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Going virtual! Tips and tricks on how to sell art without a live event.

Originally I had planned an art exhibit of my work for June, and the organization of this live event was already initiated back in January, together with three other artists. But then the pandemic struck, and it became quite obvious that a live, on-site event was out of the question.

Luckily, through my previous job in business, I have experience in organizing remote events, so the decision to turn this “viral disaster” into a “virtual exhibit” was a relatively easy step to take. In the end, I managed to sell a surprisingly number of paintings and books through this approach. Perhaps you are interested in doing something similar, so let me share some tips and tricks on how to make this work.

Set the theme. I called my virtual event “the fundraiser against Corona” (part of my proceeds were donated to a good cause). This was the red tread through all communication.

Choose the timeframe. I took the month of May as the running time for the event.

Connect to your audience, I have a e-mail list of a few hundred names, and emailing was centerpiece to the campaign. You can’t overwhelm people with continuous emails, so I designed three emails: one for April with the general announcement, one for half of May, and a final closing email announcing that the event was almost over, with a final call to action.

Use a website as the central information resource. The link to that website should be simple so that it can be typed in by hand or communicated during a conversation, e.g. over the phone. Here’s my blogpost: www.clemenssuter.com/papa.

Use all channels available. Not all people receive information through the same channel, as it turned out some customers heard about this campaign through Instagram, others through LinkedIn, and others through email. I pushed out the campaign through my website, email, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, tumblr, two sites on Facebook, YouTube… and a few others that I have in the meantime forgotten about. Naturally you can also use any other way: even written letters or postcards.

Use a single, simple and unique hashtag across all social media. Check out my tag #cps_d2c. That hashtag allows all participants to find your work in their personal favorite channel, and it connects all channels.

Post and communicate continuously. Make sure to provide some piece of news every day, across many of the channels. Indicate which day it is: “today is the tenth day of the fundraiser” or “only five more days left for the fundraiser”. This keeps up the curiosity. As an example, I shared details of a painting each day, or posted about one of my books every couple of days.

Use video. I made short movies that I posted on YouTube, telling why I was running the campaign. Even three weeks in, not all of the people that I had addressed understood what this was about, so you must keep on explaining your goal. And vlogs are a great way to supplement blogs.

Talk about successes. If you sell your work, tell the audience about this right away. Also mention if you successfully ship a painting, or when it has arrived at the buyer. People will want to know that you can deliver. Also provide some guarantee that you will take the picture back if the buyer doesn’t like it. Naturally some buyers will want to look at the art too; so I organized live visits (in line with corona legislation).

Join forces with other artists. Actually, this is a call to action for YOU, if you create high quality art and literature. Imagine such a campaign with a number of artists, each with their own channels! That would lead to an impressive multiplication. If this approach interests you, contact me.

Finally, report on the success of the campaign. See for example this blogpost.

Goldfish. Painting sold during the fundraising campaign and delivered to the UK.

Find more info about my adventure books, which, in 2010 predicted the corona pandemic: www.clemenssuter.com/books

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