blog tour interview with Alyson Stanfield
Today I’m hosting Alyson B. Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. Alyson is here as part of the blog tour to help promote the book and is also giving away a free copy!!! More on how to win your free copy at the end of this post!

She’s invited me to ask a question related to the book (which I LOVED!!!), so here goes . . .

Alyson, I have a free email newsletter service that I use through it allows me to collect email addresses and do text only newsletter mailings. I have looked at places like Constant Contact but they cost about $30 a month for their service, which feels like a lot of money a year. Do you think I am doing myself a disservice by having a text only email newsletter?

Claudine, this is a great question and I wish I had a great answer for you. It seems like the Yahoo Group is working for you and I’d hate to rock the boat. However, I guess that’s why I’m here--to rock your boat!
What I’d ask you to do is consider WHY you have a newsletter and WHAT you want the newsletter to do for you. You have a super blog and I imagine it’s a little difficult to create content for both the blog and the newsletter. Perhaps it’s time to rethink what your newsletter is all about and what it can be. You have a huge following. You truly need a Claudine Hellmuth Fan Club. I’ll be your first member!

Is a newsletter something you could charge for that would offset the cost of the $30/month? Your subscribers (fans) could pay, say, $10 a year and get something special just for them each month. Of course, if you say it’s monthly, you have to do it monthly.

With a “pretty” newsletter (one with pictures), you are more likely to sell. What could you sell that would make up for the cost?

With a “pretty” newsletter, you’re more likely to have the content forwarded and shared with others--expanding exponentially the Claudine Hellmuth Fan Club.

I wouldn’t recommend these tactics to every artist. But you have a loyal following. It seems like a natural outgrowth and might unify your Web site, blog, and newsletter.
What do you think?

You have so many good ideas! And you have a great point that the added images to the newsletter might boost sales of my artworks and custom works enough where it more than pays for the added cost.
But I'm not sure I would feel comfortable charging for a newsletter. If I did charge wouldn't that put people off signing up for my newsletter? And isn't the idea to get as many people on your newsletter list as possible?

Yes! The point is to get more sign-ups. So, let’s assume that’s your goal: to collect names and email addresses. Great. Fine. All good. But you have to use it or it’s not of much value. I get the feeling that you don’t use your list very often. And you have more than 2000 people on it! Two-thousand+ people dying to hear from you.

I do worry when I send the newsletter that I am bugging people so I put it off and I put it off. I feel that the blog is more passive so when people want to read about me they do it on their terms rather than me jumping into their email box.

Claudine, you need to get over this fear. You have more than 2000 people who want to know what you’re up to! They signed up because they want to hear from you. Have you ever considered the opposite: that you’re being selfish by not sharing the information? Okay, that’s a stretch, but think about it for a minute. Keeping the information to yourself isn’t giving your subscribers what they want.

Here’s what I’m going to suggest: Create a plan that incorporates your newsletter, blog, and Web site. How will they work together? How will each be different and have its own purpose? And, yes, use your images as much as possible. That’s why you have such a following. Sure, you have a terrific, warm personality, but we love the art. We want to see more of it! Keeping it to yourself bums out the rest of us?

Thanks, Alyson! I am excited to come up with a plan. Your book is full of motivating ideas all to help artists get more work and maximize their marketing efforts. I love love love this book!

Now for the book giveaway!!
For anyone interested in winning a free copy of I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion, visit this site, read the instructions, and enter. Your odds are good as she’s giving away a free copy on most of the blog tour stops. You can increase your odds by visiting the other blog tour stops and entering on those sites as well.

EDITED 4/7/08:
Mary Catherine you are the contest winner of Alyson's book! I will contact you so I can send you out your copy! yay!


Great information! I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of this book!

I forgot to leave a link...

Have a great weekend!!!

Claudine - just found your blog and I can't wait to explore it. Love your work.

In answer to you being afraid of bothering people with your newsletter I agree with Alyson, but also if someone is bothered getting your newsletter it's easy enough for them to delete it or to unsubscribe (though I'm sure not many people would)!! Not too much of a bother to my way of thinking. You must send it out!!


Fiona Purdy
Claudine, you may want to consider doing your newsletter through VerticalResponse. They are very affordable. The cost to email 2,000 emails is $26. You pay as you go. I just began using them for my newsletter and that of the gallery I belong to. They provide a sign up form for your use on your website/blog. They provide tracking information to see how many emails were opened, bounced, etc. Here's their website:

Patrice Erickson
Hi Claudine, IMHO I don't think you need to worry about 'bugging' people with your newsletter. I've been looking forward to receiving yours:)
With something like constant contact you get a clear picture of what people think of your newsletter, because you can look at your stats. Who opened it, who didn't and what articles were of the most interest.
Claudine! I love your blog! I'm participating in Alyson's blog tour later next month and I think your question is perfect timing.

I know an artist who sends out a "photo of the week". It features her photography - and I just love receiving it.

Personally, I use for sending out my newsletters. I like sharing beauty and useful tips rather than barraging people with offers. My signups have increased dramatically as a result.
Claudine, I read the interview and Alyson's comment about having a newsletter and selling more .... I'm not sure her comment reflects the two different audiences that you have (1) those that buy custom artwork from you and (2) those that take a class with you -- they would probably have a different perspective on paying for a newsletter subscription. Lori (I don't mean to be anonymous but I don't have all the asked for e-identities.)
i was just going to recommend vertical response (super cheap to pay as you go, easy to use, and has great tools to help you build a graphic newsletter), but i see someone beat me to it. i'd definitely check it out! :-)
Claudine, There are free options for sending out 'pretty' newsletters also. I agree with you that constant contact is expensive.

If you are a bit technical or you can hire them to do the install I think phplists is great. That's what I'm using.

Once it's set up you are good to go with sending out an html newsletter anytime you want from your own website and it's free every time.

I'm on Alyson's blog book tour next week. We did a podcast - it was fun and I'm looking forward to sharing it with everyone.
I loved this post. I've been collecting names and addresses for a newsletter, but haven't yet set one out.... Argh! I use Maybe if I paid constantcontact every month, I'd be more likely to get serious about writing the newsletters and sending them out....

It's great finding your blog through Alyson's tour (I'm on it April 22). I have seen your website but somehow missed the link to the blog, and I plan to add it to my subscriptions after trolling around a bit. I use Vertical Responcse too, (Or will with my first newsletter coming up this next month!)
thanks everyone for these awesome suggestions!!! now the big question.... how to get my subscribers to move over to my new service. maybe I will offer a free giveaway for opting in for the new list. hmmm!

I do agree with Tricia, maybe if I paid $30 a month it would force me to send out more newsletters because I am paying for it! LOL!
Love this interview and the info! I'd join your fan club in a second! Thanks so much for sharing this information, it's awesome.
Claudine, if you went with VerticalResponse all you have to do is import your list of subscribers into a new list on your VerticalResponse account and you're good to go. You don't need to have your subscribers "move" themselves over. You may have to do some set up with your list of subscribers to do the import. I, for example, had my list in MS Excel with the information in columns (email address, first name, last name), then I saved that as a .txt file and imported that. These instructions were provided by VerticalResponse.
Patrice Erickson

You know how I love my newsletter! I use Constant Contact. Be sure to ask them for a discount-they will often work with you if you have a large list because they get exposure too. Another good way to offset the cost is to offer ads to other artists who would like to get some exposure to your large list. As an ezine publisher & reader, I don't mind seeing one of two ads that will introduce me to new artists. I find sales always go up after I send out my newsletter. I have a tip sheet all about newsletters-email me & I can send it to you.
Awesome info!! Claudine don't ever feel like you're bothering people, they signed up for it remember??? Great questions and I need this book asap!!!! Thanks for passing on the info, you rock!!

The information in your blog is great!! Useful!!!
However, I had a difficult time reading the entry because of the distracting changing images to the right of the text. The flashing really bothered me. When I got below the flashing, it was much better.

Carry on!!
Great interview Claudine you know how I love the marketing tips and I have been debating about switching over to a pay newsletter as well. Waiting on a quote from a company called Emma.
Loved reading what Alyson had to say. I cannot wait for my turn on the tour. I need help NOW!

The newsletter thing is difficult. There are pros & cons to each method and content, etc. I know you will figure it out!

Thanks for hosting Alyson's tour. I loved your site and blog. And I adore the picture of the sleeping puppy.

I think people would love to hear from you and Alyson has great tips in her book about making your newsletter something people can't wait to get.

I do a daily newsletter that people pay to receive and only on occassion does someone tell me that it is too much. Most people are looking for connection. I bet your people want to hear from you as much as possible.

I would highly recommend you use something like Constant Contact because as Alyson says, could you sale something or highlight your art in a much better way and make it worth your while to do. I would think the aim of the newsletter would be to educate and generate sales. It could pay for itself.

Alyson's newsletter is an amazing example of what you could do. I have actually gone and looked at the art she highlights in her newsletter because it peaks my interest.

Claudine--thanks for being part of Alyson's Blog Book Tour. I am definitely getting her book, but hey--if I can win one, that's all the better. Here's the link to my post about you and Alyson:
Hi Claudine,

I'm so glad to have found you also through the blog tour. Your work is amazing and I so appreciate your question, Alyson's response and all the informational comments. Thank you everyone. I believe I will give vertical response a try as well as join your mailing list.

Best Regards,
Jennifer Janson
Hello Claudine,

The power of your image on Alyson's Feedblitz got me curious to read and see your blog. Your images and blog are great! I too have gone back and forth weighing the Constant Contact, Vertical Response or Emma jump. I have made my blog subscribable through feedblitz as one step. My other "free" working tool is that I have a page on my website that I use as a newsletter and I actually forward that page to close to 2000 people. Yes it takes time to mail all of the email addresses but it is always worth it.

Nice to meet you!

For Lori--she's right! I didn't distinguish between your two audiences. I agree that those who are already paying for something from you would have a different perspective on paying for a newsletter. BUT, if there is content that they want that they can't get anywhere else (instructions, etc.), it might be just the thing for them.
Thanks for sharing, I just ordered this book! Love reading your blog!
Congratulations, Mary Catherine!
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