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Samara Bortz Creative Blog

Build your email list: photographer edition

Marketing

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Hello photographer friends. This post is dedicated to you!

More specifically, it’s going to give you twenty different ideas for opt-in-gifts or lead magnets to help you start to build your email list.

WHY FOCUS ON EMAIL?

The online marketing world is a very busy one. For creative entrepreneurs, especially those working without a team, it can feel like a lot to keep up with. I definitely feel some of this overwhelm and pressure to be actively doing (and doing well!) all of the different marketing things:

  • Pinning consistent content to Pinterest

  • Posting daily on Instagram

  • Showing up on Instagram stories

  • Making Instagram reels

  • Building connections and community by participating in Facebook groups

  • Writing emails to my list

  • Creating educational blog posts

…. Not to mention actually DOING my design work!


I’m certainly not an advocate for over-doing or over-extending yourself. I believe it’s much better to pick one or two marketing strategies and commit to doing them really well, rather than half-assing and half-doing all the different strategies.

In my opinion, if you’re going to pick a few strategies to focus on – make one of them your email list. Building and communicating with an email list is a seriously overlooked marketing strategy for photographers (and many creatives!). While Instagram is obviously an ideal world for photographers because typically they have an endless supply of beautiful visual content to share, it doesn’t always have the same stand-out impact as writing and sending emails.


HERE’S WHY:

Instagram is BUSY. A photographer on Instagram is one tiny little fish in an entire ocean filled with wonderful sea creatures. There are more than 800 MILLION posts with the hashtag #photooftheday. 

It can feel really hard to stand apart from the crowd and make yourself seen when you’re working in such a competitive online industry. 

This, my friend, is why email is GREAT. It’s a platform where you can reach your audience without having to fight to be seen amongst all the other photographers’ content. You can build connections with your ideal clients by writing directly to them in your own unique voice. Your content goes straight to their inbox and isn’t at the mercy of the algorithm!

Now of course, as with any marketing strategy, it’s not quite this simple. There are so many topics to cover and questions to answer, which I plan to do in a series of upcoming blog posts focusing on email marketing.

You may be scratching your head and wondering:

  1. How do I send these emails? What platform do I use? There’s another post coming on this, but I’m a huge fan of Flodesk(this link saves you 50% on a subscription and gives me a little gift in return).
  2. How do I get people to sign up for my list? (This is the one we’re covering today!!)
  3. How do I integrate my email sign up into my website so that it looks seamless?
  4. How do I actually DELIVER my opt-in gift? What are the mechanics of this?
  5. What do I do once I have their emails? What do I write about?
  6. Can I make the process more automated? (Oh just you wait!)


There’s a lot to cover. We’re going to start almost at the very beginning (a very good place to start) by focusing on how you can get people to sign up for your list.

Specifically, I’m going to share some ideas for strategies that photographers can use to build a list.


START BY GIVING.

You want to re-frame your mindset around gathering people’s email addresses. Think of it as what you can GIVE that’s of value to your ideal client. Rather than simply putting a sign-up form into your site with a message of “subscribe for updates,” you want to be offering some sort of free and value-packed gift.

The truth is – most people don’t want to sign up for more emails. If you’re anything like me, your inbox is already overflowing with daily messages from every store you’ve ever shopped at. Ever. Chances are, most people won’t be interested in just “signing up for updates” without a little motivation.

The good news is – you can provide that motivation in the form of an opt-in gift. Aka, some sort of gift in exchange for their email address. This is also sometimes referred to as a ‘lead magnet’ or a ‘freebie.’


For example, on my own website, I offer access to a mini course – a free resource for creating an effective core message – which requires an email address to access. It’s a simple, but valuable gift for someone who needs refine their messaging, but doesn’t know where to begin!

So photographers, getting back to you, I’ve compiled a list of different opt-in ideas that you can structure as a free gift to your future mailing list subscribers, in exchange for their email addresses!


OPT-IN GIFTS IN PDF FORMAT:

  • A list of different shots (the photo kind, not the drink-able kind) for weddings

  • A list of different shots for engagements

  • A list of different outfit ideas for an engagement shoot or family shoot

  • A list of colours of clothing that look best in photos

  • A list of at-home camera equipment for DIY brand photos or family photos

  • A list of your favourite iPhone photo editing apps

  • A list of your favourite desktop photo editing software

  • A list of your favourite engagement photo locations for your hometown

  • A list of your favourite family photo locations for your hometown

  • A list of your favourite printing resources for people who want to make photobooks or frame their photos

  • Do’s and dont’s for brides and grooms for engagement/ wedding photos


OPT-IN GIFTS IN VIDEO FORMAT:

  • A short training session on how to edit photos shot indoors

  • A short training session on how to edit photos that are way too bright or too dark

  • A short training session showing how you edit your photos for Instagram

  • A video explaining how to best prepare for your upcoming photoshoot – what to wear, what to bring, what not to bring, etc!

  • An instructional video showing how to properly frame photos for your home

OPT-IN GIFTS IN PHOTO FORMAT

  • 10 free “stock” photos you’ve taken that people can use for their own marketing/branding

  • A printable calendar for the upcoming year that includes some of your photos


OPT-IN GIFTS IN MONEY-SAVING FORMAT

  • 15% off their first photoshoot with you

  • Free shipping on a purchase (if you sell photo prints through your site)


There’s some ideas to get you started. If none of these are jiving with you, I encourage you to think of your own. Start by putting yourself in your ideal client’s shoes. Ask yourself: what are they wanting to learn? What problems or struggles do they have with photography? Then, think about all the things you know about these topics and start answering their theoretical questions! 

Now your challenge is to go create your opt-in gift.

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