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