Do I need a newsletter? I asked myself that same question several years ago. I know many artists who do. But me? What did I have to offer?
I found all sorts of reasons not to write a newsletter. When I finally decided that I’d do one I faced my first — and biggest — obstacle: I didn’t have a mailing list.
Now that was a stumbling block. So I set about to build one. It was slow going.
There are 2 basic approaches to compiling a list:
1. cast a wide net
2. collect only those with an interest in your work
The first option means collecting every warm body with an email address, however you acquire them.
You may get lucky and find people who’d like to be on your list but you may also get people who are not at all happy to find your newsletter sitting in their inboxes.
I’ve chosen the second option. If someone has bought a piece of my work or expressed interest in it, I add their names if they’ve given me their address.
Not all buyers are interested in anything more than a one-time purchase — they’ve bought a pair of earrings on a whim, for example. So I haven’t asked them (but maybe I should).
Do all purchasers end up on my mailing list?
No. Partly because I’m still working on my approach. I don’t like being pressured into signing up for something so I’ve been reluctant to be too pushy with visitors to my table. Why would I want to add someone who isn’t keen on my work anyway?
Once again I was faced with two choices:
I enclose a business card with every purchase. I also mention my newsletter to buyers and explain that they can sign up by emailing me.
Number of new subscribers I’ve gotten using this approach? None. Not a single person has signed up this way.
In the past I’ve sometimes had a signup list at shows but it wasn’t always easily accessible or I’ve let people notice it on their own — not very effective.
At a recent show I put a small clipboard on my table, near the edge where it was easy to spot and easy to fill in. When people stopped to look or purchase I casually mentioned the list.
Number of new subscribers using this technique? Eight!
I know these people are interested because they took the initiative to sign up. As soon as the show was over I added their names to my list and sent them a copy of the most recent issue. Strike while the iron is hot!
Here’s a great example of why I’m sticking with Plan B.
At the ARTS Roundup show in Airdrie in mid-September I sold a high-priced necklace to a woman. I went into Plan A mode … Here’s my card, I have a newsletter, email me to sign up blah blah blah.
She was very excited and said she would but … I never heard back from her.
Luck was with me at the next show two weeks later. The same buyer came by my booth again. This time I got her email address. The next day I emailed her a copy of the latest issue. Within minutes she wrote back to say she was already looking forward to the next one. Yahoo!
So. You’ve decided that you’ll give this newsletter idea a try. How many names do you need before you write your first issue?
I started with one name. That’s all you need. Then go from there. I now have 70+ subscribers.
It took a long time to reach that point — more than 3 years — mainly because I was still in Plan A mode. But I’m getting smarter. 😉
One final tip:
Always put your subscribers’ names in the BCc line, NEVER in the To or Cc line. (If you don’t know the difference, find out or give me a shout.)
Next Time: Deciding on Content