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Managing Your Mailing Lists

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Something I think a lot of artists probably overlook but that’s super important is mailing lists. A good mailing list is an essential key to connecting to and maintaining relationships with all those people who’ve expressed interest in your work. In fact, you should probably even have two lists—one for e-mail and one for snail mail.

If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to start up an account on an e-newsletter service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or something similar. These services give you an easy way to manage your list of e-mail addresses—known as your list of contacts—and to send out e-newsletters, e-invites, and other email communications en masse. (MailChimp is free to use if you have less than 1,000 subscribers.) You can build your database of contacts one at a time, or if you’ve been storing your e-mail addresses in something like an Excel spreadsheet, you can easily upload a version of this file into your contacts database in your online service.

But you do have to be a little careful about the e-mail addresses that you upload. When you go to do it, you’ll notice questions and disclaimers all over the place asking you to confirm that you have each person’s permission to add them as contacts on your list. What does that mean? Do you really have to seek permission from each and every person? Not really. You can assume that if you’re adding friends and family members, you have their permission. Also, you can assume it’s okay to add any names and e-mail addresses that you’ve collected from people you’ve met during art events or people you’ve discussed your artwork with. 

The one thing that’s not okay is to add people you’ve never met to your list, and if you haven’t thought of doing that already, at some point you might. There are probably local media contacts, gallery owners, independent and museum curators, and other art professionals you’d like to cultivate relationships with, so you might think adding them to your e-mail list is a good idea. But, unless you’ve actually communicated with them about your art, you can’t legally add them to your list.

Of course, all of these people I just mentioned are businesspeople, which means you should be able to locate their snail-mail addresses, which is why you still need this old-school type of list. You can store this info on an Excel spreadsheet or perhaps in your inventory tracking software if you’re using a system that includes that feature. It’s also good for those potential and existing collectors who’d prefer to give you their snail-mail addresses instead of their e-mail addresses. You can always send them a printed postcard when you want to invite them to an event or inform them about some big news.

Got any more great tips on managing mailing lists? Let’s connect!


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