September 18, 2007

Email and Participation

I thought I'd throw this out there and see what you fine folks think.

The first group of sign ups that came in via the main site were slow and steady. The original group of interested people were on a message board I visit every day. After the initial group from Penciljack signed up (about 50 people) and a few folks from the tubes signed up (about 50 people) the site was linked to Drawn! and since then 250+ people have "signed up."

At first I tried to email everyone back, but I was worried about information overload. The site has a lot of rules and information but that was mostly in an effort to stave off repetitive questions and make sure a lot of unusable art wasn't sent in. (To this day I haven't received any Spider Man drawings, so something's working.) I stopped emailing everyone who filled out the form and instead created a nice "Thank you for signing up, hope to see your art soon" message for after they hit "submit." Since then I only sent emails to those who asked questions in the comment field.

Now I'm new to the whole deal about running a project or website that's popular enough to garner 300 peoples' interest, so I may not know of a standard sign up to participate ratio. So I'll ask the readers: Does the project seem like it's a newsletter? Is there something ambiguous in its intent that results a 4:1 ratio of people who are interested but can't or won't draw?

I had a friend help with the language on the front page to try and trim it down. Keep it simple, keep the facts in there but don't tarry on nuance. It's easy for me to be witty when I write, not as easy to be clean and concise, apparently. I'm just worried that there's an assumption people make when they see this project that when they sign up they're going to receive a copy of the sketchbook or be notified when shirts go on sale or something. I'm worried because I'm making an assumption that it's artists that are filling out the forms, not just regular viewers, but if that's the case, why are they doing it? And if it's not the case, why have there only been 70 pieces sent in?

Don't get me wrong, 70 pieces of artwork is amazing, especially from 70 different people. The fact that a single sketchbook has been mailed to 10 different people is as well nothing to sneeze at. The link on Boing Boing hasn't yielded but one person signing up, which is fine, Boing Boing is tech friendly, not necessarily art focused. And yet the comment in the mail I received was "sign me up." Would it have made a difference if I had emailed all the people individually and said, if not a bit redundantly, "Welcome aboard?"

So to all the prospective artists out there, I officially sign all of you up. I can't publish a book of emails or intentions, so let's put pencil to paper and get this thing done.

Carry on.

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