Artist Newsletters < Deep Thought Thursdays

Laura Tyler, Toast
Laura Tyler, Toast. Encaustic and ink on panel, 5 x 4 inches. ©The Artist

Artist and filmmaker Laura Tyler is a quiet spirit.
Whenever she opens her mouth, you should pay attention. Something smart and insightful usually comes out.
A few months back, Laura said that she felt the idea of newsletters is “broken.”
Since I’ve been wrestling with the format of the Art Marketing Action newsletter for a few months now, Laura’s comment got me thinking.
Are newsletters still of value?
Have blogs and Facebook pages made newsletters passé?
Are poor newsletters giving the good ones a bad name?
Or do we just need to rethink the newsletter?

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40 thoughts on “Artist Newsletters < Deep Thought Thursdays”

  1. I think there is something a bit anachronistic about newsletters in today’s connected world. However two things to consider. Firstly not everybody is connected. Secondly, for the connected people, providing a digest of interesting info can be very welcomed rather than feeding it to them in posts and tweets along the way. It really depends though if what you are sending them has enough value for them to make the special effort to read it.

  2. Newsletters that I’ve sent this year (and first year!) are geared to those who have NO clue about the Internet, blogging, Facebook, etc. I keep having to remind myself that most people are NOT as savvy as me…and would not know a blog if it bit them. For me, newsletters are useful.
    I happen to enjoy Alyson’s newsletters, but am happy to delete them when I am done reading them because I know I can find that great content on her blog. I love how Alyson showcases an artist in the newsletter as a bonus, that 2nd artist down at the bottom is a secret treat not in her blog. I keep reading Alyson’s blog because the newsletter does not include all the great content posted here.
    Do I think we need newsletters? Yes. Do I think educating how to send a decent newsletter is necessary? Yes. I keep learning, tinkering, and trying over and over again. Do I get hung up on statistics? No – especially since enough of that happens at my day job. Do I know people are reading my newsletter? Yes. Will I keep reading newsletters? YES!
    Just my thoughts….

  3. I agree with Rafi and Angeline. I am very tech savy as a computer tech nerd but I amlazy and don’t want to have to search out blogs to read.The only blogs I end up ready are the ones that keep me engaged with a newsletter.

  4. as past president of an established art group, (100+ members) I can say I have often had this conversation. The issue is, that not everyone has email to receive an e-neswletter. So we can’t leave out some of our membership in favor of the newer technology. I think newsletters are invaluable to an organization and can be supplemented with an online presence. I do read newsletters and they are great for investigating a new group or finding out info for some event or other….great resource. So yes, I would keep the hard copies and offer the e-version as well.

  5. I’m totally with keeping the newsletters: the blogs are fine IF they come to my email box as linkable reminders, but if they don’t, I lose track of them after a week or so. The newsletters I actually keep copies of if there’s content in them that I value — and I’m sometimes surprised at how often that happens in this age of modern comms!
    Newsletters rock in their own special way.

  6. Let’s agree that Alyson’s newsletter is wonderful. Her consulting business is a good fit for the format and her marketing advice, much of which is she gives for free, fills the newsletter “container” beautifully.
    But is it a good fit for artists?

  7. Maybe I missed something- are we distinguishing between the printed and email newsletter? I became a member of a women’s group in my city and they send me a printed newsletter each month. I have to admit, I savor it and feel like it’s Christmas when it arrives in the mail NO ONE sends printed newsletters anymore, but I love getting this one.
    I also enjoy email newsletters, but truth be told I scan them quickly to see if there is anything that interests me, follow that link and then delete the rest- who has time to read that much and I hate reading on the computer..
    As for writing newsletters, it’s a total joy for me. The most communication I have with my clients and friends are in response to my email newsletters (which are very informal and frequent). As long as people seem to be engaging with me in response to the email newsletter I will keep writing them. Maybe I should do a printed one as well..
    Does anyone else send printed snail mail newsletters? Thoughts and responses to them? Would love to hear personal experience with printed newsletters.

    1. We’re talking about email newsletters. I like snail mail newsletters, too! They don’t baffle me in the same way many artists’ email newsletters do.
      I still get snail mail class schedules from my local knitting store and the Humboldt Field Research Institute and keep them around for weeks. I doubt I’d appreciate them half as much if they arrived by email.
      If anyone out there produces a snail mail newsletter, do tell. I’d also love to hear about your personal experience.

  8. I used to send out a monthly newsletter . It had new paintings, art show info, what awards I’d recently won etc. Response? None (ok, I’d get a rare response) I switched over to sending emails every time I had a new painting or had show information(about 3 times a month). Response? Tons!! Conclusion: a quick visual treat works better for me than a longer newsletter.

    1. Love this! A “quick visual treat” is exactly the type of email I like receiving from other artists. It sounds a lot like a postcard which is the model I’m most excited about using with my own mailings. I’m thrilled to know it’s working for you.

  9. I love receiving email newsletters from my favorite artists! I subscribe to a few. They usually share some neat things about their artistic adventures, a new item they’ve created, or a special coupon for subscribers. I’d be disappointed if I stopped hearing from them this way. I also subscribe to one artist’s blog (she doesn’t happen to have a newsletter) & because I love her work so much I don’t mind the frequency of receiving info from her. I do agree that paper newsletters may be a little passe & pricey!

  10. I have been wondering the same thing, in my own small way ( Newsletters are my least favorite method of getting information, but I decided to give one a try, for reasons mentioned above: preference, familiarity with technology. And when I sent out my first one recently, to the handful of people I know only use email, I had some delightful responses and conversation. So… maybe newsletters aren’t broken for everyone — just me? A couple of people who I assumed would see my news on Facebook assured me that they’d rather have email, so as not to miss it. An interesting question, and not always the same answer for everyone. (Why do I continue to be surprised by that…?!?)

  11. I find that newsletters are still effective. I’ve been experimenting with when I send them, though. It seems that I get the most responses from people if I send in the late afternoon on a weekday. I think this is because people are at work and it’s easy to get distracted by email, etc.
    Also, there are some that prefer Facebook pages, but there are also those that prefer email or Twitter or postal mail, etc. My theory is that everyone has “their” method for obtaining information. That’s why I would recommend covering all your bases, but I still like to put the most effort into my newsletter since it covers everything that people are likely to miss if they only get news piecemeal on FB, etc.

    1. What a great observation about timing. My email marketing guru recommends setting your first mailings to arrive between 10am and 2pm on Tuesday or Wednesday which are the dates and times currently associated with the highest open-rates. He says open rates vary from business to business and experimentation is key.

    2. Yes, thank you for highlighting this again. I’m going to be more conscious of what day and time I sent out my newsletter this next month and see if this helps with responses. Thanks.

    3. I think this was from Wired magazine… it says “the best days for business-to-business mailings are Tues-Thurs before 3 p.m. For residential customers, evenings and weekends work best.” I can’t say who’s looking at my newsletter at work vs. home, so I don’t have two lists, but that may be more feasible for some. Again, I’ve been trying different things, but so far the most response comes during the day on weekdays.

  12. My newsletter are very short and currently go out once a month. Maybe twice if I want to spotlight a piece by itself or have special news and don’t want to wait. I always get some sort of response. Many of my subscribers are not on facebook, etc. In fact my last subscriber actually found me on facebook, but instead of liking my page, she signed up for my newsletter.

  13. This entry really reflects how I feel though, I’m finding myself asking a lot of questions… I would be really fired up to create them a couple years ago, the response I’ve been getting in the last year from the ones I have created has been really minimal. Honestly, when my new series is ready for release, yes I’m going to do a newsletter, but I feel the smaller news bits can be covered with social medias + not worth collecting into a newsletter every month or quarter.

  14. I agree…not many of my subscribers are on facebook and even if they are we are not really connected. I send out mine once a month….where first I talk about one interesting art form mostly from India and then introduce my new art and then mention about art shows and other exciting things happening in my art world…
    I have not got much response so far but I enjoy sending them, may be because it puts all my accomplishments in one place and also because I learn about an art form while preparing for the newsletter….

  15. This has been on my mind a lot lately. It seems my blog has turned into my newsletter and my clients seem to prefer it. So, why put more energy into a newsletter when people prefer social media?! And since, I prefer connecting through social media…the newsletter might be biting the dust!

  16. Alyson,
    Excellent topic, send me a note when you have decided what works best!
    The newsletters have worked well for me, sold several paintings, and signed up students, and I have gotten supportive feedback. But I loath to construct them: as I am not a natural writer, they take me about 10x’s longer than I want to spend on them. It’s not just doing the newsletter, but having the correlating web pages working, or the blog posts, the paypal buttons, and creating art tutorials. Lol, almost more difficult than painting ears!
    Don’t you all think that most people are now internet savvy? And they go through their stuff very quickly, yet they will stop if their interest is excited?
    Two changes I will make is to target my collectors and current/past students. And keep my message focused on them, and instantly go to the point. No long drawn out details. And not agonize about wording things to reach brand new people…just let them find me. lol.

  17. The newsletter is not dead at all. It simply needs to be information, evocative, and not too long. I read everything as a ‘newsletter’. I won’t join a blog unless I can get the feed directly in my inbox. .. exactly how eNewsletters are sent. No time for RSS feeds and no time for Facebook updates (I forget they’re there). Best way is to be in my email flow.

  18. Yay – a topic to write about on makebigart. I’ve been pondering what to say next and explaining the difference between push and pull marketing seems like a good one…

  19. I am absolutely in the newsletters are still valid camp. However, the best response to newsletters I’ve sent are those that offer more than “This is the piece I just finished”. Content is important. I have also learned to shorten them up (people will not scroll to the bottom of an email) and send them more frequently. I do a number of outdoor art shows across the country. Newsletters keep my customers aware of when I’ll be in their area and/or when my studio will be closed because I’m off doing a show. All of that is posted on the website and social media…people do not take the time to check.

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  21. I agree with K. Henderson. I am redoing my newsletter format to make it shorter. I find snail mail newsletters are really great – I can read them over a period of time, etc, lots of goodies in them. But, with the email newsletters – I like ’em short and sweet. And, I like them often.

  22. Jennie Rosenbaum

    What an interesting question! And timely as i’ve been avoiding sending out my newsletter. It’s become big, and bulky and annoying to write and i’m just getting tired of it. I don’t seem to gt much feedback. This is stupid, however, as I know it is handy. I’ve also been unsubscribing from a great deal of newsletters lately. Some are too long, or post too often, or just don’t offer anything new.
    The comments here have given me a lot to think about. I think brief newsletters that have the art showcased and a brief note that’s personal, something not in the blogs, or social media or readily available elsewhere. But the balance, that’s the key… Hmm…

    1. Jennie Rosenbaum

      Sorry, i meant to add that it’s really helpful to read what is working and what isn’t for others. I keep hearing newsletter is king- but I do wonder if that’s still the case. Thanks Alyson!

  23. I’ve been very engaged in reading all the comments and it has really confirmed what I already found to be true. I get the most response- dialogue and sales- from a frequent but short update type newsletter just sharing the most recent 1 or 2 paintings and a little something about what inspired them. It seems that most everyone has this same experience. I think I’m going to keep doing this. It’s easier and more fun for everyone. (I love what you said Jennie about avoiding doing yours, so true!)

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  25. Coming to this a bit late so I’m sure some of my comments will be repeats…
    What I’ve noticed most is that FB, Twitter, blog and newsletter audiences for me tend to be quite different people. Yes there is overlap but there is a clear portion of my ‘fans’ who simply want a monthly email, or they might only check the social sites occasionally so need the important info in one go less frequently. They also tend to be the people who actually attend shows and real-life events (and thus spend in the higher price brackets). My newsletter is also still the medium that gets the most response for special sales.
    Also (something I learned from you!) is that the newsletter needs to be different content. Overlapping important dates but something in it needs to be exclusive or special. I do teasers on the social media sites but keep something aside for the newsletter subscribers. I tend to like to put in either ‘work in progress’ images or ideas or things that are sort of lateral from my art (like my geology studies). Part of the reason is that I’ve been paying attention to what newsletters I like from people (artists or others) and that kind of topic means I’ll actually read it – instead of just announcements and images.

  26. Thanks for covering the newsletter question, Alyson. To be clear, I am PRO PRO PRO email marketing. But the word “newsletter” has really stymied me. It’s hard for me to picture a newsletter without turning it into a hybrid catalog/art magazine. Which I don’t have time for. So I’ve felt stuck.
    When we talked about this awhile back I think I used the word “buss” or “kiss” to describe the type of email I wanted to send. I was imagining something fresh and quick and friendly and got to wondering . . . What’s epistolary version of a kiss?
    How about “postcard?”
    Newsletters are fine in some cicrumstances but it’s not a format that serves artists well. They’re traditionally wordy, newsy, practical documents. If you’re a visual artist and the newsletter concept has inspired you catalog your achievements in newsy articles about your goings-on than it is not serving you.
    Loving everyone’s comments, by the way.
    – Laura

  27. This is something I’m always thinking about, as I started becoming a regular e-newsletter sender in the past year. Here is a link to my most recent one, any feedback would be appreciated! There is also a link to the archive on my website’s About page. I also work as a graphic designer, so I’d like to think that my newsletter design is attractive and eye-catching, and I love writing and think I do OK there. I can take critique, so feel free to get in touch and let me know what you think. Thanks!

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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To ensure delivery, please triple check your email address.

You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

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