Newsletter ideas for your handmade business
Have you ever thought about creating your own newsletter? Even if you’re an independent designer, maker or artist, sending out a regular (or irregular) email to your customers is worth considering as newsletters are recognised across the industry as one of the best convertors – or to put it another way, newsletters are one of best ways to get customers to buy. Companies spend tons of time and money building their mailing lists because they see a spike in sales every time they send one out. So if you get it right, your newsletter might just end up being your best sales generator!
It’s true that sending an email into someone’s inbox might not feel as exciting as posting on Instagram and seeing the likes and comments roll in, but social media can be fickle and the followers you have today could be gone in the flick of an algorithm tomorrow. Turning those followers into subscribers is the first challenge (we looked at how to do that here) but once their name is on the list, you need to give them content they actually want, otherwise you’ll lose them.
Writing a newsletter when it’s just you can feel daunting, but as a designer or maker you’re actually perfectly positioned because you are your company. You have all the news at your fingertips and access to all the behind-the-scenes content, plus you can approve any promotion without having to run it past Accounts first. In this blog post we’re going to give you some ideas for newsletter content, so you can learn how to write brilliant newsletters people actually want to open, read and buy from.
Handmade envelopes in main picture by Tangerine Dreams
Hand-bound wedding book by Susan Green / Bound by Hand
Think about your newsletter as a mini magazine, full of interesting things to explore further – except this magazine is all about you!
What should I put in my newsletter?
Some designers and makers shy away from sending newsletters as they worry they’re too ‘salesy’ and feel uncomfortable about sending promotional emails to their customers – or they feel like they’re too small to justify a newsletter as that’s something only the big companies do. But your newsletter doesn’t have to be all about the hard sell. You’re not a multinational conglomerate inundating customers with daily ‘buy now’ messages. You’re an independent designer/maker doing interesting things that your fans want to know more about.
So rather than looking at your newsletter as a direct selling tool, imagine it’s a mini magazine, full of interesting things to explore further – except this magazine is all about you! You’re the editor, the writer, the subject and maybe even the photographer too.
Use your newsletter as a way of pulling together all the threads that make up your creative life – the things you’ve seen, the people who are inspiring you, the pieces you’re working on, the events you’re working towards. Round up what’s been going on in your studio, in your shop, on your blog and on your social media – and curate that content into a beautifully presented mini magazine your fans and followers will love.
“Things that make me unsubscribe: lack of interviews with cats, no sense of humour, jargon, general dullness.” – Trudi Murray
Create interesting & engaging content
Aim to make your newsletter the one email that everyone looks forward to opening. You want to keep people coming back for more – if your newsletter is boring, chances are they won’t open it next time or they’ll unsubscribe. So rather than just showing your latest products, think about ways to engage people so they feel more invested in your work. That could be by showing them a how-its-made gif animation or giving your subscribers an exclusive first peek at the finished piece (possibly with a discount just for them).
If you have things you want to tell people about – maybe a craft fair that’s coming up, a collaboration you’re working on, a new stockist or a press feature – think about ways you can share those stories so they capture their attention. Bear in mind that many people skim read and are increasingly image driven, so keep them interested by using visuals, and if you want them to do something (eg visit your shop, follow you on Instagram, use your new hashtag) make sure there is a clear call to action.
Try to think more broadly about the kind of content you could include too. For example, could you run a series of interviews with other makers you admire – these could sit on your blog but you could launch the latest one each month in your newsletter? Could you do a round-up of interesting events near you, or maybe hashtags and Instagram challenges you’ve been following or taking part in? Could you offer a downloadable desktop calendar, planner or screensaver with one of your illustrations, so they’re reminded of your work whenever they look at their screen?
Aim to make your newsletter the one email that everyone looks forward to opening.
What do you want people to do?
When you’re thinking about what content to include in your newsletter, a good place to start is to consider what you want from it. What do you want your subscribers to do:
- buy your latest product or visit your Folksy shop
- buy a piece (or multiple pieces) from your latest collection
- add your shop to their favourites, so your new listings automatically show up in their favourites on Folksy (more details on how that works here)
- follow you on a particular social media channel
- use your hashtag or mention you, tag you or share a picture of any pieces they’ve bought from you on social, so other people in their network see your work and follow you/buy from you
- share your competition on their social media channels
- give you feedback on a product or idea
- read an article on your blog
- download your tutorial, desktop calendar etc
Design your newsletter with your objectives in mind and, again, make sure there is a clear call to action. Try not to overwhelm your readers with hundreds of things to do, though – sometimes it’s better just to have one or two calls to action so you’re not pulling people in lots of different directions. Having one aim in mind when you design your newsletter can also help you focus your message.
Draw up a plan for your upcoming newsletters, work out what the aim of each one will be, and then start creating content you can include in each one that will support your goal.
“I aim to send a newsletter once a month. I keep a note on my phone of things to include in the next one, otherwise I always forget.” – Jane Duke, Stoneflower Studio
Reward your subscribers
Your subscribers are usually your most loyal of fans, so to thank them for their support and for letting you into their inboxes, you need to make them feel valued, special and in the loop. Think of ways you can reward them that they’ll appreciate. That could be by giving them the first glimpses of your new collection, early access to a sale or treating them to exclusive special discounts or promotions like free delivery. Or it could be something less financially driven, like sharing their Instagram posts if they feature your work, answering their questions, or asking for their opinion on a new range.
Before running any promotion or discount, make sure you can afford it! Read our tips on Running a sale – using discount codes effectively and if you’re thinking about running a competition, read our Tips for Running a Successful Competition.
“Getting too many emails from a company makes me unsubscribe.” – Milly and Pip
Quality not quantity
Don’t feel you need to be constantly sending out newsletters – sometimes the more you send, the more people will unsubscribe. The day of the week and the time can also affect how many people open and read your newsletter, so take that into consideration when scheduling your mail-outs, and keep testing it to see if different days work better than others.
Once you’ve set a date for your newsletter, mark it down in your calendar and give yourself time to work towards it. Make a note of interesting things as they happen, and document your creative life in photographs that you can share in your newsletter. It might seem everyday to you, but getting an insight into your work, design process and techniques is fascinating for your fans.
The newsletter itself doesn’t need to be long either – in fact shorter newsletters can be more effective as not every subscriber is going to scroll all the way down to the bottom anyway.
“I like a newsletter that’s well put together, has great images and isn’t too wordy – too much text and I switch off” – Little Becks Home Decor
See what works
Keep track of which kind of content works best, which links get the most click-throughs and what sort of subject lines have the best open rate. You can do that on your Folksy Stats page here https://dashboard.folksy.com/stats and if you’re using an email client like Mailchimp you will also be able to use their reports to track the open rate and see which links people are clicking through to.
Mailchimp also offers the option of A/B testing your emails, which means you can test which subject lines work best, which content gets people clicking and even the best time and day to send your newsletters. You can read more about Mailchimp here https://mailchimp.com/pricing/
Case study – Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery
Folksy seller Elizabeth Anne Norris creates high-quality handmade jewellery and cufflinks in precious metals and enamels. She shares her tips on newsletters and how to get them right…
Be polite, be personal
Try to build a good relationship with your customers from the start by politely inviting them to join your mailing list. Write your newsletters in a personal way – remember your subscribers are real people.
Make it manageable
Decide on a frequency of newsletter that’s going to be manageable for you. This might be weekly, monthly or quarterly. Try to be consistent.
Look at newsletters you’re subscribed to. Note down what appeals to you. Model ideas that might work for your brand but don’t just copy.
Sit down and plan your content well in advance. It’s well worth it and will make writing your newsletter a joy rather than a chore. Have a sale, a giveaway or a promo code with a limited time on it.
A two-way street
Ask questions, ask for opinions, ask for a reply. Your subscribers are your customers and their feedback is important.
Visit Elizabeth Anne Norris on Folksy at https://folksy.com/shops/eanjewellery
What do you think makes a good newsletter and what makes you unsubscribe? Let us know by leaving a comment below!