Email Newsletter Articles
Upcoming topics: frequency and schedules, formatting and templates, testing, content (what should you say), receiving newsletters (take control of your inbox), and more
Once you decide you want to send out an email newsletter for your artwork, one of the first questions you have to answer is “what software will I use to do this?”
As a software engineer, I would suggest that before selecting software, that you first make sure you understand what you are looking for. Just because a friend is using Super-Duper-Newsletter-Software, doesn’t mean it right for you.
A few questions to consider:
1) what do you need the software to do (these are your requirements)
2) how technical you are
3) how frequently will you be emailing
4) do you have other special needs (such as auto responders or support for multiple mailing lists or sublists or the need to import and export your mailing list)
For most artists the answer to these questions are about the same:
1) Requirements – I would like the software to do these things:
a) provide a way for people to easily subscribe and unsubscribe from the newsletter
b) provide a way to email out the newsletter so the recipient receives it (if the newsletter gets marked as spam, they won’t get it)
c) be easy to use
d) provide me with statistics on how many people read the newsletter
e) not be too expensive
f) provide support if I can’t figure out how the software works
g) your specific needs go here
2) How technical am I?
Only you can decide this
Quarterly or Monthly or somewhere in that range is the most likely answer, although your needs might be different.
Once you know what you need your software to do, it’s time for research. Google and your friends can supply you with a list of options.
Some of the most common choices for mailing list software:
1) Constant Contact – a leader in email marketing, well known brand, monthly plans
2) Mail Chimp – pay as you go or monthly plans, often free for typical artist’s needs
3) Vertical Response – pay as you go or monthly plans
In addition there are solutions you can install on your own webserver for those that answered “very” to question #2, ie these are the solutions for the tech geeks. These are not recommended if you don’t have a technical background:
1) php list – open source, lots of plugins, free
2) infinite responder – free, auto responders, claims to be simpler than php list
Have super big requirements? Need to integrate a shopping cart with your mailing list and have lots of autoresponders and an affiliates program (very very few artists will have these needs) some options for such big plans:
Ease of Use
While price and features are important, this is software you will be interacting with on a monthly or quarterly basis. It’s important you understand how to use it efficiently.
Most artists needs in mailing list software are pretty simple, so pretty all of the choices will fit your needs. Making ease of use an important factor.
I recommend signing up for a free trial at a couple of these and look them over.
It probably won’t take you long to figure out if you understand how to use the software. If you get stuck, look into their support forums, can you find answers to your questions?
With a little research and a list of requirements, you can usually pick your software fairly easily.
Feeling panicky or stuck? Just pick something and go with it. Make a decision and move forward. Spend just an hour or 2 making a decision at the most as you can change your mind very easily later on. Mailing list data is easily exported and imported into different software (although if you think you might switch, confirm the software allows you to export the list. The usual format for this export will be a csv file).
I currently use php list for my studio newsletter and so I don’t have first hand experience with the paid services. Again, I only recommend this option for those that are more technical, as it isn’t the easiest to install, its a challenge to upgrade, and its not the most intuitive to use either. I’m considering switching to infinite responder but haven’t researched it yet.
Why Can’t I Just Use Regular Email?
You can, but I don’t recommend it. If you go this route here are some things to consider:
1) You will need to manage the list of email addresses yourself. You either have to have people email you to subscribe or provide your own form for people to join up, and then manually maintain that list.
Same for unsubscribe, people have to email you to unsubscribe.
There is free software by arial that will help with subscriptions, but for unsubscribe, you are on your own. To send email with this option, you download the list of email address to use as needed, they do not provide mailing software, just software to help you gather up the list of addresses.
2) You have to send email using regular email. This may not seem like a big deal but please keep in mind that you should never put the email addresses on the To or CC line. People get very unhappy when other people can see their email address. Privacy is important.
Your options? Send emails one at a time or put the emails on the BCC line (blind carbon copy). The problem with the BCC lines is that email with large BCC lines are marked as spam, so the recipient might never see the email.
3) This is not thinking BIG. I believe in making decisions from where I want to be, not where I am at the moment. At the moment it might seem like you will only have 20 or 30 people on your list, so there is no reason to get fancy with automated software.
But what about in 2 years when your art really takes off and you’ve now got 500 people on your list. Can you still maintain that manually?
Where are you going? Play that game. The BIG one.
Think Big – set up some automated software to help you email your newsletter professionally.
Do you have experience with automated mailing list software? Recommendations? Please share below.
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
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In addition you can also find me here:
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page
Thinking Big about Art