The Purpose of Your Artist Newsletter

Your artist newsletter is for keeping your list warm. It's not for making sales.

By way of explanation, a definition is first required.

Oil painting by Robin Wellner
©Robin Wellner, Intervention. Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches.

An Artist Newsletter Is ...

Many artists call every email they send a “newsletter.” There's nothing wrong with that, but I want to split some hairs. (Since this is my blog, we'll use my definitions.)

An artist newsletter is an email sent consistently, which might have regular features such as your work (nonnegotiable), collector or student testimonial, featured product, and recommended articles. Those are just examples.

In the past, I implored you to publish a newsletter on a regular schedule—stressing that you will build trust by sticking to a precise schedule (e.g. The third Thursday of every month)

I no longer believe the regular schedule is critical. I don't, sorry to say, think your subscribers are awaiting your message with bated breath.

But I do believe publishing on a regular schedule is a promise you make to yourself and your art.

A newsletter schedule instills a habit of staying in touch with people who have asked to hear from you.

Why You'll Benefit from a Newsletter Schedule

You're more likely to use your list when you have a schedule.

You're less likely to let your list go cold and find yourself, one day, six months later, trying to figure out what to say to your subscribers about your absence.

[ If you find yourself with a cold list, see How to Warm Up a Cold Email List. ]

Watercolor painting by Jane Fritz
©Jane Fritz, Claret Cup Cactus. Watercolor on paper, 14 x 21 inches.

Your newsletter is a promise you make to yourself and your art: to share it with those who have gone out of their way to ask to hear from you.

When you have the schedule for your artist newsletter, you are much less likely to ignore the commitment. 

And even though your newsletter isn't for making sales, selling your art will be much easier when you've stayed in touch with your list.

Earning the Right to Ask

Newsletters help nurture relationships with the people who have asked to hear from you, but they’re not much good if you write them only when you feel like it or, worse, only when you want something from your list, such as interest in a sale, attendance at an opening, or 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, like those things I mentioned above, from time to time.

Acrylic and collage work by Susan G Abbott
©Susan G Abbott, Durham Woods. Acrylic and collage (tissue paper, wax paper, gelli print) on canvas, 24 x 30 x 1.5 inches.

Be Clear That Your Art is for Sale

I said each newsletter isn’t focused solely on making sales, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell or try to sell from a newsletter.

You absolutely should.

You always 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.

Sharing prices is not pushy or aggressive. It's actually a helpful service—providing potential buyers with information they need to make decisions.

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 artist newsletter can do this for you.


This article was first published July 2, 2015. It has been updated with original comments intact.

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16 thoughts on “The Purpose of Your Artist Newsletter”

  1. I started sending newsletter a couple years ago. First, very few and now a newsletter each month. I always talk about what I do in my studio, at my boutique, and something from the archive of my blog. People like them very much. In those times where people have so much to see, I discover that the newsletter is a reminder that you exist and are still there.
    you can see the last one here .

    1. Thank you for the example. I can only read what little french I remember from high school, but the layout is gorgeous, it’s not super long, and each one has links to follow.

      I am about to start a newsletter, so practical examples are really helpful. I hope other people post theirs here as well. Can I sign up for your newsletter?

  2. Victoria Pendragon

    I send a quarterly newsletter, right around the times of the solstices and equinoxes. Because I am not solely an artist but a writer of books designed to help people be the best people they can be, a lot of my work centers on inherent patterns in nature and the body so these ‘big’ seasonal turning points seem like appropriate markers. I get a lot of response back, so I feel as if I am doing well.
    I wanted to thank you for the ‘posting prices’ piece of your newsletter; it literally never occurred to me. Such a simple thing, but wow.

  3. I have made several attempts at a newsletter, but this year I have been committed to sending it out once a month on the fourth thursday of every month. Alyson’s advice got me going in the right direction with respect to the process of scheduling and structure. I truly believe her Creative Content Camp is helping me improve my content and turn my newsletter into something people look forward to reading.

    This will have the consequence of finally gaining the consistancy Alyson advises. I just need to remember to post prices.

  4. This article is incredibly helpful. I’m never sure how much to put in a newsletter, and feel funny promoting myself. Your formula for a client testimonial, a featured article, and a featured product is great. And it helps to know that sharing stories, works in progress, latest pieces is better than asking for a direct sale – very helpful article.

    Thanks Alyson!


  5. I struggle big time about what to talk about. I had used work-in-progress, new series, moving news, exhibitions but having enough interesting, informative or educational content is hard to create. One question, is it ok to use pictures found on the Internet to give a reference or a how-to explanation, of course giving reference of the source?

    1. Sikiu: I sure wish you could have joined us for Creative Content Camp. It would have helped with what to say.

      Re pictures: It depends. I wouldn’t ever use anything that looks copyrighted or copyrightable. If it says “share” it should be okay.

      What I’ve learned: My own images are the best – they differentiate me and are safe to use.

    2. Hi Alyson,
      Hope you are well!
      Do you recommend using watermarked photos of your art in your newsletter or use them as is (assuming I am using the testimonial, featured article, featured product format). Thank you! You are making this sound easily do-able!

    3. Suzanne: This is an interesting question that has never come up before.

      It depends on the watermark. If it’s on the bottom, as I recommend, it’s fine to use them in your newsletter. It seems like it would be easier to use the watermarked version if you’re using it everywhere else online.

  6. Eureka is right, Allyson! I really appreciate you sharing the formula – always a personal note, always a featured article, etc.. After reading this post I immediately set to work recreating my newsletter template with topic headers that I now realize I should include each time, along with a couple of opional topics. I’ve always felt the newsletter idea was overwhelming, now they almost write themselves!
    Thank you!

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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.

Where can we send it? 

To ensure delivery, please triple check your email address.

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

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