April 26, 2010 | Alyson Stanfield

Invite Friends to Join Your Newsletter List

Jeanne Guerin-Daley started an artist newsletter, but there are still many people in her contact list who have not subscribed. She’s knows a lot of them would be interested in receiving her updates, but she doesn’t want to violate their trust or any spam laws. How does she encourage them to subscribe?
I applaud Jeanne’s hesitation to add her friends to her regular newsletter list without their consent.
If you have a prior relationship with someone, adding them to your newsletter list is probably not breaking any laws (as long as the other CAN SPAM laws are adhered to)*. But it might violate the trust between you and your friends. *Note: This is not intended to be legal advice.
In my opinion, breaking the trust between friends is worse than breaking the law, and the results are ultimately more devastating.
Consider creating a special email invitation for these people to subscribe to your newsletter. This email would have the following components.
Jeanne Guerin-Daley, Friendship Sprig, cyanotype
1. A personal salutation
Your email would be addressed to a single person—by name. Sometimes you can do this within bulk email, but you might have to make these single-shot messages to each person.

2. An invitation to subscribe to your newsletter

After the salutation, write 1-2 paragraphs inviting the recipient to read your latest issue and to subscribe. This brief introduction should also include how often they can expect to hear from you if they sign up.
3. An easy way for the recipients to act
Within the invitation (#2), include a link to the Subscribe page or ask the recipients to reply with “Subscribe” in the Subject line of their message.
4. A sample
Include your most recent newsletter at the bottom of your invitation. It’s tempting to add just a link to your latest issue, but you want to keep your friend’s attention on your message. Put everything in a single email.
5. A closing call to action
If your friends scroll down your message to read your current issue, they might not scroll back up to subscribe. Include a second subscription link at the end of your sample newsletter.
FINAL WORD: Your friends are not open targets for bulk email messages. Ask them politely if they want to be included in your list and make it easy for them to subscribe. Remember to send them a sample of what they’ll be receiving and tell them how often they can expect to hear from you. If they don’t sign up the first time, email them again (with the same format as above) in 3-4 months.

There is a lot more on using email effectively (and legally!) in my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. See especially pages 117-137, 145-50, and 200-205.
14 comments add a comment
  • I was very hesitant about how to invite my friends and family to join my mailing list, too. I knew that the majority of them would want to be on it, but I wasn’t confident that enough would follow through and actually sign up. What I did was send out a letter thanking them for their continued support, I invited them to check out my latest work on my website, then asked their permission to keep them on my mailing list for infrequent updates. I felt like this was a good compromise between not breaking their trust and actually getting people on the list.

  • I’ve been on the other side of this coin. My husband’s good friend and his wife went into business for themselves and decided to put us on their mailing list. They didn’t ask and we weren’t interested in buying from them. It became a sore spot with us and since they were friends we felt awkward unsubscribing (especially since it would have to be by emailing them, not a subscription service). I like the idea of asking first. That way you can either choose to support them of your own accord. Maybe your friends didn’t know you had a mailing list. But it is always nice to ask first.

  • I agree that including a sample newsletter is a great idea. I would also add that it is important that the look of the newsletter match the business website, blog, etc. This brand recognition is important when trying to convince people to sign up.

  • How is a newsletter different from a blog?
    I’m enjoying blogging about sculpture and want to increase the number of followers by asking for folks to suscribe. (Thanks for the format, it will work for the blog too.)

  • Friends were the basis of my original newsletter list (4x a year) and in the message header i make it clear it is a newsletter…they can hit delete w/o opening it if they so choose, or de-subscribe thru the service (which I mention at the opening of any notice). I am lucky to have supportive friends and since I try to make the newsletter informative, educational and fun I think the majority of them like receiving it…no push for sales on it. Adding folks comes thru the “subscribe here” button or by talking to people who find out I paint, then i mention the newsletter and/or website if they want more info. I do not want to be on anybody’s list who hits my mailbox once a week and have deleted many a blog for this reason. I try to imagine myself on the receiving end and respect their inboxes as i would want mine respected. If I got inundated by a “friend” who’s product i did not want I would email them with a polite “decline” but an offer to share the site with someone else more in their niche.

  • Hello
    I have received email newsletters from a couple of friends that I didn’t sign up for, but never thought it was a big deal. I just figured – I’m their friend this is what we do. I breeze through the newsletter and delete. At the same time – I only get a couple of these unrequested newsletters so it’s not a huge time suck.
    When I send my first couple of newsletters out – I am going to ask people to “Opt Out” instead of “Opt In”. I hope it won’t offend people.

  • Cindy,
    i agree, like you; I try to make my newsletter informative, educational and fun as well, with no pushing of sales. I don’t believe sales are the purpose of a newsletter (although, it IS about exposure and information, which could eventually end up in a sale, of course.)
    About the Opt In/Opt Out question:
    I wasn’t sure about the Opt In/Opt Out rules so I looked it up. I found a link to a site which spells it all out for us.

  • […] Guest Blogger posts: Maren Bargreen, Lisa McShane, Michael Lynn […]

  • Shirlee Grund

    thanks. that was very helpful.

  • […] say you or your webmaster created an opt-in box for your website or blog so people may subscribe to your newsletter. You may take the coding for that opt-in box and add it to your Fan Page through the installation […]

  • […] subject line was “Do you actually want to be on my email list?” is okay, but “Er, I think I messed up” might have been even stronger. Or […]

  • […] your bulk email message to anyone who didn’t request it. If you’re sending your email to people who […]

  • […] Watch your tone when you’re tempted to issue a commandment in your email messages or newsletters. […]

  • When I used to send postcard in envelope invitations to a solo show I was having at a gallery, those people had not previously signed up to receive those invitations…I feel the same way about inviting people by email…It is a very rare thing if you do receive an invitation from me by email, & that is the only thing you are going to get in a 2 year time frame…I don’t do a newsletter-I am probably too much of a perfectionist to get that done within reasonable time & energy parameters (I did one years ago & it left me bereft of creativity to get anything else done)…Is it really such a horrible thing for someone to get a one time invitation to one of my shows? Without signing up to receive that?

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *