A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about why artists should publish newsletters. I’m delighted that people read it and remembered its basic premise: that artist newsletters aren’t for making sales. However, I’m troubled that some of that article has been misunderstood, or perhaps I left too much room for misinterpretation. It’s time to set the record straight on artist newsletters.
First, a definition. A newsletter is an email sent on a regular schedule, which probably has regular features. Mine has a personal note at the top, a client testimonial, a featured article, and a featured product. Every time I sit down to write my newsletter, I know that I have to fill in these areas before it can be sent. My newsletter is sent weekly. You don’t have to do this. Monthly might work better for you.
But a newsletter has a regular schedule. It’s reliable. It’s a promise you make to yourself and your art. It’s also a promise you made to people when you asked them to sign up for your list. When you ask people to sign up for your newsletter, they know they’re going to get it when you promise it. By the way, it’s much easier to get people to sign up for something when they know exactly when and what they’re going to receive. You need to consistently commit to delivering a newsletter – not just when you feel like it.
Purpose of a Newsletter
I stand by the original tenet behind that article from two years ago: A newsletter isn’t for making sales. It might (and should) lead to sales, but that’s not its immediate or sole purpose. The primary purpose of your newsletter is to keep your list warm by putting your name and art in front of people – consistently.
Newsletters help you nurture relationships with the people who have asked to hear from you, but they don’t do much good if you write them only when you feel like it or only when you want something from your list (e.g. a sale, attendance at an opening, registration for your classes). You might share stories, your latest pieces, and/or work in progress. The point is that you share consistently, and that each newsletter isn’t focused solely on making sales. This effort earns you the right to ask for something in return from time to time.
Tell People Your Art Is For Sale
I said each newsletter isn’t focused solely on making sales. Can you make sales through a newsletter? Absolutely! But, again, the purpose of the newsletter is to keep your name in front of people. Still, you want people to know that your work is for sale. The best way to do this is to post prices of your art in your newsletter. Posting prices isn’t crass or hard-selling. It’s quite passive. Posting prices provides a service to people. It gives them information that they might need to make a decision.
If you don’t sell your art from your studio … if the work is available for sale through a gallery or other venue … tell people exactly how to purchase it. I believe that sales (mostly) happen as a result of personal contact – not in an email blast sent to hundreds of people. But you still need the latter. You need to keep your name and art in front of people.
You want to be the artist most on their mind when they go to buy art. Your newsletter can do this for you.
Did you just say, Eureka! ??