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Karoline from Dallas asks: “What have you found to be the best tools to use for things like email marketing, social media marketing, website creation/hosting, website shop, managing an art business/accounting, etc?”
ANSWERS FROM THE EXPERTS
“It can be so hard to find the right tools! I’m glad you’re asking so you can cut the learning curve, Karoline.
For social media, which platform entirely depends on where your target market is. But if you’re on Pinterest, try BoardBooster. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, try ViralTag. If you’re on Instagram, try Later or Grum. I’m sure there are other wonderful tools. I use Edgar (which works for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) to recycle posts sometimes but ViralTag does that too and on more platforms.
I like WordPress on SiteGround hosting. But if tech scares you, SquareSpace is a better fit. I like Artwork Archive for managing your art business. And I like Wave for accounting, which is free and pretty simple!
“I use different tools for different purposes, and you’ve asked about a number of them here.
For email marketing, I often recommend MailChimp to artists because they have an easy to use platform that interfaces with many other sites. They are free up to 2,000 subscribers. I personally use Constant Contact since I have lot of subscribers, and I find their customer service to be impeccable. They aren’t inexpensive, but are completely worth it for the service I receive.
For social media, there are a number of services you can use to automatically post. Edgar is a popular service (although pricey, at $49 per month) and I’ve heard good things about SmarterQueue which is about $20 per month.
My website host of choice is at www.WpEngine.com (I have several Word Press sites) because there is literally no down time with them. And, they are affordable, at about $29 per month for an individual artist. They have great customer service via chat, and are very responsive.
For an online shop, Shopify is one of the best known, with easy store templates and functionality, plus they interface with a number of other sites. Plus, they have the best marketing blog around. Even if you don’t use Shopify, I would suggest subscribing.”
“Hey Karoline! With all the options out there, I know it can be overwhelming to decide which tool is best for you and your art business. Many tools offer free trials, so you might want to sign-up to a few different ones and see which ones fit your specific needs and can help you reach your goals.
To help you with your preliminary selection, here are a few tools and applications I recommend:
Email marketing: Like many artists, you can start for free with Mailchimp. I’ve also heard great things about Madmini and Mailerlite. Once your list has grown and you are ready to segment and use the more advanced options that email marketing can offer, I recommend either Convertkit or Active Campaign.
Website + online shop: I absolutely love Squarespace! I find they make clean, professional looking and easy to navigate websites and you can even create an online shop. I know they are a little more expensive than other options out there, but personally, because of all the features they offer and their excellent customer support, I think it’s totally worth the investment.
Social media: It really depends on the reasons why you need an app and for which social media channel you will be using it. I’ve tried a couple of scheduling apps and I keep coming back to Hootsuite to plan my posts. Whatever tool you use to plan your social media, remember that engaging with your audience is key, so you can’t just post through your app and not interact with your followers. Make sure you set time aside everyday to connect with your social media fans, followers and clients in real time.
Accounting: For this one, I highly recommend you have a chat with your accountant because you’ll want to make sure that whatever tool you choose, they’ll be able to work with it as well.
One more thing, you don’t have to do this all by yourself! Many artists resist the idea of getting support and hiring team members to help them with tech and marketing tasks, but keep in mind that if it can free up some of your time to create and sell more art, it can quickly become a win-win situation!“
“Great question, Karoline. I’ve got a few favorites in most of those categories, so here goes:
For email marketing, I like MailChimp. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers (which is a big number for most artists just starting out) and it lets you do a lot of smart things like segmenting your subscribers and setting up automated drip campaigns. I’ve found MailChimp to be pretty easy to use as well, and it integrates nicely with tons of other services, which is definitely a plus. It might not be quite as sophisticated as some of the other email marketing platforms, but I think for first-time users and small art businesses, it’s a good fit.
With regards to social media management, Buffer is a solid choice. It lets you schedule posts ahead of time to all your social media pages, and just like MailChimp, the free option will help you do a lot without paying anything. If you need to scale up to their paid plans, it’s not going to break the bank, either – I think their lowest-priced plan is just $10/mo.
Next up- artist websites. I’ll admit, I’m a little biased because I run a service called Foliotwist which makes it TRULY easy to create a website for your art without ANY of the normal stress involved. We looked at exactly what artists need, and left it at that: Foliotwist websites come with 9 mobile-friendly layouts to choose from, automatic “buy now” buttons and secure shopping cart, an integrated blog, social media sharing built in, and the best search-engine optimization you can find (without paying a developer for a custom-built website and hiring an SEO expert on the side). Plus, we don’t outsource customer service, so I end up talking with everybody who uses our system. I actually really enjoy working with artists on their websites, and I think our one-on-one, personalized help is PROBABLY the biggest difference between us and some of those bigger, more automated website services. Anyway, you can learn more about everything we offer at Foliotwist.com if you’re interested.
You also asked about a website shop, which Foliotwist includes, but if you’re looking for more of a high-end e-commerce store, I do like Shopify quite a bit. In fact, a few years ago I built a multi-artist gallery using Shopify (the gallery no longer in exists, unfortunately, but you can still read my full review on Shopify here: http://emptyeasel.com/2015/10/06/8-reasons-to-choose-shopify-to-for-your-online-art-gallery/) and I loved the platform. I think it’s more than most artists need, honestly, but if you require lots of custom code or special integrations with your art website, then they’re the ones I’d recommend.
I hope this helps, Karoline!“