Jo's Web Wizardry

Jo Atherton

This month we look at the value of maintaining an online mailing list.

Do you collect email addresses when you are selling at a craft fair, or displaying your work in an exhibition? Email is a quick, direct and free way of reaching out to your audience and you need to be exploiting this communication channel to stay connected to those people who like your work.

It’s one thing to give your business card to potential customers or galleries, but a mailing list allows you to take your online marketing to the next stage, and take an active role in engaging with people who have already expressed an appreciation for your artwork.

So with a growing list of people who are keen to keep up to date with your art, there are many ways to keep them interested. Here are just a few ideas in planning your newsletter:

  • Let people know about upcoming shows in every newsletter. This is probably the main reason they decided to share their email address with you so remember to let them know where you’ll be.
  • Direct your fans to new content on your blog or website, such as new gallery images of recent work
  • Why not offer an insight into your life behind the canvas, such as information on your studio or creative routine?
  • Share your success! This doesn’t have to be news of winning the Turner Prize, but it can be any measure of your achievements, such as getting work into a gallery or involvement with community projects.
  • Offer sneak previews of work before it is exhibited, or why not consider coupons or vouchers for loyal customers for those more craft based pieces?

Next time you display your work at a craft fair or art show, consider having a book to collect people’s email addresses. It’s worth remembering that people feel more willing to share a simple email address much more than more personal details such as their name, address or phone number.

Of course, such activity doesn’t come without a few responsibilities. In this age of Data Protection, it pays to follow these simple principles for best practice and avoid any awkward situations further down the line.

  • As you collect more and more emails, you may need to consider using a free service from which you can contact your adoring fans. Many email services such as Hotmail and Gmail will limit the number of people you can email in one hit, so it’s well worth taking a look at MailChimp which is very user friendly and a great way to manage your newsletter.
  • If you are using regular email, remember to include recipients email addresses in the BCC field. This stands for ‘blind carbon copy’, meaning recipients will not be able to see who else has been sent the newsletter. This is important in terms of data protection as if you happen to display everyone’s emails to one another, you have no control over what happens to those details and are not respecting their privacy.
  • Make it easy for your fans to unsubscribe - always have a line at the end of your newsletter including instructions of how to do this. It can be as simple as hitting reply with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line. Whatever works best for you.
  • If someone does wish to be removed from your list, do so immediately while you remember, as there is nothing more annoying than receiving yet another email you aren’t interested in.

And finally, Artonomy, a handy website for business marketing and survival savvy for creative folk, has a great tip for getting people to actually sign your book: ‘a slightly sneaky tactic is to place a bowl of gorgeous chocolates next to the signup book. This will draw people towards the book and a piece of chocolate will increase their feelings of goodwill towards you. This really works!’

Do you have an email newsletter? Do you find it to be a useful way of promoting yourself? How often do you communicate with your fans?