As a creative entrepreneur and seasoned blogger, I love to share what I’ve learned here and what has/hasn’t worked for me so you can hopefully have a head start with your own creative business. I’ve already written quite a few articles on successfully selling refinished furniture, running an antique booth, and doing vintage markets and fairs (find them all here). Today’s topic is one that gets me really excited: Email marketing for creative businesses: How to start and grow your email list.
It may not be a “sexy topic” but I actually love email marketing because it can be one of the most effective ways to spread news about your business and create loyal customers if done correctly. In fact I kind of nerd out over learning more about email marketing!
Do you use email for your creative business? Since I’ve been blogging for over 7 years, email is a big part of my business. I currently have over 13,000 active subscribers. I send out a brief overview when there’s a new blog post and encourage readers to visit my site to read the full post. Sometimes I send out emails about older posts that are still relevant, especially if they’re seasonally appropriate. And occasionally I send out important announcements about sales or upcoming events. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can use email to engage with past and potential customers.
Why is email marketing important for small businesses? Having an official email newsletter makes you seem more professional, helps strengthen your brand, and people get to know, like, and trust you more. It will also help boost sales to your business and page views to your website or online shop. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of your social media followers will even see your posts, unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of time playing the algorithm game and/or spend money on ads. You have no control over Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms.
When you start an email list, you have a direct way to communicate with interested people and you control the list. You aren’t at the mercy of big organizations, hoping they show your posts to at least 5% of the people who Liked your page.
*Related article from Constant Contact: 29 Reasons to Use Email Marketing (As Told by Small Business Owners)
First step to starting an email list for your creative business:
There are many free or inexpensive email marketing services that you can start with. (Do not just use your regular email account to send mass emails – there are certain legal guidelines you must follow.) MailChimp is very popular, and I used MadMimi when I first started. There are many others such as Constant Contact, AWeber, FloDesk, Drip (and more) which I’m not as familiar with.
It only takes a few minutes to sign up and get started. They’ll make sure you’re in compliance with all laws and provide stats and tracking info. (I’ve been using ConvertKit for a few years now but I don’t usually recommend them for beginners because they’re very robust and therefore more expensive.)
How to get email subscribers if you don’t have a website? You can set up a landing page through your email service provider (ESP) to capture email addresses. Use the link to that landing page to collect email addresses online: Create a button on FB page (here are Mailchimp’s instructions, although any ESP will have their own similar steps), link in IG profile, or through your Etsy shop. Also at in-person markets and events (use an old school sign up sheet or capture email address in Square).
Important: Always get people’s permission before adding them to your list! It’s so spammy to get emails from some random company when you know you never gave them permission.
Consider incentivizing people to sign up with a discount to use on a future purchase, entering them in a giveaway for signing up, or offer a free download of a cheat sheet for the best way to use your products.
You could even collaborate with another creative maker or blogger by writing a guest article and include a link to your email signup landing page. Use any or all of these ideas over time to help grow your list.
What should you send to your email subscribers? You can send emails about event announcements, upcoming sales, new products, workshops, reminders to order for holidays, or summarize someone else’s article that relates to your business and link to it for them to read the entire original article. (Maybe it’s an article about decorating in boho style, or explaining how amazing natural products are for your skin.) If it would genuinely benefit your subscribers, you can send it.
How to get better opens/engagement when you send an email: Write engaging subject lines, not just “Check out what’s new!” or “Holiday Promotions.” Let your personality show in your emails, but keep them simple. Act like you’re writing to a friend. You also might want to include a few relevant photos. It’s been proven that higher engagement occurs when emails are genuine and simple. Don’t worry about a fancy email newsletter template, it’s just not necessary. It also helps to remind people to mark your emails as “Not Junk” so they’ll always show up in their inbox.
What’s a good number of emails to send per month? Definitely at least one, just so people don’t completely forget you or why they’ve subscribed. Also, more than one per week could be overwhelming. Think of all the emails you get every day, and how many you delete without reading them. Keep your emails valuable and helpful.
Email marketing is a very powerful tool to use for building your creative business. I hope this article has motivated you to start an email list or put more focused effort into growing your list.
– Jen –
*Want to be notified when I post more advice about running a creative business? Click here.
*Want to learn more about painting and selling refinished furniture? Click here to read related posts.