This is the second in a series of articles seeking to break down the overwhelming options and opportunities of New Media into a set of easy-to-implement steps that anyone can apply.
One great way to introduce people to your New Media project is through an email mailing list. In the best cases, you already have a mailing list that you can use to jump start your projects at their onset. This means you won’t have to struggle for every single reader, listener or viewer at the start. You can begin with a close set of friends and contacts that can help to spread the word about your project. Don’t fret if you don’t have a mailing list, just know it’s next on the list of things to do.
Why do you need a mailing list? Even today, with the explosion of audio and video information on the web, many people are still most familiar and most comfortable with email. Most already have an email address and know how to use it. Even better, email simply shows up in their inbox without any action on their part. This makes it an ideal way to spread the word about your project and shouldn’t be ignored for flashier methods.
Even more importantly, when someone gives you an email address, they are giving you permission to talk to them whenever you have something to say. This is a tremendous asset to you, but it also carries with it some responsibility. Once you have this permission, you need to use it wisely. Spamming your mailing list with too many messages or emails of little value will only cause your list to tune you out, if not outright unsubscribe. Treat those on your email list with respect and do not abuse the permission they have given you.
Setting up an email list
There are a variety of ways to setup and manage an email mailing list.
- Create a email group in your existing email program
Most email software has the ability to create a group from any of the addresses in your address book and then address a message to the group, rather than to individual people. While this might sound like the simplest method, it has many drawbacks. Chief among these is the fact that your Internet Service Provider probably has some limit on how many people you can add to a single outgoing email. Once you get over this number you will manually have to split up your list, sending multiple emails. These lists are also difficult to manage and require you to add and remove people as they request.
- Set up a Google Group
Google Groups (http://groups.google.com) provide a free way to setup and manage a mailing list for 10 people or thousands. You can invite and add people to your list manually and interested people can also add themselves whenever they wish. Google Groups also provides a form that can be embedded in any web page that allows users to subscribe to your mailing list with one click.
One limitation of Google Groups is that you will only be able to personally add 10 people a day to your mailing list. The number of self-subscriptions is unlimited, though i.e. anyone can add themselves at any time. Still, if you regularly collect email addresses at meetings or other events, this might slow down your ability to add people to the list.
In my own experience, I have found Google Groups to be an excellent, free, solution to running a number of email lists.
- Use a commercial email list company
If you need a more professional approach to your email list, along with statistics on the number of people reading your emails, you might wish to contract a commercial email list provider. One of the largest and best known is Constant Contact (http://www.constantcontact.com/). If you receive any volume of email, I can almost guarantee you are on at least one Constant Contact email list.
Regardless of how you create or manage your email list, you must do it. Gaining the permission to speak to a wide variety of people on a regular basis is very powerful and gives you an excellent foundation for promoting your New Media project.