Your email list could be THE most important part of you marketing and selling your Art.   If you have paid attention to the world of marketing for any amount of time you will notice that this is the one part of marketing that has not changed for years.  Platforms have come and gone, software has too … and certainly formulas for Social Media have.  But our email lists are still one of our key assets.

We each have the ability to create a list that is unique to us and designed to represent us, our target market, our particular Art and our personal visions and goals. You may find some of the names on your list on someone else’s list too but trust that your full lists won’t be identical to someone else.

Is one of the games to have a big list?  Yes, but it is even more important that your list is built with names of people who like what you do and become loyal subscribers.  These are the people who you get to nurture, give value to and build relationships with.  Buying or paying for some abstract list just to make your list bigger is not a direction I recommend.  Growing it organically is what I recommend.

Like any part of your overall business strategy and marketing strategy you are the one that defines your list.    Bottom line is that you need to know what you want to accomplish before you can find the right people to invite to join your list.  It may be that you even want to grow more than one list … but each one will require that you know what you are going to provide first.

It all starts about getting clear about the “WHY & WHO”.  Why do you want a list in the first place?  Who do you want on that list? Do you want to introduce potential collectors/buyers to the Art you have for sale?  Do you want to educate non-artists about Art?  Do you want to connect with other Artists?   Do you want to provide people with instructions on how to create a particular type of art? Do you want to teach people how to do a particular type of Art?

Once you know WHY you want a list and WHO you want on the list then you need to start defining “WHAT” you are going to give them to join your list and “HOW?” you are going to do that.  Naturally it must appeal to the target market you are wanting to add to your list.  It makes no sense to provide potential collectors with information that would only interest other Artists and visa-versa.  Not only does it need to match your audience but you need to get really clear about the content and the value the content will bring them.

Once you know WHY, WHO, WHAT and HOW then you can go after the other elements that will help you make sure that your list is successful and keeps growing (vs. shrinking quickly).  “WHEN?” are you going to contact your list?   This needs to be consistent and you need to be able to deliver what you promised.  This is a key to building trust.  Many of you may have joined some list at some point who promised a monthly newsletter but then only saw them every 3 months or suddenly got bombarded with sales emails every day once you were on the list.

Got all of that???  WhoooooooooHooooooooo, now you are ready to get people on your list/s.  But wait?????? How do you do that?????   Ahhhhhhhhh, well here is the fun part because there are tons of different ways and you are an Artist so you can even create new ways constantly.  We can basically separate all the different ways into 2 categories for the sake of making this easier:   On-line and Off-Line.  This is not an either/or thing.  I recommend you do BOTH.

Let’s look OFF-LINE first because this route is already in place for you to some degree. Do you have your own shows?  Do you have exhibitions?  Do you go to shows or exhibitions?  Do you go to Art events?  Do you have a studio?   Do you ever leave your home (LOL … I couldn’t help myself but it’s not far from the truth …every time you leave home is an opportunity)?  Anywhere you might meet the people you want on your list is an opportunity.  All you just need to do is invite them to join.

Anywhere you are showing your art provide a professional form for people to fill out (the better it looks the better the chance of them writing so you can read it).  Make sure you make a sign to draw attention to it and place a title and instructions on the top of the form to let them know what it is for.  Make sure it is spelled out clearly so they understand and ask them to please print. You can also leave a basket for them to drop their business cards in or place index cards by the basket for them to write it on.  I often ask people to type it into the notepad on my phone if I meet them out in public and don’t have a form. Never miss an opportunity in person to simply ask.

As for ON-LINE … this also has tons of opportunities for you to take advantage of:

  • After any on-line sale (I say after because in order to avoid being guilty of spam and just to be a decent human being you need to always ask). When the sale is completed you can have a re-direction to a page that explains what the list is for and to ask them to agree to be on it.
  • Opt-in email opportunities on your website, blog posts, shopping carts, etc. The key here is that you need to place it where is can be seen and you also need to have amazing content already on your website that makes people want more.  I suggest placing an opt-in box on the header or footer or side menu of each page (including and especially if you have blog posts and in that case make sure you put it on each blog page).

    Many of us hate those pop-ups that come up on main pages that asks us to opt-in for something … interestingly enough … there are so many of them out there because they work. If you decide to use one of those then please make sure they can exit it easily and quickly if they do not want to fill it out. Never force a visitor to fill one out to get back to the real content (Absolute Website Suicide!). Make it clear and obvious and easy to find!

    There are many versions of pop-ups including: popovers (these are the ones that grey out the screen they show up on), top-bar (pinned to the top of the page), slide ups (these show up when you scroll a certain distance on the page), side-bars (also can be a certain way down when you scroll or when you hover over the side menu or side arrow), and bottom-bars (that slide up or show up when you across to the bottom and usually cover part of the footer).

    Is there such a thing as too much?  If they get in the way and take over the content too much … YES!  Listen to people and watch your statistics and if you see visitors drop or bounce rates go up then you have overdone it.  Remember if you have several lists then you have opportunities on several places where that unique target audience may appear (i.e. on your gallery page for potential collectors or on your page where you teach painting or photography classes).

  • Opt-in email opportunities in Social Media (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Many SM platforms allow you to make a call to action from your profile page.  If so … put the call-to-action to opt-in there and keep it there.  If not, then you will need to utilize consistent/periodic posts, tweets, or even Ads, etc. to extend your offer to people.  Make sure you include it in invitations to become friends, likes, connections, etc. and invite people when you reply to Tweets, etc.  Never miss an opportunity if it is your target audience.
  • In your email signature include a link to an opt-in form.
  • Embed a link to an opt-in form in any videos you create.

In order to actually have someone opt in you will need to offer them something. Bottom line: THIS MUST BE JUICY FOR YOUR POTENTIAL MARKET.  Most of us have dealt with email overload and many people won’t give up their email addresses easily.  That is why I suggested you do all of that work up front in order to define your market, what you were going to give them of value and how.

If you really want people to sign up easier then one way to do this is to offer ENTICING FREE GIFTS or incentives.  You are basically trading value for value.  The key here is to offer something of real value to your target market. I would make sure that you let people know what they will be getting ahead of time so they know what to expect.  Some of the kind of freebies you can offer are:

  • InfoGraphic – This is a graphic that explains or gives information about something (i.e. 5 Steps to Choosing a piece of Art, How to Pick out the Perfect Frame, 10 Steps to Taking a great Photo, etc.)
  • Ebook – This can be as short as 20 pages about any topic that your audience would love (10 of your favorite works with high res images and a story about each, A progression of a piece of work from start to finish, Any kind of How-To, Your Personal Philosophy about something, A series of poems, etc.)
  • Eprint – A download file of one of your pieces of work. This needs to be a high res file that will look great when printed.
  • Audio Clips – Great for Musicians or delivering any kind of conversation about a topic. Make sure this is in a format that everyone can access on any kind of device like a MP3 file.
  • Checklists – Pick anything you know about to create this from (What Kind of Art Suits You Best, What Materials Do You Need to Have to Begin as an Oil Painter, How Do You Prepare for a Photo Shoot, etc.)
  • Newsletter – I personally think this is one of the best freebies you can offer people and it will keep you in front of them. This will take a little more work on your part, as you will need to create these and send them to your list on a consistent basis, but it will be worth it.
  • Webinar, Teleseminar or Live Stream Video – You can give a short class on any topic – make it approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour long.
  • Private Short Video – Videos are the most popular mediums on-line – people love them because they are visual and auditory. Use this to share yourself with your audience and allow them to get to “know” you better.  Use a video format that can be accessed by any device like MP4.  If you have a YouTube or Vimeo Channel you can load it to that platform and mark it private and lead people to your Channel too.


How do you turn your on-line visitors/audience into subscribers technically?  You use an Email Marketing Providers (EMP).  These allow you to have high end and quality management of your email list. They have opt-in mail forms you can use almost anywhere to collect names and email addresses. (i.e on your website and on Social Media pages, profiles, blogs pages, etc.).

Besides the opt-in web forms, EMPs handle subscription management such as subscriber verification, unsubscribe capability, automated follow-up letters and email campaigns and broadcast email capability to whole lists or partial lists.  Some of the tried and true providers are AWeber, GetResponse and MailChimp.  All three of these are rich with options and fairly easy to learn and use.

What do you do with your list once you start growing it? You keep providing VALUE!!! It is key that you make sure your readers feel as valued as they are to you if you want to keep them as subscribers.  Be consistent.  If you promised them a newsletter then deliver it at the same time each month.  If you send out email broadcasts then do that at the same time intervals.  If you decide to throw in something special let them know it is special so they do not worry that you are going to begin inundating them with emails.

Consistency has them look forward to hearing from you and be excited when it arrives on time.  WARNING: There is such a thing as overkill … give them what you told them you would give them but be careful not to fill their email boxes up with too much more than that.  For example: unless someone signed up for a daily email do not begin to do that. I find that for the average subscriber that something short weekly or bi-weekly works.  Newsletters, since they are longer and take more of the reader’s time, probably should not be more frequent than monthly.

Here are some of the things you can place into emails for your subscribers making sure they all connect back to your website so they stay connected to your full vision:

  • Monthly Newsletter
  • Announcements about new pieces, gallery installations, exhibits, shows, commission opportunities etc.
  • Studio updates with photos, or even better, videos of progress on certain works, sharing about your process, etc.
  • Inside scoops about you … let them get to know you as an Artist.
  • Ways for them to give you feedback.
  • Summary of new blog posts (with a link to your website for full blog, of course)
  • Surprises – give them gifts along the way that are exclusive for your subscribers only like: downloadable small images, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, interactive opportunities or special promotions

Once you begin playing this game let yourself roll with it and allow yourself to keep a list of things you think of to share with your folks … keep a fresh list going so that you are never stuck without something to deliver.

Also, remember that each email is an opportunity for some sort of soft sell.  People will follow if you point them in the direction you want them to go to and make it easy for them.  Point them to your work for sale.  Draw them back to your Art.  Let go of your shyness and simply be tasteful. Always, Always, Always acknowledge them and show your gratitude for them.  They are, after all, scared to you as your audience and your committed fans/patrons!  Invite them to share your emails and to have their friends and family join your list too.

Relationships grow over time.  Make no mistake about this … you are, through your list, creating and growing relationships! This is not about overnight growth.  This is about organic and sustainable growth.  As you get to know your audience, and they get to know you, magic will happen.  Invite feedback and questions so you can learn what they want. Make sure that appreciation, for them, is ALWAYS present.  Finally, please, please, respond quickly when they do email you back or engage with you in any way. They need to know you are real, that they are important to you and that you care!

YOU are a CREATIVE.  Be creative!!! Make this a game and have fun with it vs. a burden and it will be easier on you and your enthusiasm will show in everything you produce for your audience. Rich lists belong to people with rich, exciting, valuable content!

If you already have a list are you keeping it alive and expanding on it constantly?

What things have you provided your subscribers with that has worked for you?

If you don’t have a list what are some actions you can take today to begin creating one?

As always, I’d love to hear from you!  Please feel free to give me any feedback or ask me any questions you may have.  Thank you in advance for sharing with us any of your tips on building lists so that we can all learn from one another.



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