While social media is an important part of your online presence, don’t neglect the personal communication you can provide your audience with a monthly artist newsletter. An art marketing strategy that regularly updates your contacts will keep your followers engaged and on track with your latest projects and happenings. Social media algorithms are constantly changing. Facebook’s Edgerank makes it almost impossible to break into the newsfeed and Instagram makes steady engagement an ongoing challenge. Even if you have tens of thousands of followers, there’s no guarantee your content is being seen by your loyal following. That’s why you can’t rely solely on social media to connect. Unlike social media, you have complete control over your artist newsletter’s look and feel. This article highlights the best email marketing services for artists, tips for building an email list, and content you should include in your newsletters.
Email Marketing Services
There are many great email marketing services, but which one is right for artists depends on what tools you need. If you already have a significant email list, you may be ready for a platform like Emma that comes with a lot of bells and whistles and requires that you already have at least 10,000 subscribers. If you’re newer to the email marketing game, platforms like TinyLetter or MailChimp would be a better fit. TinyLetter is free but limits subscribers and MailChimp is free up to a point and then offers a fee structure.
TinyLetter is a small newsletter service that’s become beloved to the online writing community. It’s free and simple to use. It’s perfect for artists, writers, or burgeoning entrepreneurs who are still building their audience. TinyLetter does cap its subscriber count at 5,000, but until you’ve gotten to that point, you’re in the clear. The interface is incredibly easy to understand, and you need zero technical ability to use it. This service boasts its simplicity, so if you are looking for a very straightforward and basic solution, this is it.
A bigger company than TinyLetter, MailChimp offers a free version for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails, but after that, there’s a $10/month price. However, this price reflects a platform that offers services including segmentation and A/B testing (something TinyLetter doesn’t offer). The segmentation tool allows you to send different newsletters to groups within your existing email list. A/B testing allows you to test different headlines and copy so you can see which version has a better (more engaged) reaction. With these tools, you gain the ability to learn more about your audience’s wants and better meet their needs.
Once you decide which service is right for you, you can move on to creating a subscriber list for your artist newsletter. If you don’t have a subscriber list currently, don’t fret; it’s not as hard as it seems to begin one. There are a couple of ways to collect emails for your newsletter. Most importantly though, getting permission to add an email to your subscriber list is paramount. No one should be wondering how or why they’re receiving content from you. It’s obvious but start by asking those closest to you if they’d like to receive updates on your work. When you have shows or attend fairs, bring a sheet of paper and leave it with a pen by the entry. Encourage people you interact with to sign up for your artist newsletter and explain what they can expect.
It will take time to build your list to 100, let alone 1,000 subscribers, but with time and consistency, it will get there. Another good way to encourage sign-ups to your artist newsletter is by using an opt-in form or page. An opt-in form can be created using many email service providers. When you make your service selection, check to see if they offer this tool. An opt-in form is a web page separate from your newsletter that lets people sign up. You can link to an opt-in page from almost anywhere, including your social media accounts. Alternatively, if you have a website, you can embed an opt-in form on your about or contact page. As you test options, refer to your email service providers help section for directions on how to integrate this practice into the development of your subscriber list, as sites and platforms work differently.
If you have a good amount of web traffic, you’ll see your subscriber list begin to grow. If your website doesn’t have a ton of traffic, you’ll need to put a bit more work into building your initial list. One way to do this is to rely on cross-promotion with other lists and websites. For example, if you have an artist community or mentor, ask if they’d be interested in doing a promotional exchange. Under the exchange, they would feature you or your content in their newsletter to drive traffic to yours, and you in return would promote them or their content on a platform where you have a larger audience (perhaps Instagram or Twitter). These friendly features can help multiple people achieve their subscriber list goals at once.
Content for Your Artist Newsletter
As you establish ways to build your subscriber list, you’ll next want to think about what type of content to include in your artist newsletter. Depending on how you want to present your newsletter, your content may purely contain updates to your work, or it could be a blend of personal storytelling, inspirations, and what’s on your mind. If you realize you have enough work-related projects to talk about, stick with that.
You can break your artist newsletter into three informal sections: what happened, what’s happening, and what’s going to happen. Cover shows or collaborations you’ve completed and include links to press coverage. Move into what you’re working on at present. Include image and GIF assets if you can. Finally, feature any upcoming shows and let people know how they can access more information by linking to a blog post, show website, or event page.
If you’re not engaging with your audience regularly and don’t have a lot of new work or updates to share, you can still create and send an artist newsletter. There is still so much you can cover. Like the challenges you had entering an open call, or how you figured out how to write your artist statement. You can write who or what is inspiring you – a trip you took, someone you met, or something you did for the first time, or always do in your spare time. Talk about series ideas you’re ruminating about (if you’re ready to share). Share the music, art, and ideas keeping you up at night. Include images, video, and GIFs. Art is personal, but your experience is universal. Always be yourself and express yourself. Your audience will identify with your joys, challenges, and emotions.
There’s never been a better time to take hold of your audience. With endless algorithm changes and faceless online communities, it’s easy to forget we’re all just individuals behind these social media feeds. People have interests and a genuine desire to connect with artists they like and follow online. But with just one snap of an algorithm change, those individuals can be cut from the online world of the very artists they admire. That’s why as artists, it’s important to ensure the lines of communication with your community are strong and consistent. If you’re planning on starting an artist newsletter, make sure you’re consistent in delivering it and you’ll get the consistent engagement that engages you and your audience.
Do you send out an artist newsletter? What tips do you have for making them engaging and appealing to your audience? How do you keep up with content? Let us know in the comments!
Rachel Wells is a writer based in Nashville, TN. In addition to her writing, she has a professional background in content development, digital distribution and public relations. Her projects and clients have been featured in the The New York Times, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine and Pitchfork.