Create an amazing artist newsletter in six simple steps
Starting a newsletter can be intimidating. We'll help you get one running in no time.
By Siena Oristaglio on March 7th, 2018
Step one: Take the leap
This step is simple. Go for it! Take the leap!
I promise it will be easy and painless to sign up! Go. Go. Go. Go. Go create an account on one of those two sites and then buy yourself a slice of pizza, come back here, and we'll continue. I believe in you. Do it! Go!
Step two: Make a plan
Woohoo! You did it! So here we are, eating a congratulatory slice of pizza, ready to begin. Like with any new and unknown quest, the idea of how to keep a consistent mailer can feel like an ambiguous blob of question marks.
So how do we befriend the blob and turn it into a beautiful, satisfying experience, much like the pizza you are currently eating? We make a plan!
A good mailing list plan consists of two elements: a clear idea of what you'll put in it and when you'll send it out. The "what you'll put in it" can include anything from "upcoming events" to "behind the scenes process photos" to "images / documentation of new work" to "a list of artists that are currently blowing my mind" to "a list of pizza toppings that are currently blowing my mind."
In deciding the kind of stuff to include in your mailer, think about what currently gets you the most excited to share, and then pick a couple (one or two!) of those basic categories to start with. Keep it simple, and remember, the plan can always change — but to know whether you want to change it, you have to start somewhere.
Moving on to the second leg of the plan, when you'll send it out depends on what you feel would be most sustainable for you as an artist. Remember, you can always reassess after sending out a few mailers to see if this timeframe feels right to you.
So, if your first instinct is that you could put out a mailer once every three months, start there. If it's once a week, start there. Then try this plan on like a pair of sweatpants (covered in pizza emojis, duh) and see how it fits!
As long as you try to stick to two legs of your plan and communicate with your people about any changes you make to it, you're in good shape! Speaking of communicating with your people, let's move onto the next step.
Step three: Tell folks about it
Okay, step three is to tell folks about your mailer. You're going to need to tell people that you have a place where they can sign up to be regularly sent cool things from you.
This call to sign up for you mailer can happen in person or online — and ideally both. Basically, any place that a person has had a chance to resonate with your work is a place where you can let them know that you have a mailer and encourage them to get on it. If you need help creating a simple website that'll get people excited to sign up, check out this article here as a starting point.
When telling folks about your mailer, this is what I suggest: tell them what to expect and when to expect it. Luckily, this part shouldn't be hard, because you already have a plan! (See previous step.)
A solid call-to-action for a mailer looks like this: "Sign up for my monthly mailer to receive updates on upcoming work and behind the scenes photos of my process."
Here, you are telling them about both legs of your plan, and in so doing, turning their own question marks into delicious pizza, which encourages and excites them to sign up!
Step four: Welcome your people
Send them a hello, welcoming them to your mailer! Here you can provide them with a little sample of what's in store for them by showing rather than telling. Most mailing list platforms have a way to automate this, and the email can something be as simple as:
Hello, [their name]!
Welcome and thanks for signing up for my mailer, where you'll now be receiving monthly updates on upcoming work and behind the scenes process photos.
To give you an idea of what this means, here's a photo of me in my studio, working on a recent work, entitled "Pizza Sweatpants.”
I look forward to being in touch!
Step five: Write your truth
The next step for an kickass mailer is to make sure your artistic voice is represented as authentically as possible. If people are on your mailing list, it means they've connected to your work and want to know more about the art and the artist who made it. This mean that as long as you are staying mostly within your plan, you can go wild within that structure to find what feels best for you with respect your own visual and written voice.
On the visual front, I recommend making life simple by creating a standard visual design template (delineating sections where possible) and then mixing up the types of media you include — i.e. videos, images, text within that structure. For your written voice, I recommend being as truthful and clear as you're willing to be in order to give people the best chance of making a connection to your work and the human behind it.
Let yourself shine through, everywhere from your subject lines (i.e. "April updates" makes me far less excited to open an email than "Pizza sweatpants: behind the scenes!" would) to the bodies of the emails themselves. Every artist has a different comfort level with respect to how honest and personal to get with people who support their work. Again, the thing to do here is to experiment, try on different ways of communicating, and see what is most enjoyable and sustainable for you.
Step six: Tell them what you want
This is the last step for now, but certainly not the least important. The best artist mailers I've ever seen include clear calls-to-action! What this means is, when I open an artist mailer, I know the main thing they want me to do after reading it (that is, of course, assuming there is something they want me to do. There usually — but not always — is.) If there is some action you want the people opening your mailer to take, make sure you answer important questions about that thing first: who, what, where, why, how much does it cost, et. al. Then ask directly and clearly and thank them in advance for doing the thing.
That's all for today — thanks for reading! Here’s your assignment for the day: Get inspired. Finding great mailers that inspire you is the first step toward creating a newsletter that will inspire your community. It's also a great opportunity to assess what you enjoy or don’t enjoy about how other artists keep in touch.
If you are signed up for any artist mailers that you think are particularly fantastic, please send them our way using our contact form here! We're creating a database of awesome artist mailers to share with our community and we'd love to add your favorites (and maybe even yours!) to it.
If you're in need of some newsletter inspiration right now, check out this list of great artist mailers we've put together for you. We also talk about how to make great mailers in our free online course, Fundamentals of Crowdfunding for Artists. If you haven't already, click here to get that course and continue your learning journey!