Crafting Professional Emails for Better Art Business Communication

As an artist in the digital age, chances are you have to write emails on a regular basis.

You might have to use email to approach galleries, maintain current gallery relationships, touch base with collectors, or connect with other artists. Because you write so many emails, it can be easy to type out something quickly and send it off without taking the time to make sure you are communicating well and presenting yourself professionally.

It might not seem important, but if you are running your own art business, communicating professionally is key for having positive relationships. If you’ve ever had to work with someone who wasn’t good at communicating, you know how difficult and frustrating it can be. Unprofessional emails can make you appear flaky, apathetic, or even rude, and that is not the reputation you want to have in the eyes of people with whom you are working or to whom you are trying to sell art.

The key to writing professional emails is to take your time to make sure you say exactly what you want to say as clearly as possible, but there are some other specific steps you can follow to craft better emails.

Come up with a good subject line.

The subject line you use should be unique and get the attention of the person you are emailing, but also make sure it is professional, polite, and appropriate for the situation. You don’t need to write a sensational headline to get someone to open your email, and it’s important to be honest about your purpose in writing it.

Use a friendly but professional greeting.

Typically, with the kinds of emails you’ll be sending, you’ll be able to use a friendly greeting like “hello,” “hi,” “good morning,” etc. However, make sure to think about your audience when you are writing a greeting, and if your audience requires a more formal greeting like “dear,” adjust accordingly.

Keep it short and to the point.

If you want your email to be read in full and not skimmed over, keep it as short as possible. Focus on only one or two topics in the email, and eliminate any unnecessary details. I would recommend keeping most emails less than 5 paragraphs long with 1-3 sentences per paragraph.

The more concise, the better. If you can get your point across quickly, it will be much easier for the person on the receiving end to read the email and respond.

Watch your tone.

Because body language and inflection aren’t present in emails, it can be easy for your tone to be misinterpreted as demanding or rude. To avoid uncomfortable misunderstandings, be careful with your word choice and sentence structure. Avoid terse sentences. Don’t write questions that sound like they are coming from an interrogation room. Use “please,” “thank you,” and other polite phrases graciously.

And certainly don’t write things that are actually meant to be rude or passive aggressive. Most problems can be solved through polite questions and discussions.

Use an appropriate sign off.

Leave the reader with a good impression of you by closing your email professionally. In some cases, it might make sense to close with a “thank you,” but when it doesn’t, use a sign off like “warmest regards” that is friendly but not too personal.

Don’t use emoticons.

Punctuating your message with smiley faces might be okay for emails to close friends and family, but emoticons don’t belong in professional emails. Leave them out of emails to gallery owners, clients, art instructors and students, and any other professional connections.

Double check spelling and grammar.

As in any written communication, spelling and grammar mistakes in an email can make it much more difficult for the receiver to take you seriously, no matter how good the content of the message is. Take a moment to read over your email again for grammar mistakes and typos, and for more important emails, have someone proofread for you before sending them off if possible.

Make sure any promised attachments have actually been attached.

We’ve all made the mistake of sending hitting “send” on an email only to realize that we forgot to attach a document or image we needed to include. While we all relate and will forgive this error, it’s much more professional and less frustrating if it doesn’t happen. Take a moment when you finish the email to make sure you’ve attached everything you meant to.

What do you think?

How important is email in your art business? Have you ever had a misunderstanding because of poor communication?

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

17 Comments

  1. My day gig is processing emails. All your advice is spot-on. I’d like to add that many people work from blackbetties or smartphones, so if you can get the job done in 1-2 paragraphs you may save yourself some unclear response due to attention.

    That said, I have a fondness for working puns or reference to Shakespeare into my transmissions. I get bored…

  2. Thank you for this reminder to artists. I would like to add that when communicating with your gallery, use email rather than texting because email can easily become part of a permanent record, filed and quickly referenced if needed in the future, especially when including an appropriate subject line. If absolutely necessary, keep text messages brief; i.e., a sentence or two and limit the use of text messages. I believe that most gallery owners find that texting is the worst form of communication when business issues need to be addressed. Also send your images via email or some other online application, not by texting.

  3. Excellent article! Precise and to the point, just like the example described in the article. Helpful checklist. Thank You, Jason!

    1. Yes. I do this. In fact, I send my newsletter to myself first to run the last proofreading. If that looks good, then I feel confident in sending it to the entire mailing list. With important communications, I have found it helpful to leave them overnight. Often there are small things that can (or should) be corrected on the following day when there is a bit of distance to the actual writing.

      Thanks for the good post.

      1. Karen and Al,
        Very good comments and ideas, especially leaving it overnight if possible. To avoid forgetting the attachments, I add them first before I actually write the message.
        David

  4. A practice from the business world that has served me well: When composing an email, the LAST thing I add is the recipient’s email address. This helps to avoid incomplete or incorrect emails “escaping” before they are ready or (heaven forbid) when they are still in draft form. It also gives me the opportunity to revisit the draft at a later time. Before adding the address, I always review for tone, errors and to make sure all attachments are there.

  5. Attachments actually attached! What a novel idea! Besides being too long-winded, this is where I fall face-down. I’m going to use Ellie’s idea (when I can- if the response is immediate or nearly so).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *