by Carolyn Edlund
Invite engagement from people interested in your work to begin conversations that lead to art sales.
Acquiring a collector base that will appreciate what you do and purchase your work is a process. Very few sales are made when the client first sees your art. Most often they need exposure over time to more deeply understand your inspiration and the concept behind your work. They go through a discovery phase, and then explore to learn more about you as the artist and view the breadth of your portfolio. Eventually this leads to making an acquisition, and hopefully more as the customer becomes a collector.
As with many forms of selling, relationships matter. Artists who focus on starting conversations and foster new relationships with their audience find that a network of fans and customers is extremely beneficial to their careers.
One way to spark conversations is to simply extend an invitation. Sculptor James Moore uses a prompt on his website to do just that; he has a Let’s Talk button prominently displayed on his Home and About pages. This informal way of suggesting a dialogue makes it easy to get in touch with a simple question or to learn more about what he does, with no strings attached.
The button leads to a landing page with a few preliminary questions to determine the nature of the inquiry. It also lists Moore’s phone number if the potential client wants to bypass the form and reach out immediately. That’s exactly what I did, and James Moore picked up the phone ready to speak with me.
Moore explained his reasoning behind placing the Let’s Talk button on his site. He knows that most people don’t clearly understand everything he offers, or the process of acquiring a sculpture. Since his work ranges from smaller pieces perfect for interiors to large public art sculpture, a discussion is usually required first. Collectors may purchase from his inventory or commission a sculpture.
An opening conversation can answer lots of questions and form the foundation of ongoing communication and eventual acquisition. Inquiries through Moore’s website have generated commissions in the past year that totaled more than $20,000 in sales.
Another way to initiate conversation is to place a button on your website that allows the visitor to set an appointment. This could involve a scheduling app such as Calendly (which starts at a free level). The site visitor selects a time to book a Zoom meeting or a phone call, and you receive email notification of the appointment. Imagine how powerful it can be to get a face-to-face video call with a potential collector from a site visit!
If you choose to place a contact button on your own art website, prepare for these dialogues by considering how to handle the initial contact and follow ups. Most inquiries will require you to learn more about the client and be able to talk about their needs and interests. A successful conversation will naturally lead to more in-depth discussions, and potentially closing that all-important first sale.