Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Best Way to Sell Art Online

According to the latest from the marketing gurus, a consistent, engaging e-newsletter is best way to build your customer base and make online sales.

"Properly utilizing an email list to have meaningful conversations with your followers is currently the most powerful online marketing strategy artists can pursue." ~Clint Watson

I am happy that my website provider (Fine Art Studio Online) provides me with a built in, professionally designed newsletter that I can send to up to 1000 subscribers. I send out my
 newsletter once a month, and occasionally more frequently if I have a special event to promote.

Since studies have shown that a well written, engaging e-newsletter is THE best way to make sales, you'll want to create a  newsletter that is personal, newsy and showcases a few art pieces – and, perhaps counter-intuitively – doesn’t try to “sell.” You want to keep your collectors (and potential collectors) engaged, intrigued and informed.

How does this convert to sales?  People are more likely to buy from a trusted source – someone they feel they know and to whom they feel a connection. Your newsletter is your ticket into the hearts and homes of people interested in your art – and you. 

A few don’ts, before I get to the do’s of your newsletter. 

1. Don’t use your newsletter as a platform for whining (Please buy my art. Please, please please! I need the money. It's so hard to sell art. I’m depressed.) 
2. Don’t use it to spout off your political views (unless that is a part of your art…) 
3. Don't write a book.  Most people just skim.
4. Don't just write an email and send it out using your email program (ie. Outlook) - you might get marked as a spammer, and besides, you will look like an amateur.

The do’s are so much better!   

1. Do write about your personal process – do you use unusual materials, paint blindfolded, sing while you create? 
2. Do write about what motivates you. Write about what inspires you. Give us a glimpse into your heart and soul. 
3. Do share your successes, and don’t be afraid to share the work of another artist if you think your readers would be interested.
4. Do keep the newsletter short – create a link to your blog/website if you want to write something more in-depth.
5. Do showcase your artwork – but don’t put prices in your newsletter. Create a link to the image on your website or your gallery’s website.  (That also allows you to see how many people have clicked that link, which helps you determine interest in a particular piece).
6. Do be consistent! And let people who sign up for your newsletter know what to expect – how often, what type of content, etc. 
7. If your website host doesn't provide a newsletter platform, use an opt-in template emailing program such as Mail Chimp or one of these

So… you’re ready to write your first newsletter...

How do you get people to sign up? 

1. Start with friends and family. 
2. If you do Holiday shows, create a sign up to capture emails (always helps to have a giveaway).
3. Have a newsletter sign up button on your home page and on your Facebook (business) page. 
4. Create a Facebook ad to get more people to sign up for your newsletter.
5. Whenever you meet someone who is interested in your art, ask if you can send them updates on new paintings – via your newsletter. 
 6. Include buttons on your newsletter to make it easy for your readers to forward it to friends and share on social media. 

Kate Dardine is a professional artist and has been helping artists and photographers with their printing and marketing needs for over 25 years. She invites you to sign up for her monthly newsletter here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

10 of the Best in Conservation Photography, part one

by Mark Lukes, President, Fine Print Imaging

Ok, normally when I discuss conservation photographers, gender is rarely a factor. You either devote your energy to making a difference or you don't.  And certainly all 10 of these photographers are absolutely, unequivocally, completely dedicated to conservation. What's special about these photographers is that they all have been selected to become members of the prestigious and purpose driven International League of Conservation Photographers - The iLCP. And they all also just happen to be Women.

I've had the honor of working with each of these photographers, and it'd be hard to find a more talented group of individuals. I had hoped to tell you about all 10 of these photographers in this blog but quickly learned  that I would need pages and pages to do so.  So I'll start simple - with just a few of these unique and amazing conservation warriors. More to come later.

Cristina Mittermeier

Drive, determination and passion all describe Cristina Mittermeier, the visionary founder and former President of the iLCP, "a consortium of some of the best photographers on the planet who are actively working for conservation. As an active North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) member, Cristina began pushing for the organization to take on a stronger conservation stance. While she made amazing progress in a short period of time, she also knew the planet did not have time for casual discourse. It needed a champion who would work tirelessly to coalesce the talents of the world's top world’s top wildlife, nature and culture photographers.

 In 2005, Cristina accomplished her goal - the iLCP was born. For the next 7 years, she worked tirelessly to shape the iLCP into the unquestioned leader in the world of conservation photography.  While her imprint on the iLCP will be everlasting, Cristina now heads the newly founded organization Sea Legacy, whose mission is to use the power of photography to promote the protection of our oceans.

If you've never heard Cristina speak, you are missing out on one of the top story tellers of our time. Check out her Ted Talk in Vail, CO here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw8U5LXaItM .  To learn more about this iconic figure in the world of conservation photography, go to http://www.cristinamittermeier.com

Alison Jones

Drive, determination and passion all describe Alison Jones... OK, OK... I know I just said that about Cristina. Better get used to it because all 10 of these conservation photographers can be introduced with the very same words. Well, Alison has spent the last 30+ years of her life pursuing her career in photography, and from the very beginning, has been a role model for conservation photographers.

She has traveled the entire African continent with her camera.  In 1985 while in Kenya she started documenting protected areas, wildlife and community development. In 1999 Alison, helped the start-up of Kenya's Mara Conservancy. http://maratriangle.org/.   In 2005 she wrote a Proposed Management Plan for Ethiopia's Necessary National Park based on the Mara Conservancy.

In 2007, Alison created No Water - No Life, a non-profit that is focused on what I consider to be one of the most critical issues facing our planet. This nonprofit combines the powers of photography and science to raise public awareness of global freshwater issues. "Alison's documentation for NWNL covers the values, degradation and management of 6 case-study watersheds: Africa's Nile, Omo and Mara River Basins and North Americas Columbia, Mississippi and Raritan River Basins. NWNL products include an in-depth website, lectures, videos, exhibits, social media and print publications."

Add to all of this that Alison is a fun-loving, larger than life human being, and you have someone that you've just gotta meet someday. You don't need to wait; you can meet her online: http://www.alisonjonesphoto.com/.

Next Blog we meet Jenny Ross and Amy Gulick

Monday, May 9, 2016

All That Glitters is Not Gold...Sometime's it's Silver!

by Kate Dardine

We’ve always referred to each other as “family” -  maybe that is why we just celebrated two 25 year anniversaries:  both Mike Roberts (production manager) and Patricia James (color technician) marked their silver anniversaries with Fine Print this past April.  Aside from owners Mark Lukes and Linda Helm, I am officially the “oldest” Fine Print employee – I passed my 25 year mile marker in 2014.  Other contenders for extreme longevity are Mary Hills (24), Tonya Aspegren (15) and Jerry Hummel (18).

In an age where staying at a job longer than five years is virtually unheard of, what is it about Fine Print that creates an atmosphere where employees want to stay?  In a nutshell (and sometimes he IS a nut), founder, owner and president of Fine Print, Mark Lukes and his partner in love and business, Linda Helm.  Together, they have nurtured a business culture of independence, cooperation, dedication, fun, honesty, caring, environmental stewardship and compassion.  Mark and Linda lead by example, are always there for their employees, demand excellence and forgive mistakes.  All the ingredients needed to make their staff feel proud and appreciated for the work we do. 

Although they have different roles at Fine Print, Patricia and Mike have some things in common.  Both got married within a month of working at Fine Print.  (Both are still married – to the same people!). Both had children who were born and grew up in that 25 years – Patricia’s son David graduated from college 2 years ago, and Mike’s 3 are all in college now, with one graduating this Spring.  Both are still doing the job they hired on for, although how they do their job has changed dramatically. Both are willing to pitch in and do whatever needs to be done to help the business and our customers.

Yes, 25 years is a long time… In 1991, digital imaging wasn’t even a blip on our computer screens; in fact, we had only just gotten our first computers in 1989. At that time, all of our printing was done in the darkroom,  using negative film and enlargers to create prints on photographic paper.  We had three full-time “spotters” (they used photographic dyes to fill in the tiny white spots on prints that were caused by dust on the negatives).  We didn’t do “single” prints; customers had to buy in quantities of the same image/size:  20-5x7s, 10-8x10s, 5-16x20s… Instead of entering packages into a computer system for tracking, everything was handwritten into logbooks. Nobody had a cell phone. Our newest piece of office equipment was the cutting edge fax machine!

Through all the changes in technology, the changing economy and  the changing “face” of our customer base, one thing has remained constant – Mike and Patricia’s dedication to getting the best prints possible to the best customer in the world – YOU!

 Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 25 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints. Need one on one advice?  Call 970-484-9650 or email info@fineprintimaging.com to learn about our marketing consultation service