One of the best things that artists and makers (and just about any small business) can do is to grow your email marketing list. This post shares some easy ways to increase your subscribers. A bit of up front effort setting up forms, automated email campaigns, and valuable content will pay big dividends for years to come.

Why you have to grow your email list.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that email marketing is something that you ought to do. But, how do you prioritize it with all of the other marketing you could be doing (social media, paid ads, improving your SEO, etc.) and all of the other things you need to do (sales tax, balance your accounts, ship orders… oh yeah, maybe do some painting too)?

In your marketing to-do list, email should be right at the top of the priority list. Why?

Email has a far higher rate of engagement that social media. Optin Monster reported an average open rate on marketing emails of 22.86% open rate vs only a 0.58% engagement rate on social media. Rand (the man!) from Sparktoro and Moz said that one email subscriber is worth 17.5 Instagram followers.

This principle is easy to see for yourself if you’re already doing email. Just look at what percentage open rate you get on your next email vs what percentage of your followers “like” or engage with your next social media post.

Email has one of the best return on investments out there. Building on the previous idea that email has a higher rate of engagement, know that email also has one of the best ROI of any marketing you can do. Compared to running a paid ad for example, email is extremely inexpensive (for many makers, the free Mailchimp plan works great). And, you’re reaching out to people that you know are already interested in you since they signed up to get emails from you.

And, a lot of email marketing can be automated. You’ll have to put in some work up front, but once you do… oh my word! It’s like having an assistant working for you 24/7 for free. It’ll pay off for months and years to come. What sorts of things can be automated?

  • Emailing a customer that added something to their cart but then didn’t complete a purchase (called Abandoned Cart).
  • Asking a customer to review you after they buy something.
  • Sending someone a coupon code after they sign up.
  • Creating a series that people can sign up for (like a business improvement series… like this post is a part of).
  • Emailing your subscribers anytime you post a new blog post or release a new piece.
  • Emailing a customer that hasn’t bought in a while with a special offer.

Okay, so let’s assume you’re convinced and email is now at the top of your to-do. Getting someone on your list is now your 2nd top goal (number one is of course getting them to buy something!). Let’s look at some tips for building your list.

ps. Even if you don’t think growing your list should be one of your top priorities, you can still feel free to use these tips!

Killer tips for growing your email list.

Alright, enough preamble. Let’s get into some ideas for growing your email marketing list for artists, makers, and small businesses of all kinds.

Create a popup on your website.

Put a popup on your website inviting people to join your email list. If you don’t ask in an obvious way, no one’s going to join! In SquareSpace, this is easy. Just go to Marketing > Promotional Pop-Up. A few tips here:

First, avoid making this too annoying. Going to a website and immediately getting a popup is very irritating. Your users are still trying to decide if they like your stuff, they need a chance to look at it before you hit them with an email signup (this is doubly annoying when they have to click to close your cookie warning and then click again to close your pop up before they can view your site). Similarly, check your settings to make sure the banner doesn’t show up too much. Once someone closes the pop-up or signs up, they don’t want to see it again on the next page they visit! Make it so that they don’t see the banner again for a while (I like a week) when they close the pop-up and they never see it again if they sign up.

Second, offer something in return for signing up. You can offer lots of different things but the most common are:

  • A coupon code to get a discount on their purchase.
  • A free download.
  • Early access to a collection release.
  • A free guide.

If you want to learn more about pop-up best practices, check out this guide from Optinmonster.


Check out the pop-up on Kristen Abbott’s website. Rather than simply mentioning an email, she mentions numerous benefits for signing up like access to sales and behind the scenes content. I also love her use of the word Official (because who wants to sign up for one of those bootleg newsletters?).

The email signup pop-up on Kristen Abbott's website.

Similarly, check out Abbey Ratcliff’s pop-up. She lists lots of benefits of signing up, including the promise of updates about her adorable kiddo.

The email signup pop-up on Abbey Ratcliff's website.

You simply must offer signup during checkout.

During checkout on your website, make sure your new customer has a chance to sign up for your emails. They are buying something from you, obviously they should be interested in finding out when you release new work, right? If your site let’s you, make that op-in checked by default.

Check out the checkbox on the checkout page for Janna Moreau. Checked by default, it’s perfect.

The email signup checkbox on Janna Moreau's website.

Side note: If all or most of your business come through social media, your revenue stream is at risk any time you take a day off. You don’t post, no one buys. That’s exhausting. Among other things, you’d like to grow a customer base that isn’t dependent on your constant promotional effort. Turning your existing customers into repeat customers is hugely important and email marketing is one of the best ways to do that.

Get users interested in your emails through social media.

This is similar to the offers mentioned above for your pop-ups on your website. Make it clear on social media that people can sign up for your emails and that they’ll get something special when they do. I’ve seen a lot of artists do this effectively by giving early access to a collection (you’ll get to see the collection a day before everyone else) or exclusive access to a piece (only email subscribers will get access to this piece). Create a page on your website that’s just a email signup form and then link to that page from these posts (or make that your bio link in IG when you post about this).

I was super impressed with how Michael Magrin does this on his Instagram account and website. Check out this post from Instagram.

Michael Magrin builds his email list by promoting email on his Instagram posts.

And, his signup on his site is really good. Most people are hesitant to sign up for emails because they are worried they’ll get way more emails than they want. I love that he specifically mentions that you’ll only get one email from him per month.

Michael Magrin mentions how often you'll get emails from him on his email signup form.

What should you email your subscribers?

Once someone has subscribed, don’t forget to email them! This might seem obvious, but many companies have a sign up form, get subscribers, and then never email them. Don’t waste your email list, it’s the best ROI thing you have.

But, what exactly should you be emailing your subscribers? We’ll have some tips for that in the next post in this series, so stay tuned.

What’s worked best for you? Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Featured Image: Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash