A Photographers Survival Guide to Email Marketing (Part 1)

Most photographers I work with don’t have an email marketing plan. They come to me using a marketing plan that consists of these 4 things:

  • Being as active on social media as possible
  • Blogging sessions and personal work
  • Hoping some of the web traffic from these tasks turn into inquiries
  • Hoping a past client will leave a good word to a friend and a referral will come through

Does this sound like you? If so, this post is going to show you how to take better control of your marketing and ultimately your business. It’s time to stop banking on hope, friend!

Think about all the time you spend editing photos, resizing and sharing them on social media. Think about all the blogs you’ve written and the time it takes to create and publish each.

Think about all the time you spend rocking out your social media schedule.

That’s a ton of time right? You may feel like you’re never caught up with all of that stuff, because you have a life to live and photos to create too, right? You’re busy! If you do not have an email list or not utilizing the one you have, there’s a way you can be working much smarter (and effective) over harder, friend.

 

A Common Social Media to Website Traffic Pattern

For all the traffic you bring to your social pages, you are typically trying to send these people to your website to look at a new blog post, recent session, and hope they’ll hop over to your contact page to book with you, right?

Here’s what really happens without a strategy in place:

Website visitors indulge in your site, maybe even fall in love with what they see, but then it happens… They click away… close the tab… and get ready for it: forget about you. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

So all that work is nearly for nothing when this happens. You need to remember that MOST people that come to your website are not looking to book a session. So make it your mission to build a relationship with them right then and there. This is where growing your email list comes into play.

Getting website visitors onto your email list gives you the golden ticket to get back in front of these people… to make all your time spent sharing photos, being active on social media, and blogging worth it.

Before I answer some common questions, pin this image so you can bookmark this post! There will be a follow up post to this one and you’ll be referencing back to these two blog posts once you start taking action. Pin this:

email newsletters for photographers

Common Email Marketing Questions

Talking about email lists and newsletters often comes with its own host of questions:

  • Why do I want people on my email list if they like me on Facebook?
  • Why bother growing my email list when I can just pay to boost my posts?
  • How do I get people on my email list?
  • What do I put in my newsletter?
  • What kind of emails should I send my list?
  • I don’t want to bug them, how often should I email them?
  • I’ve tried email before and it doesn’t really work, so, what’s the point?

Today, we’re going to focus on how to rapidly gain new subscribers, creating an automated marketing sequence to convert new subscribers into new documentary photo session bookings, and what to expect once you’ve built it. By the end of this post, you’ll be working smarter than ever!

Sound good? Great!

Allow me add in a little plug:

What you’re learning in this post is part of what I teach in full, from start to finish, in my signature course. The course runs twice a year and is called, “Mastery Moment-Seekers: an Accountability & Marketing Intensive for documentary photographers.”

Click here to learn more about Mastery Moment-Seekers and hop on the waiting list.

Ok, let’s dive into the common email marketing questions.

Why do I want people on my email list if they like me on Facebook?

Getting page likes may have been a thing in 2012, but we all know your organic reach on Facebook has crumbled. This means, MOST of your fans aren’t seeing your posts. Get them on your email list and you’ll have a greater chance of them being able to hear from you again.

Not to mention, you can upload your email list to your Facebook Ads account. Then, create a Lookalike audience of people that have never heard of you, but hold similarities to the people on your email list. Pretty cool, right?

 

Why bother growing my email list when I can just pay to boost my posts?

First, if you are going to dive into Facebook Ads, DO NOT boost a post. Don’t do it. Ever.

Instead, create an Ad of a recent post (the post you want to make an ad) so that you can use Facebook’s elite targeting system. Facebook Ads is a whole different topic we can get into on another day.

If you’re spending money to get your post out further – whether that is a post to a blog or some kind of a “Book Now” post – you’re most likely not going to get in front of the people you’ve reached again unless they’re on your email list. Facebook may serve your Ad up to them again, but essentially you’re doing the exact same thing as your free posts – driving people into that traffic pattern of social to website to nowhere unless you invite them to your email list. This is not the best way to spend your money.

 

How do I get people on my email list?

Maybe you already have a way to let people sign up for your newsletter, but it just crawls… very little people subscribe. That’s ok. We get so many emails these days, you better give me a good reason to hand over my email address! Right?!

You’ve probably noticed already, but you see many, many sites today have some sort of a guide, a worksheet, a cheat sheet or something else they are offering to send you in exchange for an email address. That is called a lead magnet or opt-in incentive.

A great place to start in uncovering what a great lead magnet would be for you is to think about the most common question(s) your clients ask you. How can you turn the answer to their question(s) into some kind of downloadable or video?

Once you have your lead magnet, it’s just a matter of setting it up with your email service provider (I recommend ConvertKit*) to automatically send it out for you when your new subscriber confirms subscription.

 

What do I put in my newsletter that people will actually want? Can it be the same as my blog content?

I think these questions are the biggest stoppers when photographers are considering growing their email list! It feels like extra work or overwhelming… an unrewarding when you send out your newsletter only to have no engagement or bookings come of it. I assure you, it’s easier than you think!

The idea is to set up an automated email series. You’ll create this once (during a retreat weekend like this, for example) and then you’re done. This phase of their journey is to get these new subscribers to like you, trust you, and ultimately welcome you into their inbox.

Upon completing the series, they can go into your newsletter where you send them emails on topics you know your dream clients are interested in, recent sessions, promotions, and what you’ve been up to. You will want to read the next post (linked to at the bottom) for a complete list of newsletter content ideas.

And yes! Blog posts count too – you can literally copy/paste blog posts into your newsletter.

 

I don’t want to bug them, how often should I email them?

For email to be effective, consistently email them so YOU stay familiar to them. Most online marketers and what I do at Fearless and Framed is push an email to subscribers weekly. If that seems like a stretch for you, try twice per month.

Yes, they may unsubscribe. In fact, expect a handful of people to unsubscribe each time you send an email. That’s ok! You want your list to be hyper-active with engaged subscribers so that you’re not paying for people that truly aren’t interested (and so your inquiries are more likely to be folks you’ll DREAM of working with!).

 

I’ve tried email before and it doesn’t really work, so, what’s the point?

Email can be one of your business’s biggest assets – it’s your network, your lifeline to potential clients. My response to you, if you fall under this question, would be to try it again. The best way for an email list to be active and successful is to make sure you are HELPING more than you are selling. Also, pop into their inbox frequent enough for them not to forget about you.

For example, if you welcome them to your list, but then a month passes before you send them a recent post and another month before you email again, this time with a promo, they are going to be like, “who is this?”

The key to your email list turning from strangers to engaged subscribers is to:

  • Let them get to know you
  • Put helping them (give them ideas, answer their questions via a blog post, etc.) before selling

Ok, this was kind of intense and we will go so much deeper in the next blog post (link at the end of this post).

 

Here’s your homework:

  • Set up your email service provider if you have not. I recommend ConvertKit* (and my next post will be how to use this, if you haven’t set up a provider yet please wait for this post!! You’ll thank me later.).
  • Think about what kind of lead magnet you can create for your dream clients (and create it!).
  • Set up your lead magnet with your email provider to automatically deliver to new subscribers.
  • Post about your lead magnet everywhere and make sure it stands out in multiple places on your website.
  • Write your automated email series (more on this in the next post, link below)
  • Map out your next 5 weeks of blog/email content.
  • Read Part 2 of this series: Click here to jump to Part 2 of: A Photographer’s Survival Guide to Email Marketing

*Affiliate link. I’m a partner with ConvertKit and use them in my own businesses (and freaking LOVE them for reasons I’ll describe in part 2 of this series!).

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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