There are a lot of photographers out there.

How do you make your business stand out in a market that is likely saturated with businesses offering similar products at various price points? How do you build a loyal customer base that will return to you year after year and tell their friends and family about you?

While having a website that showcases beautiful images, professional looking branding and strong SEO are certainly important, they’re not enough. You have to build relationships with people and one of the best ways to do this is through email marketing. Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and even quarterly contact can help ensure that when someone is ready to book a photographer, you are the person that they call.


Why Email?

* It’s cost effective. Sending email is free. Unlike Facebook, you own your contacts and you can reach every single one of them every time you have something to share. Building a list takes time, but most things of value do. Joy Vertz has told us that she has to hire an additional assistant to answer phones in her studio the day that she sends out her newsletter because the phone does not stop ringing. Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?

* It keeps you on their mind. When potential clients first visit your site, they may love your work, but if they’re not ready to book, they may never come back to it. Giving them the option to sign up for a newsletter allows you to nurture a relationship with them so that when they or someone they know needs a photographer, you are the first person they think of.



Getting Started

* Mailchimp is an easy to use email platform that is free (for up to 12,000 emails and 2,000 subscribers).  There are other similar services, but Mailchimp is one of the most popular, and has great documentation to make it easy to get started.

*Install an email collection form on your home page using the instructions here. Keep the form simple. The more information you ask for, the less likely people will be to fill it out.

* Give people a reason to subscribe! Offering them the chance to win a makeover with a partner business is a great incentive. Be creative though! Think about your target client and what they might want. We know of family photographers who offer a “Tips for Taking better iPhone Pictures” guide and wedding photographers who offer “Tips for Planning a Wedding”when clients sign up for the newsletter.

* Think about other creative ways to build your email list. For instance, some sites will allow you to collect email addresses from potential referrals as your clients share your photos. As an example, StickyAlbums lets you create custom mobile photo apps for your clients. It also includes a promotion that allows you to create an offer, such as a free mini-session coupon, style guide, or a special offer from a vendor that you’ve partnered with, which is displayed in the app and provided in exchange for an email address. When someone subscribes to your promotion, your promotional item will automatically be sent to them!


What to Write About

* Write about what your target clients care about. A good newsletter establishes you as an expert in your field and showcases your work, but it also needs to be about something other than you. If you want people to open your email, you have to create content that is interesting and helpful.

* For example, Heather Donlan, a destination photographer in Naples, FL photographs a lot of people who are on vacation. Her newsletter includes information about attractions and the best new restaurants in town.

* Your newsletter doesn’t have to be lengthy. Start simple.


Maximizing your Impact

* To maximize your impact, think carefully about what the subject of your email is. Your email subject is the difference between your email getting opened or not getting opened. Think about what types of emails you open in your inbox, and try to use that to get inspired for your own email subjects.

* Write your emails in your own unique voice. Once the email is opened, your unique voice that resonates with your audience is what is going to get the email read.

* A great way to spread your brand is to have your emails forwarded to other people. Think about what types of content is more likely to get shared by your audience. Helpful tips and cute pictures are some examples of content that is likely to get shared.

* First give, then ask. If you want to ask for business, or a referrals, you’re more likely to get results if you first give. Give tips. Give great content. Give advice. And then, once your audience trusts your email content, you can ask for something. Always ensure you’re giving more than you’re asking, though, when it comes to email; otherwise, your audience may unsubscribe from your email list

* Monitor your email open rate. Mailchimp and other services allow you to track a lot of data related to the emails you send. Take particular note of emails that perform either very well, or very poorly, and try to figure out why. That is the best way to learn and improve your content over time.

Like many new tools, email marketing takes a little bit of time to figure out. The more you do it, the easier it will get. The easier it gets, the more you can do it.


As mentioned above, you can use StickyAlbums to help build your email list more quickly and book more clients. StickyAlbums has offered a discount code exclusive to SLR Lounge readers. For a limited time, you can save $40 off a StickyAlbums membership by clicking here.