As we watch the Facebook Page Apocalypse to take hold, using email effectively is an essential if frustrating challenge, particularly if it's between a tour or major release. Here Cheryl B. Engelhardt explores how to utilize your email list during this limbo period.
Re-post by Cheryl B. Engelhardt from CD Baby's DIY Musician blog.
Setting up an automated (and authentic) stream of emails that will interest your fans.
Email can be a drag. I write a bit on how to make the most of it here. But in this article, I want to dig in with you. Deep dive style.
Let’s start with a simple question: How do you use your email list in between projects?
But what about in-between that stuff? And how can you write and send emails without having it take up a ton of brain power and time? (Every time I knew I wanted to send a newsletter out, I would take an entire afternoon thinking, outlining, writing, editing, testing links, re-reading, sending.)
A plan to rock your email list for over a year
It starts with a content-creation challenge…
Write 30 emails.
(You’ll see why and what to write in a minute).
There are a bunch of ways to do this. You could take one day and just bang out all 30. Part of what took me so long every time I wanted to send out one email was that I really needed to focus and transition into email-writing mode to do this. Writing a bunch at once came WAY more easily than writing one at a time. Another way to bang out 30 emails is by writing one email a day for a month. Or by taking downtime on a tour and have all your bandmates each write 5-10. Either way, set a serious goal.
Reminder: you’re just writing these emails, you are not actually sending them… yet (we’ll get to that in a second).
If you’re using MailChimp or another email system, it helps to write these in Word or Pages first before formatting them. Formatting and posting take different brain power, and for now you want to focus on the writing, not the technology.
Here’s how to split the 30 into different kinds of emails, covering different topics:
- First ten emails: Grab 10 of your favorite songs and write a short (2 paragraphs, tops) essay on how you came up with the lyrics, what the recording process was like, or some anecdote about the tune. Then, of course, link to that song on iTunes or Bandcamp or wherever you sell your music. That’s 10 emails.
- Next ten emails: The next 10 emails you’ll write will tell your story. Not just “I was born here and went to college here.” But 10 little secrets or moments about yourself or your past that people don’t know yet. Pro Tip: The first place to look for these moments is in transitions. Where were you deciding something, choosing to live in one place over another? Choosing one job over another? One guy over another? If you can come up with 10 of these, you’ll have a great bunch of content emails ready to go. Bonus points if those memories inspired a song. Again, you can link to your own music.
- Next five emails: Next, write five emails about what you love to do most. For example, this may be touring. Here you can share a specific story or two from your past tours, and/or sell tickets to your upcoming shows if you have any. Include photos, videos, anything. Pro Tip: ideally, you will send readers to a page on your website that is kept current so you can automate this email and not have to change it… see below. You won’t want to say specifics in the email, like “Come to our show February 23rd,” but instead “we’ve got a show coming up and you can get tickets here [link to your SHOWS page on your website].”
- Last five emails: Lastly, write 5 emails asking your fans their opinion of something. You can create a poll, ask them their opinion of songs they want to hear next, or what their favorite song you play live is, or what the next video should be.
[Side note: if writing this much content sounds super daunting, then hop onto one of the most productive, results-generating workshops you’ll ever be a part of and bang it out there. Click here to enroll in the inspiring productivity program MX4!]
Now, once you have 30 emails, you can schedule these to go out once a week, or once every two weeks. If you do the latter, you will have created awesome content to send to people for over a YEAR.
They don’t need to be in order. In fact, I’d mix them up just a little. The story series can be just that, a series. And you can let people know what you’re doing. “Over the next few weeks, I would like to share some stories I haven’t shared anywhere else.” In between, you can pepper some of your other emails based on where they fit into the story.
Now, let’s talk about how to AUTOMATE all this!
What about new subscribers?
In a perfect world, your list is growing. You’re playing out and telling people about your email list and requesting that they sign up. You are sharing the signup link on social media.
So how do the new subscribers get all 30 emails? You can automate. All of the main email list providers like MailChimp allow you to do this, depending on the plan you have. I PROMISE this is worth the small monthly fee to have it set up (if your platform doesn’t offer it for free).
Automation is just that, automatically sending emails for you. This is different than scheduling because instead of sending an email on a specific date, the email program is sending emails out drip-style over a specific length of time. You can have a whole welcome series automated, making sure the new subscriber knows where to buy your music and how to find you live. Then you can assign the delay on each of the 30 emails… so 2 weeks after the person subscribes they get email #1. Two weeks after that email is sent, they get sent email #2. And so on and so forth. So it is not date-dependent.
I would schedule all of these emails for the same day of the week, say, a Tuesday. I do this for when I want to send out a real-time update. Like something cool happened or I have a big last-minute show I want to share with my whole list. I don’t want people to get two emails in one day from me, so if I know that my list gets the automated emails on Tuesday, I can schedule my blast for Thursday.
Yes, it’ll take some time to write these emails, BUT once they’re done you’ll have some great content to build relationships with your fans, and hopefully make some sales.
What about authenticity?
If you’re concerned that your emails won’t feel as “real” or “you” if they’re not sent hot off the press, then take a look at how you’re writing them. Just because you’re using a marketing strategy doesn’t mean you have to sound like a marketer.
Keeping it present is important, as in, I write each of my emails as if I’m about to press send. Additionally, I also write each of my emails as if I was writing to ONE fan. I don’t say “hey guys” because chances are, each person reading my email is actually alone, by themselves. I say things I’d say in person. Because, after all, we’re all people, wanting to connect.
Let me know if you have questions about automation. I love diving into this newfound love I have and would be happy to geek out on it with you! If you liked this article, please share with your networks!
Also, I reserve the SUPER valuable email tips for the awesome members of my In The Key Of Success email list (What? You’re not in yet? Sign up here and get that free pitching checklist you know you want).
Cheryl B. Engelhardt is a full-time singer-songwriter and composer. When she’s not working on a new jingle, co-write, film score, or choral piece, she’s jamming all of her experiences into resources for musicians, including this free pitching checklist. You can read more and hear her music at www.cbemusic.com.