I know this is a long post but it is worth reading.
After the Artists Business course I did in March this year I started looking into the marketing side of artists and in general. The most important point that stood out for me was that you must have “constant contact with your audience”.
In both Alyson Stanfield’s class and in the further research I did, email contact stood out as the dominant factor to successfully running an art business or any business for that matter. Email newsletters or e-zines combined with blogging or dynamic web sites where the key to creating a following that would advance ones career. Communicating through email by exhibiting your work, working process, offering services, freebies and helpful information all contributed to audience interest and increased sales.
As artists we love to share and interact through our work however the business of art is far more than that these days. Unfortunately we cannot sit in our studio painting away and not be out there interacting with the people who want to be kept informed. There are millions of artists out there and if we want to strut our stuff we need to capture an audience of our very own. Our audience may accidentally find us but they won’t chase after us. We have to offer a convenient way to keep in touch and give them something for being a loyal follower. Feed burners are great for anyone who knows how to use them but they vary in application. Some put updates on a web page for you and the drawback there is that your reader needs to be either logged into that web page or check it regularly. You are also competing with all the other subscriptions they may have and these may be many. I have several but my email updates get read first and often the others miss out. It is better to send them email updates automatically. Most people will read their mail before anything else. This is the advantage of your RSS to their door. This approach can be set up automatically and unlike a newsletter that has to be created then sent off your viewer is notified as soon as you post something new. When people subscribe to my blogs they get automatic email updates, which is handy, if they forget to check my blog. When they subscribe to my web sites they are on a mailing list to be notified via a newsletter or enzine.
Being efficient and regular in our contact is difficult as we need to not only find and accumulate our viewers but we also need to own a system that will help us communicate quickly and with the least amount of time away from painting.
I looked into a few email programs including auto responders, form creation and networking software.
After endless hours of reading, searching the Internet and playing with some trial software I finally found what I was looking for. I decided to go with a paid program with features that ensured I didn’t waist unnecessary hours trying to organise and staying in touch with my audience. I found Aweber and have been using the trial time to set up forms with RSS feeds, mailing lists, stats and newsletter campaigns. This system is brilliant, efficient and easy to set up. It makes organizing multiple mailing lists and campaigns a breeze. You can set up articles or e-news in advance and unlimited auto responders that do so much work for you automatically. You have the option of text or flashy HTML newsletters and RSS updates or both and a Spam rating tester that helps you write emails that are less likely to be rejected through Spam filters helping you to avoid words that may be seen as Spam and so deleting your emails before they even get to your subscriber. You can use Aweber to set up mailing lists and campaigns for several businesses. You can keep track of different forms and promotions and it doesn’t cost any extra.
Say you set up a form on your site for a newsletter, then one for a freebie and one for a paid product/s. Their system keeps track of the subscriptions from each and so you can determine what it is that people really want from you. It won’t double up either if a person is subscribed to more than one so you can’t anoy people with duplicate promotions or news. You can see when they signed up which makes it easier to monitor how well your forms and promotions are doing. From this information you can determine what it is that your following want from you. This is going to save me so much time and help me increase my audience tremendously.
What impressed me the most was the easy to follow tutorial information and videos on their web site. Aweber has gone to great length to make learning their system very easy in fact I went to ask a question in their help section and as I typed the query a list of suggestions automatically popped down. Yep you guessed it the solution was already there on their web site. The result was I got my answer without having to wait at all for a service consultant. This is the first time I have been able to use an Internet facility and get all the information through their tutorials and information.
While listening to one of their tutorial I also noticed the enthusiasm these guys had for the latest features they just added. It is obvious to me that these people are excited about improving their product and that gives me confidence that they will keep up with the times. I did check out quite a few alternative programs but found them either more expensive, more complicated or lacking some features I wanted. I had Feedburner on my blog but have now changed it over.
If you want to check Aweber you can click this link