Featuring in the iconic Tatler magazine may be the epitome of success for many, but the popular Welsh artist, Emma Cawston, is going places.
Her pet portraits, often commission from doting owners, and wildlife paintings are created using oil-based coloured pencils and are then digitally printed onto household wares such as coasters and chopping boards.
“I’m based in Wales”, said Emma. “And I realise that if I don’t want to remain in a bubble, I have to have a commercial edge. And that means mastering the internet so my work is as accessible as possible.”
So she attended a Superfast Business Wales event to learn how to raise her profile using digital marketing techniques. And, with the help of an advisor, came up with a plan to make life easier for her collectors.
Instagram accounts for 95% of turnover
She added: “The first step was to make sure my shop window reflected the polished professional standard of my work and made people feel ‘safe’ to buy online. Getting this right is something I should’ve done sooner as people drop out at the payment stage on poorly designed websites.”
Emma then turned to the highly visual social media platform Instagram to attract visitors. The decision proved pivotal. 95 per cent of her turnover comes through this channel and collectors from all over the globe clamber to buy her stock. In addition, Tatler used Instagram to find Emma’s work and make contact directly about featuring in their magazine.
“I researched the best hashtags to use so that my products were in front of art lovers, and of course of people who may want to commission personal portraits of their best doggie friend,” she said.
“You’ve got to choose the right channel at the right time”
And it’s led to orders from as far away as the United States and New Zealand. Emma added: “I knew in theory that a good website and a strong social media presence generates more sales but never in a million years did I think it would go this well.
“Further evidence of the success is that my site also helps me to prioritise work based on what’s popular because the analytics tell me what animals and products people are looking for.
“It also lets me know which posts are popular. My followers like a mix of business and personal posts, so when Oliver was born, I put a picture of him wearing a sleepsuit with a tiger on to play on my wildlife theme!
“But I’ve not gone totally digital. I still love attending agricultural shows and other events including Cardiff Christmas markets. They’re valuable. You’ve just got to choose the right channel at the right time.
“When the New Zealand rugby team played in Cardiff a lot of their fans went to the Christmas market, which gave me great exposure. And many of them have since gone on to buy my work online and have referred me on to their friends and family from that side of the world.”
Superfast Business Wales has really opened my eyes to what’s available to grow the business
And after talking to her Superfast Business advisor, Emma has decided video is next: “Talking about YouTube has got me thinking about how I can use video; maybe I’ll use time-lapse to film me painting, perhaps some tutorials, and of course, live videos!
“The Superfast Business Wales workshop and subsequent 1-2-1 session have really opened my eyes to what’s available to continue to grow the business. It’s a free service and people would be mad not to take it up whilst they can.”