I think one of the hardest parts of design work has to be getting the word out to your audience. Making sure they know about your new designs and reminding them about your existing catalogue. After all, if they don't know it exists, they can't buy it.
There are various ways of communicating this information - social media is a popular one, but the algorithms take a lot of work to stay on top of and you can often share posts that feel like they fall off into the ether. We will come back to this one another day.
For today, lets talk newsletters. It is definitely worth having one, even if you only send out occasional messages. There are loads of how to guides on building your newsletter, getting sign ups and what to send, but you can keep it as simple as you like, in fact simple is often better.
If you don't have a system for running a newsletter start there. There are free options available. I have used Mailerlite and Mailchimp, both are fine, others exist, see which free plan suits you to start with. The system you use should have "how to" guides to talk you through setting up your mailing list.
Once you have set up the list you need to get people onto it. You might think "what is the point of a newsletter if you only get five, or ten people to sign up", but those people are ones you can talk to directly, without social media algorithms hiding your posts, and they are likely to be at least somewhat interested in what you are telling them.
Places to advertise your list:
any social media you use
forums/websites that you go on to chat about related topics
on your website
at the bottom of your patterns
Your posts can be as simple as "Join my newsletter to hear about my newest patterns and offers", try to avoid it feeling spammy, but remember- if you don't tell people, they don't know.
You might choose to add an incentive, often a free pattern or a discount code, when people sign up to the list. These can be sent manually or automated in your newsletter system (recommended to save you admin time).
Building up numbers on mailing lists takes time, start small and don't stress the numbers.
Once you have a list, and some people to message, you need something to send. Again, keep this simple to start with - you don't have to start with an automated welcome sequence and weekly posts!
You can absolutely just send an email when you have something to say, even if that makes the emails irregular. But maybe challenge yourself to hit a schedule, one post a month on the first Sunday of the month for example, or whatever feels doable for you, whether that is weekly, monthly or every other month. For those that need deadlines to motivate their design work this can help (hi me!), plan to talk about a design one month- so you need to get it published, and that can be the shove you need to get the work done.
Keep your emails simple as well, talk about one thing, two maximum, it does not need to be an essay. Photos are good, everyone loves a picture.
New pattern release, include a photo and links for purchasing
Testers needed for an upcoming pattern
Special offers, for example, if you are running a discount code or taking part in an event
Revisit an older pattern- tell people why it is great. Is it seasonal? Or you have revamped it?
Guest spot for dyers you have done a collaboration with, recently or in the past, include a picture and link for your pattern
Yarn review for something you have used in a design, as with dyers this can be recently or in the past, include a picture and link for your pattern
Subscriber only offers - discounts or early pattern access, can be used in your newsletter promotion as an attractive incentive.
Keep your topics relevant and try to focus on your work in some way, even when you are cross-promoting with others.
So, the challenge, in several parts:
Set up a newsletter contact list if you don't already have one.
Advertise your list at least four times in July, then at least twice a month.
Plan to send out one email each month - choose a date to send it and put it in your diary to make yourself accountable. Maybe sketch out the topics for the year if you feel like it.
I know my designer newsletter needs a dust off, so I am going to be doing this too. My aim is to have sent 12 design newsletters by July 2024.
My sketch plan - 3 x new patterns, 4 x pattern revisits, 2 x yarn reviews, 1 x event article, 2 x testers needed - that sounds do-able :)