Building a social media foundation can seem daunting for many songwriters. Most creative people don’t want to spend hours building their email lists, when we could be songwriting or performing. The accountability and community built into the Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge, hosted by the Songwriters Association of Canada, have been key for many songwriters in pushing through with the “not so fun” stuff. Aynsley Saxe is one of the songwriters who has benefitted from taking on the challenge.
Here are Aynsley’s reflections on pushing through week 7. May her diligence inspire us all!
In Aynsley’s words…
Week 7 is upon us, or maybe slightly behind some of the more active songwriters who are on top of the blogging game (Tom Shea & Siouxberry, congrats!) during the Songwriters Association of Canada’s Social Media Challenge based on Ariel Hyatt‘s book Music Success in Nine Weeks.
I’m pleased to say I’m still here. I’m pushing the social media snowball up the hill, gathering tons of advice, pondering brave ideas and even soaking up a few friendships as I go. It’s been an incredible journey and A LOT to digest so far. I feel a little saturated. But I guess that’s the point?
Week 7 is all about the (dreaded) newsletter. Okay, kidding about dreaded, at least in the “knotty hair” sense of the word. But I must admit I feel a little intimidated about the newsletter chapter.
The questions I’ve been pondering this week are:
What do I have to say that is entertaining, meaningful, creative, interesting and worth sharing?
How do I market myself without seeming to market myself (at least most of the time!)?
How often should I contact fans on my newsletter list?
How can I develop a community around myself and my music?
What questions should I ask fans when I send them a short survey about what they would like from me?
And this, the ultimate question….
How can I reach people in a way that is not, I hesitate to even say the word….(a hush fell over the crowd): S P A M.
I know how much I like getting emails that are all promotional – NOT. That’s the last thing I want to do to the people who like my music and who are giving me their precious time by opening my emails. I want my newsletters to be based on respect, love and genuine connection. And I want to also throw in a little bit of amusing fun in there too! Nobody wants to read a boring email right? No brussel sprouts emails please! Yuck!
Reaching out to my mailing list about once a month sounds about right to me. I want to be around often, but not too often.
To date, I’ve personally contacted approximately 475 people with personal, individual emails asking them if it would be okay to keep them posted on my music. I’m not kidding. FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE (give or take a few). I’ve got 150 people to go on my personal email list, that doesn’t count Facebook friends and all those business cards I’ve accumulated through the years. Phew, what a snowball!!
The really great thing about this whole process of reaching out is that I’ve been in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s been awesome reconnecting and thinking about them and hearing what they’re up to. I received two warm & fuzzy responses this morning that are soooo nice I had to share:
“Congratulations. Let me know how I can support you.“
“…and to answer your quick question, I appreciate learning about your musical journey. Please keep me posted and it would be a pleasure if I could be of any help.“
The personal touch isn’t overrated. The golden rule never grows old. If someone took the time to actually sit down and think about me and write me a quick email, and not treat me like one of the masses, I would likely be eating their emails out of the palm of their hand.
The challenging part has been it’s been incredibly time consuming. I average about 2 hours of email writing for every 50 contacts. Even though I’m using a form email for part of the email as suggested, I’m also making the email personal to each person. This means going back through my emails and seeing where/when we connected last and writing a little about that. And that doesn’t count the time spent when I respond (because I always try to email them back right away to thank them for letting me keep them on my list if that’s what they’ve chosen to do). The actual act of writing and responding isn’t so bad – it’s actually been pretty fun. It’s just thinking about the snowball that I resist. Kind of like going to the gym. Once you’re actually lifting weights it usually feels pretty good.
I have 3 pages left (6 hours) and 150 people to contact personally (if you’re curious, it’s people with names starting with ‘P’ to ‘T’). I did the last page this morning just to change things up (Letters ‘V’ to ‘Z’). What category are you in? Did I miss you??
6 hours doesn’t seem like a long time really. But it feels like it’s really snowing on my snowball. And this last part of the hill feels daunting. Especially since I know winter never ends and it will always be snowing. Which is a very good thing because that will mean that I will be able to continually connect with people who might enjoy my music and want to be kept updated.
One of my goals during Week 1 was to keep up an ever-growing fantastic email list… And yes, to provide great newsletters too. So cheers to cold days and big snowballs!!!
One more thing, I think co-promoting with other artists (whom my fan base might like) is a fantastic idea. Once I get my album released I will definitely be reaching out to other songwriters about this idea. If you are an artist, do let me know if you’re interested in this idea too and you think our music might be enjoyed by a similar audience. I would love to announce you to my list in a beautiful way!
And finally, dear Blog Reader (that’s you!!!), I’d love to keep you up to speed on what I’m up to musically. If you sign up for my music updates I will also give you a free MP3 when my album is released. All Love – No Spam. Promise.
Honk and Sign up here because you Rock!
This blog was originally posted under the title, “Saturated Snowballs” here: http://aynsleysaxe.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/saturated-snowballs/