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This video is called 5 ways to woo your list.

A few days ago I asked you how you felt about your mailing list and out of the responses I got one huge thing stood out.

The pain and suffering of newsletters.

I can fix that right here and now. Don’t do newsletters.

Cool. Are we good?


So let’s talk about what to send to your mailing list. I’m a marketer, OK, so I’m calling it 5 ways to woo your list.

Ready? Let’s go.

1: Don’t send newsletters

What you want is the opposite of a newsletter.

Did you ever get a Christmas newsletter from one of your relatives? You know .. Jane got 3 As and a B, Jack won a medal at sports day, we all went on holiday to Crete where Simon got terribly sunburned and then the house burned down.

Me and my partner used to read those out in a comedy, derisory voice. It’s the last, last thing we wanted. What we wanted was a personal message like normal people send. Not something written for everyone in a tone as if stood at a podium.

I’ll use quotes when I’m weaving in things people said in that questionnaire. “I never read email newsletters.” I don’t think anyone does. “It can take me literally a full week to create my newsletter” .. I bet it does, they’re big things. And that’s demotivating. So let’s .. 

2: communicate intimately

I was once given some great advice that I’ve held close. With apologies if this is triggering, I’ve never found a better way to get it across .. when you’re trying to explain anything, imagine you’re explaining it to your mum. So this is someone who holds your best interests at heart, but they don’t really understand.

So that’s about not assuming people know what’s going on. There are people on your list who don’t know what a preview is or what’s expected of them if they turn up. People with doubt don’t buy.

Another angle is .. write as if to a friend. So, first of all, with a friend you can be yourself, you don’t have to put on your professional voice.

Obviously there are some parts of writing to a friend we don’t want to use. “I got so drunk last night .. “ etc. are not what I’m talking about. 

And it’s become quite popular to share ‘vulnerable’ / ‘I’m having a down day’ videos so people know it’s not all sweetness and light .. I think that’s run its course to be honest. I guess it was a reaction to influencers portraying their perfect life.

It’s the informality and ease of writing to a friend that we want to tap into. It’s not painful or difficult or hard work to communicate with a friend, it doesn’t instill “fear” or “panic and anxiety” to think about writing to them but that brings up another issue.

How do you communicate with your friends? Probably not by writing emails unless it’s to arrange something. Possibly through instant messaging. Almost certainly face to face. So if *writing* is the thing that’s difficult for you, don’t do it. Record video messages and send those to your list. Go live. Do the whole thing on WhatsApp if you really want.

The crux is this is a space where you can get comfortable in a group of people who want you to be your best self.

The feeling we want your subscribers to have is that they are in your team. You can even give yourselves a name. Lady Gaga called her fans Little Monsters.

3: decide for yourself when and how often you want to write to your people

I have an example of someone who wrote to their list maybe twice a year and made millions.

I have someone in my ear saying that you only present your best self when you really ‘feel’ it. If you adhere to some sort of timetable that makes you write when you’re not feeling like it, people will spot that low energy and you won’t come across well. So if that sounds like you, you have my permission to write when you’re feeling right.

In my other ear are people who say you should write regularly. As you know I schedule an email for 6am every Monday. That seems to work for me as I know if I didn’t lock that down, I’d never do it, and emotionally and energy-wise I’m pretty steady.

So it’s up to you. I would suggest that it’s part of the rockstar lifecycle I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about (if you haven’t, you will). Basically when you’re working up to launching a show or exhibition, that’s a good time to be mailing. When you’re deep into the creation of your art, I’d leave your list alone and concentrate on making great work. Just make sure you don’t stay in your cave forever, that you cycle around once in a while and come out and see everybody.

My point, anyway, is don’t feel like having a mailing list is a massive obligation. It should be a pleasure, something you are grateful for because of what it brings you. I want to engineer it for you so that your mailing list provides you the support you love and it’s a source of pleasure.

4: don’t to craft everlong missives to your people

Would you do that to a friend?

Just tell them what they need to know. For example:

“Hey Brian, I’ve just set up the preview for my new show, if you’d like to come along here’s the [link] so you can book in. I need to know who’s coming so I know how many vol-au-vents to make. It’s the first time anyone’s seen this new work and it’s your chance to buy something (if you want to, you don’t have to) before it opens to the public.

It would be lovely to see you, just let me know.”

5: watch out for your own pontificating

It feels great doesn’t it? “I was in the shower and I thought x, y and if that, then z and so on and so forth”. Brilliant. Send that. Everyone will be fascinated.

Ah. Hang on. Maybe that’s pontification.

Better to swing things around. Think about what’s in the reader’s head.

Pandemic? Brexit? Back to school? Summer’s here. Christmas is coming. Where are they .. what are their concerns.

Write about that. Write about them and your place in their life.

Be of help. Be of service.

“What on earth would I say without being overfamiliar or salesy?”

How about .. notice when you get a thrill, and write about that. It’s great to see the world through another’s eye and sometimes I think people love living an artists life vicariously, so .. first .. become aware of good stuff. Become aware of what engages you and why, what excites you (obviously not .. beer or whatever .. stuff that’s relevant to your art). Then share that moment so others can get excited too. I walk the dog and maybe spot a Small Tortoiseshell on a flower and I’ll photograph it and share it to my social media because it thrills me, but you’re a professional spotter, you’re on another level. Let us in to how you see the world.

So let’s review. Treat your mailing list like a friend. Write (or speak to camera or audio) when you feel like it (so long as you do occasionally feel like it). 

That’s do-able, right?

That’s possible. You can do that.

I called it 5 ways to woo your list, and that is the result. People like you more. They feel closer to you. Not everyone, if you show yourself, but that’s the point, you only want people with a good connection to you to stick around, you want the others gone. You can’t please everyone, you need to gather those who you love you and want you to succeed.

Come the day you have 100 people on your list and before you put a new artwork out to social media you let your mailing list see it, and someone buys it, you’re going to look back at all this stuff and love what I’m saying here.

Come the day you have 500 people on your list, you’ll start to get confident that a message to them will turn into something .. a sale, people at your preview, whatever.

And come the day you have 1,000 people on your list, you could have yourself a reliable income stream and a fanbase that lifts you up. When you talk to galleries you have leverage.

It’s like a fledgling learning to fly. Stretch your wings, feel the wind under them. Exercise your muscles. Learn to control. Eventually you can lift a few inches off the ground on a strong wind, and practise that. Then one day .. you fly .. and the world is entirely different forever from that day.

Building and nurturing your list is like that. Small wins until one day, you realise, you’re independent. You can go with a gallery if it pleases you, but you don’t have to take what they are offering. And if someone tries to negotiate you down, you can just say no.

I used a word, there, ‘nurturing’. That’s going to be the topic of the next video. How do we take someone who, in the moment, gave you their email address .. how do we bring them up to speed with what to expect and put our best foot forward so they move from “yeah ok” to feeling comfortable about this new space and like they can contribute without making a fool of themselves. Like they are with friends.

That’s the next video .. I haven’t recorded it yet (edit: yes I have) so I don’t know when it’ll be (edit: yes I do), but it’s coming (edit: you get the idea).

Alright, stay safe, sell art.

Speak soon


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