In today’s world, you don’t need a lot of physical materials (you know, other than your actual art) to build a thriving art business. Galleries will look at your portfolio online. Business cards are nice, but you use them so rarely that they’re not always worth the trouble of designing them. And flyers never get noticed.
But one fantastic piece of paper you’ll get your money’s worth out of?
Print a set of postcards with your art on them. Use a few different pieces so you can customize for the recipient or let the person choose themselves if they’re there. So you might have 50 postcards, using ten different pieces of art, but only five postcards of each piece of art. That’s a great way to get started with postcards.
Once you’ve got the postcards, it’s time to use them.
And there are a bunch of ways to do that. First you can just give a couple to friends and family for them to spread around when they meet someone they think might like your art. Postcards get shared and passed around more than business cards. Business cards get thrown away, but postcards are bigger and feel special so people will keep them for a while and then sometimes get excited and pass them along to others too.
If you unleash your friends and family with a few simple instructions about the type of people who usually buy your art, they’ll go to bat for you.
They’ll pass them along to people who are a great fit. Just don’t give them too many. You don’t want to use your friends and family and make them feel awkward trying to pass the cards off. Let it be a fun thing so just give them one or two cards.
The second way to use your postcards is as a bonus gift for customers. Stick an unused postcard in the package (just one!) when you send the art to the customer. They usually pop it in their stationery drawer and it will get sent to one of their friends some day – so it will be seen by someone new! If you put more than one in the package, it doesn’t feel like a cool gift. It feels like you’re trying to get them to do your marketing for you – totally icky! If they don’t send it as a postcard to a friend, sometimes the customer will frame it and hang it on the wall! That’s cool too because it enhances the experience for the customer, making it really special for them so that they tell everyone about it and buy again.
Another great way to use those postcards is simply by selling them.
It’s sometimes a fun little way to get people to buy from you, which is the first step toward deciding to purchase a big piece of original art. This doesn’t work very well online (though a set of them could be fun for a giveaway) but they work fantastically for in-person events, especially for fundraising.
In a fundraising or charitable situation, you can sell the postcards for more than you normally would because the money the customer pays is going to a good cause, so they feel better about it.
And my favorite way to use postcards is the traditional way – send them physically to people with a handwritten note on the back. It’s so surprising to get handwritten mail these days that people really respond well to it. This is great for customers you’d like to reconnect with and turn them into collectors. It also works well for people who couldn’t quite pull the trigger and buy from you, but you’re pretty sure they just need a nudge because they are so excited by your work. You can also use this as a tool for connecting with people in the art world, like curators or even media professionals.