29 April, 2008

Newsletters That Kill

The Art Biz Coach
Alyson Stanfield

It is not everyday that I get to conduct an interview here at The Colorist. And even rarer still the chance to hob-nob in the greater world of art business. Are you an artist in need of guidance in marketing your wonderful art? I'll take that as a yes.

Alyson Stanfield, the ArtBizCoach, has written a new book you must read:

I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion

Yesterday, I linked you to her terrific web sites and the book info page. Everything at the ArtBizCoach is action-oriented. "Do This" is Alyson's catch phrase, and she is sure to get your business side up and running if you'll read this great reference and motivational book.

Perhaps because I have been remiss in getting out proper mailings, I was interested in the artist's newsletter. Some artists live entirely off of patronage from their mailing lists, and I wanted to know the best way to crack that nut.

Alyson, thanks for stopping in.

Casey, I'm really happy to be here. I knew you before you had a blog and I've enjoyed watching you build up your online presence. You're doing a fantastic job! What's on your mind today?

I want to know more about newsletters, both hard copy and e-mail types. Do you support the idea of a special newsletter for gallerists and/or museum curators?

Casey, I really don’t. I think they’re too busy to read your news and you’re too busy to write a couple of different types of newsletters. I’d feed them information the old-fashioned way: letters, brief email updates, etc. I recommend newsletters as a way to keep in touch with patrons.

Also, my patron newsletter I plan to make twice yearly, due to my slow studio production. Plus, I have the daily blogging for frequent news. What wisdom can you offer about newsletter frequency.

It depends on the format. A printed newsletter can be costly, so it doesn't make sense to do it more than two or three times a year. But I might bundle up some of your blog posts and do an e-newsletter in between the two printed versions.

As you know--since you read the book--I believe the most important criteria for writing good newsletters is having news. Everything else is secondary. If you can create good content that people want to read, you can easily do a monthly newsletter. Reread what I just said. I said, “that people want to read.” It’s not about what you want to tell them, but about what is of interest to them. People will make time for things they can relate to or are entertained by.

Also on newsletters, the best one I saw in Googling examples was a short and to the point one from a bar which included a discount coupon for hot wings. It had the brevity, the reminder and the hook. Can you offer some examples of artist's newsletters you feel hit it out of the park?

Very few artists hit a home run with their newsletters. One I particularly love is in I’d Rather Be in the Studio! and that is Elia Woods’ newsletter. It’s not all about her, but about the subjects (vegetables!) in her photo-transfer quilts.

I also enjoy Anne Leuck Feldhaus’s newsletter. Her brightly-colored paintings are always uplifting to look at and she features her animal rescue groups as well as another local artist in each issue. I commissioned two pair of earrings from an artist I found in her newsletter last fall!

I will tell you that the most boring newsletters I get are from artists I’ve never heard of who tell me about their exhibit that’s on the other side of the country. I don’t ever read these and I don’t recommend sending newsletters to people who don’t know you.
I particularly liked the chapter title: "Send a Killer Newsletter". Right away the task has gone from a business obligation, to how to excel and get results with one's newsletter.
As I see it, you have two options for hitting it out of the park with your newsletter: (1) Be a fascinating storyteller or (2) Be funny. All you have to do to see that I’m right is to recall why you read something and why you pass it along to your friends and family.
Thanks for these answers, Alyson. Looks like I'm on track now to publish my killer newsletter. If you're reading my blog, and wish to be on my mailing list for a newsletter, send me your mailing address (snail mail) to caseyklahn (at symbol) Gmail dot com, no spaces. I also send a high quality postcard with an artwork image.

Interested in winning a free copy of I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion? Visit this site, read the instructions, and enter. Your odds are good as she’s giving away a free copy on most of the blog tour stops. You can increase your odds by visiting the other blog tour stops and entering on those sites as well.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! The thing I like most about doing an e-newsletter is that it allows me to stay in touch with past and potential clients giving them both valuable information *and* opportunities to deepen their relationship with me through my classes and products.

Casey Klahn said...

Send us a link, Jennifer.

Renee said...

HI Casey!! I am beginning in the world of blogging, and art. (Oh, I have been creating for as long as I can remember , it is just now, I am beginning to feel confident to share it!)

I enjoyed the interview today. Great question . . .I have thought of newsletters but I feel so lost at times on what to write. I loved Alysons comment that combining posts would make a nice start to a newsletter.

I enjoyed looking through your blog today. Very interesting and such beautiful art! (I posted about it on my blog today- should you choose to email, please email at renee@strokesofmagic (dot) com- my regular email is on upgrade and not available at this time)


Casey Klahn said...

Thanks, Renee.

colorspeaker said...

Casey! Vibrant guest,relevant subject matter, and of course, your special pastels...quite the MIX! Thanks for a great post!
"The Colorspeaker"

Anonymous said...

If your newsletters are as interesting as this post, you are sure to hit a run out of the park! I love that you posted examples of good newsletters as well as giving links...and great photo of Alyson! I'd like to snatch it and use it for my May 23 interview on her blog tour...

Anonymous said...

Very good advice as usual. I am overdue on my plan to publish a newsletter and its because I don't want it to be boring or unuseful. I've almost gotten the right idea -- I hope -- since my work is inspired by icons, imagery, nature and the world around me here in the Hill Country/Borderlands of Texas, I want a focus about the region in my content. Hope that works!

Rita said...

Thanks for doing this interview and sharing the info, Casey. I've been wondering about creating a newsletter for quite some time and this post was very informative (and even more incentive to get my hands on a copy of Alyson's book.)

Thanks again!

Casey Klahn said...

Looks like we struck a chord with many artists, here. I predict a run of newsletters!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on creating something people want to read! You've done a great job on the look of your blog. I'm sure your newsletter will be equally fantastic.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks, Sue. I find your blog inspiring, too.

Tina Mammoser said...

Great interview, I think you asked all the right questions that all of us have! Thanks so much Casey and Alyson.

Casey Klahn said...

The response has been breathtaking. especially @ Statcounter!

My advice to bloggers doing these "big" interviews is to have a good follow-up post for the next several days.

Thanks very much for reading, Tina.

Linda Blondheim said...

This was terific information and thank you both. I send a once a week E-newsletter to about 400 friends and patrons, and have had good success with it, but my blog tops all for interest level. I think blogging is the best PR we can do.

Casey Klahn said...

Wow, Linda! I hadn't been to your blog in a while and it is very involved/prolific/interesting! Actually, you have several blogs.

It'll take some time to study, but I feel there's much to learn from you vis-a-vis blogging and promotion. Thanks for the note, and for reading here.

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