Stop the Pop


    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 San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office. You can connect with Clint on TwitterFacebook or his personal blog at


    While we're all sequestered in our homes, we're all facing the potential for lost or wasted time.  So let's ask ourselves: How can we use this time to get better? How can we be of service and use?   I know, without a doubt that great art is being created around the world at this very moment.  Perhaps by you!  Our entire team is focused 100% on whatever we can do to help you market and sell more art.  With that in mind, we're focusing FineArtViews on sales and marketing ideas more than ever before.  The following article was selected from our archives as it seems quite timely in the current situation and provides ideas we think you can use to improve your own art marketing.




    Newsletter signup popups are a contentious subject. Nobody seems to like them, yet everyone seems to use them. Marketing "experts" constantly recommend them.

    If you're reading this post, you likely think that I occasionally have a few good ideas when it comes to art marketing, so I'm going to share with you my thoughts around popups.

    Personally, I think they are a bad idea.  This post explains why I feel that way. Should you disagree with my thinking then, by all means, feel free to add a popup to your email marketing strategy.

    First Impressions Matter

    Imagine this:  You walk into a high end art gallery.  You've heard about this great art in this gallery from a few friends.  Excited, you walk in and your breath is taken away by the first wall of paintings you see.  You approach the wall for a closer look, and, just as you're getting interested, a gallery associate appears between you and the painting and says:

    "Hi Art Lover!  Wouldn't you like to be notified weekly of great new art we have?  Become part of our gallery community.  Just fill out your name and email address here!  Or, if you don't care about art, I'll leave you alone."

    And then he just stands there waiting.  Oh, yeah, there's a little tiny "x" above his head.  If you press it, he'll leave you alone.

    Now why were you at this gallery again?  I don't remember either, the nerve of that guy, right?

    Yet, that's exactly what you're doing to your website visitors when you implement an email popup.

    Think I'm exaggerating?

    Let me show you an example from a site I sometimes read about tech, management and investing.

    Last time I was on the site, while learning valuable information in one of their articles, they unexpectedly popped up the following screen:



    They went to all the trouble to develop a good reputation for great information.  I am a regular visitor of the site.  I go there specifically to learn.  And they have the nerve to insult me with a "No thanks, I don't want to learn more" link to dismiss the pop-up form.  Just because I'm not ready to provide my email address.

    Selling Art is Not Like Selling Information Products

    In the example above, while I didn't like the popup, or being insulted, I can see, how, in some instances, when utilized carefully, a popup might work when you're selling information.

    Most art coaches sell information, courses, videos, downloads. Those type of products are much more conducive to hitting someone with a popup.

    However, most artists copy this practice (often upon a recommendation from these coaches), and what you end up doing is annoying your very best prospects before they've even seen your art.  


    Coaches recommend popups because it works for them when they sell information.  But most of them have not sold a lot of art so are making a mistake of thinking all marketing is alike.  It's not.  Marketing art is different than marketing other products.  This mistake is what we call the Marketing Guru Myth.

    I recently had an artist email me his new website address. She may have been following recommendations by someone who fell prey to the Marketing Guru Myth because when I went the site to view his art, and this is what I saw:

    This is a sure fire way to turn off collectors and great prospects!

    Not only that, if it happens to be a past collector of your work, you've just angered them too! It very clearly states that the 20% discount is "only for new collectors." I almost can't think of a worse way to market art. If anything, should you choose to offer any discounts, they should be for best customers - your past collectors who have supported you!


    To make matters slightly worse, once you finally get rid of the popup, you have to deal with an annoying cookie banner.

    Don't try to sell art like Amazon sells sneakers and don't try to sell art like art coaches sell courses.

    Art Should Be Inspiring and Make the World a Better Place

    There's a reason art galleries and museums are not designed like Walmarts. 

    Art doesn't exist simply to sell. It's not simply a "product."  Art is an experience.  Art should be inspiring.  In the art world, we should seek to hold ourselves to a higher standard than everyday news sites just scraping by, trying to eek out more page views for dwindling advertising dollars.

    We, in the art world, should strive to make the world better, not worse.  And when we add yet another popup to the internet.  We're making it worse. 

    Popups make your site feel like this:




    Image courtesy of John P. Weiss



    Do You Like Pop-ups? - Remember the Golden Rule

    Let me ask, do you  like popups?

    Most likely, you answered "no."  You find them annoying.  In fact, most people agree that everyone finds them annoying, and a large percentage of people (like me) simply hate them.

    You've heard of the Golden Rule, right?  I believe we should practice it.  As Seth Godin says in professionals push back, "The professional marketer won't help his client produce a spammy campaign filled with tricks and deceptions, because she knows that her career is the sum of her work."

    But, unfortunately, time and time again we're told, even though we all hate them, to implement pop-ups because "they work".  Why aren't the professionals pushing back?

    And this is why we can't have nice things.

    The news gets even worse.  Sometimes, these email pop-ups are impossible to dismiss on a mobile device (or, at least, quite difficult).  And, if you still want to implement one, be aware that Google may punish your site if you're not careful how you implement it.

    But Don't Email Pop-ups Increase Conversions?

    There are tons of sites claiming pop-up signup forms increase newsletter signups.  I am not sure anyone can debate that issue.  But who is signing up?

    When I was in the gallery business, we had to constantly train our salespeople in the art of qualifying people.  At an art opening, you must strive to spend time with the people most serious and most likely to purchase.  It's easy for a salesperson to fall into a routine of talking with the people who most want to talk.  It's easy to sign up the people who are eager to join yet another mailing list.  Or at trade shows, to talk to those people who are walking around grabbing free giveaways.

    However, the serious purchasers, the prospects most likely to buy art, were often more reserved, more difficult to approach.  Those people often needed time and space. But you also had to remain available for that important moment when they did have questions.  When they did want to engage.  The difference between an OK salesperson and a great one wasn't the number of people they signed up.  It was the number of serious and qualified people they engaged with.

    If someone loves your art, they will contact you.  They will stay abreast of what you're doing.  And if they like receiving updates via email, they'll sign up for your mailing list.  I'm all for making your signup obvious and easy.  

    Just don't be the salesperson who gets in your best prospects faces, right when their studying your artwork or reading your latest blog post.  Many of them who actually purchase art (like I do), will hit the back button and leave your site (like I will).  And they'll be left wondering why you didn't let them enjoy your artwork.

    Your best prospects not only will be turned off by a popup, they will be turned on by personal outreach from you. They path onto your email newsletter for your best prospects requires more time and effort than simply slapping a popup on your site.

    As someone who's sold a lot of art, I can share a truth that I know is true:  It's better to have a small, but powerful list of serious prospects.

    A bigger list of non-prospects is just a time, resource and money drain.

    Remember what we discussed when we started talking about email marketing? Focus on quality, not quantity. Popups result when people prioritize quantity.

    So, do email pop-ups increase conversions?  Sure, they convert lots of people who like to sign up for email lists.

    But do they increase your signups of serious potential art purchasers?  And is it really the way you want to treat your potential customers?  Those are the questions to think through before you implement one.

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





    Clint Watson

    BoldBrush/FASO Founder & Art Fanatic


    PS - If you have questions or would like a reply from me, I generally limit my online discussion time to Twitter. Follow me on Twitter and ask questions there if you'd like to be sure I see your question. Here's the link:



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