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This week you get not one, but TWO new episodes. This episode is part one: How to Elevate Your Buyer Experience and Turn a One-Time Buyer into a Repeat Collector. We’re talking about artist branding, including little extras in your packages, and finishing touches that can WOW your buyers. When I sell a piece of art, I look at it as the beginning of a special relationship between me and the collector – so I want them to be impressed when they receive the art and unbox it. Here’s the catch: you have to be really strategic about your little extras because if you’re not careful they will eat into your profits big time. I’m giving away all my tips and tricks for wowing your art collectors without spending too much money. 

I provide different levels of branding and special touches you can include in your art business, whether you’re completely new to selling art or if you’re an art selling pro. If you have more tips for artist branding and elevating your buyer’s experience, let me know on Instagram.

Episode Transcript

Hi, I’m Lauren Kristine, host of the Self Taught Artist Podcast. Welcome back. This week, you may notice and noticeable upgrade in the audio quality. And that’s because I now have enough listeners and I’m enjoying this community so much that I decided to spend some money to get a new fancy microphone. I hope that it helps to enhance your listening experience. Thank you all for such kind and supportive messages this past week. The Self Taught Artist community continues to inspire me. You are the reason that I keep showing up week after week to record this podcast and put it out into the world.

The Review of the Week is so nice, and it comes from Karen on Apple Podcasts. She writes, “By far the best podcast I’ve stumbled upon. Lauren is such a gracious host for sharing her experiences and tips as a Self Taught Artist. Navigating the art world tends to be a lot of trial and error, and can be exceedingly frustrating without any guidance. This podcast solves that. I’m so happy to feel reoriented in my hobby again. Thank you, Lauren.” Thank you, Karen for taking the time to write such a lovely review. I am not exaggerating when I say that as soon as I saw your review come through, and I read it for the first time. I immediately ran into the other room to read it to my husband. I was so excited. That is how much it brightened my day. To the rest of you, please leave me a review on Apple Podcasts, and you just might be featured next week as our Review of the Week.

I just wanted to make a quick announcement that Michael stores are doing their biggest sale of the season this week. In my world, this is huge. If you remember a couple episodes back, I talked about my favorite value art supplies. Well, my favorite canvases are the Michaels Level Three canvases, and they are 70% off at any Michaels store. But never fear Canadians, I hear that they are 60% off in Canada as well. In addition, my favorite watercolor paper, the Canson XL watercolor pads are buy one get one free in the USA at Michaels as well. Now, I am not paid by Michaels to tell you all this, I just want to spread the word so you can save some money. These really are the best prices that you’re going to find. And I recommend not waiting to snag this deal. Once they’re sold out, they are out. I mean, you can check back midweek to see if they get restocked, but you’re going to be taking taking some chances. I seriously wait six months for these prices, so you know that I already made a big purchase! I picked them up today with curbside and I am really happy to start working on all these new substrates.

Today’s podcast theme was suggested by one of our loyal listeners, Ali in Australia. She suggested talking about all the post-sale stuff that goes into selling art. Today I’m giving my tips for packing and mailing paintings, and also talking about how to elevate the buyer experience. You know, with all those little touches and branding elements that you can use to help turn a one-time buyer into a repeat buyer.

The shipping conversation is pretty dry. So I’m going to start with the fun stuff and talk about the buyer experience first. If you want to hear me talk about packaging and shipping, well stay tuned for the second half of the episode. I decided to split this week’s topic into two separate episodes. While these topics are related, they’re also distinctly different. And the way I look at it, I’m building a giant library of knowledge for Self Taught Artists. I want that library to be easily searchable whenever you have a question pop up in the future. As a result, I’m making these into two shorter episodes so you can easily search for them later.

I am in the business-building mode right now with my art. I want to turn every client into a repeat collector. When I sell a piece of art, I look at it as the beginning of a special relationship between me and the collector. So I want them to be impressed when they receive their art and unbox it. However, all of those beautiful buyer experience elements come with a cost. And it’s very easy to get carried away with all these little extras and finishing touches or branding. And if you’re not careful, it will eat into your sales and those profits big time.

When I started selling art, I didn’t think too much about all of these little extras. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I do think about it a little bit more. But I think about it very strategically. I don’t want you to walk away from this episode, thinking you need to do every single thing that I talked about. No, just pick and choose little touches that makes sense for where your business is right now. I’ll talk about the different levels of extras you can include, if you’re new to selling, do just the low hanging fruit, you know the easy, inexpensive things that I’m going to talk about. If you’re more advanced and selling art more often, then maybe it’s time to level up. And you can do that over time as your prices increase.

The first thing you can do, which costs practically nothing, is to write a thank you note to the buyer. If you don’t do this already, you should start now. It’s incredibly impactful and buyers love it. Level one is just write your thank you note on any card you have laying around or on a piece of plain paper. Address your buyer by name. Thank them for their purchase and talk about how it supports you as an artist and what it means to you. Simply put, let them know you are a real person and you appreciate their purchase. Also, my pro tip is to ask for a review in your thank you card if you’re making a sale on a marketplace like Etsy where reviews are so important. Ask them nicely at the end of your thank you note to please take a minute to leave your a review if they liked the piece of art, so you can grow your small business.

The level two version of a thank you card would be to make your own. This can be as easy as taking some leftover paint from your palette and smudging it on some paper after a painting session. I do this with thick watercolor paper. And when the page is full of paint, it looks like a big happy abstract palette of colors. I cut this into four pieces, and voila, I have some handmade cards. Again, these have the human touch and they feel very artsy. So it’s perfect as a quick thank you note. I’ve also literally ripped out pages for my sketchbook and flipped them over to write a simple thank you note. Buyers absolutely love these little artsy touches. And the best part is these are practically free!

If you really want to level up your thank you cards, level three would be to get your own custom thank you cards printed. I do this and I will include one or two cards with every order. And they feature my original artwork on the front, along with my bio and website information on the back. I got them printed at on sale. And they are really nice. I upgraded the paper to their linen finish and it feels like a really nice card. And it almost kind of looks like canvas a little bit. I love how it looks on that linen textured card. I got them at Vistaprint on sale. So they were a really great price. I would suggest signing up for Vistaprint emails and they’ll send out special discounts all the time.

I see these thank you cards as a marketing opportunity. So, what I will do is actually write my actual thank you note on a sticky note and put that inside of the card. That way, the buyer can peel off my sticky note and then they have a blank card that they can send to someone else. It’s a way to surprise them with a little extra, a few note cards they can send but also send them a thank you note from me, while also doing some marketing and getting my art out to other people when they use the card for correspondence of their own. So while it’s definitely a little extra to include, and it elevates the buyer experience, it’s also something that directly benefits me. As a result, I think it’s definitely worth the cost given where I am right now in my business.

I have some other ideas for printed things you can include to enhance the buyer experience. These would be things like business cards, postcards, or even a printed certificate of authenticity. I’ve seen more artists do this recently, and it’s been popping up on Instagram, where you actually print out a little certificate, perhaps it’s a postcard size and there are blanks on there where you can sign it and provide the title of the art and information. And it’s just a little extra. I don’t actually do that yet. But I just wanted to give you the idea in case you liked it. When I ordered my thank you cards from Vistaprint I also ordered some custom stickers at the same time. I put Lauren Kristine Art on them, along with my website URL. They are really colorful and fun. And they’re just an easy way to add some pizzazz to my packages, I’ll stick them on the inside of the package on the bubble wrap on the outside, kind of wherever I think a little dash of color is needed.

Now custom stickers can be really expensive. So my secret is to actually get return address labels and use those as my stickers. They are a fraction of the cost of a larger sticker. And you get so many of them. When I was pricing custom stickers, they could be like $1 each or more. But return address labels cost just pennies apiece. So I’m able to get that luxury branded look for less, I highly recommend this hack and ordering some return address labels.

Another inexpensive thing that you can do to elevate your buyer experience and elevate your packaging is to add what’s called a belly band to your art. After you’ve wrapped the artwork in a protective layer, we’ll talk about that a little more later on in this episode. After that protective layer, you can add a decorative piece of paper around the midsection of your art. For example, let’s say I’m wrapping an 8 by 10 canvas. Well, I will first wrap it in a protective layer, maybe a cellophane bag or butcher paper or tissue paper, whatever you use, then I’ll cut a piece of butcher paper that is, you know, let’s say four inches tall and wraps around the belly of the entire canvas. I bring both ends of the belly band together the front of the canvas and then seal them together with one of my personalized stickers. Yeah, it’s a little difficult to explain verbally. So if you don’t know what I’m talking about, send me a message on Instagram at Lauren, Kristine art, and I’d be happy to send you a photo. That’s one of the downsides of podcasting. Sometimes I wish that I could show you a photo of what I mean. But just message me and I’d be happy to send you one.

These belly bands look really nice. And it just adds a little something that doesn’t take too much time, effort or energy. Level two for a belly band would be painting it. You know whether it’s a splatter or polka dots or just a pattern using some leftover paint. And level three belly band would be probably something like a thick, nice ribbon tied in the front, or sealed with a sticker. But I’m not there yet. So we’ll get there.

In my art business, I am all about getting the best bang for my buck that I possibly can. As a result, I’m very careful with my finishing touches, so that I don’t overdo it and spend all of my profits away. I’ve made a few decisions in this area to cut costs. For example, I do not attach hardware to my canvases before I sell them. I don’t know if the buyer wants to frame these canvases or hang them on the wall as they are or just put them on a bookshelf and not even hang them at all. So I personally have just left the hanging hardware to the buyer. I know some artists will wire their canvases for framing or nail and a hook or something like that. And while that is certainly nice, I don’t think that my prices warrant that extra touch right now. So I just leave that to the buyer.

Another deliberate choice has been saying “No” to matting my artwork on paper. Some artists will include a white mat with all of their art on paper. A typical matting kit consists of a mat, a backing board, and cellophane bag usually. I actually just received a piece of art on paper this week in the mail that came in a mat with a cellophane bag. And I was really wowed. It looked super professional in the matting kit. And it just had a really big wow factor. Look, I admit, I loved it. But the business person in me knows that my prices are not yet high enough to justify buying mats for every piece of art that I sell.

For larger pieces, the cost of adding a mat adds up especially quickly. And I tend to work in three or four different standard sizes, so it’s costly to have all those different sizes of mats on hand. Another piece of adding mats is that it will add weight to your packages and make them bigger, and therefore more expensive to mail. If you mat an 11 by 14 piece, for example, well it becomes 16 by 20. There’s a big difference between mailing an 11 by 14 inch piece of mail and mailing a 16 by 20 piece of mail. That’s a bigger envelope, more weight, more money.

I am hoping as my art business grows, and I get more sales that I can eventually include mats for my customers. But realistically, I’m just not there yet. Right now I’m in growth mode. So my art is not priced very expensive. I just don’t have the margin in my prices right now to include a mat and that is okay. And it’s okay for you too. If you decide you don’t want to include a mat. It’s a “nice to have” thing, but it’s not a “must have” thing. The buyer wants your piece of art. They’re not buying it or choosing you over another artists because it comes with a mat. They’re choosing you because they love your art. Keep that in mind before you start spending a ton of money on things like mats if you’re not ready for that step. If you are ready for that step, I have heard that is a really good source for these mat kits, so I’ll give you that tip.

I will mention the last special touch that I sometimes include to elevate the buyer experience is to doodle on the envelopes a little bit or include a little sketch I have hanging around the studio, I find that buyers really love these little artsy human touches. I sometimes do little mock ups of pieces or fun sketches in my sketchbook or on scrap paper. And I typically don’t really do anything with those little pieces. So sometimes I’ll just throw them in for free is a little something extra when I sell a piece of art.

In business, there’s this concept of surprise and delight. Customers love to be surprised and so sometimes throwing in a little freebie that costs me nothing can have a really big impact on how the buyer feels about their purchase and their decision to support an artist. Buyers love knowing that they’re supporting a real person, a real artist. And that’s one thing that really differentiates you from the art that’s just sitting in a big box store. Go ahead and use that to your advantage.

I know it’s really fun to think about your packaging and your branding and how your art will be unboxed. But it’s really easy to get carried away with all these special touches. So I urge you to run the numbers first. Challenge yourself to find things that are cost effective, but still provide that surprise and delight factor for your customer. I really hope these tips help you out. They have worked very well for me so far.

Alright, that’s it for elevating the buyer experience. So we’re going to move on to the second part of the episode: Packing art and shipping art. Go ahead and click play on the next episode to continue this conversation.

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