter Ideas to Delight and Excite Your Fans.

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