How Email Can Grow Your Creative Practice
Email is an important part of your social media strategy. It is often overlooked or neglected in lieu of the quick responses from social media networks. To keep it simple, think of email as part of your overall strategy:
Social media network > Website > Email
Collecting email addresses is one of the most important things you can do to grow your professional practice. Collect them at every opportunity – prospective buyers at an art fair, visitors to your website, corporate and non-profit contacts with whom you have engaged. It starts out slowly and grows exponentially over time. Here’s how:
First, just get started. That’s usually the hardest part. It can be a dedicated notebook where email addresses are collected or a digital spreadsheet like Google Sheets. It’s okay if there are duplicates or something is spelled incorrectly, that will be addressed later.
Next, pick an email marketing provider. There are three we recommend based on your design experience and technical proficiency. All three offer entry level pricing based on the number of emails saved. Plans scale based on how many more addresses are added.
Mad Mimi is the easiest of the three, although the number of design options and features are limited. It’s a straightforward platform. Upload email addresses. Design a basic template. Send campaigns.
Got the hang of it or already have some basic design skills? Step up your game with Mailchimp. It is the most versatile without being overly feature laden. Some advantages: Get more creative with your emails with drag and drop elements. Set up a landing page to feature your work and collect more addresses. Educate new subscribers with automated drip campaigns that step new followers through you, your work, and what they can expect to hear from you.
If your technical skills are a bit more advanced and you’re the type of person that loves tinkering with design, features, and apps, then Constant Contact is for you. It has robust integration features for all kinds of other services. Plus, the reporting and analytics will give you a heads up about what is and is not working.
There are two more aspects for your email strategy: frequency and content. There are no set rules for either and the following are simply suggestions to get you started.
Just starting out? If you have under 1000 addresses, once a month is a good start. Up to 5000, twice a month. Hit the 10000 mark, do what you want – weekly, twice a week, or whenever new content is available. The important part is being consistent. Start out by sending on the same day at the same time each month. Over time, you will figure out how to optimize your sending strategy.
Show more than tell and give a clear call to action. Show images of new work for sale and provide a link or method to purchase. Tell a story by showing a series of pictures of a work in progress and describe each step along the way. Inform followers of where your work is being shown or sold including upcoming art fairs, gallery exhibitions, or other retail/wholesale events. Share something about you that informs your artwork – why and how – such as a recent trip or social activism.
The more emails that are collected, the more content can be sent. The more reasons there are for followers to click through to your content, the more likely they are to purchase or share your content with others (who may, in turn, become followers).
There is fine tuning in terms of segmenting the list, A/B testing, geo-location, and so on. Advanced users can explore to their heart’s content. It’s a learning curve, most users have an intuitive sense as to when to take it to the next level. First things first… just get started!
Here are some special offers that can help get you on your way:
- Try Google Suite of services…professional email, docs, and more free of charge for 14 days
- Sign up for Mailchimp
- Get creative with Constant Contact
Todd Hestand, Founder, Side Arts, is an independent artist and business adviser. For over eight years he has served as the Manager of the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy where he works with thousands of artists, crafters, and performers. His role includes individual consulting, teaching courses, and developing programs for entrepreneurially-minded artists. Click here to learn about consulting services.