How to start a newsletter

It’s making its comeback. Well, maybe it’s never been really gone, but it was quiet around the newsletter for a long time.
Now that social media offers fewer and fewer opportunities to be seen, the newsletter is a good way to put your work in the spotlight as an (image) maker.
Because here, you are not bothered by algorithms or that your work is only seen if you get a lot of likes. A newsletter always pops into subscribers’ inboxes!
As an illustrator, artist or photographer, you might be a bit reluctant to write instead of creating images, but a good start is half the battle.

How do you start a newsletter? Here are 5 tips to build a good foundation.

Want to learn how to create a good newsletter that suits you? Then join the online class!

1. Which email-marketing service to choose?

The choice is vast: Mailchimp, Flodesk, Mailerlite and the odd one out: Substack. And then a dozen or so more. Which one should you choose?
When choosing, it is important to know beforehand exactly what you need. How many subscribers (aka: subscribers/people who subscribe) do you think you can collect? How much are you willing to pay per month? Do you want to use A/B testing? Do you want to be able to see where your subscribers are coming from?

For beginners, Mailchimp is often the best choice. It’s free up to 2,000 subscribers, and very user-friendly. I started using Mailchimp in 2010 and used it until 2020. I decided to invest more time in my newsletters and quickly grew above 2,000, making Mailchimp too expensive. Since in most cases it takes a while to get to 2,000 subscribers, Mailchimp is the most accessible option for beginners.

Since 2020, I have been using Flodesk. With them, you pay a fixed amount per month/year, no matter how many subscribers you have. Thereby, it is very user-friendly and, in my opinion, you can create by far the nicest newsletters on this platform. The disadvantage of Flodesk is that many technical options, such as A/B testing and referrals, are not possible.

Substack is becoming increasingly popular among illustrators and works differently: it is more of a blog than a newsletter, and mainly focused on longer writing. It falls under the heading of newsletters because people can subscribe to updates. Per update (blog post), an e-mail is then sent to subscribers. Also, subscribers can leave comments under each post, so you create much more interaction than with a regular newsletter.

I am considering switching to Mailerlite because it offers more options than Flodesk, such as A/B testing, and it offers similar options to Substack. As I have no experience with this platform yet, I can’t say much about it.

2. Grow your emaillist

To get more subscribers to your email list, it is important that they know you have a newsletter. Sounds logical, but many people almost hide their newsletter. Therefore, place a built-in subscription form very clearly on your website. Even better: at the bottom of every page.
In doing so, it should be su-per-simple for people to subscribe. So always use a registration form. Don’t fiddle with ‘send me an email with your name so I can put you on my list’. It’s not 1998 anymore, and registration forms are made in minutes. Make the threshold as low as possible!

3. Don’t become a SPAMMER

Never just put people on your email list. Not even if you know them or have e-mailed with them before about a work-related topic, for instance. This is contrary to European law. Someone must have signed up via your registration form. If you send a newsletter out of the blue, it can be reported as SPAM (more on GDPR). I explain exactly how this works in my online class.

4. Make it clear who sent the email

A lot of newsletter senders forget to mention who they are.
Where you put the senders’ name, always make sure you use the name by which you are known to people, and put it first. Don’t say: ‘Visual artist and gallery owner Jessica Johnson. Far too long and also: mail providers abbreviate it. It will just say ‘Visual artist and …’: not at all clear who it is from. So start with ‘Jessica Johnson’.
Don’t forget to make it clear in the newsletter itself who it is from. Do so at the top (‘header’) and again at the very bottom. If it is not clear to subscribers from whom emails are coming from, they are more likely to unsubscribe.

5. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes

If you know who you are talking to, you know how to talk. So it is important to be clear who your target group is.
Moreover, a good newsletter is not just about selling your service or product: your newsletter should offer value to the recipient. Nobody likes to get solely advertising flyers in their letterbox. Make sure your newsletter is like a magazine among all that advertising. That will make you stand out! Create a balance between value for the reader and selling your product.

Online class ‘Newsletters for creatives’
Live on February 23, recording available after

In the online class, you will learn how to make a good newsletter, even if image is your first language.
In two hours you will learn how to grow your mailing list (without ‘sleazy’ tricks), how to find the right target group for your work, how to offer and sell your work without feeling like a fishmonger on the market, and how to write texts that are easy to read and suit you.

Good luck with creating your newsletter! And want to know more? Then join the online class live on 21 February or watch the class back as a recording.

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