Untangling Blogs and Newsletters

Have you wondered why you write regularly on your artist blog and send a newsletter?
Seems like you’re duplicating effort, right?

You’re tangled up in knots because you can’t see the difference between the two or the value in having both.

Let’s see if I can help untangle this mess for you.

Bonnie Jean Woolger ink drawing

©Bonnie Jean Woolger, from the notebook “Walter’s Journey.” TWSBI fountain pen on paper, 8 x 10.75 inches. Used with permission.

Blogs and newsletters are two different platforms, and there is a place for both in your marketing.

Not every artist needs a blog, especially if you can’t keep it current. But you do need email contact with your list.

“Email contact” might mean a regular newsletter like my weekly Art Biz Insider, or it could mean consistent updates in a less formal format. For our purposes, let’s just call everything a newsletter.

Let’s look at the roles of blogging and email in your art marketing.

Newsletters Are Push, Blogs Are Pull

Newsletters appear in your subscribers’ inboxes because you have pushed them there. Your subscribers don’t have to do anything but wait for your missives after signing up.

In contrast, when you publish a post on your blog, it sits there waiting for readers to consume (pull) it.

Blog posts can also appear in subscribers’ inboxes as pushed messages, but most of your collectors will not subscribe to a regular blog feed. First, because they don’t know how or that it’s even possible. Second, they might fear too many email updates from your blog will inundate their inbox.

The Only Time a Blog Can Replace a Newsletter

A blog can replace a newsletter if the following two criteria are met.

  1. Everything you want to say in a newsletter can be said in a blog post and won’t look odd on that platform.
  2. Everyone you would want to stay in touch with has subscribed to your blog feed via email. If they don’t subscribe for email updates from your blog, they are unlikely to remember to pay regular visits.

Since it’s rare that the second criterion can be met, I suggest embracing your need for some kind of newsletter.

Content Differentiation

I hope you can see now that newsletters and blogs serve different purposes in your marketing. This means that each should have unique content, its own mission.

This distinction will save your sanity and lead to more focused content on each platform.

A newsletter keeps your name in front of contacts and buyers. It might be more personal as only subscribers see it. It’s also ephemeral. It lasts only as long as it remains in someone’s inbox or is printed.

A blog accumulates content that establishes you as an expert, be it an expert in your niche or simply an expert about your art. It exists in that online space until you remove it. Anyone with an Internet connection can see your blog at any time.

So, what’s it going to be?

Newsletter only? Newsletter + blog?

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28 comments to Untangling Blogs and Newsletters

  • Oh, I can’t wait to read what others have to say about this- I feel like you wrote this just for me!

    I currently update my blog AND send my email newsletter 5-7 times a week because I’m in the middle of a daily painting project. When that’s not happening I send my email newsletter once a week and update my blog about 3. In a way I feel like email newsletter subscribers are missing out, my blog is where I have the chance to share stories about individual paintings. I’m not really sure how to untangle and seperate them and how to make my email newsletter better, more engaging and effective and just for the subscribers- I want them to feel important!

    I’m really looking forward to hearing how other artists are using the 2 platforms distinctively.

    Thanks for this post Alyson- hopefully this can give some clarity to something I’ve been wondering about for a loooong time.

  • Tim

    Just more words to go by from Alyson Stanfield. You hit it right on the head of the nail, Alyson. As a photographer the one thing I really appreciate about your “posts” is that one can use no matter their artistic discipline. As an enewsletter publisher, one which goes out every other week, I know about timelines and deadlines. Writing my blog posts, however, are a completely different matter. There is no timeline. There is no deadline. Do I need to do the blog, I think so. But sometimes I do wonder…

  • my blogspot address is for talking about the context of my work with small tips on technical or working practice. At the moment I have at least one person who follows it because she is working on a masters dissertation to do with art education/psychology, and is finding it very useful seeing how I think. I need to make a focussed effort on deciding which way a newsletter is going to go, I have ideas … thanks alyson for the definitions, it did need untangling!

  • Great article! I do both blog and newsletter… and they have different areas of focus. My newsletter is less frequent, so I don’t feel like I’m ‘pushing’ too hard, but rather offering a service in keeping my collectors and students up to date on events, awards, etc.

    My blog is more frequent and everlasting content. I still post about events, but more on the level of how I got involved, getting ready, why to go, why I like to participate, etc. I also post on art related events of other artists, and have had patrons, students and community tell me that they appreciate that content.

    Another important ‘pull’ of my blog is the inspiration and instruction facet. I often post about how a work is created, what inspired it, etc. I would never give up my newsletter though! I see strong results from it and use it to ‘push’ readers to my website & blog. I try to use it to offer special ‘perks’ to subscribers, too.

    The one thing I have a hard time making time for and really should get back to soon is print marketing. I know it lasts longer than email, but the time investment always seems so much longer! You have really given me a push to get back to it though!

  • Excellent advice/insight. I have both a blog and a newsletter, but don’t update either as often as I would like. The newsletter is generally for time-sensitive items and I try to get one out every two months (or more often if there’s a particular announcement). But I also use it for event follow-ups and other tidbits I think my subscribers will find interesting, and a “thanks for your support”, “happy holidays” message at the end of every year. I include a discount coupon in every issue, for purchases in one of my on-line shops. With the blog, if it’s been a while between posts, I try to post a “Wordless Wednesday” image (one of my photos as opposed to art, which is the focus of my other posts), so at least there’s some content.

  • Thanks Alyson, this post makes it simple and clear, time to start a newsletter to nourish connections with my collectors. I can commit to quarterly to begin.

  • I’m just starting to do what Ruth is doing. I have been updating my blog and social media, but recently I have had people complaining about not know about my events (despite them being on the front page of my website!).
    So, I am trying out Constant Contact to see if this helps. Due to these people who seem to be missing my workshops, programs, sales, etc, they now have it available in their email! I personally do not like getting a bunch of newsletters, but I’m commiting to sending one out once every two weeks and we’ll see how it goes. It’s already difficult to remember to blog once a week for me! However, I’m glad you posted this, I think for marketing, we do need both.

  • I use Mad Mimi for my newsletter and they just started offering an RSS feature for WordPress users. They automatically turn your blog post into a newsletter and send it to your newsletter subscribers. Just another option.

  • i do both. and i am getting much better about sending out a newsletter more regularly…thanks to your push for them!! my newsletters have either show information or a drawing or two along with stories about why i created the piece. (in fact i was just complimented on my writing skills in my last newsletter!) my blog has a few stories but more progress shots of my work and stories about my animals and their antics.

  • Once upon a time I blogged regularly for nine months. Then life happened and I lost the momentum. I have not really restarted because I think that perhaps, unlike love, it is better to not blog at all than to blog in a less than consistent manner.

    If I’m wrong I hope I will be corrected.

  • You taught me so much about this! :) I actually look at them as levels of information and I have 3 levels: Facebook, Blog, Newsletter. In a weird way you could say they’re all the same information with differences in time commitment for the reader – so all are blogs really.

    Facebook is a micro-blog with 2-3 daily updates. It’s very of the moment. The people who read it are interested in what I’m doing *right now*. They also tend to only read information on Facebook, they won’t read elsewhere. Often they don’t even click the blog entries to read in full, they just read the summary on FB.

    Blog is 2 posts a week and I think of them as a weekly summary – one about new work, one about ideas/process. People who read this are curious about following me but not constantly. They probably don’t use social media for non-work connections during the day. So it could take things from Facebook but give a bigger picture.

    Newsletter is monthly and is a big picture view of my practice – I know some of my most serious collectors only read this. All the new work, exclusive insight into the newest ideas or research, and summary of shows dates to put on their calendar. The newsletter contains the most forceful calls to action because as the “push” method people are reading this when they have a bit more time so I figure they can update calendars, visit online site/shops, etc.

    I think you’ve missed one important point. Different kinds of people might be drawn to different delivery and only read in one place. There are some areas of no crossover. My most vital information like show dates go in all 3 formats.

  • Clint Watson http://faso.com/clintavo/50773/are-you-ignoring-the-dark-social-network wrote something very interesting in a recent related post. There is now a way to find out how many people follow email links (he calls this the Dark Social Network because we’ve not been able to see this before) and this is compared to those who follow Facebook links. It turns out that only 20% follow Facebook links, while 60% follow email links!! So it makes sense to make use of your email postings. It would be interesting to know how many people follow blog links, or even read blogs, compared to email.

  • I basically follow what Tina M does: I send out a Constant Cntact newsletter twice a month to remind subscribers about upcoming events, including a short summary and link to my blog in the newsletter, along with listing of venues that sell my work. I provide photos of works in progress and other topical subjects several times a day on Facebook, and put links to the blog and newsletter on Facebook. I enjoy updating FB the most and newsletter the least, but they must be done for marketing. I don’t do Twitter or Pinterest at this time. Thanks for explaining the uses for these publicity avenues.

  • Robert Schimmel

    Allyson, I bought your first book & have followed your wkly letter & blog for 2 yrs(?) w much interest, respect and gratitude. I have a wkly arts radio program (20 min) that focuses on interviews w artists & a broad spectrum of regional arts related folks. This program has generated a wkly Arts eLetter (clever? lol) from me that promotes the program and myriad other events, news, artist calls, etc. My challenge is how to link this letter to my own work, possible blogging, & a desperately needed redo on my website. Talk about tangled, I’m the definition! With over 100 programs needing to be on a cloud for consumption & getting back to my own art to begin making a living, I’m overwhelmed, excited, and a bit lost. SOOO, thanks for all the info and great conversations you generate that help untangle a bit here and there. And may I wish you a blessed and savory Thanksgiving w your important relationships.

  • Hi Alyson! This is exactly what I was looking for today. I appreciate both your post and the comments from all. I’ve allowed indecision on how to differentiate between my blog writings and newsletter writings to keep me from being consistent. But no more! I’ve finally set a writing schedule for myself and am planning out topics for the next 6 months. It doesn’t mean I can’t change topics when it comes time, but at least I won’t spend half of each writing session pondering which topic to write on. My target market is dance studio owners… I may not be an artist, but find your blog pertains to me more often than not. Thanks!

    • Hi, Stacey! I love seeing you here and I’m so glad you found something helpful. Were your ears burning last night? Lisa was telling me you were interested in this topic and I said I had just written about it so she could send you the link. Then I get home and find that you found the link yourself. I love it!

      Hope all is happy in your world.

  • Hi Alyson, this is such an important topic. Thank you for writing this post. I didn’t have time to read all the previous comments, so ild like to add… Why I need both.

    Blog contents are read by search engines, so when I write about a specific subject in my blog, or present a painting of a certain subject, I get visitors to my blog and website via searches for those subjects. For example, I have a blog on painting luminous clouds, and I get a lot of visitors for that subject, as well as, “drawing with straight lines”. I wrote a blog on that while back and it’s one that I draws new visitors to my blog every week.

    Search engines don’t read the contents of email newsletters. However, having subscribers who want the content of my newsletter delivered to their in box means they won’t miss my content if they’re away from the Internet and social media. Not everyone is addicted to social media… And many don’t have the time format in their lives. They do typically read their email, even if they aren’t on Facebook.

    I’ve been copying the content of my email newsletter and pasting it into my blog, so I am sure to feed both audiences. So far, so good. :-)