Why Connecting With Your Email List Can Be A Game-Changer For Your Handmade Business

Remember when vending at craft shows was a thing? Before the pandemic, selling at craft shows was a great way to get your work out there into the world and in front of customers.  While some craft shows are slowly coming back this year, not all makers are rushing to set up a table and start selling their work at shows. 

But if you sold at craft shows before the pandemic or are doing your first shows this year, was it recommended to you to have a sheet of paper for customers to sign up for your email newsletter?

If you've collected emails from customers and craft show attendees, when’s the last time you emailed them?

If you’ve been regularly emailing them, you’re ahead of the game and doing awesome!!

But if you haven’t emailed them in a while or EVER, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to grow your business and engage with your biggest fans.  

So why is having a mailing list important? 

If social media disappeared tomorrow would your business survive without it?

Social media is great for brand awareness, but not always the best way to turn your followers into buyers. Social media is passive. Followers can choose to stop and read your content or keep scrolling which a lot of people do. Plus, your followers don't always see content from everyone they follow because the algorithm changes all the time and prioritizes certain posts and accounts more than others.

But with a mailing list, you’re in charge of it. You don’t need to depend on algorithms whatsoever. When someone gives you their email address to sign up for your mailing list, they’re basically saying, “I want to hear from you, please email me.”

Remember, those email addresses are worth way more than any follower on social media.

So if you’re sitting on a list of email addresses you haven’t reached out to in forever, it’s time to draft up an email to send!

What if I haven't emailed my list in months, years or ever?

But now you might be saying to me, “Okay, but I don’t know what to say??” Especially if you’ve neglected to reach out to them in months.

First off, if you haven’t emailed them in ages or ever, you can start off by being honest about what happened. 

“Sorry I’ve totally dropped the ball about emailing you when you signed up for my newsletter. I’ve been (insert reason like had a baby, busy with family, lost my job, had a lot going on personally, etc.) but I’m back and I want to share with you what’s going on with me and my work!”

What do you say once you get the “Hey, remember me??” email out of the way? 

Now you can start engaging and connecting with them.

What should you share in your newsletter?

First off, don’t only email your list when you’re selling something. People don’t like getting “come buy my stuff please” type emails all the time. But you’re an artist. A maker. A creative. You have so much you can offer and share with your biggest fans! 

Here are some suggestions on what to share:

  • Give a behind the scenes peek into what you’re working on
  • Share your workspace or studio
  • What’s been your journey into what you do/make?
  • What has been your biggest lessons so far in your business?
  • What inspires you?
  • Special/exclusive events/products coming up (give them 1st dibs on these things!)
  • What’s going on personally for you (home, family, life, etc.)?
  • FAQs

Speaking of special events...

A maker I know was working on launching their first-ever website and online shop. They encouraged people to sign up for their newsletter because they wanted to give subscribers first dibs on their products when their site went live. I kid you not, they updated their social media a day later and said when they sent out their first newsletter with links to their website and shop, they sold out of all their products within 2 hours. How awesome is that?? That my friend is the power of having an emailing list for your handmade business.

Add value to your email subscribers

If you’re someone who wants to go a step further and give value back to your subscribers because, really, why wouldn't you?? This is where knowing and understanding who your audience is really valuable! 

Let’s say you make jewelry. Like many of us, your subscribers might be spending more time in their loungewear and PJs than dressing up in their “I’m going to the office” clothes. So, why not share WFH outfit inspiration that would go great with different jewelry pieces you create? It can help inspire your subscribers to still feel good in what they’re wearing, even if it’s just at home.

If you make ceramic mugs, why not share some of your favorite coffee or coffee brands your subscribers can check out? Or find some tea recipes they can brew at home and sip from your beautiful mug. 

If you make onesies for babies, why not share a list of baby books recommendations for soon-to-be parents? Or how to get common stains out of the clothing so they’re able to make your onesies last and still look great.

If you’re working to raise your awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement, why not highlight Black makers in your niche?

There are so many ways you add value to your subscribers that go beyond notifying them when you’ve restocked your shop. 

How often should I email my list?

I’d encourage you to email them regularly. I email my list 1-2x a week. That may seem like a lot, but it helps me to stay on schedule and stay connected with my list. If you don’t email your list very often or are inconsistent with your emails, then they might not remember you. If they don't remember you, they'll be less likely to open your emails and possibly unsubscribe from you.

I could tell you who I get weekly emails from off the top of my head. But beyond that, it’s a lot harder for me to remember who I’m subscribed to because I don’t see their emails as often or they’re more inconsistent (once or twice a month, etc.).

Neglecting your mailing list

People don't generally give out their emails easily because who the heck wants more email? But when they do, they do it because they want something in exchange for it. So when a customer signs up for something because they're told they're going to receive something and they don't, it's disappointing. 

Someone I follow on Instagram sent me a message in over a YEAR ago saying they were starting a newsletter. I was so excited because I like their content and I don’t always see everything they post on social media (another good reason to have an email list!).

So I signed up instantly. But that's all that happened. Still to this day, I’ve never received an email from them. It’s already been over a year since I signed up for their newsletter. What's even more disappointing is they've been promoting online events they're hosting, but have totally dropped the ball on letting their email subscribers know any of this. So unless I check their social media regularly, I wouldn't know about anything. 

Keeping up on social media is exhausting so the idea of getting an email once a week and getting priority to register for events and so on would be ideal.  

Just a few things for you to think about.

Take care of your list

Whether you have 5 subscribers or 50,000 subscribers, they want to hear from you. They took the time to give you their precious email address so it's your turn to provide them value. They want to learn more about you and your work. And if you're selling something, they're more likely to want to buy from you because they've gotten to know you and you've stayed connected to them. 

Plus, it’s pretty awesome to have a list of people who are basically your VIPs. Make your VIPs feel special. The more you take care of them, they'll in turn want to support you.

So, what's something fun you’re looking forward to sharing with your email list? Let me know the comments!

About the author

Imelda Jimenez-LaMar is a product photography coach and former Etsy seller, who said goodbye to her corporate job to create a business teaching photography. She is on a mission to demystify product photography for makers who want to create product photos that sell their handmade products online and grow their handmade business.

  • These are such great tips for newbies to newsletters – email marketing is so important, even in an age of so many social media choices. Platforms like IG, EB, Pinterest can decide to change their algorithms at any time and we as small business owners will have little to no say in it.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Sharon! Yes, email marketing is essential to small businesses, especially because your social media account can be shut down. I’ve known some who had this happen and panic so always be building and connecting with your list!

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