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Top Tips to Level Up your Newsletter Game


When getting serious about becoming an artist in this digital age one of the many things that you’ll probably here is that “you should have a newsletter.” In a nutshell, a newsletter is a way to connect directly with your audience in their inbox. Since the beginning, I’ve kept a relatively simple bi-monthly newsletter for this very reason, and I'm happy to add that it works.

In recent years I've looked at the best practices of small businesses for ways to improve my newsletter list. As I've made improvements, my list has grown significantly because of conventions, but also in part due to making a few key changes.

Since many of us already know the basics, so I’m here to talk about the next steps in leveling up your newsletter game with signup incentives and automation.

I don’t spend a ton of time pushing my newsletter throughout the year. As you can see from this growth graph, my biggest signups usually happen at conventions. During the rest of the year, when I’m not at shows however these two features (signup incentives and automation) play a crucial role in bringing in new, and most importantly, interested people.


Signup Incentives

A newsletter is a kind of service to your audience. They are giving you their email in exchange for something that they want from you, whether it is merely updates from you, exclusive or early access or maybe even a download of some kind.

Following the example of many small businesses, offering something that your audience wants, beyond just merely updates, is a great way to spark interest in your newsletter.

But how do you pick what to promote?

First, get into your audience's shoes - What is it that they’re most interested in from you?

Is there a project you’re currently working on that you can offer something? Are you juggling many things and the newsletter is the easiest way to keep up with the latest from you? Perhaps your newsletter is the first place you announce new paintings? Whatever it is, make it special just for them.

Here are some more ideas to get you started:

  • Early or exclusive access

  • Educational Tutorial PDF or Video

  • Coloring page

  • Desktop wallpapers

  • 1-time coupon code


I offer several things, but my primary signup incentive is a download to my illustrated novel’s prologue. My illustrated book is at the top of my list for things that I’m currently working on and talking a lot about on social media, so it is a good fit for growing my target audience.

Whatever it is that you choose, use this as advertising for your newsletter on your website and also in person at shows. Once you’ve decided what it is that you want to advertise as a signup incentive, this is where the automation comes in.


Most newsletter services will allow you to create automated emails. These can be emails that send when someone signs up to your list, unsubscribes, and more. I use MailChimp as my newsletter provider, and the setup is relatively painless.

I would recommend, at the very least, to have a welcome email that includes whatever it is that you are advertising as the primary piece of content. For example, if you are giving away a download to a desktop wallpaper the link to download it would be in this email.


Drip Campaigns

This past year I took things a step further and created a drip campaign for my newsletter signups. A drip campaign is a series of emails delivered over a period of time or triggered by specific actions (people opening the email vs. not). These can be incredibly complex, but for our purposes, we will keep things simple with an “introductory” campaign.

Because I want to keep a list of subscribers that are genuinely interested in what it is I do I have created a 4-part drip campaign that, over time, shares with them a little bit more about what it is that I’m up to; First, my prologue download for my book, followed by a convenient list of links to my top YouTube videos to get to know me better, where they can find my work for sale and lastly, highlights my Patreon.

Drip campaigns are a wonderful way to introduce your new subscriber to what it is that you do, what you’re currently up to and get to know each other more in a few short emails. You can also use drip campaigns to highlight products, your painting process and so much more.

When crafting my campaign emails, I generally like to take a more conversational tone and keep things short and concise. These are emails I’ve carefully crafted to make a good first impression and sets the expectations of future emails.

A drip campaign also serves as a great way to weed out unwanted subscribers. Just like with social media, we don’t want a list of people that don’t open up emails or click on links.

Last but not least, when you’re crafting your newsletter drip campaign there are two things to keep in mind. Have an end goal for the campaign itself. What do you want people to do or have? And secondly, create a narrative that will connect each email together. Drip campaigns are essentially a series of information in bite-sized chunks. You don’t want to send your new subscriber seven emails with “sales, sales, sales” as the key content for each. Lead them through a narrative that will carry them along towards your end goal.

If you really want to dig into drip campaigns, this article covers them even more in-depth.

(Cover photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)


Naomi VanDoren is an artist who spent much of her life abroad. She grew up in the Spice Islands of Indonesia. A childhood of travel and immersion into a variety of cultures at such a young age left her with the desire to explore the earth and share her experiences through art.

She has a formal education in graphic design and began pursuing illustration on her own after moving to Japan in 2013. Naomi dove deep into painting digitally full time, and her passion for drawing and painting blossomed. In 2015, she experienced painting in watercolor for the first time and found it to be the perfect medium for traveling and she hasn't put it down since.

Currently she is developing projects around her own foxdragon creatures.

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/naomivandoren/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/NaomiVanDoren

YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/naomivandoren

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/naomi