My last career was in electoral politics, environmental policy, and community organizing, so I KNOW the value of getting email addresses! And I never hesitate to ask for the email address–EVER–because I think what I send out is fantastic.
[I love that Lisa is confident in what she shares with her mailing list. Without this confidence, artists often send wimpy email newsletters.]
What I don’t do is leave the list out in plain view at events. I won’t write my email down on an open list so I would never ask anyone else to that.
[Duh. Why didn’t I think of that?!]
Either a helper (AKA my husband) or I hold the list on a clipboard close to the chest and say this: “Hey I send out a beautiful painting once a week via email–a painting in your inbox–and I’d love to add you to my list of recipients. Could I get your email and contact info for that?” They nearly always say Yes. They rarely unsubscribe, and many of them eventually buy paintings from me.
I also keep a lovely little sketch journal with me at all times. When I meet people and tell them what I’m up to, I pull out the journal and ask them to share their contact info. They always say Yes after they see the pretty book with nice paper. It’s clear that their information is kept private since they can see it’s my sketch journal. (This me with Anne-Marie Faiola, who is writing her information in my journal.)
Yes, I do hand out lots and lots of beautiful moo cards, but this all works much better when I actively get their info, rather than hoping they won’t lose the card and that they’ll later remember to go to my website or blog.
Two things about my process for collecting contact information are key.
1. There is no sign-up in full view, so the information remains private.
2. The request is active and in person. When people give us their email, they know they’ll be getting a “painting in their inbox” (and an immediate thank you for stopping by the show) and nothing more.
This works in community organizing, it works in politics, and it can work in the art world!
[The most important aspect of Lisa’s strategy is that the request is active–not passive. It’s in person, it comes from her lips, and it occurs after a conversation. It’s not a sign-up book or a fishbowl full of business cards. It’s the personal touch.]
What do you think? Can you follow this advice?
Lisa McShane is a Washington artist whose Fresh Highway (oil on canvas) is pictured here. ©2009 The Artist. Visit her blog, 1,000 Paintings.