Thursday, February 22, 2007

Must, must, must do

Did I make my point? lol! What is such a must? Mailing lists, of course. If you are in the business of selling art/craft and do not have a mailing list, it is the equivalent of professional suicide.

A mailing list is the collection of names and addresses (email or snail mail, or both) of anyone and everyone who might want to know about any shows or announcements that you have coming up. You've heard the expression about the tree falling in the woods...does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? Well, if you do a show and don't let anyone know will you reach your full potential??

Collecting names, and beginning your mailing list is not terribly difficult. Begin with names of friends and associates. Anyone and everyone you know who might have some interest in your business, or seeing your work. I began with the personal address book, the school and church directories, and neighbors. Not every single person from those sources, but those who knew me and perhaps knew that I was trying to make a business from my art.

From there I began collecting names and addresses at shows. Some came from those who purchased work from me. Some people stop here. They limit the list to those who have purchased their work in the last few years. "True" collectors.

I add the wannabes as well. People who want to own my work, but for whatever reason have not purchased it at a show so far. I know I could not possibly own work from every artist whose work I adore, let alone admire, at the few shows I attend each year. But, what if the stars were to align just so. I am feeling flush. I get a postcard from one of those artists whose work I adore but do not own. I am able to go to the show, and was not even aware that it was coming up, or that this artist would be there. Now might be the time that I can finally indulge myself in a piece of their work. You want to create those opportunities for yourself. Will every postcard or email generate a sale. No. But I have seen visible evidence at shows that they do bring people to a show to see you and your work. And in the end that is what you want to achieve.

And what about the people who do not come to the show. Well, we all know how busy life can be. I cannot possibly attend every show I would like to. But each time I receive a postcard from an artist such as Elise Winters ( or Barbara Sperling (, I get a reminder of that artist. I get to have them in my head again for the next several days as the postcard floats around my house and studio. Again, is that such a bad thing? I may wear my earrings that they made several times that week because they are in my head. And someone may see them and ask about them. And then they may have a new potential customer out there.

The postcard may well go right into the recycle bin. That happens. But, even if only a few opportunities get created, it is worth the time and effort. It is a way we show our collectors and fans that we care about them. We want to see them again. We want them to know where we will be and what we have been up to lately.

In addition to my mailing list for retail shows, I have a mailing lists of shops and galleries. Some of these are places that have contacted me after seeing my work. Others are places I have seen in magazines such as American Style or profiled on the wholesale website I am on, and believe that they may be a good fit for my work. As I approach my first wholesale show this spring, I will be putting that list to work for me.

I maintain my list in a simple spreadsheet/database. I can sort by zipcode for shows. The information can then be downloaded into a word processing program to print out labels for the postcards. And then I (or my kids) will spend an hour or two putting stickers and stamps on the postcards. This task can be done in front of the television. Or if you are lucky enough to have someone to help you, it can be a great chance to sit and talk while you work.

Not on my mailing list and want to be added? Send me an email. I'll be happy to add your name. Snail mail, email, or both. And thanks in advance.

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