How to Build Your Email List | The Art of the Ethical Bribe

What is an ethical bribe? It’s trading something of value for your time or interest. Do you know those free samples in supermarkets and big-box stores? Free nights at a time-share resort. They are ethical bribes.

In your case, an ethical bribe is your offer to trade beneficial information, products, or services in exchange for a prospect’s email address with permission to keep sending more details. Here are examples you see every day:

  • Special report or a guide
  • Checklist
  • Infographic
  • Audio recording
  • Tutorial
  • Templates
  • Worksheets

I believe artists can create compelling, ethical bribes, aka lead magnets, from any of the above examples. Making compelling, custom lead magnets is part of my Sales and Marketing Automation Training for Artists. Just need a lead magnet? I can help either way. Let’s talk.


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More ethical bribe options:

  • Mini-print
  • Notecards
  • Small brochures or portfolios
  • Exclusive subscriber discounts
  • Join your fan/collectors
  • Invitations to private-showing parties (online and offline)
  • Free shipping on the first order
  • Free hanging/installation for local collectors

Losers Are Part of the Process in Creating an Ethical Bribe

What you will find is most of your original lead magnet ideas are duds. That’s okay. You can keep testing and trying until you see a winner. If you get 2 of 10 to work out, you’re average. There is a lot of trial and error in digital marketing.

As an artist working on building a list, you are a digital marketer. In digital marketing, an ethical bribe is also known as a lead magnet. An effective lead magnet has these five features.

  1. Useful and valuable
  2. Quickly consumed
  3. Pertinent to your ideal buyer prospect’s business or lifestyle
  4. Not so helpful that it diminishes your ability to make sales
  5. Intriguing and compelling to your prospects

Create an Irresistible Offer

If your offer is ho-hum, you will get no takers. You cannot bore people into joining your list. No one needs more email. We all have more of it than we know what to do with. So, offering to join to get notified of new stuff I want to sell you is guaranteed to fail.

Train yourself to think like prospects. What would make them happy? How can you delight, inform, educate, or entertain them? When you do two or more of those things, you are well on your way to success.

The best lead magnets offer solutions to specific problems, such as how to:

  • Hang art in a staircase
  • Get a fair estimate for a piece of art that has been in the family for decades
  • Care for artwork to conserve it for the future

These suggestions are mere starting points. You can do better and be very specific in creating an ethical bribe for your art and your clientele. Work hard on making your ethical bribe so compelling that it is irresistible. You don’t have to create these things.

Free Art Business Checklist
Get your free checklist. All help. No pitch.

You don’t have to create lead magnets.

You can hire folks at and to make them for you. Come up with the best idea and hire someone to write your report, or make your infographic and turn it into a PDF. Investing in quality will pay big dividends and make you stand out among so many other low-value, low-quality offers.

What Do You Need? Let’s Figure It Out. Done-with-You, Done-for-You, Something else? Join my Done-with-You Sales and Marketing Automation program. I will strategize with you and create a custom ethical bribe (lead magnet). Read this Sales and Marketing Automation for Artists page. It’s not for everyone. Let’s talk if it makes sense and applies to you. Details Inside.

Here is a graphic of how your primary lead magnet automated sales funnel looks. And, it’s just the start of many more, all leading to more sales, higher profits, and satisfied patrons.

basic lead magnet sales funnel

Tips and Techniques to Build Your Email List

Building Your List

When it comes to marketing, it’s easy to say everything is necessary. I believe besides creating a consistent and impressive tone and style for your marketing – list-building is the key to your growth and profitability. How you go about it in every way you can imagine.

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Get your free Goalkeepers Club checklist. All help. No pitch.
  • Ensure your email opt-in is prominent on your home page and other relevant pages of your website and your blog.
  • Offer something for free. You might recall how Hazel Dooney and Banksy both give free, high-quality digital downloads. It could be a three-pack of note cards, a mini print, or a report you’ve done on some art topic, which will get you a snail mail or email address.
  • Start a blog with content that will build traffic over time. Have your email newsletter sign-up visible and easy to use.
  • Create a publicity campaign for your newsletter, your most recent work, or your charitable activity.
  • Comment on another artist’s blog or site.
  • Write and submit articles for Huffington PostForbes, and other national online publishers.
  • Join and participate in art-related or culture-related forums. (This is not to be confused with art business forums where you find other artists who are your best prospects for encouragement, but not for sales.)
  • Write about artists you admire or about art history or some other aspect of art that will drive traffic to your blog or website.
  • Ask your subscribers to share your newsletter, and then give them a link to tweet or add to their Facebook page.
  • Run contests that require entering an email address to participate.

Growing Your Email Marketing List

Capturing email addresses requires your ongoing attention. If you work to make it an ingrained daily habit, your list will grow fast. There are many opportunities for you to collect email addresses.

Your website, blog, newsletter, email signature, and social media are among the most useful. With them, you can include an enticing web form or link to make it easy to join your list. All email marketing service providers offer web forms to enable quick, painless sign-ups to your list.

Get Permission

Most of all, remember to ask for permission to add someone when exchanging information during in-person encounters. A good practice is to follow-up immediately with a thank you. Include a reminder one about the agreement they gave you. Auto-responders are ideal for this purpose.

High visibility opportunities for growing email marketing lists for artists are gallery shows, art fairs, and trade shows. Also, presentations and public speaking give you an easy way to collect email addresses. Take the time to tell attendees what they’ll receive for subscribing, so they’ll know what to expect from your messages.

Work It Everywhere

At your art fair or festival booth, place a mailing list sign-up sheet on one of your tables. Use bright signage to attract attention. Include a link to your email marketing list form on your business cards, brochures, flyers, and postcards.

What Do You Need? Let’s Figure It Out. Done-with-You, Done-for-You, Something else? Join my Done-with-You Sales and Marketing Automation program. I will help you create an ethical bribe (lead magnet). Read this Sales and Marketing Automation for Artists page. It’s not for everyone. Let’s talk if it makes sense and applies to you. Details Inside.

Give a Little, Get a Lot

It’s a fact that if you give people something, they’re much more inclined to give back to you. Entice your email marketing list prospects with an offer or a gift. Some suggestions are exclusive discounts, offers to join your fan club with a notice on new images and products, invitations to private-showing parties, free shipping, or free-hanging/installation for local collectors.

Active Follow-Up

While getting an email address is a start, you need to follow-up and send the goodies you promised. You can do this manually, but that is a super inefficient way to go. You will chew up valuable time doing menial tasks while exposing yourself to failing to respond or getting behind on your correspondence.

The best way to is to automate your responses. Using marketing automation software is suggested. Your email service provider (ESP) may offer marketing automation as part of its package. Due to its importance and value to your business, it’s advisable to start learning how to set up an autoresponder series. If your ESP does not provide such solutions, I suggest you move on. To be an effective digital marketer, you need the right tools. We’ll talk about marketing automation in a future post… It’s ready to read here now!


Free Art Business Checklist
Get your free Goalkeepers Club checklist. All help. No pitch.


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  1. Hi Any friend of Barney’s is a friend of mine! Here’s an Ethical Bribe you may want to try. I have a new book out: De$igned to Deceive. It’s an unusual mystery novel about a retired Art Rep and his two very art-conscious Siamese pussycats that have the uncanny ability to tell genuine art from forgeries. The story is fanciful but the marketplace for stolen, fake and forged artwork is very real. Worldwide it is the largest of all property crimes. Experts estimate that about 40% of art sales in Europe involve faked or forged “masterpieces.”
    Let’s help each other. If you would like to offer any buyer of your art a free digital copy of my book that can be read on any computer, tablet or smartphone as an ethical bribe please contact me at [email protected]. I’ll provide a link that can be sent by email to your buyer. All I’ll need is their email address. It will never be sold or shared. You can read a sample chapter on

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