One of the most important things you can do to sell your art online is to build a mailing list. This is a list of email address to which you send newsletters, articles, announcements, and whatever else regarding your art business. For instance, I send out a weekly newsletter in which I tell my subscribers about any new art, articles, and videos that I published that week, as well as about discounts and specials. I also offer a free computer desktop wallpaper each week as a gift.
Why A Mailing List Beats Social Media
Having a mailing list is important for two reasons:
- It is a resource that you own. With your followers on social networks, you are at the mercy of site. For instance, this past year, Facebook changed the way it determines when to show your posts to your follows. The result has been that only 20% or so of your followers now see your posts to your Facebook fanpage (unless you pay to “boost” your post). With your own email list, you can’t be crippled by someone else that way.
- Your subscribers have to somehow deal with the mail you send them. This is unlike social network posts where your followers can simply ignore your posts as they cycle off their stream. With an email, the recipient has to open it, delete it, mark it as spam, or leave it in their inbox forever.
Opting In: How People Get on Your Mailing List
People choose to get on your list by giving you their email address. This is called “Opting in”. Never send emails about your art business to people who have not opted in to your list. That’s called “spamming” and it is a huge NO-NO.
There are a couple of ways people can opt into your mailing list. One is for them to just tell you their email address. For instance, you might meet someone in public who expresses an interest in your art and, after some conversation, they write their email address on a piece of paper for you or give you a card. The other, though, is more useful online: you have some sort of form on a website where people can submit their email address and perhaps their name.
If you have a Fine Art America account, they do have an email campaign feature. The form for visitors to sign up on you list can be reached from a link just below your picture on your profile. FAA’s email campaign system is pretty bare bones though, and emails show as coming from “firstname.lastname@example.org”. So if you use your FAA profile to be your Opt-In form for your email list, then I recommend moving the emails you get there into a better email campaign manager.
If you don’t want to use the FAA form, you can always create one through an email campaign management site. You’ll have to have a blog or website that allows you to add forms to it though. However, this can really be a better way to handle things as the email campaign managers allow you to set up autoreponders that automatically send confirmation emails and introductory emails to anyone who signs up using the form.
Email Marketing Campaign Managers
Email campaign managers are websites where you sign up for an account. Once you’ve done that, you can manage your email list through it and generate and send emails to the people on your list. They also allow you to set up autoresponders which are scheduled emails that are automatically sent to people who sign up on your list.
The two big sites that I see used are:
MailChimp is nice in that you can use it for free until your email list grows to over 500 subscribers. The forms are a little basic, but still easy to make using a wizard on the site. Setting up autoresponders however, requires you to use one of their pay models.
AWeber seems to be what all the pros use. It does not have a free tier, but does allow you to use it for $1 for the first month and $20 per month there after. It seems to have better form generation capability as well as a better system of setting up autoresponders. Also, I’ve heard from those that have used both AWeber and Mailchimp that AWeber mails are less likely to automatically wind up in spam boxes.
A lot of the bloggers that I follow who talk about online marketing insist that your email list is your most important resource. For artists, I would say it comes in third behind your art, then the text around your art (the title, keywords, and description). Still through it is VERY important. So, when you are coming up with your marketing plan don’t forget to include a mailing list.
P.S. If you liked this article, please consider signing up for my newsletter. I send it out every Wednesday and it includes links to my latest artworks, articles, and videos, as well as discounts, deals, and freebies!