The Importance of an Email List

The Importance of an Email List

So today I want to talk about the importance of an email list. Now this is something that’s big in a LOT of artistic communities, but I rarely see it talked about in film, except for one time in a How We Make Movies recording (which is just an excellent example of why you should never miss a single one). So while this is important information for all artists, I would like to call the attention of filmmakers to it in particular.

An email list is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a list of customer email addresses that they voluntarily give you, so that you can email them when you have something new out. Now, this is huge in the self-publishing world, where I’ve gained most of my marketing knowledge. And my list isn’t very big, per se, but it continues to grow, and it’s a huge chunk of my sales.

These are people who have liked what you’ve done in the past enough that they’ve elected to get alerts every time you do something new.

The thing that’s awesome about an email list is that it is the most personal communication you can have with fans outside of meeting them in person, and of course, you can’t always meet all of them in person.

Now when people hear the term “Email marketing,” they tend to get a little gun-shy. But you’d be surprised at the people you know who have email lists — Louis C.K. has one that’s one of the best I’ve ever seen, and pretty much every band you’ve ever heard of.

But filmmakers don’t generally use them. The closest I’ve ever seen is when Peter Jackson did his weekly video updates while he was filming the Hobbit. Those were amazing, and probably did more for his PR and marketing than all of the money they spent on TV ads. Now he posted those on Facebook, not YouTube, so we can’t see how many views they got, but they’ve got hundreds of thousands of LIKES, which, if you apply YouTube percentages to that, means millions of VIEWS.

This is too short a post to cover all there is to be known about using an email list. But I want to put it in your mind to consider using one. I have one I send out weekly. It’s got a list of links to every vlog I published that week, along with any other videos I published. This week I’ll be able to send people a link to my first wmmoriginals sketch.

A few quick pointers to get you started in the right direction:

  • You CAN do this for free with sites like, although many people recommend AWeber, who start at a very affordable price.
  • You MUST send your emails consistently — every week works, but every two weeks or once a month is also totally fine. As long as it’s consistent. Don’t send people an email when they first sign up, and then fail to email them back for a year. The Pixies send four emails a year.
  • Encourage people to sign up by offering something (or things) for free that others would normally have to pay for. My Rebels get a free book of their choice for signing up. If they review that book on Amazon, they get ANOTHER free book of their choice. Right now I still need reviews, so this is something I give to my “club.”
  • Make it a cool place to be. Treat them like your friends — because they should be.

Research the way to use an email list that works best for you. But use one. If you’re an indie artist, it can be the difference between success and failure.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at

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