The Two of Cups is about building relationships.
Every month, my wife and two of her friends get together to talk business. They all sell art, and they spend about three hours every fourth Monday discussing how they could do it better. Between each meeting, it’s one members responsibility to research a topic of interest and present her findings to the group. Last week, it was my wife’s turn. Her subject—email marketing.
Taking advantage of her resources, she asked me to speak to the group. Here’s what I said:
Understand why email is important
- You own your list. When you build your brand on Facebook or Twitter, you’re playing on someone else’s playground. There is no way to know when they’ll change their algorithms or take their ball and go home, leaving you with nothing. When you build an email list, though, you own it.
- Email is forever. Social networks rise and fall, but people will always have to spend time in their inbox.
Define your goal
Why do you want to create an email list? To increase sales? Promote events or products? Build an audience for your work? Build relationships? Build a brand? The answer might include all of these things. And that’s OK. But starting each email by asking yourself “why” will help keep you focused and concise.
Decide what kind of content you’ll send
Email isn’t any one thing; it’s a vehicle. So what do you want to send? Your writing? Your photography? Your videos? Links to interesting articles? You can really send anything you want so long as it’s helpful and useful.
Decide how you’ll send your emails
You can’t just open Gmail, BCC some addresses, and click send. Well, I guess you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Doing everything manually leaves a lot of room for error—e.g. forgetting to BCC, leaving someone off, poor formatting, etc. I would recommend using a service like Mailchimp, which will manage the backend so you can focus on your content.
Determine your frequency
Consistency creates anticipation and trust. When you show up every week (or every other week, or every month), people will begin to believe in you and in your work. They’ll look forward to your email each week.
Decide how you’ll promote your list
Your email list is your most important asset. It’s the way you share your work, promote your products, and make new friends. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to get people onto that list. Add a signup form on your website, link to it through your social media channels, encourage people to join in person. If it’s something you believe in, then you should be proud to promote it.
- Know your audience. Ask yourself if the email you’re about to send is something you’d want to read?
- Be consistent. It builds trust. And trust builds relationships.
- Invite conversation. Ask people to reply to your emails and respond to them quickly. Readers are often shocked to find out there’s a real live human being on the other side of their computer screen.
- Be helpful. No one wants to read an email that’s all about you. Add value.
- Be spam. Send an email you’d want to read.
- Be afraid to promote yourself. If you’re showing up every week and being helpful, it’s OK every once in a while to promote yourself or your products.
- Give up. Building an email list is hard work! I’ve been doing this for four years and still have a long way to go. Thanks to everyone who’s come along for the journey.
If you want further reading, check out these two great pieces about starting an email list:
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