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How to Build An Art Business with a Small List of Email Subscribers


There is tremendous value in a small list of email subscribers. Marketing to your smallest possible audience is effective and rewarding.

— Barney Davey

You don’t need millions of email subscribers to build an art business. You may not have any at all. But if you’re serious about building an artist career, start by creating a small list of email subscribers.

You can grow your email list without spending thousands on advertising with a small list goal. And once you’ve built a few hundred subscribers, you’ll know what kind of content they want to see from you. The power of using a small list is so valuable to artists I have written about it previously here. And this post continues to explore how to build a small list—and why it’s essential for an artist’s success.

Five Ways to Build Your Art Business with a Small List of Email Subscriptions

  1. Create tremendous value for people who care about your topic.
  2. Make sure your emails are short and sweet.
  3. Use a free tool like Mailerlite or MailChimp to help you create beautiful newsletters.
  4. Give away valuable resources.
  5. Offer exclusive discounts and deals.

Building a Small List Is a Perfect Task to Help Launch an Art Business.

Creating a small list of email subscribers is the ideal place to start if you want to grow your art business. The reasons why building a small list makes sense include the following:

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
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  • Building a small list is easier and less expensive than a large one.
  • A smaller list means fewer details and less effort to manage.
  • Building email lists is usually free or with little cost involved.
  • Building a small list also allows you to focus on providing extra quality for high-value prospects instead of trying to get new subscribers every day.
  • A small list focuses on people who have shown interest in your work.

Why a Small Email List Is Ideal to Grow Your Art Business.

Building an email list is a great way to start your art business. Why? Because creating a small list is relatively easy compared to other marketing tasks.

With a small list, you can be more personal and get to know your subscribers better. And that intimacy allows you to create meaningful relationships, which builds trust between you and your audience. Your subscribers will appreciate your personal touch. They will like feeling special that being on an exclusive mailing can make it happen.

So, what exactly is involved in building an email newsletter? Here are some tips:

How to Create a Focused Group of Followers:

  • Start with a small list. When you start, it’s tempting to build your audience by sending out an email blast to everyone you know—but that isn’t the best way to go about things. Instead, focus on creating a group of followers (aka PoP for Pocket of People) interested in what you do.
  • Focus on your target audience. You’re probably already familiar with this phrase: “Don’t try and please everyone; instead, please someone enough, so they recommend you to others.” This advice is excellent for building an art business too. The more specific and targeted your marketing efforts become, the easier it will be for people who love what you do to find out about it and spread the word about their experience with your work or service.
  • Create a list of people interested in your art. The best way to get started is by using social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, where artists share their work regularly—and where potential customers might be looking for new projects by other creators too. Once they’ve found one person whose style inspires them or whose subject matters interest them most, they will follow closely and likely engage with comments. And that opens the door to engaging on a more intimate level.

How to decide what to send them

It would be best if you had a clear understanding of who you are and what you want to say before diving into building your email list. When thinking about which emails to send, start by asking yourself: “What do my subscribers want to hear?”

The more specific your question is, the better. For example: If I want to grow a small list of email subscribers, what information does my audience need for me to build that relationship with them?

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

You can also ask yourself: What am I good at doing? This exercise can help you determine what things people would like from me and identify topics and types of content from which they’d benefit most.

How to Prepare Email to Send to Your Small List.

Before you send your email, make sure it’s in tip-top shape. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Prepare your email in advance. Make sure that you have all the information and links you need before sending it out; don’t try to write an entire newsletter on the fly. If something comes up later in the day that makes you want to add something new, just set aside a few minutes (or hours) after sending out your first batch of emails.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Nothing turns people off faster than sloppy writing, so double-check each word in every sentence before hitting send.
  • Send your messages at an optimal time for most subscribers. That is, most people are awake during business hours Monday through Friday (although there may be exceptions depending on where they live), so weekdays tend to work best if possible—if not, then Saturday or Sunday evenings can work well too. Some email services have options to send when subscribers are most likely to see and open your email.

What Should You Say?

Be clear with your message. Your email subscribers have chosen to receive emails from you, so they must be interested in what you say. Brush up on your storytelling skills to help create intriguing content.

Don’t be afraid of sending shorter emails than those of other artists. Instead, please focus on the main topics you want your audience to know about and explain them clearly—and with passion when appropriate because readers can feel your intent through your words.  

Use bullet points or lists if necessary. If there are any questions that your subscribers might have, answer them at the end of the email and provide links where applicable. You must make sure everything makes sense before pressing send. Please have a friend review your email copy and consider a grammar checker such as Grammarly, which is my go-to app.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

It’s crucial to consider how people will receive your emails and what kind of message you will send them. For example, when someone joins your small email list, they will likely receive hundreds of marketing messages daily; yours must stand out by making it personal and relevant.

What Makes a Compelling Subject Line?

A concise subject line is your best method to grab people’s attention. Your reader should know what the email is about within the first few words. Your subject lines must be clear, concise, and easy to read. If they don’t react to the subject line and click to open it, they will never read your words or feel your message.

You also want your readers to have a sense of urgency and excite them about opening your emails and reading them immediately. An excellent way is to include a benefit statement in your subject line, like “How To” or “Why You Should” This method helps people feel like they are getting something valuable out of reading your emails (which they are.).

How Long Should Your Email Message Be?

The right length for your emails is a bit tricky. You want them short and to the point but not so much that they don’t give your subscribers enough space to digest the content.

Writing for brevity can be difficult, especially if you have many different pieces of content (material) to share with your audience. But there are ways you can help yourself stay organized and ensure that every email is well-written:

1. Write out each piece of material ahead of time. This way, you can check the message’s look before sending it out. And you’ll save yourself from reworking an already-written email.

2. If possible, create a template. Use this as a guide when writing your email. Don’t just copy and paste something together. Make sure every word makes sense and has been appropriately formatted.

3. Think about who you’re targeting, their interests, and what call-to-action or offer to include at the end of your email.

4. Ask yourself, “What do I want my readers to take away?” When you answer this question honestly, you can write shorter messages that get to the point.

5. Keep your subject lines simple and direct. Choose a tone to use, like friendly, informal, or professional and formal. Staying with it gives rhythm to your writing and grooves your craft.

The Nuts and Bolts of Sending Your Message.

An email has two main components: the content and the subject line. The content should be clear, brief, and easy to understand. You want certainty that your reader can quickly comprehend your email and how they can act based on it.

The subject line is another vital part of any email because it will make people decide whether to click through and read further. So you must get this right; you can’t afford for your subscribers to lose interest in your messages.

Here are some tips for writing a good subject line:

  • Make it short and precise.
  • Your subject line should be short. For many recipients—especially those reading your emails on mobile devices—faster is better. A good recommendation is to use nine words and 60 characters or less.
  • Avoid rambling and getting off point. It’s vital for your subscribers to quickly understand what your email is about because they decide fast whether to read it or not.

When Should I Send Email Messages to Your Small List?

You should send your email at least once a week, but no more than two times per week. Sending too many emails will make subscribers unsubscribe from your list and not open them anymore, decreasing your engagement rate.

On the other hand, if you send an email too rarely, people might forget about it and stop opening or clicking on links and social media posts from you. So, for example, if you have a 30% open rate and only send monthly, you risk having most of your subscribers not read your messages for months.

Use the Goldilocks Theory to Determine How Many emails to Send.

If you send too many emails, you’ll lose them. But if you send too little, you won’t connect with them. So how do you strike the right balance between sending too much and too little? Like Goldilocks, you want your answer to be, “Just right!”

The answer is simple – send more emails when there’s an opportunity for growth. That means you’ve built relationships with subscribers and have something valuable to say that they’d find helpful.

Email Relationships Are Like Friendships that Need Engagement to Flourish.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve been building relationships with subscribers that you can afford to slack off. You may have built trust with these contacts, but that doesn’t mean they will automatically buy from you. Most likely, they’ll ignore your messages altogether. That’s why you need to keep engaging and to encourage them. So keep reaching out to them and asking questions. Make sure you’re adding value to their lives.

To keep readers from falling behind, you can’t let them drift away. Be persistent. And always remember: The key to success is to build long-term relationships with your customers.

So, Now You’ve Sent Your Email… What’s Next?

You’ve sent your email, and you’re getting some responses. Awesome. It’s time to get started on the next stage of your campaign: keeping in touch with your subscribers.

You might feel it would be better to send an occasional email about once a month or less often than that, but this is not true. The more emails you send, the easier it will be for potential customers (or clients) to remember who you are and why they should use your services.

If you want people who have signed up on your list to buy from you, they need some emotional connection with what they see as “you” in their inboxes each week or so. If they feel like there’s no real person behind the emails – just someone who sends them a message now and then – then chances are good that those readers won’t end up spending any money with you.

You can achieve more with fewer emails with a carefully considered list of people genuinely interested in your art.

Lack of relevance is a primary reason people unsubscribe from email lists. If subscribers don’t think what’s in your emails matches their interests and needs, they will feel no motivation to read them. So if you’re building an email list as part of your strategy for growing an art business, then it’s essential to be selective about who you give access to that list.

To build this audience, ask yourself: Who would want to hear from me? Who would benefit from my content? How can I know these things? The answers may seem obvious—for example, anyone who appreciates my work or wants tips on becoming a better artist—but there’s still some research and consideration needed before deciding which names should go on your mailing list.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a small list of people interested in what you have to say, it’s time to use it. By sending just a few weekly emails, you can quickly build trust and rapport with your audience, making your future marketing efforts more effective. You can start building a small list of email subscribers that works for you.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

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  • Once again, Barney, you hit it out of the park! I am an avid email marketing artist thanks to you, and I think you have all the right information or an artist to get started building a list. I like that you suggest MailChimp and MailerLite, though I think Mailchimp is a bit clunky (just like it's another platform, Tinyletter), but I like in MailerLite the image gallery storage. One other think I might suggest is to find an email marketing service where you're sending from the platform servers; emails will come from them and reply to your own address. This helps with better deliverability when you're starting I think. The two platforms I know that does this is button-down.email and the FineArtAmerica email campaign tool. For example, I have people subscribe to my FAA list and after sending to them the welcome and some introduction emails, and see them open them, I then move their address to the other platform list.

  • Start with small volumes, but structurally and responsibly. Probe your audience, gain experience and connection.
    Good advice, I was involved in reading. Keep it up!

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