How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Unsubscribes

Last night there was a live performance in Lieuwke’s gallery.

A British singer/songwriter, who picks his guitar as if he’s making love – and the way he sings hits you right in the feelz.

Really impressive.

Chatting with him afterwards, he tells me that he’s got a mailing list of 10.000 people!

I pick my jaw up from the floor, and ask him if he actually sends his list any updates.

Tells me that yes he does, but every time he mails about a new concert or other news, people unsubscribe, and that it really hurts him to see that.

“You’ve got to be careful and not email too often, that’s the problem”.

So I tell him: “But what if I told you I email my list every single day, sometimes even two or three times a day…

“… and instead of unsubscribing, my readers actually love me for it?

“… that people thank me for writing each day, and that sometimes people tell me things like ‘you’re a blessing in my life’…?”

His turn to drop his jaw, hehe.

But it’s true.

You (and he) can totally get away with emailing your list frequently.

Not only that, the more often you send missives, the stronger the connection with your list will become.

And even more than that, the more often you write the more of your work you’ll sell.

Sure, people advise you to only email every once in a while.

But most of the time, the people dishing out that advice only send emails when they’re selling something.

And yeah, if the sole reason for emailing is to get buyers (or bums in seats at a show) then of course people will unsubscribe in droves.

But if you look at the emails that I send (or other people who really get how to do email marketing right), you’ll see that it’s not about selling.

Of course I’ll have something available for purchase, just like anyone who operates a business.

But the first and most important reason and purpose for these emails is to deliver something valuable to my readers.

Teaching, inspiration, motivation, a new way to look at something, or sometimes simply a bit of entertainment or instructional self-mockery…

I write so that you may benefit.

Plain and simple.

And it’s only by virtue of that purpose, that I try to earn permission to write each day and, yes, offer something for sale.

So what I want you to take away from today’s message is that so long as your mission is to improve your reader’s life in some way or other, you can totally write frequently.

Once a week, once a day, whatever.

Write so they may benefit.

And of course, there will always be people who unsubscribe.

Especially at the start, you’ll see a spike in unsubscribes.

But that will only last a few days, and then it levels off and you’ll find that unsubscribe rates actually go down.

I’ve seen that happen with  every single student I’ve had.

And those people who do leave?

Not to worry.

If they’re not interested in you or your work, or if they are upset that – God forbid – you want to sell your work, why do you want them on your list anyway?

Write for your reader’s benefit, and you’ll earn the permission to pitch.

This stuff works, you know.

And believe you me: it’s intensely fulfilling to start each day with the mission to shine a light into your reader’s day.

And, yes, you can totally do that.

And, if you don’t know how?

Why, then you get me to train you on writing emails for fun, relationships, sales, and yes: profit.

It’s a 3-month intensive training, where you commit to drafting an email every day.

Once a week I review one of those emails, line by line, and send you back instructions on how to make it better.

12 weeks, 12 reviews – and 60 pieces on your hard drive that get better as each week goes by.

By the time you graduate from Starship Mentorprise writing academy, you’ll be unstoppable.

You’ll churn out highly engaging, art-selling emails with absolute ease, before you even finish your morning coffee.

You’ll see your list clean up and leave you with only the people who really want to hear from you, just like my previous students saw happen.

You’ll receive thank yous and kudos, and yes, provided you keep your list growing, you’ll receive money for your work too.

But, a writing mentorship is only for people who are serious about training their abilities to communicate.

If you want to sell more of your work…

And you’re a stick-with-the-program kinda gal or guy…

Then go here to enlist my help –>



DO This to Grow Your Art Business. Seriously

art-list-optinI’m spending a few days in a town called Competa, about an hour from where I live.

It’s FULL of artists, absolutely rife – and the reason I’m here is that there’s a four-day art walk event, with 18 artists showing their work, some of them ‘in the act’.

Tomorrow for example, I’m watching a sculptor demonstrate raku firing, in a kiln made of an oil barrel.

You know, fun stuff for an art lover like myself.

The art walk opened today, and last night I joined the participating artists on a tour around the 18 different venues.

Aside from now having the thighs of a professional athlete (apparently there’s no single horizontal street in Competa – it’s all built of slopes and staircases),

I noticed a few interesting things.

One of them being prices.

Nearly every artwork that I saw was priced far too low.

But confidence sells, people.

And showing that you value your work, and have the confidence to put a decent or even high price on your work – that really does help to make your work more desirable.

Like it or not, believe it or not – low prices simply won’t trigger the same ‘Oooh, wow!’ effect in people that high prices do.

Besides, selling art isn’t easy – and personally, I’d rather not sell an expensive piece that not sell a cheap peace.

Another thing I noticed – and this is probably even more important than the pricing issue:

Hardly anyone even thinks about building their list.

That picture up there?

That’s on the table of one artist who knows what she’s doing.

(She would, because I’m coaching her).

And list building really can be that simple – you don’t need fancy gimmicks.

All it takes to build a list of interested potential buyers is having a conversation, and inviting people to sign up.

On your website or at your booth, makes no difference.

It pains me to see an artist at a show, with 100’s of people walking by, and nothing in place to stay connected with them.

So take it from me: you must build a list.

It’s the one business asset that nobody can take from you – no gallery dropping your or online platform changing their rules will hurt you if your list is big enough.

And any time people find you, all you need to do is converse (online or offline) and invite people to sign up.

And believe me, they will if you do it right.

I walked in two hours after the event started this morning, and Karin already had 8 or 10 people signed up.

That’s how easy it can be.

Anyway, I’m diving back into the art walk.

Time to have some more conversations.

Want to have a conversation about how to really grow your art business?

Let me know…



To Discount or Not to Discount – Is That the Incentive?

When it comes to giving people an incentive to join your list, I quite often see people offer a discount.

“Get 10% off if you subscribe!”

I don’t like that.

Sure, it can make sense if you’re a large retail platform, like Walmart or Amazon.

But if you’re a small business owner, an artist, or any other kind of maker of things, I doubt you have the economy of scale to justify giving discounts.

Except maybe if you’re a musician and you sell songs, or if you’re an artist and you have a well-trafficked print sales page.

But even then, I don’t like the discount approach, for several reasons.

First, I don’t think it’s a good start of a relationship, to devalue your work right when people first consider staying in touch with you by way of subscribing.

It’s not the right message to give them: “Hey, my prices are normally x but actually that’s higher than need be, so screw it, let’s just give you a discount”.

Another problem is that right from the start, right when people are ready to take a first step of increasing proximity, you start talking about a sale.

Is that a nice way to treat people?

Not in my opinion.

It’s like when you’re in a bar, and you see a nice girl or guy, they offer you a drink, and right after you say thanks, they start talking about going home with them later on.

Bit crude, wouldn’t you say?

You need to put yourself in the shoes of the other person: the visitor who lands on your site, likes what they see, and are faced with your invitation to sign up.

What’s going on in that person’s mind at that point…

… that they want to buy something from you?

It’s possible, but in most cases that’s not where they’re at.

Most of the time, they simply want to learn more about you and your work.

In other words, they’re responsive to your invitation – the invitation to start a new relationship.

When you start by offering discounts at that point, you basically ignore where they’re at and force them to think in terms of buying.

But it’s way too early for that.

I prefer non-pushy marketing, the kind that’s helpful and delivers value by itself.

In other words, they ‘meet’ you, they want to see if there’s resonance, and maybe start a relationship.

That relationship leads to conversations, and over time, those conversations will lead to sales, see if they don’t.

Speaking of sales: anybody up for getting a higher conversion rate on your site?

Look here to see if you want my help:

The Problem With Blogging and Why I Don’t Do It

Ah, ye olde debate:

Is blogging dead, or does it still work?

Always fun, to see people argue their opinion.

You’ll get one guy saying ti no longer works and that there’s a next best thing, while someone else insists that blogging is still the way to go.

Folks like me though, we don’t even bother with blogging – and in my not at all humble opinion, neither should you.

There’s things far – FAR more effective than blogging.

The problem with blogging is that, if you’re not careful, it sets you out with the wrong intention.

A blog and the posts that live in it, are meant to serve several purposes:

– With the right keywords it’s supposed to get you search traffic.

– If you write persuasive and engaging stuff, it can maybe, possibly get your writing shared.

– If you get enough traffic from shares and SEO, there’s the possibility people leave a comment (which is becoming increasingly rare, unless you’re pretty famous)

– And, if you dare to offer your work up for sale (heresy, in much of the blogosphere), you might sometimes sell something.

Meanwhile, you slog your way through endless strings of cat pictures and motivational quotes, on Facebook and Instagram, wondering why others sell their work with apparent ease but you don’t.

The reason?

Most likely because those folk aren’t bloggers.

It’s not their blog that they use to engage and create customers.

No, they very likely use email marketing.

And that’s a key distinction.

A blog has all those tasks to accomplish, listed above.

Whereas a well-written email has a much simpler, much easier goal.

A proper email says: “You indicated you’re interested, so here’s me again, I hope you like this update. And if you want, you can buy this song/painting/ebook/sculpture/photo”.

That’s it, that’s all there is to it.

Of course you can then post your email to your blog too, nothing wrong with that.

Pretty good idea in fact, but the focus of email-first is much better than ‘blog first and then email it to my list’.

Blogging is for the internet at large to find you, and like you – while email marketing is for your private subscribers to take away something useful and/or inspiring.

And the fact that you’re writing for your list and not the entire bulk of internet denizens, makes that your message will be much more on target, will resonate more, and yes:

Will get you more art sold.

Spurn this view if you like, but if you’d try email marketing for just 30 days, you’d agree with me.

Wait, what?

You’re already hip to the power of email marketing, but you don’t know how to do it right?

Well why didn’t you say so sooner – I’ll help.

Go here next –>



The Sane Business Owner, Rule #1

You might not like this recommendation, but I’m 100% convinced that if you give it a try, your mental state and inner peace will thank you for it.

And, if it doesn’t help, you can always revert.

So here it is, rule #1 for the sane business owner:

Turn off all notifications.

Yes, everything.

If it bleeps, pings, or pongs: kill it.

Facebook, twitter, email, skype, whatsapp, SMS – switch it all off.

Mute the whole industrialised distraction engine called the internet, and THEN get to work.

You’ll see what a difference it makes to your focus and your productivity.

Oh of course, at first you’ll feel awkward and fidgety:

What if I miss an important email?

What if someone inquired about working with me?

What if – can’t miss that! – someone posted an awfully cute cat picture on Facebook?

Here’s the deal: whatever message comes in can be dealt with when you are ready for it.

There’s very little that’s so urgent that it can’t wait an hour, or even two.

And that awkward restless feeling you get when you turn off all notifications, you know what that is?

Withdrawal symptoms.

It’s a sign of exactly how addicted we’ve become to all the bleeps and pings that come at us.

So yes, when you turn it all off, you go cold turkey.

And yes, that makes you feel like you’ve lost something that was part of you.

But the problem is that this has been engineered over the years, by all the companies who vie for your attention, because when they manage to distract you, they get to make a few pennies on an ad view or whatever.

Sure it’s nice to communicate and be on social networks.

And of course, you have to deal with email and talk to people.

But your attention belongs to you, and we need to reclaim it.

Instead of having it stolen by whatever company finds the next new trick for catching you unawares.

Don’t forget, this whole distraction business is big, BIG bucks.

Facebook makes I believe a billion dollars a quarter because of it (not sure about the number, but it’s more money that you or I are likely to ever see in our lifetime).

And yes, it’s a real industry.

Google captivology, and you’ll see that grabbing your attention has become a science.

But your attention is yours, and it’s you who gets to determine when you give it.

That’s why I recommend everyone to turn of notifications and set several times a day when you deliberately go and give your attention to wherever it’s needed.

When I did this, it took me two days or so to discover an enormous tranquility and focus in my day.

My productivity went up, my mental and emotional state improved, and – very important – I started to enjoy working on my business a lot more.

So, give it a try.

I dare you :)

Give it a few days, and let me know how it works out for you…



Let Me Answer My Own Question: Who Am I For…?

A while ago, my coach queried me on my focus and branding.

What, this coach has a coach?

Why of course.

If I wouldn’t believe in the massive value and power of working with a coach, I’d have no business offering coaching services to others.

It would be hypocritical and unethical.

In fact, I have two coaches: one to keep me moving forward, and one to keep me sane.

But that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, one of my coaches opined that being a ‘Business coach for ambitious artists’ might not be a good idea.

“But!” I hollered, “These people NEED help!”.

He said he saw my point, but argued that it’s a very narrow niche, and it would exclude the possibility of working with other kinds of people.

Which is true – or would be, if the definition of ‘artist’ would be ‘someone who talks to a muse and makes beautiful things’.

But for me, the word artist has a much – MUCH – bigger meaning.

In my view, every human being is an artist.

We’re all trying to create a life and an experience of life so as to increase our well-being.

That’s just what being alive is about, it’s working towards our natural state.

Away from pain and towards pleasure, to maximise well-being.

And all of us, no exception, are constantly in the process of creating our own life, by the thoughts and the actions that make up our life.

But, not everyone is aware of this intrinsic art-nature of being alive.

Lots of people don’t live that way, and that’s fine.

But there are countless others who do see the ongoing creation as what life really is.

And that’s the kind of people I am for.

I don’t care if you are building a yoga studio, or an art business, or ecological villages or the next green energy revolution: if your attitude and view are that it’s a creative process, then I’d like to talk.

Whatever it is you do.

Within limits of course: if your business is fracking for oil, I’m not interested in helping you grow that.

Or if you manufacture weapons, then get off my lawn.

And yes, I realise the irony in quoting one of the most famous gunslingers in the world.

But anyway, I’m for creators.

People who want to manifest something wholesome.

Makers of things.

Which is why I changed my tagline to ‘Business coach for ambitious creators’.

Is that you?

Do you want change, growth, more creation and faster evolution of yourself and your business?

Then let me know.



Building an Empire, Phase 2

You probably know by now that I’m a fairy ambitious kind of guy.

And yes, that was meant to say ‘fairly’, but I figured it’s the fun kind of typo.

Anyway, I have big plans, big dreams, and I’m willing to take risks to realise my dreams.

And if you’ve been reading me for a while, you also know I had a hectic start of the year.

By now I should have published my next two books, launched my art marketing expert interview site, several new interviews, and started several campaigns to both be more visible
and build up my email list.

But as it happened, the only thing I did pull off so far was host a seminar and get it published for sale online.

But now that’s been done and accomplished, and it’s time I move on to the next stage: publish books.

The goal is to get a new one on the market each month.

Not because I think being an author will make me rich (hah!), but it sure will help me grow my audience and my list.

So over the next few weeks, expect to see me talk about my book launch – probably quite a lot.

It’s going to be a series, obviously called ‘The LEAP Art Marketing Series’.

And if you’re new here, LEAP is the marketing system I created, and it stands for:

Listen, Explain, Ask, Prosper.

The first one in the series is called ‘Take Control of Your Art Business’.

It’s finalised, edited, it has professional cover design – it’s ready to show to the world.

And, you can get it for free.

In fact, you can get every book I publish (the entire LEAP series, but also the LEAP Marketing Bible I’ll publish later this year) absolutely free.

I will ask you for a favour in order to get them, but it won’t be anything big or time-consuming.

And hey, if you read these emails I guess you like my writing and the ideas I put into it, so getting all the books for free sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?


But, I need to set up a bunch of things first, so let me get on with that.

Once everything is set up and my launch campaign is ready to start, I’ll let you know how you can get every book I’ll ever publish at 0 cost.

So stay tuned for that…



Is That a Trick Question in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Another reader writes in, with only one sentence:

“What practical everyday advice do you offer? ”

Hmmm… I wonder if that’s a trick question.

Maybe she’s not happy that I send emails everyday and it’s a way to express her dissatisfaction.

Or maybe she doesn’t’ get how in each email I send, there’s always some practical advice – whether it’s to do something, or to think about something, or to ask yourself a question.

But, it could be a genuine question, as in:

What would I advise an artist does, every day, in a practical sense.

And if that’s the question, the answer is… well, do something businessy.

Yes, of course what you do matters but at a basic level, anything you would choose to do could be helpful.

Just so long as the goal of the activity is first to grow your visibility, second to grow your list, and ultimately to get you more sales.

And if you pick an activity – any activity, really – that qualifies for those three goals, all you need to do is spend 30 minutes on it, every single day.

Will 30 minutes a day be enough to grow a healthy art business?

By itself probably not.

But I guarantee that if you make a habit out of it, and you keep it up for a few months, things will start to change for you.

It all ads up, you know.

You can fill a bathtub with just a drop a day.

Sure it’ll take a long time, but in the end it’ll be full.

So the question is, really, how fast do you want your art business to grow?

If you’re driven, committed, and you really want to grow that baby of yours, you could also start emptying cups, or even buckets into the tub.

Meaning, spend an hour, or two, or… well, however fast you want to grow, really.

And what then should you do, during that daily business time?

Can be anything. For example:

•    writing emails to your list

•    curating content on social media that your audience will like

•    getting in touch with previous buyers

•    researching your buyer’s psychology by creating a survey

•    actively connecting with your target audience on social media and growing your following

•    Installing optin forms on your site (Sumome is a great WordPress plugin) and offering a freebie when people sign up

•    contacting the press about the message that goes along with your art and getting exposure that way

•    teaming up with a local charity or joining online forums/local communities and becoming a valued peer

Any of those ideas resonate with you?

Then pick one or several and install them as habits in your day.

Keep at it, and growth will be inevitable.

But tell me: which business habits have been most effective for you?



Freud Was Here: How to Make Lemons Out of Lemonade (Instructions Inside)

This past January, a bunch of things went ‘wrong’ for me.

A visitor falling ill and needing emergency surgery, followed by an impromptu trip to Switzerland – right when I was about to start my busiest year ever.

Not quite what I had planned for.

But in my view, things don’t ‘go wrong’.

Things simply change, and then it’s up to us to either end up in a tizzy and freak out – or to adjust our attitude and decisions.

It’s a type of practical agility, I suppose.

Like they say: when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

A reader told me the other day that he really likes that attitude, and that from now on, he will also ‘make lemons out of lemonade’.

Oops. Freudian slip, anyone?

If you manage to make lemons out of lemonade, you’ll definitely be the life of the party.

But, it’ll also take the party out of your life.

I mean, what do you do, how do you react, when stuff happens?

When things break, or people stop replying, or a buyer disappears right when you thought they would proceed to get your painting?

How, indeed, do you deal with ‘stuff happening’?

When psychomologists tell you that ‘it’s all in your mind’, that right there is a mighty and powerful tool, you know?

You can control your reactions, if only you want to.

You have the power to decide what something means, in your life.

You, my friend, are empowered to say ‘crap, this is lemons’ or ‘rocking, let’s make lemonade’.

Don’t dismiss this.

It’s the difference between living a life of struggle, or dancing elegantly through whatever life throws at you.

And if you think you don’t need to work with it, think again.

Because things are bound to go wrong, sooner or later.

Point is that deciding right here and now to take it in stride and use whatever setback or unfortunate event as a building block for something new, will shield you from stress and frustration.

So tell me, how do you live:

Do you make lemons from lemonade, or the other way around?



Music and Paris, and Nothing to Follow Through With a Brand New Fan

Kahina OualiI’m in Paris, with a 4 hour wait until my next train.

So obviously I went to savour a bit of the city.

And, call it luck or a blessing, but it was all just perfect.

I walk into a friendly-looking place, and right there is a young woman, with a mic and a piano.

And she sings, and plays, and her voice sounds like milk and honey.

Seriously – Rumi would have written poetry about her.

But anyway.

I sit there, relishing the experience and drinking in the energy.

Afterwards, I ask her if she has any CDs out.

Which, sadly, she doesn’t.

I’d LOVE to play her music on my stereo, and it doesn’t matter that it’s not her own compositions she plays.

Just the whole energy, and tone – it’s perfect.

So I tell her:

“Why not?

“Why not record a set of songs, just as you are now? The music you played tonight?

“Stick it on iTunes, Youtube, share it on Facebook…

“I’m not saying you’l be rich tomorrow, but even if it earns you 10 or 50 Euros a week, that’s extra money.

“Right now you live from playing nights, and that can’t be easy.

“All it takes is a decent quality recording, and you wouldn’t just raise your profile, you’d also stand to earn more.


She smiles.

“Yes! It’s a good idea!”

And that, my friends, is how simple it can be to make use of what you already have as an artist, and use it to become more professional and more visible, and, yes even if it’s in small increments, more prosperous.

Think about it: right now, people dine and enjoy and then they leave.

But if she has something out there, a brand, a few songs, something people can either buy or listen to online, she has a way to retain those people.

I heard her, and I’m a fan. But right now, there’s nothing extra that she can give me, and for an artist of her calibre, that’s a crying shame.

And if you want to know more about things like exposure and keeping people’s interest, then you would do well to sign up for the 3-hour art marketing seminar I’m giving next Saturday.

Details here —>



Menu Title