At the moment there is somebody out there in internet land who is convinced that I ache to play bingo. Several times a day I am showered with mail encouraging me to rush some site, spend my money and waste my time. It doesn’t matter how many times I unsubscribe and mark the mail as spam, Mr Bingo keeps on trying. I wouldn’t mind, but the thought that I now belong to a demographic of bingo playing types (no offence, but in my mind that equates to drinking port and lemon and having a best hat) is rather demoralising. Junk mail, how I hate it.
However, it must also be said that I am keen to mail people myself. An important part of my work is keeping a mailing list. I like it: it’s like having an online pet. It grows and I am delighted, it shrinks and I worry. I am nerdy in checking my analytics; graphs that are all about me are much, much more fun than anything I learned in CSE maths (yup, too mathematically challenged to sit an ‘O’ Level, though I did get a grade one and that, I believe, came the same thing. Best of all I was taught by the teacher who survived being shot with a rifle while waiting at a bus stop – most kudos in the maths department obviously…)
I do try and avoid Mr Bingo’s lovebombing technique. These days we all have to wait for people to want to subscribe and nothing will put people off faster than asking them to sign up for emails. Needy, just like in dating, is not the way forward. I prefer the insouciance of the carefully placed clip board, the casual reference to my mailings: ‘What? You’d like to sign up? Really? Well please do give me your address’. It’s an option on my web site, but you do have to actually sign up rather than be tricked into it by Yoda style grammar. I never combine my visitor’s book with mailing list form. People should be entitled to tell me that they like/love/hate my work without feeling I may send love/hate mail in return.
The mails themselves I try to make fun, lots of pictures, useful links, a bit about the ongoing story of my work and, most important of all, I only send them when I have something to say. And that doesn’t include saying the same thing again and again in the hope that the recipient will crack and, in my case, develop a keen need to shout ‘house!’ at my laptop.