What is your “list” and why would you want one or need one? Your list is simply the email addresses you collect of folks who might be interested in what you do as an artist, as a teacher of art, as a workshop leader, etc. It is one of the ways—perhaps your most important way—of announcing upcoming gallery shows, open studios, updates to your online galleries, classes or workshops you might be leading, and so on. If you have a robust list of several thousand folks, that may make all the difference between making sales or not making sales or having students for your classes or not having students for your classes.

The most typical way that you will acquire these email addresses is through the “email capture” spot on your website. This spot is usually called something like “subscribe to my newsletter” or “join my community” or “get my monthly updates.” It is typically prominently displayed at the upper right of a website and there is often some inducement provided to motivate a person to share his or her email address with you. The inducement is often a “Free list of best plein air painting techniques!” or “Great tips for organizing your studio space!” or some other e-book or e-pamphlet.

The slowest way to build your list is to hope that people find your website and, having found it, share their email address with you. The following is one way to build your list more quickly and more dramatically. It requires real work but the payoff is that your list may grow into the thousands much more rapidly than you ever thought possible. This is not the only tactic or strategy you might employ to build your list, so by all means research and make use of other techniques. But the following one is very interesting and well worth exploring.

You can build your list quickly and dramatically by creating and hosting a video conference. Let’s say that you’re a flower painter and know other flower painters who paint in ways very different from yours. You would invite them to be interviewed (say, via Skype video) and then you would play the pre-recorded videos during a particular time period, say for three or four evenings running. You might, for example, call your video conference “Flower Painting for All Seasons” and the streaming conference would be free to registrants.

The key is the following: you would ask the other presenters (typically you would have between eight and twenty presenters, with a dozen a common number) to announce this free conference to their lists and social media contacts. As and when registrants sign up, you would indicate that you would be “chatting with them after the conference ends” via your newsletter or alert them in some other way to the fact that while the conference is free they are nevertheless providing you with their email address for further contact.

If the conference presenters have a nice reach and a robust following, you might end up with some thousands of registrants—all of whom become a part of your list. It should be clear that such an endeavor has many moving parts and will involve a real learning curve—but it can also prove great fun, you will learn a lot from the guests you interview, the “right” folks interested in flower painting will be signing up for your newsletter, and you’re likely to increase your mailing list dramatically.

There are of course many other ways to build your list. When you speak somewhere, pass around a sheet of paper and ask for the email addresses of folks in the audience. Find partners who will announce you: if individuals with big lists announce you to their email subscribers, many of those subscribers will join your list. You might become a blogger for a large entity—maybe you are both a flower painter and a gardener and like the idea of blogging on gardening for some large online publication. Then in each blog post you would encourage readers to join your mailing list. These ideas just scratch the surface of the ways you might build your list,

You want a website that serves you; on that website you want a clear, compelling way for visitors to the site to provide you with their email address; and then you want to energetically and smartly build your list of email addresses. It may take you some time to build up a large list but as and when you do you will have created something of real value. And everyone on your list knows lots of other people! Whether you are marketing your art or marketing your teaching, hardly anything produces a greater payoff than your own email list.

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