If you don’t have an email list yet, you’re far from alone. Many of us creative business owners start our business on Etsy, because of its low barrier to entry (“Hey! I can start a business selling what I make on Etsy with almost no money and very little time!”) As an artist in art school, I had that same thought: ‘why not sell what I am making?’ So we opened up a shop and got to work…
Then you probably realized you needed some way to tell people about your awesome product(s) and created an Instagram, Facebook Page, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or whatever flashy new social media app was popular in the moment (does anyone Vine anymore?) And while all of these things are GREAT, having an email list is even more important, and here’s why…
1. Social Media Love Is Easy. It takes seconds to like, re-tweet, or re-pin. And if you have tons of people doing that for your products, awesome! The more the better. But those types of activities are more like flirting in your business, whereas someone who gives you their name and email address so you can send them your newsletter? That’s taking your business relationship to a whole new level. They want to get to know you and what you make. They are also likely to understand that you will be talking about what you make — and sell — and by opting in to your email list, have shown you they are more likely to buy from you. People are about six times more likely to click through to your web shop from your email list than your social media. So while social Media is fantastic (and also a great way to build your email list) it doesn’t have the same power an email list does.
2. Social Media, and Where and How You Sell, Can and Will Change. Trends in Social Media come and go. If you were ever on MySpace you know how true this is! If you had 10,000 friends there, are they any good to you now? And almost anyone who has sold on Etsy for more than a couple of years will probably tell you they are, at the very least, super annoyed with the changes Etsy has made to its platform and many people left Etsy because of it. But nearly everyone has email, and they typically keep the same email for years and years. So if you have your email list, and Instagram goes away (OHpleaseOHNOdon’tEVERGOawayInstagram!), you still have your email list. Or if you start selling on your own web site, it will be easy to let your buyers know and redirect them there.
And let’s not forget: any social media or seller platform can kick you out at any time for breaking their rules (even if you didn’t intentionally break any rules!) Social Media handles can also be hacked and stolen. What would you do if this happened to you? Well, if you have an email list, you’d probably immediately announce what happened, so your customers don’t think you just disappeared. Of course, I hope this never happens to you, but it’s just one more reason you should have an email list.
3. You can build a stronger connection with your ideal customers. I have said this before, but one of the great things about Social Media is that it is a way to build relationships with people who love what you make. The people who appreciate (and buy!) handmade often do so because they believe in the power of their shopping dollars, and spending money buying things that take time, talent, and heart to make actually makes them feel better about buying. So when you share photos of your process or studio, of even small glimpses into your life, they feel connected to you and the product(s) you make. An email list is a way to deepen that connection. When you write something to your email list, it can be personalized with their name, and you can write it in a way that sounds as though you are speaking just to them.
Building this kind of rapport can’t be done in 140 characters or less. You can also make them feel special by giving your newsletter subscribers special offers (like freebies, subscriber-only discounts, access to your new products first, etc.)
4. Your email list helps you to remind your ideal customers to actually shop with you! Here’s a little anecdotal — but true and powerful — story of my own. I found this one artist on Etsy years ago and immediately fell in love with her style. I followed her on Etsy, then Twitter, then Instagram. Eventually she created an email newsletter and I joined that, too. I loved (LOVE!) her work, but I never bought anything from her. I can’t even say why, really… But one lazy Sunday afternoon I was reading her email about a new series she had posted on Etsy, and it just clicked, and so did I! I went to her shop and bought an original piece that I proudly display in my living room. As much as we don’t want to hear it, it sometimes takes a long time for people to buy. But by building that relationship with them, and then reminding them “Hey! I’m in business over here and have stuff you want to buy!” WORKS.
5. Finally, 91% of consumers check their email daily. (ref: HubSpot) I know people who only log into Instagram once or twice a week. I hardly ever check Twitter anymore. And we all know how hard/expensive it is to get your business Facebook Page seen. But 91% of people check their emails daily?! Sounds like that’s where I want to be…. don’t you?
I’m going to add this: I know you might be thinking something like this, “But Jules! I already have SO MUCH to do! I make, photograph, list, sell, pack and ship my own products. I update my web site, I do my own accounting. Plus I am on ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIAS. Plus I am a mom/have a 9 to 5/am a student/etc. How will I find the time?!”
Oh boy, do I understand. But writing to your email list doesn’t have to be something you do weekly. You can send it once or twice a month! And while setting it up the first time will take some extra time, after that, the template is there for you; you just fill it in with your latest news, products, and specials, etc. The key, like with social media and blogging, is being consistent. Make and set a schedule you can stick to: like every other Wednesday, or the first of every month. Whatever you know you can stick to, and actually stick to it. You can also write, and schedule, your emails in advance.
You might also be thinking “But who will subscribe? Who will I write to?”
Guess what? Everyone who starts a list starts a zero. But if you have even 10 subscribers after a month, those are ten people who really want to know what you have to say, and like what you make. That’s better than zero, and it’s certainly a start! Also, what if you got press or one of your products went viral: wouldn’t you want that email list in place, so you could capture a whole new audience? I know I would!
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