Your email list is a means for nurturing trust, for building relationships, and, if you teach, for demonstrating your knowledge.
Your list is, as I’ve often said, your most important asset. It’s unique to you, your art, and your goals. No one has the same list of names and email addresses.
For more than 10 years, I relied on good content to build my list. I thought, correctly, that if I just share good stuff, word will get around and more people would subscribe. They did!
But I missed out on helping even more artists because I wasn’t proactively adding names to my list as often as I could have been.
I am more convinced than ever that we need to use as many avenues as possible to build our lists. Not quantity for quantity’s sake, but seeking the highest quality of loyal subscribers.
From time to time, ask people who follow you to sign up. Don’t beg, just ask. You can use the ask in combination with any giveaways mentioned below.
If you’re out networking, as you should be, don’t be afraid to ask people that seem interested if they’d like to be on your list.
Speaking is related to the In-Person Ask and Sign-Up Forms, but it must be a category by itself because it’s a powerful way to build your list.
If you shine in front of a crowd, you probably have a lot of people in the room that would be thrilled to hear from you again. Catch ‘em while you can!
Of course you have an easy-to-find Web form on your site, preferably on every page (or, as you’ll see, as a pop-up). But you also need the ability to gather email addresses when you have an audience.
Pass around a form in the audience whenever you speak. Leave out a guest notebook or individual comment cards at your exhibition or event. Be sure there’s a checkbox to sign up for your list, and that it’s clear they know what they are signing up for.
You know what I’m talking about here: those annoying boxes that cover up your screen just as you’re getting interested in a site. You’re being asked to enter your name and email address in return for the promise of a freebie or newsletter.
Yes, we’re all irritated by them, but there’s a reason they are ubiquitous online. It’s because they work!
Stop holding out and add a pop-up form until the studies show different results. Your pop-up form might mention a freebie offer if you have one. Keep reading for more on that.
People who learn from your wicked-smart insights are inspired by your message or images, or giggle at your humor are more likely to share your email.
I open every single email from artist Anne Bossert because she has a terrific sense of humor. Inevitably, it will be a smile break in a busy day.
Building a list by creating great content is how my list grew over the years. It’s still my favorite way to build a list because it attracts followers that are more likely to be loyal for the long term.
Don’t wait until you have more people on your list to start sharing your content. You won’t get more people until you take a big step and commit to the content.
A freebie is something you give away in exchange for someone’s email address. I know of numerous artists who offer high-resolution downloads as their freebies in order to appeal more to collectors than other artists, but I have no evidence that this increases sign-up numbers.
Brad Blackman offers a different twist in his free report, The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Art Shows, which is geared more to buyers.
I think freebies work better for teachers, so I’ve shared a whole section on them below.
Freebies For Teachers
It’s easier for teachers to identify possible freebies than for artists who don’t teach. When you want to attract students to your list, give away information that is carefully crafted to show off your knowledge on a particular subject.
Of course, the information isn’t actually free. It will cost an email address before people can download your freebie.
Consider any of the following giveaways if you teach.
Develop a test, based on the subject you’re teaching, which potential students can use to see how they stack up against other artists.
After the assessment is downloaded, people might be led to a video in which you can walk them through their results.
Checklists can be quickly digested and are forever useful.
Their brilliance is that they consist of only the basic elements. Potential students must enroll in your program to find out how to make the best use of items on the list.
By example, I offer a Cheat Sheet for Marketing Tasks (see the bottom of the post).
Special Reports & E-Books
Reports and e-books might take a checklist as the basis, and then go more into depth. While a report might be 5-10 pages in length, we would expect an e-book to be longer. And longer isn’t always better.
Consider pulling together a special report on a single aspect of your teaching – one that plays only a small role in your program.
Webinars, Teleseminars, Live Streaming
Teleseminars deliver content via audio over a phone line, whereas webinars usually include visual images (slides). Live streaming is you teaching in front of a webcam with an audience watching in real time.
Create a 1-hour content-rich virtual event and promote the heck out of it online. In the best of all worlds, this will not only build your list, but also lead to more enrollments for your program.
Warning: These aren’t for amateurs. You can do a lot of work that leads to nowhere if you haven’t studied the secret sauce for the process.
You’ve seen telesummits offered online and have probably participated in one. One or two people enlist 10 or 15 others to interview over the course of a week or two.
Presumably, everyone participating builds their lists. The catch is that they all have to send multiple emails to their lists. (This is why I rarely participate in these events. I am too protective of the people on my list.)
Telesummits are crazy popular these days – too popular, I’d say. Like webinars or teleseminars, they require loads of planning and reliable infrastructure to pull off properly.
How are you building your list?