One of the easiest ways to develop long-term interest in your art is by regularly sending out an email newsletter to fans, friends, and potential buyers.
After watching EmptyEasel’s newsletter grow at a rapid rate for the past few years (at around 400 sign-ups per month, on average) I decided to put together some suggestions on how to build a large group of subscribers for your e-mail newsletter.
Note: Most of these suggestions assume you already have an art website, blog, or social media presence.
1. Make it easy to sign up for your newsletter.
This means putting a sign-up link on every page of your art blog or portfolio website, on your Facebook page, and even posting a physical sign-up sheet next to your contact information at art shows or events. (Read how one artist used these tips very successfully.)
Consider adding a sign-up link to your email signature as well. Most of us email hundreds of people each month, and some of those contacts may want to sign up for a newsletter if given the chance.
Personally I’ve had good results by placing my sign-up link near the top of every article on EmptyEasel. Try out different locations on your own art blog—usually spots near the top of the page or at the beginning or end of articles works best.
2. Explain your newsletter up-front.
People are usually pretty cautious about giving away their email address, so you may want to ease their minds by showing an actual example of your newsletter and letting them know how often they can expect one in their inbox. Then make sure to follow through with what you’ve promised.
And if you ever decide to change your format drastically (by including ads, for example) you should notify your subscribers of those changes as well.
3. Don’t JUST promote your art.
Offer something interesting or valuable to your recipients each time you send out your e-newsletter. Whether that’s a link to another art-related website, a special discount on your art, or even an article you write yourself, make your newsletter worth reading.
In all reality, you’ll only get a few chances to prove yourself before your newsletter will start getting ignored or blocked, so it’s important to reinforce the value of your newsletter with every email.
That being said, your newsletter IS ultimately about building interest in your art, so make sure to at least include a link to your website (or a thumbnail image linked to your latest artwork) so readers can easily find their way to more information. This is another reason you’ll want to have your own website, with a selection of your best artwork available, before you start building your email list.
4. NEVER add people to your email list without asking.
It’s rude, and it’s spam. No matter how you know someone, you should always ask first. This is more than just being courteous, it also increases the chance that they’ll actually open up your email when they receive it.
Also, once they’ve joined give them a way out with an “unsubscribe” link or information on how to get off the list.
5. NEVER share (or sell) your subscriber list.
When people entrust you with their information, it’s up to you to safeguard it for them. You’ll get more sign-ups if you emphasize how seriously you take this responsibility—I always mention it whenever I talk about my newsletter, and I’ve seen many other artists and bloggers do the same.
And speaking of what other artists and bloggers do, here are two tips I haven’t used myself but which I think are worthwhile anyway.
6. Encourage subscribers to forward your newsletter.
Yes, I know that some people hate forwarded emails as much as they hate spam, but I don’t think including a short line at the bottom of your newsletter that says, “Feel free to send this email to a friend,” is really on the same level as spamming.
If your newsletters are good enough they’ll get forwarded anyway, and this way you let people know it’s OK to share.
7. Include images in the body of the email.
If you can format your e-newsletter with a nice layout and images, definitely go for it. A lot of big art websites send out very nice looking newsletters about once a month, and there’s no real reason individual artists can’t do the same. And, as an artist, you should have plenty of artwork images, work-in-progress photos, studio shots, and other imagery that people will be interested in seeing.
Finally, here’s one last bit of advice for those of you just starting out:
8. Think long-term.
Building a large email list won’t happen overnight. . . but if you use these techniques it WILL happen over time. And that’s the real goal! In a couple years when you want to promote an upcoming show, or share a brand new series, you’ll have an email list ready and waiting for you.
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