More on adding people to your artist mailing list

All has been quiet on the blog. My trip to Michigan took more out of me than I expected. I had a super 2-day workshop in Ann Arbor (full of WAY cool artists) and a very nice, laid-back book signing in Jackson. I took some great photos in Jackson, only to have my camera stolen from my luggage on my return flight yesterday. (Don’t even begin to leave a comment telling me how stupid this was. I know!) I learned my lesson. I trusted the TSA more than I trusted myself with the camera and that was a big mistake. Never check your electronics in your luggage! (Again, no comments here–just a lesson for you.)

So, here’s my photo-less, catch-up post.

Last week’s newsletter/podcast about using caution when adding people to your artist mailing list brought out a load of comments and emails. First, let me say that I am not hostile toward any artist who sends me a newsletter. Just indifferent to some of them because I don’t know the sender. I’m not complaining, but I have to mention that it’s inappropriate to add people to your list who don’t know who you are.

My mailing list is comprised of people who have looked through my Web site, read this blog and my other articles (four years’ worth are in the Art Marketing Action archives), and heard of me through my book or from other artists. I have built a trust with 7000+ of them. Not so with many of the newsletters and emails I receive. I’ve never heard of many of the people who add me to their mailing lists. Sure, you may get my newsletter and think it’s only fair that I get yours, but I still may not know who you are. 

Bulk email and email newsletters are not good ways to introduce yourself to someone because they’re impersonal and the recipient knows they’re going out to everyone.

What if, instead of you subscribing on my Web site, I just started emailing you my newsletter. Would you welcome it? Would you wonder why you started getting it? Would you think kindly of me?  I tried this avenue when I first started as a way to get subscribers. I got some subscribers, but I ticked off a number of people. And that was before spam was so rampant. My heart sank with every Unsubscribe Me Now message that was returned to me.

I stand by this: introductions of your art should be more personal than bulk emailing to people who don’t know you. 

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8 comments to More on adding people to your artist mailing list

  • I have been wrestling with this issue, too. Is an email introduction (a single, not bulk sent email) to an acquaintance or a lead, SPAM? Am I spamming if I email a personal introduction of myself to a gallery owner and invite them to go to my Web site where they can subscribe to my newsletter? My heart and head say “no” this is not SPAM. I know that the general definition of SPAM is an unsolicited email selling products or services, sent in bulk. I believe there is a fine line here, where some people believe that any unsolicited, even a single email commercial email is SPAM. Can someone clarify this? Please? I want to do the right thing AND build an audience.

  • I agree, Alyson. The best contacts I have gotten on my mailing list have been people who have seen my work and requested (or signed up) to be on the list. These are the people who come to shows, support you and buy art. I no longer send out unsolicited invites or emails. It’s a waste of time and money. Make a connection with someone–ask if you can include them on your list. People get so much stuff now—it becomes obnoxious when it’s unwanted. Christine

  • I’m with you Alyson. I find it rather presumptuous when people add me to their email mailing lists without asking. Especially lists that are opt in lists and they decided to just opt me in without asking. Kinda misses the point of what opt-in means.

  • When I moved in order to build business in my new area I, like you Alyson, tried the avenue of just adding people to my list, seeking numbers, with similar results. I just had to get out there and meet more people. (Just as you say in your book p.198) After 5 years I am pleased that my list is grown filled with qualified contacts.

  • As a member of several yahoo groups, I have to say this is a very annoying by-product — the spam that you receive when people go through the member list and just subscribe everyone to their lists. It sends out a negative message about business owners and/or their work. In effect, it says “I care more about myself and my marketing campaign than I do about your privacy or your needs.” Even though I’m SURE this isn’t what is intended, it still puts a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Michael, you can’t go wrong by asking if you can send an email with the information you describe. The point here is to ask. If you don’t know them well enough to ask, you don’t know them well enough to send an email. Of course, when you ask, they’ll be thrilled!

  • Alyson, your update on this topic is great at clarifying WHY we should build our email lists with more care. While I no longer waste time griping about why I’ve suddenly received a new marketing email, and instead simply choose the ‘unsubscribe’ option and keep on moving through my emails, I realize some recipients are still bothered by unsolicited emails, and I respect that. But that’s not the main point–your comments make the best case for adding emails thoughtfully and with prior approval: BECAUSE IT MAKES A BETTER ART CONTACT for me!! Thanks for airing this topic and helping me to gel my own policy. Now I’m off to adjust my website to allow viewers to get on my list by request! A fan in Austin–Jann

  • How do you start your own newsletter?