THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Today’s episode is sponsored by my free masterclass, How To Sell More Art. Discover the five most common mistakes artists make and the things you should be doing instead. To save your spot, go check it out over at schulmanart.com/sell-more-art.
If you want to sell your art and create a real business out of it, there’s going to come a time when you’ll want to send the same message to a bunch of people. For example, you’re having an art show and you want to invite everyone who is interested in your art.
It’s the Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. Now your host, Miriam Schulman.
Well, hey there, this is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration and host of The Inspiration Place Podcast. You’re listening to episode number 180, and I am so grateful that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about what’s wrong with your email, and I’m going to be dishing out lots of juicy tips no matter where you are in your journey to becoming a self-sustaining artist.
This is part of my What’s Wrong With series. I also did a What’s Wrong with Your Website, which was super popular, and there were a lot of people who wrote to me who said, “Oh, Miriam, would you please look at my website and tell me what’s wrong with it?” You know what? I would love to look at your website, but that is something that I do my clients for the people who join the Artist Incubator Coaching Program. So if you want me to personally review your website, you’ll get that in the program.
Okay, so let’s go on though with your free tips about what’s wrong with your email. Now if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you might have heard me talk about email lists, and after fielding questions inside the Incubator Program, I see that I’m starting the conversation a little bit too far from where many of you are at. I assume that you know more than you do, which is completely unfair.
Now if you’re listening to this and you feel that you’re more advanced than that, don’t worry my friend, we’ll make sure that there’s some more advanced tips threaded throughout this episode that will help you as well. I don’t want to leave you out, but I definitely don’t want to leave my newbies out of the conversation, because if you’re anything like me, I started exactly in the same place.
I remember there was a time where I made all of these mistakes and it’s funny how quickly we forget, adults forget what it’s like to be a kid. So, I want to make sure that this starts at the very beginning without launching into a Maria from Sound of Music with Do-Re-Mi, but let’s start with first things first. Let’s talk about the difference between having an email address and having an email list.
Now, an email address can be your personal email. So for example, that might be Sally@gmail.com or Sally@yahoo.com, and this is the email address you use to receive emails from other people and you use it to send them. You also will have as a Gmail user, for example, when you receive emails from Gmail, Gmail will make some decisions about emails that are coming in and it’ll either put it in your inbox, it might put it in your promotions tab, or it might put it into spam. We’re going to be talking about how Gmail decides what should go in spam, and that could be something that’s affecting you if you are sending emails out to your potential art collector, so you’re going to want to pay careful attention to this.
Now the way that these emails are designed, so a firstname.lastname@example.org is designed, is it gives you permission to send personal emails to people, usually one at a time. Sometimes it’ll let you send it out to more. PTA moms might be sending it out to all 15 people, all 15 parent emails on the list, something like that. So you can CC or copy a few people, but if you add more than, and I think the number is 20 people at a time, then the emails that you’re sending might go to spam, because Gmail, when they see that the person sending it has copied a bunch of other people, that’s one of the things that they might determine that this email might be spam, so it goes directly into someone’s spam folder.
Now I didn’t want to bring up spam this early in our conversation, but it really is important to talk about, so let’s have a quick conversation about what spam is and what it isn’t. Now if you check out the Googles, you’ll get this definition. They have it both as a noun and a verb, but the verb version is if you send the same message indiscriminately to large numbers of recipients on the internet.
Now, the keyword here is indiscriminate. Meaning you can send the same message to a large number of people, but only if they have given you permission to let you do that and with a way to stop getting your messages automatically. Meaning there needs to be an unsubscribe link at the bottom of that email or at the top. Doesn’t have to be in the bottom or top, just someplace on the email.
Now if you wanted to sell your art and create a real business out of it, there’s going to come a time when you’ll want to send the same message to a bunch of people. For example, you’re having an art show and you want to invite everyone who is interested in your art. That’s why you need to collect those email addresses, so that when you have an art show, you can send it to everyone on your list. That’s when you need an email list.
Now you can get started with many platforms for free, but most of them will charge you a small fee, and really to get their better features, you need to pay that fee. So by platforms, now we’re not talking anymore about Yahoo and Gmail, now we’re talking about something like MailChimp or ConvertKit. Don’t know exactly what the price is for these various services, because the more email subscribers you have, the more it’s going to cost.
I’m paying around $200 a month, because I have a very large list. I have about 20,000 people on my email list. But for someone who’s just getting started, it’s probably around $15 to $20 a month, which is not that expensive if you plan on making $50,000 a year, and that’s your plan, right?
Now, here are some of the mistakes I see artists make. So I don’t want to presume why they’re doing it this way, most of them probably don’t know better. So if that’s you, I don’t want you to feel bad, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of people making these same mistakes, no one has just told you this information before. But either the people who are doing it differently in the way they’re not supposed to, maybe they don’t want to pay for it or they don’t want to invest their time learning how to use it, or maybe they just don’t see what’s wrong with the way they’ve been doing it, or like I said, if it’s you, maybe no one’s told you that it’s wrong or explained why.
What I see artists doing, and again, this is the wrong way, people who try to send a bunch of emails to a bunch of people at a time without using something like MailChimp, they’ll keep the email addresses in a spreadsheet and then they’ll use the copy feature, the CC feature. What they don’t know is that many of the people are never ever receiving their emails, because Gmail or Yahoo or whatever that person is using to receive email, that service, the Gmail service will assume its spam and will send it directly to the spam folder.
Now some of the artists I know, and I’ve definitely seen this and I’ve also heard people say they do this, they’ll add at the bottom of their emails, “Hey, if you want to stop receiving the emails, just reply back.” They tell me, “Oh, Miriam, that works fine.” Well, first of all, that’s not really legal, okay? I want to tell you a quick story about this. I have a friend who is a very talented fashion blogger, and she actually did that, she had her email go out. The way she had her email go out, which also I don’t recommend doing this, it’s kind of a larger conversation, but sometimes people set up blogs that will automatically send the email. You don’t want to do it that way, there was no way to unsubscribe from that.
I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, because she was my friend, so I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by writing to her and letting her know that I didn’t want her fashion emails anymore. I actually really liked her fashion, I just didn’t want the emails. Because it was a blog, I was getting it every day and I just didn’t want it. So instead of emailing her, I just deleted those emails every time they hit my inbox.
However, after a while my Yahoo stopped delivering those emails to my inbox, because they noticed I was deleting it every single time and they started sending those emails directly to spam. That happened not just with her, but everyone else’s emails who I automatically delete. As soon as I see it in my inbox, they started going to spam as well. I never marked them as spam, but if you delete somebody’s emails often enough, that is where those emails will end up.
Here is something else you need to know, you need to know this, whether you’re doing it this way or the legal way, like using a program like MailChimp or ConvertKit. So whether you’re doing it the right way or the wrong way, if there’s a lot of people deleting your emails without opening them, without reading them, Gmail takes notice and they might start considering all emails from your email address spam. Which means that even the people who want your emails may not be getting them, because they’re going straight to their spam folders, okay?
So, what’s the lesson in here for my more advanced people? Well, first of all, you want people to open your emails and get that wonderful subject line. That’s what makes people want to open them, and also when they open them, they’re amazing, but here’s the other thing you need to know. You do need to go through your email list and what’s called list clean, clean your list. What that means is you go through the list and remove or unsubscribe anyone on your list who has stopped opening your emails, because here’s the thing. If they’re not opening it, it probably means it’s going straight to their spam folders. By removing those people from your list, it will increase the chances that other people will get your emails.
I’ve seen this happen over and over again, not just with myself, but my clients. The Artist Incubator clients, when they clean their list, they said, “Oh, all of a sudden more people are opening it.” Also because the people on your list are the ones who are actually opening it, so there’s that effect, but there’s also the effect that it increases what’s called your deliverability. Meaning that Gmail’s actually putting the email in your inbox folder, not sending it to people’s spam folder. It could be Yahoo doing the same thing, it doesn’t matter what it is.
All right, so now besides being on the right side of the law by using a program like MailChimp or whatever, there are some really good reasons why sending your emails with an email service provider helps you. First of all, the software tells you not only how many people open and click on your emails, but who opened them and what they clicked. This helps you write better emails. You can also resend an email to people who didn’t open it the first time, but with a new subject line.
The software has a way of saying, hey, resend this to anyone who didn’t open it and you just change the subject line. The reason you want to change the subject line is because you send the same exact email again with the same exact subject line, if they didn’t open it the first time and it has the same subject line, they probably won’t open it the second time.
Now my Artist Incubator clients, they learn what makes an irresistible subject line, that will increase their open rates. If you’re wondering what a good open rate is, it’s usually around 25%. Now, this is going to vary depending on how large your list is. People who have very large lists, 10% is actually pretty good. Many of my Artist Incubator clients have around a 50% open rate.
All right, so what does that mean? All right, let’s break that down. That means that if they send an email to 40 people, 20 people are opening their emails and seeing what they said. I want to take a quick moment to compare that to social media. So, currently Instagram will show your post to less than 1% of your followers. If you want 20 people to see your post, that means you would need to have at least 2,000 followers on Instagram to have the same number of people see that post as you would with email.
Not only that, with email the person who receives your email, they see your subject line, they decide whether or not they’re going to open that email. On Instagram, they don’t get to decide, Instagram decides for them what they’re going to show. So, this is just one of the many reasons why email and having an email list is better than relying on building social media.
In one of my recent master classes, one of the people attending, and we’ll just call her Sally since that’s our fake name of the day, she shared that she had 30,000 followers on Instagram. Her post got tons of likes and comments, but her sales were very disappointing. Unfortunately a lot of artists think if only they had more followers, they’d get more sales. This is a classic artist mistake. Usually these people are treating Instagram like a sales catalog. The thing is Instagram is for connection, not making sales.
Usually artists who make this mistake think they don’t have a big enough audience or they don’t know how to sell on Instagram, they think they have a promotion problem. Meaning they don’t know how to promote on Instagram, when really they have a prospecting problem. This is one of the classic artist mistakes. There are five of them that I cover in my free masterclass, How to Sell More Art (Without Being Insta-Famous). If you want to get the full details of it and save your spot, you can go to schulmanart.com/sell-more-art.
In the masterclass you’ll learn what you should be doing instead of spending hours and hours trying to grow your social media following. Hint, one of the things you should be doing is getting an email list. You need collectors, not drive by commenters. Now our friend Sally had some major “Ahas” during the masterclass, and I know you will too. So to sign up, go to schulmanart.com/sell-more-art. Now, back to the show.
Okay, so you can create a series of emails, otherwise known as a welcome sequence, and some people refer to it as a nurture sequence that goes out to every new subscriber. I recommend that artists have three emails in this sequence that goes out to every new person who signs up to help warm them up and tell them who you are. With the software, like one of the ones we’ve mentioned already, you only have to write these sequences once, and with the magic of computers it will go out to all new prospects. Yes, my Incubator coaching clients get templates for writing those emails.
Another advantage I love with my MailChimp software is that because they have so many users and data about those users, I can ask the software to help me pick the best time to send the email out. Their data has it all figured out, they know what time it will most likely be opened, I do not have to second-guess.
Okay, so now that I gave a spiel about why you need to invest in an email software program, let’s talk about what else you might be doing wrong with your email. So, I jotted down about five things I’ve noticed that I see artists making these mistakes. One of them I notice is too big of an email header. When you have this huge email header, it’s going to take up a lot of room. You really want, when people open your email, to see kind of the main point without having to scroll. If your email header takes up a lot of room and they have to do a lot of scrolling, they may never get that far. Remember, we’re in a very short attention economy.
You don’t even need an email header by the way. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t have it and save the pictures for your gorgeous art, which brings me to mistake number two. Some people write the email, but they forget to include a picture of their art in them. So you always want a picture of your art, and that brings us to the next thing, you want to make sure that the art is clickable. People will try to click on it, you will want to make sure that they’ll be able to get to your website.
I also advise everyone to put a picture of you in the email, especially if you’ve met … well, there’s a few reasons for this. I was going to say especially, but if they’ve met you in-person and then they’re getting your emails, it really is helpful for people who are opening your emails to connect the email to the person that they might have met in-person like at an art show. Otherwise, they may not have remembered your name, but they remember, “Oh yeah, I remember Kayla. She’s the one with the blue hair.” So, you want to put a recent picture of you in the email.
The second reason I like a picture of you in the email is because it helps them connect with you. Helps them connect with you, you are a real person. Then finally another thing you want to make sure you do, so this is number five, is make sure you sign your name to the bottom of every email.
Okay, I packed a lot into this episode. I hope there was a huge “Aha” for you and you found this how helpful. I would love to hear from you what you thought, what your greatest takeaway was. You can send me a DM over on Instagram, I’m @schulmanart over there. S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T. Because remember Instagram is for connection, so I would love to connect with you.
Don’t forget, if you like this episode, you have to check out the free masterclass, How To Sell More Art, and avoid those big classic artist mistakes. You can sign up over at schulmanart.com/sell-more-art. We just added some new times and dates, so hopefully you’ll find something that works just for you.
All right my passion maker, thanks so much for being with me here today, I’ll see you same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.
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