Design a Better Email for Professional Art Business Relationships
— My mission as a Creative Business Advisor is to help Artists build healthy and strong relationships with Commercial Art Buyers. Why? Because Artists deserve to make money and professional communication is key to building a profitable partnership. You’d THINK because we spend our lives expressing ourselves that we would have no problem crafting correspondences but honestly, that tends to be an area where Artists need a lot of help.
Writing well might not seem important, especially in this age of “fast writing” and the abundance of poorly written articles and social media posts but if it’s the first time you’re talking to a potential client and you’re SERIOUS about moving forward with them, the first email showcases “who you are” as a professional. They can view your art to know if you’re a good fit, atheistically but that’s not enough. As businesses with financial goals and deadlines Commercial Art Buyers want to know that every single Artist they work with makes their business lives easier.
An email filled with typos, grammatical errors, lack of confidence, confusing conversation, or a long-winded biography can make you appear goofy, demanding, selfish or a poor business prospect, and that is not the way to showcase how truly FABULOUS you are!
To craft a more professional email for better art business communication take a look at my proven guides;
A gentle reminder that no one expects perfection, but please pay attention to small details and do the best you can. Then send it off and let it go – don’t stress. It won’t serve you.
1.) Reduce your risk. First off, don’t write INSIDE your email service. Create your email in an outside document app or program so you can work it without accidentally hitting “send”. HOW many times did I embarrass myself by sending a poorly written or unfinished email too soon? Many.
2.) Step into their shoes. “Become” the business you’re writing to. As the recipient, what would they want to hear? What would motivate them to read beyond the first sentence? How do you bring them value? If you don’t know your potential client well and how you benefit THEM you’ll have a difficult time connecting.
3. Google good grammar. I admit it. I’m an honorary member of the Grammar Police. If I consistently see “there” instead of “their” and “your” instead of “you’re” from a person or company, I bail on the prospect immediately. I realize that incorrect use of words may not be enough to make a potential client run away screaming but it will make them question your professionalism. If proper grammar usage isn’t something you’re comfortable with, well you should ALWAYS be learning so if your, I mean you’re unsure, Google it.
4.) Know their name. What do you think when an email come in that doesn’t include your name? “Hi! I found your website online and really like what you do. I want to show you….” DELETE! Researching the buyer, manager or decision maker then sending an email directly to them using their name shows you’re serous about this relationship and resourceful. If you truly can’t find the right person to write to, you may use, “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Buyer” – You can spend a moment telling them you were unable to locate the name of the person in charge, then move onto your actual introduction. At least you’ll inform them that you did your due diligence. Again, do the best you can.
5.) Short and sweet. No one wants their important email skimmed over. You’re taking the time to compose something special but if you write TOO much, face it, it’ll get a quick once-over if it’s read at all. Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. To reduce the risk of skimming, focus your email on THEM first, then YOU, eliminating any unnecessary details. I recommend keeping most emails at 3-4 paragraphs with 1-3 sentences per paragraph. See #2, above.
6.) Be kind. When you’re speaking in person, your body language shares what may be behind your words, passion, energy, self confidence… but those important additives are lost in mail. Your writing tone may be misinterpreted as bored, demanding or rude. Remember you’re building a business relationship so be yourself and be professional. You don’t have to be stiff but too much informality may make you come across as flippant. Watch your use of exclamation points, emoticons, colored text, fancy fonts, and SMS shorthand – in fact, if you don’t know the person, don’t use them at all. Also don’t write questions that sound like your recipient is being interrogated, “Why didn’t you open my last email?” or “Have you looked at my portfolio yet? I’ve been waiting for three weeks and I’d like to know what you think, already!”. I know this sounds obvious but you’d be surprised.
7.) Who is this? Avoid sending a professional email from an unprofessional email account. Anything cutesy, sexy, vulgar, or nonsensical will set a negative tone from the get-go. If you insist on keeping “Teenstud2000@,” create a separate account strictly for your business emails.
8.) What do you want? “Hi Andrea, my name is Kim and I love what you do with DABI. I’m an artist’s assistant and see so much of what you write about in the way they handle (or don’t handle) their business. I look forward to your next article. Bye, Kim.” What does Kim want? Just to say, “hey” and offer her support? Cool! You’re not Kim. You’re writing to PROCUR something! You want an interview, an appointment, a resource or connection and if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Make sure you know WHY you’re writing and verbalize it with a Call to Action. Tell them what you want (without being demanding) and ask them how they’d like to proceed.
9.) Font U. Purple Comic Sans is fabulous, somewhere — but for business correspondence keep your fonts, colors, and sizes classic. The cardinal rule: Your emails should be easy for other people to read. Generally, it is best to use 10- or 12-point type and an easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. I, personally love Avenir so I use that for my emails. As for color, black is the safest choice. You can test it by sending an email to yourself first to view.
10.) Don’t forgetaboutit! If you say you’re attaching a file, don’t FORGET to attach it! How embarrassing is it to have to send a follow up, “EEP!” email? Been there, done that.
11.) The sign-off. Leave the reader with a good impression. Your signature depends on the email’s content and who you’re writing to. Sometimes “Thank you” is sufficient but sometimes, “Warm regards” or “Best”, is better. And if you insist on a pithy quote, make it short and relevant to your business.
12.) Persistence. Follow up when you said you would with an even shorter, more concise email or better yet, call!
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Artist, Creative Business Advisor & Startup Founder