If you listen to business and marketing podcasts, or read many blogs or articles on this subject, the biggest thing they will all tell you is to set up an email list.
Why bother with an email list when you already use twitter/facebook/etc to connect with your art fans? Three big reasons.
- #1, social media sites come and go. What is popular today may be totally gone in a year or two. So all that time you spent building your fanbase on that site is lost. When people start abandoning any given platform, you have no way to connect with them.
- #2, facebook edge ranking means your posts aren’t seen by very many of your followers. Twitter feeds are so flooded that you have a very short amount of time after posting that your followers will likely see the post. Don’t take this the wrong way, you should keep using your social media platforms, but you should also have another way to connect, in a way that you control.
- #3, when someone comes to your website, chances of them ever coming back are pretty slim. Think of the last time you went to another artist’s website…or any website for that matter. Even if you favorited that site, you probably won’t think to go back unless there was something abnormally spectacular about it. When I think of my absolute favorite artists, I can’t tell you what their websites look like because I went once and didn’t go back.
If you can get people to sign up for your email newsletter, you can stay connected to that person. One of the best ways to get someone to sign up is to have some sort of incentive. For me, I offer access to a 2 hour version of my orca painting. This video is only available to those who sign up for my newsletter. My conversion rates are quite high because of that free gift. Some people offer a free ebook, some offer access to specific art tips. You have lots of options for your email sign up gift.
Choosing a provider
Now that you’ve decided to set up an email list you have to choose which service to go with. The two most popular are Aweber and Mailchimp. I spent weeks researching both of these (and others) and reading reviews for them. The big bonus with mailchimp is that if you’re just starting your business, you can have up to 2000 email subscribers on your list for free. That is a really great deal…however that free service does not include autoresponders.
After reading all the pros and cons of each provider, I decided that Aweber was the best option for me. I got a free month when I signed up, so I was able to test it before paying (although I did have to provide them with a credit card number to start). I love their templates and sign up forms. Any of you who are signed up for my newsletter have seen the one I send out. I was able to use colors that worked with my brand (teal/lime/orange), and easily include my logo. I spent two days or so perfecting my template, but once done, each week I use the same template so it’s really easy to write up the newsletters. They have great analytics so you can see what sort of things your subscribers are actually clicking on (which tells you what you’re including that people like, or don’t care about).
Whichever you choose I recommend doing your research because if you switch, it can be a bit of a hassle to move your list from one provider to another from what I’ve read. This was another reason I went with Aweber. They have a reputation for amazing customer support. I’ve only contacted them with a question once, and they got back to me in less than an hour. They were extremely helpful. From what I read mailchimp is not so quick to respond, but being that I’ve not experienced their service first hand, I can’t say for certain.
Your physical address
The UK passed a law that all email lists like this must include a physical address. This was intended to cut down on spam. Apparently they didn’t realize that spammers have no problem just giving fake addresses but whatever…it’s the law now. So even if you’re in the US, you’re required to include your address on the email. While many may not have issue giving their personal address out, for me I get some crazy emails from people because of my youtube videos. There is NO way I’m including my home address in emails that anyone has access to. In this case, you can use a PO box. You need to get this before you set up your email list because you can’t use it unless you provide that address. I went with a USPS post office box. Make sure to check the prices for several locations in your area. I will be moving in a few months so I wanted a box near my future apartment. The one closest to me (although technically in a different city from where I’m moving ) was half the price of the one located in the city I will be living.
If you would like to try Aweber for one month for free, here is my affiliate link 🙂