How Email Marketing Works


    This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's downtown San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office which he shares with his two feline assistants Kiara and Lilly. You can connect with Clint on TwitterFacebook or his personal blog at




    An overview of how email marketing works. Consider this an "Email Marketing 101" guide. I will be delving further into each of the topics presented below in future posts.


    The goal of email marketing is to build an engaged audience of fans. Preferably true fans. The original author of the concept of "True fans" hypothesized that you need 1,000 true fans to build a solid career. I think for visual artists that number is probably lower, perhaps much lower. But the concept is exactly the same. To build true fans you need to build a relationship and trust with them. And one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is with email marketing.


    The core asset of an email marketing strategy is a clean, up-to-date, list of email subscribers. An email subscriber is someone who wants to hear from you and has given you permission to send them information about you, your art and your career via email.


    How do people get on your subscriber list? Typically it happens when they meet you in person (and building a list will require some real world activity), or hear about you from a friend or colleague, or perhaps find you in an online venue of some type. No matter how they initially learn about your art, the ones likely to become fans see something in your art and become interested in you. At this point your main goal is to encourage them to "Join your insiders mailing list."


    Your marketing plan should be roughly a three-step process: 1. You encourage people who are "kinda interested" to join your insiders mailing list. 2. You communicate regularly with those people to build interest, a relationship and trust. 3. You encourage them, now fans, to take the next step (attend a show, purchase a piece, etc)


    The mechanics of adding them to your list looks like this: It's typically done in person by asking them verbally if they'd like to be on your list (do this more often!), or on your website through a "Join VIP list" link. You can also obtain permission via a personal email to them asking if they'd like to be on your regular updates list. One often overlooked source is past buyers. You should be encouraging every past buyer to be on your mailing list. I've acquired dozens and dozens of pieces of art and none of those artists have invited me to join their list. Mistake.


    Anyway, no matter how they they subscribe, you now have permission to send commercial email to them. That's why an email list is called a permission based asset.


    On a regular schedule, you now send personal, timely and relevant emails to these people. AKA, email "newsletters." Over time, these regular emails (and your personal responses to anyone who replies) help you build a relationship and trust with your audience.


    Building a relationship and trust gets to the heart of real branding. Remember, branding is the only power artists have. And true branding takes lots and lots of positive interactions between you and your audience so don't get discouraged and stop sending on your regular cadence.


    There are two basic types of email marketing - email newsletters or broadcast email. And autoresponders. We'll cover autoresponders at a future time. For most artists, it's more effective and more common to focus on broadcast email or "newsletters." (Autoresponders work better for people selling information products).


    Don't let the word "newsletter" trip you up. It's not really a "newsletter." It's a personal email, from you, about one subject. Let me repeat that. Every broadcast email AKA "newsletter" you send needs to be focused, about one topic, it needs to be engaging and should have one, and only one call to action


    A "call to action" is the action you want your subscriber to take when they receive your email. Don't make all your calls to action "buy my art." Sometimes a call to action might be just requesting they reply with their thoughts. Examples of a calls to action include the following: view my art, purchase this piece, register for my workshop, view pieces in upcoming exhibit, RSVP for studio tour, etc.


    It's important to use an email service provider to avoid spam folders, to automate subscribe and unsubscribe, to gain access to stats, to be compliant with commercial email laws. Email service providers include Mailchimp, Convertkit and yes, our own ArtfulMail.


    As you continue to do this. And as people respond to your calls to action, they become bigger fans, meet you in real life, take your workshops, or purchase your art.


    Do this on a regular cadence and, over time, you will build out an audience of true fans. And it will be one of the best things you've ever done for your art career.


    Have I missed anything?  Are their strategies for email marketing that I haven't covered that have worked for you?  I'd love to know.  


    Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.





    Clint Watson

    BoldBrush/FASO Founder & Art Fanatic




    Editor's Note:  

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    Related Posts:

    Email Newsletters - The Best Kept Secret for Growing Your Base of Collectors

    Isn't Email Marketing Just Sending Newsletters?

    What is Email Marketing

    Your Hidden Email Subscriber List