When I was in marketing there was a rule that applies as well to art as any other product ... CONTACT A MINIMUM OF THREE TIMES.
Artists are a shy bunch and often afraid to stay in touch with customers for fear of frightening them off, but above all else, exposure is what sells art. The painting above was created in 2011 and recently sold after exposure in at least 3 shows, 3 galleries and many many shares on my blog and the internet. It sold for full price.
Staying in touch.... Firstly, art lovers love art. Duh! Your past clients and interested circle of friends and contacts have made their way onto your list because they enjoy your work. I'm not saying deluge them with emails, but don't forget about them either. I write a regular blog but not everyone in my circle follows my blog. Past customers may hop in and out but don't visit daily. That's understandable, but I am not doing my duty to them or my art if I don't keep them in the loop.
Everyone likes a bit of personal attention. Last year I sent a personal invitation to a client for an art show I was participating in. She replied immediately and said she wasn't interested in the show, but could I contact her about a commission. That commission turned into three paintings, perhaps none of which would have happened if I hadn't contacted her first.
A monthly newsletter is a good way to stay in touch, sharing your successes, upcoming exhibitions, shows, open studios, customer appreciation offers etc. It is always interesting to share a story about the creation of a piece or a photo of happy customer and of course a few images of new works. It doesn't matter if you've blogged some of the content before because readers will scan and dig deeper when something catches their attention. If like me, you are happy to recreate a painting in another size, or with small adjustments, let your customer know about your versatility. Someone that loves a piece may not have a place for it, but a smaller version or a slightly different palette is perfect.
Artists often want to exhibit their newest pieces at shows and juries like current work, but often it takes at least three viewings for a customer to purchase, so ensure you have an album of older works to show visitors. Some art lovers only attend a few shows a year. Maybe a patron didn't make it to your corner the one time you had a piece on view, or rushed past and never got back. Also exhibiting a work up to three times to the same people is not a bad thing. Someone that loved the piece before but didn't purchase for some reason, may now find the time is right. Perhaps a client is redecorating and that large painting they loved two years ago will now work over the couch. I could go on .....
What I'm saying is don't get into the trap of thinking your older work is past its prime. I've discovered that it often takes three years, or more, for even my most beautiful work to sell, but eventually the right person sees it at the right time and snaps it up.
And one final word on this ... don't believe everything people say. I have a regular patron that always goes for my most unique pieces but she has categorically told me in conversation that she NEVER commissions paintings, even on approval. Last year that client saw a piece of mine that she loved but there was something holding her back and she had decided against it. After discussing possibilities and emailing back and forth my client commissioned the painting in a larger size and on canvas rather than paper. She loves it!