In the era of social media, it’s hard to cut through the noise. Instead, artists should consider an art marketing strategy that incorporates an artist newsletter campaign to keep their fans engaged and on track with their progress.
Why? Social media algorithms are constantly changing. Facebook’s Edgerank makes it almost impossible to break into the newsfeed and Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm 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 artists can no longer solely rely on social media to connect.
An email list and artist newsletter is something the artist owns, and its direct access is never at the whim of a larger company. While using social media to connect is still important, owning your own audience has never been more necessary. This article highlights the best email marketing services for artists, tips for building an email list, and what content you should include in your newsletters.
Get to Know 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 $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.
Building a Subscriber List for your Artist Newsletter
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 mostly 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.
What to Cover in 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 have less work going on at the moment, you still have potential to create a bustling artist newsletter. How you become inspired and work through the creative process is just as interesting as the work itself. Create a newsletter that harnesses the power of you being you. In this version, develop your personal writing style to speak about your day-to-day interactions with the world around you. Talk about shows you’ve visited around town, new museums openings you’ve attended, or shows by friends you want to help promote. From things that inspire you to the latest Google dark hole you fell into while researching, (19th-century fashion, for example) anything that moves you will move the people interested in you.
Let’s say you’re not getting out much and you don’t have much work going on but you still want to establish an artist newsletter as you build your audience. There’s still so much you can cover. Like the Google hole you fell into researching 19th-century fashion, you can write about the things keeping your head ticking. Talk about series ideas you’re ruminating (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; it’s intimate. And no matter what, it’s always okay to be yourself, rejoice in it and share it with your people.
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. Creating an artist newsletter isn’t the only answer, but it’s safe and one artists can own.