It’s safe to say that you probably already know how much I love the design templates and capabilities that come in my favorite email marketing platform, Flodesk. I switched from Convertkit to Flodesk last year and never looked back. The platform makes everything so easy for me to send out gorgeous emails to my list. However, the question I always get is, “Natalie, how can photographers take advantage of email marketing? Do I need an email list?”
The answer is a passionate YES — you should have an email list. Business owners should look at email marketing as a micro-blogging sales channel that enables you to directly reach your target audience without having to dance around a social media algorithm.
Every hour you spend on Instagram is an hour spent growing Mark Zuckerberg’s empire. Every hour you spend cultivating an email list is an hour spent growing yours—something you own. I’ll jump off the soap box on that one for now… however, it is important that photographers understand the capabilities of leveraging email marketing beyond their previous ideas of how it is traditionally used.
The second question I normally get from photographers is, “Okay! Then what do I send in my email newsletters?”
I get that this is a heavy question! You have so much on your plate that sometimes the idea of coming up with more content to write about can be exhausting. So I am using today’s blog post to give you an ideation jumpstart. I’ve created a list of 23 email ideas for photographers to send to their audience. So if you feel stuck, just refer back to this list, batch your content, schedule the emails in Flodesk and you’ll be good to go.
3 types of emails photographers should consider sending:
1. Promotions / Sales:
Promotional emails are your revenue generating emails. If you’re needing to increase your income for the month don’t forget to talk to your email list. They’ve subscribed to your list for a reason, so let them know when you have an awesome promotion happening! A promotion doesn’t have to just be a sale on something you offer. It could be sharing the news about something new you’ve added to your shop, or even highly relevant affiliate marketing. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Product / Service Promotions
- Announcing new offerings
- Print sales
- Gallery wraps
- Album sales
- Highly relevant affiliate marketing
- Photography courses
- Mobile Presets
*Tip: During the slower seasons, consider using email marketing to run physical product promotions (prints, albums, gallery wraps) to increase cash flow in otherwise slower revenue generating seasons. I share about some of these ideas in my blog post on Passive and Diversified Revenue Ideas for Photographers. Additionally, these slow seasons serve as a fantastic time to do album designs and handle revenue generating aspects of the business that you cannot take on while you are in shooting mode. Email helps you to re-engage with previous clients seamlessly and makes running sales a breeze.
2. Client Education
These types of emails are some of my favorite ones to write because I am getting to pour into my audience. Education will create a bond with your audience that you might not currently have, and it will also make you stand out as a go-to expert. Share things with your clients that you wish they knew before coming to a shoot.
This can be original content or content repurposed from educational blog posts. It is so important to equip your clients with all of the information that they need in order to have a great experience. By translating this content into bite-sized, super informative email newsletters—you can ensure that your clients feel supported before, during, and after their time working with you.
The goal of educational emails is to solve pain points and provide resources to give your clients an extraordinary experience.
- Write down all the things that might be stressing your client out before a shoot. How can you share resources to remove that stress? Here’s an example:
- “What if it rains?”
- Share your plan B and showcase how you create stunning imagery even in bad weather.
- Here’s a blog post I wrote to help you out with rainy weather shoots.
- “What should I wear?”
- Share your tips for picking out the perfect outfit for their shoot. Share examples and links that make them feel confident in their decision.
- “What if it rains?”
- Teach them how they can ensure their photos are backed up for a lifetime. Share how clients should be backing up their image files and review with them your image storage timeline and policies.
- Share insight with them on what to do to prepare for the best shoot. What should they bring with them? Checklists are an easy way to accomplish this!
- If there are things that frustrate you with your clients (especially instances that have happened more than once), address those pain points in advance so that they don’t happen in the future. (Running late to a shoot and missing the light is a big one! This is where education can help to fix problems before they happen!)
- Walk through the client experience and think about all the questions you get asked from clients, break those down into one or a series of emails.
- If you’ve already created a client guide, turn those into bite-sized emails
- Share some of the most successful photoshoots and explain why they worked so well – throw a little client testimonial from that shoot in there as well!
*Tip: Consider building a workflow in Flodesk for all new clients that walks them through a series of educational nurturing emails that covers these questions over the course of a few days / weeks leading up to the shoot or event. These emails can trigger automatically and spread themselves out over time.
3. Surprise & Delight (Nurturing)
Now here is where we get to have a lot of fun with email marketing. Creating emails that spark joy for your clients! When going through this list I want you to think of your audience as a group of friends that you’re desiring to nurture. Brand affinity is built through consistent nurturing. Advocacy is earned by providing value more often than asking for something in return.
Remember, surprise and delight components of email marketing may not give you an immediate boost in income (and some may even require a small investment), but by nurturing your audience you will remain top of mind when they need to book or refer a friend. It boosts the ‘like, know, and trust’ factor. It creates a deeper connection and therefore transforms the way they feel about your brand.
- Celebrate them
- Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays (even ‘fun’ light-hearted holidays) give you an opportunity to love on your clients. Leverage email communication as a vehicle to maintain the relationship with your clients longterm, by popping into their inbox to celebrate them at different stages of their lives and different parts of the year.
- Run a Contest
- Have your audience share one of the photos you’ve taken by posting it on social media and tagging you. By doing it, they’re entered to win something fun!
- Run a Date Night Raffle
- You could get some of your local vendor friends in on this one! Talk to your florist friend about delivering a bouquet of flowers to the winner, and reach out to a local restaurant to see if they’d donate a meal and join in on the fun!
- *bonus!* Want to see even more people participate, and get more vendors involved? Have the proceeds of the raffle go towards a local charity!
- This is another way you could partner with other local vendors, by partnering to give away a 30 minute session, flowers, etc.
- You could also give away a product like prints or presets.
- Think of some fun items that they’re going to love! Maybe a bottle of wine (you can use wine.com and it will ship directly to them, and usually within a week!), or even a Starbucks gift card.
- Partnerships with other brands
- The opportunities here are endless. Partner with local restaurants for date nights, spas for self care days, or local boutiques to help your clients look their best on the day of their shoot. Pull together a collection of items for a favorite things gift basket giveaway. Remember that working with brands isn’t just a strategy for bloggers! Send brands an email or a DM on Instagram to get the conversation started.
- Start a book club
- Remember, you’re pouring into your audience just as you would a group of friends, this is a great way to build relationships! Kick off a book club or do a monthly review of a book in your newsletter—just ensure that the books you choose are relevant to your core audience. For couples getting married, choose books that relate to wedding planning or highlight publications providing value in that season of their lives. For family sessions, highlight books for children that parents might be interested in or that showcase your values as a brand.
- Gather them together
- Host a yearly barbecue for all of your clients or plan an annual picnic! BYO so it’s less stress on you, all you have to do is pick a location and send out the invitation. Also consider virtual happy hours—leverage online connection as a vehicle to gather everyone together and spark newfound friendships.
One email could have all 3 components or you can break them up individually. The choice is up to you. I always recommend experimenting with different ideas to see what creates engagement and excites your audience the most. At the end of every email remember to create a CTA (Call to Action). Whether it’s participating in something like a giveaway, clicking for a free download or resource, or responding to a question you asked—you can grow your business and your audience’s affinity for your brand through consistent communication.