A Photographer’s Guide to Email Marketing

Photographer's guide to email marketing featured image with a camera lens.

Like most businesses, many photographers don’t have an email marketing plan. If you’re one of these then your marketing plan is probably:

I bet this sounds like you.

It’s time to get serious. In this photographer’s guide to email marketing, I’m going to show you how to take more control of your email marketing.

Now, think about all the time you spend editing photos and posting them on social media. The blogs you’ve written and the time it takes to create and publish each.

Think about all the time you spend chasing people on social media. Now, think about what you do when someone does contact you? You talk about dates, locations, and pricing. Spend time just getting to the next step. And that’s about it for most. You have all those email addresses and you’re not taking any advantage of that.

You say you’re busy and working hard but you’re not working much smarter.

Related article: Email Marketing: A Fresh Take From the Experts. (Content Marketing Institute)

Getting prospects from social media to website

What exactly is your strategy for social media? You’re probably hoping they’ll go to your website and contact you, right?

Without a strategy, here’s what happens most of the time:

  1. Someone sees you on social media and they’re interested.
  2. They go to your website.
  3. Maybe they like what they see.
  4. Then, wait for it, they move on and forget about you.

Prove I’m wrong.

Most of the people who visit your website ARE NOT wanting to book you. They’re simply curious about what it is you have to offer.

What you should be doing is building a relationship with them as quickly as possible. This is where you need to be growing your email list.

Once you have an email address from a website visitor, you can easily get yourself back in front of them. This needs to be the outcome after spending all the time spent sharing photos, being active on social media, and writing blog posts.

You need to be working smarter, not harder.

Common email marketing questions

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

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!

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

If someone ‘Likes’ me on Facebook, why bother getting them on my email list?

They’re called vanity metrics. People see the number of Likes as a measure of success. The statistics show that for any single post, only 1 in 6 of your followers will see that post. This means that MOST of your followers aren’t seeing your posts. Once you have them on your email list, you’ll be able to make sure you have a better chance of them seeing your message.

The other advantage of having an email list is that you can upload it to your Facebook Ads account. Once you’ve done that, you can create a Lookalike audience of people who have never heard of you but hold similarities to the people on your email list. Now that’s pretty good.

Isn’t paying to boost a post a better option?

First, if you are thinking about Facebook Ads, DON’T boost a post. Not ever.

Instead, turn a recent post into an Ad so that you can use Facebook’s algorithms to get a better result.

But again, what is your strategy? What is it you want to achieve from you Facebook Ad? Unless you have a strategy, you’re wasting money. I’ll say it again, Social media -> Website -> Email list -> Building relationships.

How do I get email addresses from website visitors?

Most people do one of these three things to get an email address:

  1. A contact me form
  2. A subscribe to my newsletter form
  3. A download my gift form

I will guarantee you that most businesses who do the third option get more emails addresses that anyone who’s doing the first or second.

Email addresses are valuable, so you’d better make it worthwhile for someone to give you there’s.

You will have seen them. Land on a website and there will be somewhere that you’re being asked if you want a guide, a worksheet, a cheat sheet or something else in exchange for an email address. That is called a lead magnet or opt-in incentive.

A simple way to start is for you to start thinking about what it is that your website visitors will see as value. Generally, we create something of high perceived value. That is, a low actual cost of you.

What kind of emails should I send to my list?

It’s here most people stop. It’s too hard. No one will want what I have to offer. What if no one opens my emails? It’s too hard. Yes, I added that one twice.

The goal is to setup a workflow that does the work for you. A nurture is the early part where you’re building trust, showing value, getting them to know you and ultimately looking forward to your emails. Create this once and then you’re done.

Once they’ve received your nurture emails, you send them regular news and updates. It’s in these emails that you talk about topics they are interested in, recent sessions you’ve shot, and special offers.

Don’t forget those blog posts. You can copy/paste blog posts into your newsletter or create a digest of recent posts that link back to your website.

How often should I send emails to my list?

For emailing to be effective you must be consistent. This is so your recipients remember you. Once a week is ideal. Twice a month if once a week is too much.

Yes, some will unsubscribe. In fact, over one year, you will lose 25% of the subscribers you started with. That’s fine. What you will have is a list of people who are truly interested in what it is you offer. Your dream clients.

I’ve sent emails before and it doesn’t work so why bother?

Most marketers will tell you that having an email list is one of your biggest marketing assets.

The reason most people fail is that they’re selling more than they’re helping. They are also not sending email frequently enough, so people forget about them. In short, they are not seen as providing value.

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

Email service providers

A broad definition of an email service provider (ESP) is a company that offers email services. They work to increase the likelihood that your emails will land in an inbox instead of a spam folder. They help you create emails and provide reporting features. They’re all a little different and with over 450 email service providers, listing all of their capabilities is not practical.

Services provided range from being a platform to send mass generic newsletters to subscribers being treated as individuals. Doing the latter will give better results for your business.

Effective ways a photography business can personalise emails

The first thing you must do is list all of the ways you communicate to your prospective and current clients. This will include things like:

Personalisation tip #1

Segment your list. Use groups or tags to identify what it is that your subscriber is interested in.

Using this technique, you only send emails that are relevant to that person. For example, a prospective wedding client may not be interested in newborn photos just yet.

Personalisation tip #2

Start by using their name. Not just in the body of the email but in the subject line.

Recommend additional information based in their interests. Point them to relevant blog posts either on your site or on other sites. Remember, it’s about providing value more than it is about selling.

Personalisation tip #3

When someone subscribes to your list, you automatically send them your link magnet.

The next step is to build a relationship. To start with, you can also learn more about them.

Here’s how it works.

The first email goes out and they get your lead magnet.

Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. In the 2nd email, you would want to know where they are in their wedding planning. Here’s an example.

Hi [insert_firstname].

Thank for getting my [insert lead magnet here]. So that I can send you more, relevant information, I’d like to know a little more about you. Just click one link below that describes where you are on your wedding planning journey. Once you select the link, you will get access to the [insert lead magnet type].

  • We’re not planning our wedding yet
  • We are currently planning our wedding
  • We’ve already planned our wedding
  • I’m not getting married, but I am interested in something else


Now, behind the scenes, whichever link they click, a specific tag is added to the record for that client. For example, if they clicked “We are currently planning our wedding”, you might add the tag wedding planning. Adding this tag means your automatic sequence will send emails with wedding planning related content to those clients who are currently planning their wedding.

If you’re a family photography, you could ask about children’s ages, or photography styles.


Wrap up

Many photographers rely too much on social media to get direct bookings. Top marketers understand that the best way to get people get clients is to build trust, create relationships and give value. It’s extremely difficult to do that using social media alone. I hope this photographers guide to email marketing has given you the motivation to make the most of your email list.

I’d like to know your experiences in email marketing for your photography business.

Head over to the Atomic Education Facebook page and join the conversation.

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