If you are not familiar a netbook is a small computer that is easily portable meant for running small applications like email, web browsing and word processing. You can run Windows, Linux or even hack it to run OS X on these computers. For our purposes though we will be using it for your mailing list despite the fact that you can use this computer to get plenty of work done on the road. In order to do this effectively we are going to need to first make sure you have a gMail Account. If you do not have one you are a fool and I will tell you why here. Sign into Google and go to Google Docs (aka Documents in the top left menu), once you are there select New under the file menu and we want to make a Spreadsheet. Once you make a spreadsheet you can either go crazy or keep it very simple. For those of you who are spreadsheet illiterate we can keep this nice and easy. Simply setup the document like the one shown below:
Once you have this Doc setup you are ready to go. At the end of the night you can go under the file menu and export it as a .CSV file to your mailing list App and it will harness all of the email addresses. If you are good with spreadsheet you can even get your mailing list to harness the zip codes or even phone numbers if you collect them (that is all for another tutorial). If you are a real Twitter happy band you can take each of these addresses and send them an @ or DM and tell them it was nice seeing them and ask them to follow you and check out your tunes.
Despite me making this look easy there are some little things though that we can do to make it a lot easier on you in the real world.
Cover It Up – The second people see a computer they are going to want to use it to update their Facebook or check to see if their Internet girlfriend Lafawnda wrote back to their Match.com profile. One of the best tips I can give you when doing this is to take a piece of printer paper and cover the top inch or two with a sign that says MAILING LIST (DOES NOT GO ON THE INTERNET). Make it so this covers the top menu bar. You should can even write on this paper above each field what someone should enter like Email, Zip code, Twitter (if you have one). As well enter a sample of an email address so people know what to do here. It is amazing how computer challenged some people can be.
Put A Lock On It – A few hundred dollars is a lot of money for a touring band and if this thing walks it can be tragic. Thankfully there are tons of cheap laptop locks out there. Simply lock it to your merch table and you can put your mind at ease.
Saranwrap It – Spills can be deadly to a laptop. To make matters worse you are in a club full of sweaty, drunk people with drinks in hand. An easy fix for this is to give the netbook two quick wraps of Saranwrap across the screen and keyboard.
Take It Offline – If you use Firefox or Safari you can use an App called Google Gears which will allow you to take your computer offline and still use these apps. When the show is done and you have Wi-Fi or 3G again you can click the Take Online button in your browser and hit save and it will add your addresses to the cloud.
Incentive – Remember the easiest way to get people to sign up for your mailing list is to give them incentive, a sticker, free sampler, anything can get get people to take 10 seconds to type in their info.