How to build your email list for your creative business (even if you’re starting from zero)

One of the best things about the fact that I started my creative business before social media existed is that no one had to convince me of the benefits of email marketing. It was one of the only ways I had to communicate with my customers. My first email marketing platform was Constant Contact which after trying out a few others over the past 20 years, I’ve gone back to. If you’re looking for an email marketing platform, you can click here to 30% off your first 3 months with Constant Contact! 

Eventually social media popped up and I added that to my arsenal of marketing platforms but email has always been my number one way to not just reach my customers but to connect with them (and of course make sales, after all, this is my business not a hobby). 

You don’t have to take my word for it, the stats don’t lie!

The average social media post reaches 5.2% of followers according to Hootsuite. 

The average open rate of emails is +21% (often higher, ours has a 41% open rate) according to Mailchimp. 

That’s the difference of 1 in 20 people in your audience seeing your post vs 1 in 5 seeing your email. That’s HUGE and it’s one of the reasons why I still count email as my #1 marketing platform and why you should too. 

Now that I’ve convinced you to start or grow your email list, how do you get people to subscribe? 

Crafting an email to a small list can feel like whispering at a party and hoping the right person hears you but it’s easier to grow your list than your social media following and you’ll get a higher ROI. 

Here are five ways for creatives to  start or grow your email list (even if you’re starting from zero!). When I was writing this post, I started with making a list of all the ways you build your list and there were so many that I narrowed it down to just five. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you, tell me in the comments. 

Entice people to sign up & reward them.
When people sign up for your list, they’re sharing their email address to you which is a big deal. Entice and thank your new subscribers by creating a lead magnet like a discount code, an exclusive offer, giveaway, printable, tutorial, quiz, cheat sheet, or anything that you think your subscribers would like. I can’t tell you how many email lists I’ve signed up for just to get that 10% off deal. Here’s a post I wrote on eight engaging opt-in ideas. 

Encourage sign-ups at in-person events.
If you’re vending at a craft fair or other event and you don’t encourage people who step into your booth to sign up for your email list, you’re missing out BIG TIME! These people are already attracted to what you make and are connecting with you in-person (which is rare and more meaningful than connecting online). Don’t miss your chance to engage with them when the event is over by having multiple ways and opportunities for them to join your list including having a QR code which I share about next. 

Create a QR code.
I’ll admit I was skeptical of people engaging with QR codes but with Covid transforming many restaurant menus from paper to QR codes, even baby boomers get what to do when they see one. It makes it easy for people to sign up for your list and in Canva you can create a QR code in seconds. 

Have multiple sign-up spots on your website, social media accounts and EVERYWHERE.
Utilize your footer, navigation bar, pop-ups and links within pages and posts on your website to make sure people don’t have to search for how to sign up for your email list. Have a friend peruse your website and let you know spots you missed or went overboard with as far as email opt-in spots. If you rely on only your website to encourage new subscribers online, you’re missing out on opportunities on social media (include your sign-up in your bio and as a CTA in posts), use teasers in videos for viewers to get more info, remind your podcast listeners in your show notes and have your subscribe link in your email signature. 

Add a testimonial to your pop-up or sign up page.
What’s the best way to encourage someone to do something (other than offering them a treat – hello! Lead magnet!), it’s social proof. Even if the person offering the social proof IE: a testimonial about your newsletter or business is a total stranger, it helps people move from “hmmm…” to “I’ll sign up.” I know I’m not the only one who reads the AirBnB reviews to decide on whether to stay at a place or not. It’s the same principle when you add a testimonial to your email opt-in spots.

P.S. – If you’re looking for a deeper dive into marketing your business, join us for Marketing for Makers, a free online digital marketing summit for creatives that we’re hosting with Constant Contact July 11 & 12, 2023.

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