Have you ever worked really hard to create something (a project, a new business, a service, or offering) only to put it out into the world and hear… almost nothing in response?
It’s heartbreaking and it’s real!
Let me start with some empathy, because my friend, I’ve been there. As you might know, when I’m not doing web design work, my other creative business is directing choirs. With my choirs, I’ve created *what I thought were brilliant* offerings like extra music workshops or social media giveaways of concert tickets, only to have basically no one take interest. I ended up cancelling these workshops and giving the tickets away to my best friends (who probably would have bought their tickets anyways). These so-called brilliant ideas were flops.
It’s frustrating when you work really hard at something very close to your heart and it doesn’t quite pan out the way you expected. What not everyone gets is that for artists, it always feels personal. It’s vulnerable to take pieces of our heart and soul and publicly share them with the world.
As much as we might really want to take the step of putting ourselves out there, calling ourselves artists, and actually SELLING our work, there are lots of limiting beliefs that can get in the way of actually doing the thing.
All very real fears.
Shifting each of those mindsets will take intentional work and conscious efforts to trust and believe in the worth and value of your creativity. Important work.
However, as much as I understand the fears and the mindset struggles, I would argue there’s also a lot of value in simply doing the thing. You will learn the most from trial and error. Yes, there may be flops. You might release a new art series to find that no one buys your work. You might invite your Instagram followers to subscribe to your email list and find that no one signs up. It could happen! And that’s okay. You’ll be okay. You’ll learn from it and reflect on ways to improve next time.
When we’re jumping in and just doing, there’s a lot of experimentation involved (hello to me trying to navigate the world of Instagram reels?!). More trial, more errors, more learning. As much as experimenting can lead to awesome things, it’s always helpful to have a bit of a plan.
I’m going to share a plan with you. My plan for how to launch a brand new art series. It will help you go from feeling lost and wavering in the land of trial and error to confidently putting your work out there and getting it into the hands of future buyers.
To give you a real life example – each step of the way, I’m going to refer to a launch campaign that I created for Patty Ripley, which helped her sell out her latest art series!
First, I want to start by talking about why we decided to structure the series as a timed release, rather than making each painting available for sale as soon as it was completed. There was some debate about this and ultimately, doing a time release worked quite well.
In a nutshell, a timed release is simply making all of the paintings from the series available on one day (it happened to be June 1st). The other option would have been posting each painting one-by-one to her website and Instagram and letting people purchase them as they became completed.
Next I’ll share a step-by-step breakdown of how to go about structuring the lead up to the timed release.
When you’re deciding when to release a new series, pick a date that’s at least a few months away. Give yourself enough time to do all of the prep work and to actually tell people what’s going on! Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by rushing through the following steps in order to get a new series released within only a few weeks.
Make sure it’s easy as pie for people to access the details about your release. Don’t assume that anyone will spend time digging for the info; instead, make sure it’s right at their fingertips!
Here’s all the information your buyers will need to know:
Here are all the places you need to put this important information:
Here’s an example of a landing page that we used for Patty’s June 1st release! It’s got samples of the work, clear info, a call to action inviting email subscriptions, and no distractions or links to other pages.
You want the website visitor to stay on the page and not click away to something else that catches their eye!
This one is crucial. Yes, Instagram is a great place to share your work and get inspired by other artists, but email is where the sales happen. You need to motivate your followers, friends, and family to subscribe to a list that’s specificallydedicated to the release of your new series.
If you already have an email system in place, that’s great! If you haven’t ventured into the world of email marketing yet and you’re looking to get started, my favourite platform for artists is Flodesk. They have beautiful layouts that are design-focused and eye-catching, as well as simple plain-text options. It’s also really user friendly and easy to link to your website and social media. I’ve used Convertkit, Squarespace Campaigns, and Mailchimp in the past and Flodesk is by far my favourite; I use it for all of my email marketing. This link saves you 50% on an annual Flodesk subscription (and gives me a very small thank you commission).
Once you’ve got an email list for the series release ready to go, make sure you give people a reason to sign up.
I hear you saying.. “But they love my art! Isn’t that reason enough?”
Maybe! But also, maybe not. Email inboxes are a busy world. How many people do you know who are eager to receive more emails? You definitely want to give people an extra motivation to hand over their address.
Here are a few ideas for ways to motivate your friends, family, and followers to sign up for email updates about your series release:
For Patty’s June 1st series release, we started with an email list of less than 20 people. We used both of these incentives – free shipping and an early access offer – and she grew her list to nearly 200 people within that month.
Just like the title of this step, you’re going to feel repetitive. But that’s okay! While you might feel like a broken record sharing over and over about your new series, I promise you – no one else will see it that way.
Here’s the thing, when we’re focused on our own creative work, we spend so much time and energy building the darn thing that it’s easy to forget that other people are NOT spending hours and hours each day thinking about our projects. Truth bomb: they’re probably not giving it much thought at all!
If you send out multiple emails, make daily Facebook posts, and talk about your new works on Instagram stories a few times a week, you still might only catch the attention of a portion of your fans. People are busy, inboxes are crowed, and social media is oversaturated. To stand out from the crowd, be remembered, and make an impact sharing your offering, you need to do it consistently.
So, once all of your preparation is in place (release date picked, online presence updated, email list ready, opt-in incentive good to go), here’s what you need to do daily and weekly to promote your offering:
The most important thing is to commit to showing up consistently and sharing about your works unabashedly. You want people to start to invest in the story behind why you’re making the art and for them to feel connected to your journey. Be heartfelt and honest.
One last step to consider when setting up your timed series release is to find ways to add a sense of urgency; to motivate your buyers to pull the trigger on the sale because the offer at hand is only available for a limited time. This might look like only opening the series to buyers for a few days at time. It might drop on a Monday and close again on a Wednesday – a sort of 48 hour flash pop-up shop.
Again, the pros of this are that your buyers are faced with a ‘now or never’ kind of decision! The ones that are committed will absolutely make the purchase right away, for fear of missing out. The ones who are on the fence might also feel this extra motivation to make the purchase right away because of fears that they’ll regret not purchasing the piece once the series is closed.
The big con of this model is that if you don’t sell out the series within the limited time frame, you may miss out on future opportunities to sell to buyers who didn’t make the purchase the first time around.
Side note: we didn’t actually do this for Patty’s last series release, but it’s something we’re considering for the future.
That was a lot of detail. I hope it serves you well. When Patty and I followed these steps leading up to the release of her June accessible art series, it was more than halfway sold out within the first hour! Super exciting.
Make sure you’re signed up for her email list to learn about her upcoming paper series releases!
If you’re feeling totally overwhelmed with the world of making your own website, my speciality is building sites for creatives. My framework includes 1-2 months of strategy, to best position you to reach your big goals (like selling out a new series!).