Why I Switched from Mailchimp to ConvertKit

Mailchimp and ConvertKit are both email list management websites. Such a site allows you to keep a list of subscriber’s emails, handle new subscriptions to those lists, send out emails, report on receipt of those emails, and much, much more.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp Fail
Mailchimp pissed me off.

For years, I used Mailchimp. Using that service, I kept a list of people who liked my art and had subscribed to my list. Weekly, I’d send out a newsletter featuring my latest art, discount codes, and free wall papers.

I was generally quite happy with them, but…unfortunately, I recently had some trouble with them. What should have been a small problem quickly turned into a huge headache.

Why I Went with MailChimp in the First Place

There are tons of sites that will help you manage your email lists. However, Mailchimp really is the biggest and most well established. The user interface is flashy and easy to use…most of the time. Occasionally, it was difficult to find something, but for the most part it was great. Furthermore, their email editor is quite powerful, allowing you to create some really professional looking emails.

They have all of the major features that such a provider should have: Subscription Form editors, reporting, autoresponders, etc. but, most importantly, they have a free tier where you don’t have to pay a dime until you have over 2000 subscribers. That makes it great for getting your feet wet when it comes to email marketing.

They do have a few issues:

  • If you want to have multiple subscriber segments, you need to have multiple lists and a subscriber who’s on both gets double counted.
  • The general consensus is that mail from Mailchimp tends to wind up in spam boxes a bit more often than some of the other similar services. I think that the free tier may behind this. Having no need to pay has likely drawn a lot of less-than-reputable users who have signed up and sent out junky emails using it.
  • They have some unusually restrictive rules. They have the usual stuff, of course, like no spamming or illegal activity, but they also ban users who have sites about making money online and sites who do affiliate marketing.

What Happened with Mailchimp

That last issue is what MAY have been what got me. They have an automated process called Omnivore that monitors their system for terms-of-service violations. At the time, I had a page on my website describing how print-on-demand sites work for selling art. (This was before I started offering my ebook on the subject). Perhaps that is what tripped Omnivore. I’m not really sure though. I sent off several requests to Mailchip’s support desk. After a month of no responses…I was forced to give up on them.

Enter ConvertKit

ConvertKit to the Rescue
ConvertKit to the Rescue

I had a few choices of where to go, but I decided to go with ConvertKit.com. It’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. Plus, it was easy to move my existing list over from MailChimp.

Its chief feature is the ability to segment your audience. Instead of having to maintain multiple lists, I can just have one list of subscribers with certain ones being tagged. This appeals to me for several reasons.

For one, I really produce several different genres of art. I have western art, wildlife, fantasy and so on. With Mailchimp I was sending out every genre to everyone on my list. The problem is that Western art fans don’t generally want to see pictures of dragons. Now, I can tag the western art fans and the fantasy art fans and send them separate series of art.

Also, I have a lot of content about making and marketing and selling art. Such content really only appeals to other artists, and, while quite a few of my subscribers are indeed artists, many are just patrons. With ConvertKit, I can have the artists use a different subscription form and get just my artist content, while my patrons still only see my art.

ConvertKit is definitely more oriented around automation. Setting them up is way easier than it was with Mailchimp. Yet, I can still send out my newsletter on an ad hoc basis.

I do have a few gripes about ConvertKit, though.

For one, it’s a bit expensive to start at thirty bucks a month for the first thousand subscribers, then sixty a month until you hit 3000.

Also, I’m a bit underwhelmed with their email editor. It’s easy to use, but the emails are nowhere near as flashy as Mailchimp’s.

But, otherwise, so far, I’m happy and looking forward to creating genre themed email series for my fans.  If you want to give it a try, check it out at ConvertKit.com.

Yours in Art,

Daniel

P.S. Now that I’ve talked about it, do you want to get on my new email list? If yes, then click here: subscribe

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A Quick Look at Topaz Studio

 

Topaz Studio is the flagship product from Topaz Labs.  I’ve always like Topaz products and Studio is no exception.  It’s single job is to enhance digital images, and it does a great job at it.

 
The majority of my art, I create digitally using 3D rendering algorithms and digital painting programs.  For almost all of my art, I have a post production phase where I adjust the final images, working the color balance, contrast, saturation, etc.  For years, I used GIMP for this.  GIMP however is a fully featured image editing program that allows everything from painting to tweaking colors.  It does a bit of everything, but it’s not a specialist.  Plus, it’s got a steep learning curve. 
 
Later on, I discovered Topaz Adjust which was a tool specifically for enhancing images.  It was a plugin for Photoshop and did okay.  Rather than spending several hours in GIMP in post production, I could spend about half the time in Topaz adjust.  There results were pretty good, but not great. 
 
A shot showing the Studio enhanced version on the left overlaying the original photo on the right.

Now there is Topaz Studio.  I recently downloaded this stand-alone application to give it a try and I LOVE it.  It’s got a lot more tools than Adjust, is easier to use, and seems to handle memory better, being more responsive and less crashy.  Quite often just a single click on the “Basic Correction” gives me the perfect results.

 
Topaz Studio is FREE.  You have to create an account on the Topaz site to download it, but that’s it for most of the foundation level image filters.  You can however add plugins to Studio.  Many of Topaz’s products have been converted into plugins.  For instance, I almost immediately picked up the new plugins for Topaz Impression and Topaz Glow, two applications that have always impressed me.  The plugins might cost a bit, but for someone like me who sells prints of art created using Impression and Glow, I think they are well worth the cost.
 
 
Note: The link to get Studio is an affiliate link.  Though Topaz Studio is free, some of it’s premium plugins cost money.  If you click on this link then buy one of those plugins in the next 30 days, I get a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
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Topaz Glow

My quick overview of Topaz Glow…

Glowing Shark
A Hammerhead Shark Image post processed using Glow

A hammerhead shark swims beneath the sea in this impressionist work featuring fluid glowing lines with an almost neon quality to them.

This was actually made from an older image of mine that was a realistic image of a hammerhead shark, created using digital 3D rendering techniques. I’ve altered it though using a tool called Glow From Topaz labs. It’s a really cool computer program that gives your images a wild expressionist look ranging from a style reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh to modernist neon impressionism.

 
Hammerhead
The Image before being processed in Glow

I’d seen a lot of photographers making sales with their photos that had been run through Topaz Glow. They looked awesome and I knew I wanted to give the application a try with some of my render art. It required me to update the drivers on my graphics card, but once I did that, it was easy to install and very easy to use.

I found that it doesn’t always make an image better, but for some it really had some great results. This particular image, I thought, turned out very well.

Glow used to be a standalone application, but now you get it as a plugin for Topaz’s flagship application Topaz Studio.  Studio is free and allows you to integrate most of their products.  Glow will set you back around 70 bucks, but it’s can pay for itself in just one print sale.

If you’d like to check out Topaz Glow, and I recommend that you do, click on the button.

Get Glow

By the way, that link is an affiliate link. If you click on it and should happen to buy glow within 30 days, I will get a small commission on the sale. It does not raise the price for you. For those of you who do buy, THANK YOU!

I’ve also done a video review of glow.  This was the older version prior to being a plug in for Topaz Studio, but the latest version is quite similar in what is can do. 

 

Regards,
Daniel

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What is Photoshop?

Photoshop, a  product description

Photoshop is the single most powerful and most used computer application in the world for art and photography.  Most people who have spent any time doing digital art or photography have used it.  However, as you may be new to digital art, I’m going to introduce it as if you’ve never heard of it.
 
Sepia Image
A image with a sepia tone filter applied using Photoshop
Photoshop is a digital image manipulation program, that is, it’s an image editor.  You can do all sorts of things to an image as a whole with it, such as adjusting brightness, contrast, etc.; moreover, you can use it to apply various filters to image, for instance, giving an image a sepia tone.   You can also edit parts of the image, such as painting on it with virtual brushes.  In fact, you can create an entire digital painting with it. And, it works particularly well with tablets and styluses (I personally use it with a Wacom Bamboo).
 
Until I got into 3D rendering, Photoshop was all I needed for doing digital art.  For several years, I needed nothing else.  There is so much that you can do with Photoshop. There are so many books on how to use it that they could fill a library, classes you can take, and thousands upon thousands of Youtube videos on how to use it.

How to get it 

Photoshop
Photoshop with one of my images loaded.

For a long time, Photoshop was a rather expensive application that you had to buy at a place like Best Buy off the shelf.  Later on, you could buy it online and download it, but even then, it cost hundreds of dollars.  Now however, Adobe (the company that produces Photoshop) has made it available through a subscription model.  That makes it way more comfortable to try out.  As I write this, you can get a monthly subscription as low as 10 bucks a month.  

 
It’s something you might want to check out…
 

Watch Me Get Photoshop

I recorded myself actually getting the latest version of Photoshop.  So if you want a video walk through of how to get it, here you go:

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