How to write a newsletter

I received several emails after sending out my latest newsletter, many from other artists wondering how to approach this communications tool. I have a combination of marketing and web experience that informs how I design and write newsletters that may be of use to you. Here are some tips:

  1. Make it easy for your website readers to subscribe. I write my own web form that sends an email to me with the fields I ask for, such as their name, how they heard about me (important!), etc. I then copy/paste that into both an MS Outlook group contact list and MS Excel. I know there are other programs and web-based tools to help manage this…If you know of one that you like, chime in with comments to let us know. I do steer away from free advertising based tools as I don’t want to clutter my newsletter with other peoples messages.
  2. Respect your readers time. I don’t know about you, but my email inbox isn’t equivalent to a letter box, where I’m eager to get the next personal correspondence from a pen-pal in Paris. It’s a to-do list, a task list and reminder. Visualize your reader getting dozens of such emails and ask yourself why they’d read yours. Be succint. Also, be clear in your signup form what your privacy policy is (here are some free templates). I inform subscribers that I will never sell or loan out my list to anyone.
  3. No dead ends. This is important. A key purpose of a newsletter is to draw people in. Get their interest. Once you have, give them someplace to go and learn more. In an HTML newsletter context, that means lots of great contextual links back to your website or other interesting resources. Read your newsletter as an outsider, or ask someone else to, asking yourself, when would someone want to know more?
  4. Pictures. We’re artists, after all! Yes, a “picture is worth a thousand words“, and since you’re respecting your reader…use imagery to say more with less. Pictures of YOU are important too. Some people will see your name in the “From” field and make a connection, while others will recogize you by face. I used a picture of Gracie and I in this newsletter because people almost always remember her!
  5. Be authentic, personal. This is your email to another person, directly. Don’t think of it as a “mass-communication” PR pitch. You’ll fail. Write it as if you were sitting across the table with a friend at Starbucks. Be relaxed, and you. Something I’m working on is using MS Word Mail Merge to create personalized newsletters. Eg, start with a personal greeting. “Hey Sean, “…and “I hope you’re enjoying the painting you purchased last year, “Beach Town”., etc.
  6. Tease. Not in a stripper-kinda-way, but you know, leave something for next time. Make them want to get your next newsletter. Tell them what’s coming up.

Got newsletter tips? Chime in!

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