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Marketing Your Creative Workshop: Start Building Your Workshop Audience with Email

Updated: Apr 10

Tori McElwain

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In today's digital age, where social media platforms dominate our online interactions, it's easy to overlook the quiet champion of enduring effectiveness: Email. As a quilting or crafting workshop instructor, cultivating an engaged email list can be a game-changer for filling your workshops and expanding your audience. There are many benefits of email communication, let's look at how to start an email list, and the importance of newsletters in engaging your subscribers.

woman typing on a computer

1. The Power of Email for Marketing your Workshop

Firstly let's highlight the superiority of email communication over social media. Emails go straight to your audience's inbox. It's a place they curate. It is not made to distract like social media. What's even more powerful is open rates (the percentage of people who open and view your email) and how many people will actually see the value you are offering in your emails and in your workshops. Open rates are much higher than views on social media.

The Crafting Industry has an average open rate of 15 - 25%. However, keeping mind that the crafting community tends to have a highly engaged and passionate audience (because we love what we do!). This can positively impact open rates, as subscribers are genuinely interested in receiving relevant emails related to their craft from you. Focusing on quality content (there are ideas below) can increase these open rates dramatically.

Personally, my average open rate ranges from 41-47% compared to the meager 2-10% reach of social media (unless you go viral, but that's not the norm). The industry average is, at it's low end is 15%! That's still much better than average views on social media. In addition, email offers a more direct and reliable way to connect with your audience. You can be personable and give value without wasting a ton of energy on posts that only 2- 10% of your followers will even see.

Specifically for quilting or crafting instructors, email also makes signing up for a workshop so much easier. You can put a link right in the email that takes them straight to the checkout page. Your potential attendees won't have to go searching for the "link in bio." It's easy! And when it's easy you will get many more attendees to follow through on booking the workshop.

By utilizing email, you can effectively communicate with your existing workshop attendees, nurture potential participants, and build a community. Let's dive into how we can make this happen.

Woman taking notes on paper while on a laptop

2. Starting Your Email List:

To embark on your email marketing journey, the first step is to choose a suitable Email Service Provider (ESP). Think of it as finding the perfect color thread for your quilt, or the perfect canvas for your next painting. Do a quick Google Search and choose a few of the top suggestions. You can also ask for referrals from other business quilting or crafting groups to see which they prefer. Then explore different ESPs, comparing features, rates (many are free up to a certain number of subscribers), automation capabilities, and the icing on the cake - landing pages. Landing pages are especially important if you don't have a website yet. This is a page where you can direct your audience to sign up for your email list. Start with a free version to get comfortable and see if it's easy for you to use before leveling up as your list grows.

Here's a short list for you to recap, you want to look at:

  1. Price point

  2. Automation (sending emails automatically)

  3. Landing Pages?

  4. Ease of Use - use the free version to find out

  5. Consider Aesthetics - does it match your brand?

3. Start Growing by Asking:

Newsletters are a crucial component of your email marketing strategy. It's important to plan and structure your newsletters in a personable and fun way to capture your subscribers' interest and keep them engaged. Here are some tips to consider:

When you have chosen your ESP, the next thing to do is to set up a landing page where you can send subscribers to your email list. Then ask your network (in person, social media, or anyone you know) to sign up for your email list. Just start by asking and making your audience aware that you are beginning to offer a newsletter through your email list if they'd like to see more from you.

Set up an automation email to respond and welcome your new subscriber. When someone signs up for your email list, you can seize the opportunity to learn more about their interests and preferences. Incorporate a brief survey or ask a simple question to understand what content they would like to receive from you. (not ready for this yet no worries! Just welcome new subscribers in every newsletter to help them feel more welcome).

4. Crafting Engaging Newsletters:

Next up is the all-important emailed newsletter.

You can keep this simple! Write like you're talking to a friend. My most successful emails are those that have notes about what I'm up to and with genuine questions that your audience can respond to. Imagine sitting around a social circle, sipping tea or coffee, and swapping stories. Treat your subscribers like good friends by asking them about their preferences and interests. This helps you tailor your content, making them feel valued and happy to engage with you.

black woman standing in her studio

I would invite you to make a plan for success. You need a roadmap for your newsletters. Create a template and a simple content calendar that brings structure and excitement. Share your expertise, what you're working on now, student work from past workshops, what's inspiring you now, and what your favorite quilting or crafting peers are also working on (or invite them to write for your newsletter!), or sprinkle in tips and tutorials, and announce upcoming workshops with a touch of anticipation.

Pick 2-4 things to share in each newsletter and end it with 1 major call to action. Are they listening to your podcast? Taking advantage of a deal? Sharing your newsletter with a friend for inspiration? Are they signing up for your next workshop? Decide ahead of time what you want them to do and then tell them what to do.

Keep in mind, consistency is key, and by planning ahead, you can deliver valuable content without feeling overwhelmed. I find many entrepreneurs are hesitant to email too much and choose to email once a month or just when they are promoting something. I'm here to say that it's not enough. Your subscribers will forget you. I started writing my newsletter every 2 weeks or twice a month and my unsubscribe rate dropped dramatically. My subscribers remember me much better and it keeps my course and blog resources (like this one!) top of mind. Ideally, I would be sending a newsletter once a week. I'll get there soon!

reading on an iphone

5. Integrating Social Media:

While email reigns supreme, social media works together with the intimacy of email as a complementary tool to enhance your reach and engagement. Utilize your email list to promote your social media accounts and encourage subscribers to follow and engage with you there. This helps keep you and your workshops top of mind. Likewise, use social media to capture new leads for your email list by providing incentives such as exclusive content, challenges or events, a freebie or giveaways for signing up.

It sounds like a lot of work, but following the steps above, one step and then the next and having a template that you can plug information into every week (yes, weekly is the goal remember?) will create a process that you can move through with ease and fun!

If you need a little guidance for time management, check out my blog post: Making Time For What You Want to Do.

In the world of creative workshops, email remains the most effective method of communication for instructors. By building an email list and crafting engaging newsletters, you can successfully fill your workshops and foster a thriving community. Remember to prioritize your audience's preferences, invest in a reliable Email Service Provider, and leverage the power of social media to maximize your impact. Embrace the potential of email marketing, and watch your workshops flourish like never before.

I hope this gave you some great first steps and ideas on starting and email list and a newsletter! If you have any trouble, I offer Strategy Session where we can work together to set this up for you. See more information about them here!

Did you find this helpful? Please Share with a friend!

Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.



To keep in touch, you can sign up for the monthly Newsletter here!

For time management, check out my blog post: Making Time For What You Want to Do.

See more about Strategy Sessions here!

Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.


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