Why Every Artist Needs an Email List

By Carrie Lewis in Art Business Advice > Email Marketing for Artists

If you’re truly serious about marketing your artwork or art services, then you need to get serious (right now) about building an email list.

“Email!?” You’re probably saying to yourself. “But everyone’s been telling me that social media is the place to be!”

Well unfortunately, as popular as social media is, it’s not the most productive way to market. No matter how much you promote yourself on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other similar form of social media, I’d guesstimate that the most you could expect to get from your time investment is about one percent.

That means that for every 100 posts, posts, or pins, one person will click through to your blog or article or sales page. You shouldn’t sneeze at any sales resulting from those click-throughs, but there’s definitely a better way to market your art.

Here’s why every artist should have an email list:

Don’t worry. I’m not about to suggest some fly-by-night email marketing scheme that guarantees success. Quite the contrary. What I’m about to tell you about is an old method. It’s one that might even feel a little old fashioned.

Plus, it’s not fast and it requires discipline and effort. Excited yet? :)

But before you click away to read about more trendy social media marketing, think about this: when it comes to sales, my Twitter account is non-existent. Very few people there even make it to my blog.

And Pinterest? Pinterest is a flat line when it comes to sales. Although, the majority of my blog readers do come from Pinterest which is nice (and once they’re on my blog, some have bought my digital materials).

Which brings us to my email list.

For every 100 people who subscribe to my list, between 25 and 40 of them open the emails I send out on a regular basis. Many of those individuals have purchased one of my lesson downloads, ebooks, online courses, or email drawing classes. These are products ranging from 99 cents each to over $200 each.

And they’re not “gone” once they’ve bought something either. They’re still subscribed to your list, and just might buy something else down the road.

All that to say, an email list is hands down your best marketing tool. There’s just no comparison to anything social media has to offer.

So why is email marketing so effective for artists?

When someone adds their name to your email list, it signifies their trust in you and their interest in what you’re offering. They’re trusting you enough to give you something of value to them—their email address—which means they really do want to hear what you have to say.

If they really want to hear what you have say, chances are good that sooner or later, they’ll want to buy something you have to sell.

In short, an well-managed and engaged email list will result in a higher percentage of sales than any other form of social media. (Sometimes exponentially higher!)

Writing emails constantly sounds like a lot of work!

If that’s what we were doing, it would be! But these days, it’s simpler than that. You really only need two things:

1. A website (or blog)
2. An email marketing service

A blog or website is necessary to your marketing plan because it gives people a place to find you that’s permanent. It doesn’t need to be fancy. In fact, all you really need is one page.

You can get those for free at hosting providers like Foliotwist, WordPress.org, Wix, Weebly, and many others. Most have paid plans too, so you can upgrade and get more perks over time if you need to.

And all of them offer some form of quick-start templates that make getting set up a snap (or at least bearable) even for those who are not tech-savvy.

Once you have that official website on the internet, you can point all your followers, peeps, Pinners, and whoever else to that spot.

Next, you need a way for those visitors to join your emailing list.

For that, you also need an email marketing service. I started with MailChimp because they’re free if your list is under 2,000 subscribers. For most of us, that means it’s free for quite a while. They also make it fairly easy to create signup forms and links so that readers of your blog or visitors to your website can become subscribers.

But there are many other choices, including Constant Contact, Aweber, and ConvertKit, just to name just three. And all of them help you automate your emails, so you can create several offers and helpful emails, and then schedule them to go out to each subscriber on a regular basis.

If you like doing technical things, you can probably set up your website and email service in an afternoon. Otherwise, it may take a few days, but most of these service providers also have excellent resources to help you get started.

After everything is set up and ready to go, you can start promoting your blog or website to your social media followers (Nice! A purpose for social media!) Just invite people to subscribe, and begin building your email list.

Is that really all there is to it?

Almost, but not quite. Remember a few paragraphs ago, I mentioned well-managed email lists? “Well-managed” is not only key; it’s essential. And so is getting people to sign up in the first place.

There are ways to do both that could help or hinder you. What you cannot do is set up an email list, put up a subscribe button, then expect people to flock to sign up. That just will not work (trust me, that’s how I did it for quite a few years.)

Instead, start by reading this article that explains more about how to do it. Or check out EmptyEasel’s full collection of articles on email marketing for artists.

Those should hold you for a while, but stay tuned for more articles on email marketing from me, too—I’ve got several coming up based on my own experiences, and I can’t wait to share them with you!


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