The artist's mailing list is his or her most valuable asset, but it's absolutely worthless if it's not used. Having said that, let's back up and explore a couple of questions. What is an artist mailing list? And what are you going to do with it?

In the simplest terms, an artist’s mailing list contains names and contact information of people you know or might like to know. For the artist, a mailing list usually begins with friends and family, and then expands to buyers and potential buyers. You use your mailing list to stay in touch with all of these people--to keep them informed of your goings-on. In a nutshell, your mailing list--something unique to you and your career--is the primary tool you use to share your art with the world. Sharing in a sincere and enthusiastic manner is much easier and much more effective than trying to sell using sales-speak.

These days, the artist’s mailing list consists of bricks-and-mortar addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. (It might better be called a “contact list.”) You need all three types of information in order to keep your name in front of people and to conduct critical follow-up.

So when do you use email and when do you use regular mail? And when do you pick up the phone? Here are some guidelines to help you use your artist mailing list most effectively.

*Use regular mail about two to four times a year.

*Use regular mail for people on your list with whom you don’t have a prior relationship. Recipients of email who haven’t asked to be on your list might become testy if they continue to receive unwanted email. We tend to guard our inboxes fiercely these days. However, very few people will mind getting a real piece of mail with nice pictures on it--even if they haven’t requested to be on your list.

*Use regular mail when you want to be more official. You can’t always be assured that email will get through to people. Regular mail, while imperfect, is more reliable.

*Use email to follow up. After you send a postcard two weeks out from your art exhibit, you can use email to send last-minute reminders.

*Use email for short updates and artist newsletters, but only if the recipients have requested to be on your list. Know the CAN SPAM laws: http://www.artbizblog.com/2006/04/does_your_email.html

*Use the phone to verify and clarify. The written word is often misunderstood, but the tone of one’s voice adds clarity to the message.

*Use the phone to check in. If you have an art patron who has been ailing or in a difficult situation, pick up the phone to show you care.

As you can see, the most important guideline for your artist mailing list is that you use it! The second most important guideline is that you mix things up--using the variety of communication formats available to you.

Copyright 2008 Alyson Stanfield, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Alyson B. Stanfield is an art-marketing consultant, artist advocate, and author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. Get her free report “25 No-Nonsense Tips for Your Art Career” at http://www.artbizcoach.com/25tips.