There is something going on in the photography world and I can’t keep quiet any longer.
I see photographers making this major marketing mistakes and I have to admit, I made the same mistake when I started Click it Up a Notch.
When people first start a business, whether it’s a photography business, blog, or anything else, we focus on building our social media presence.
We spend more time on Facebook trading “likes” or figuring out which hashtag will help us find the most clients on Instagram.
Although, I don’t think you should ignore social media I don’t think it is where you should put your focus.
This single mistake could be costing you thousands of dollars.
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Why building your client base on social media a mistake?
If you were to build a house, would you build a house on someone else’s property?
Of course not, that would be insane.
That is exactly what is happening when you build your community on Facebook or Instagram. At any given time Facebook could decide to change their algorithm and now your community no longer sees your post.
This happens each month. It can be frustrating and people start to freak out but if you build your community elsewhere you don’t have to worry about this.
A few months ago, I got an email that turned out to be a scam but at the time I thought its as legit. It was a company posing as Facebook saying I had broken their Terms and Conditions and my Facebook page of over 65,000 would be shut down.
I didn’t stress at all.
Yes, I would be sad to have my Facebook page shut down because I have an amazing community of photographers there but I know that community is built on someone else’s property.
Instead, I put my focus on something else.
Where should I build my client base instead?
So, if not on social media, where then?
Yup, getting emails of clients, potential clients, and your community is the best way to build your client base and community.
Jeff Walker says “…the latest tests I’ve seen have shown that email is 20 times more powerful than a Facebook like.”
That is incredible. That means someone giving you their email address and permission to email them is 20 times more powerful (think money) than a Facebook like.
Think about how many Facebook pages or Instagram accounts you “like” or “follow”. Now think about how many companies you gave you email too.
You are probably a little more guarded with your email than a click of the “like” button. That is because our email is personal. We have to trust the company and want to hear from them.
So when someone gives you their email they are more likely to convert into a client and become a loyal member of your community.
What company do you recommend?
When collecting emails and emailing your people you can’t use your gmail account or personal email. There are actually laws out there about how you collect emails and how you email people.
You need to use a third party to collect the emails. You also need to have an option to “unsubscribe” at the bottom of every single email you send. In addition to these things, you need to have your address at the bottom of the emails. You can use a business address or PO box.
I have tried several different companies over the year and found one I really like.
Yes, you can sign up for a free account with some providers but if you want to be able to serve your clients and use the automations you will need to pay no matter which provider you are using.
I highly recommend ConvertKit as a tool for email marketing for photographers.
They have amazing customer service, no issues delivering your emails, and their interface is very easy to understand.
It’s important to me that I am able to set up everything on my own.
ConvertKit has email forms you can use for the optin form which we will touch on that more later.
Plus they have great stats on who’s opening and clicking on your emails.
They easily allow you to tag your subscriber when they optin. This means, if you shoot newborns & family photography and you have two different forms, then you can tag the person so you know if they are interested in newborn photography or if they are interested in family photos. This is great when it’s time to send out promotion emails you can email only those people interested in that type of photography.
How do I get people on my email list?
Great question. I often get asked if you can add all your current clients to your email list. Unfortunately, you can not. The laws protect people from being added to an email list they did not choose to be a part of.
This means you will need to have a form for people to submit their name and email on. This is why you need a third part like, ConvertKit, to handle all the emails and optins for you.
I would create a form and send it to all your current customers and ask them to join your list. Give them a reason to join your list. We will talk more about this as well.
You will want to have forms everywhere, on your About page, bottom of every post, and on all the social media platforms.
You need to give people a reason to join your list. I call it a lead magnet but there are many names. Some people refer to them as an incentive, freebie, or carrot.
By creating a lead magnet, you are giving someone something in exchange for their email address. If you look on my site you will see several. I have a free ebook, free webinar and free cheat sheets available to people who are willing to join my email list.
Read more: How to grow your email list like a pro
What lead magnet should I create?
Any company can come up with something that their clients would like to give them a reason to join your email list.
What works for one company may not work for another. Think about JCrew or another clothing company. When visiting their site you will see a pop up offering you a percent off if you join their email list. Now, they don’t say it like that but that its the objective.
Think about your client. What are they interested in? What would they like?
Here are a few ideas:
- Resource guide
- Check list
- Discount code
- Free product
As photographers how can you apply this to your business?
Resource guide – You can create a resource guide on 10 things every bride needs to know about hiring a wedding photographer if you are a wedding photographer or what to wear guide for any clientele.
Check list – You can create a checklist of the 10 photos you need to take the first six months of having a baby if you are newborn photographer.
Discount code – You could offer a percentage off the first/next session they book.
Free product – You can offer a mini album for free when they book their session.
Don’t spend a lot of time stressing about it. It is better to quickly create something and get it out there and then fine tune it as time goes on and you know exactly who your ideal client is.
Where should I put the optin forms?
Now that you have a lead magnet and someone landing on your website is dying to give you their email in exchange for something, you need to have a way for them to do this.
Enter the optin form. You will want to have optin forms everywhere on your site.
Where to put them:
- About page
- Home page
- Pop up
- All social media platforms
Your About page is one of the most viewed pages on your website so you want to make sure you have an optin form on this page.
I know, I can hear it now, pop ups….I hate pop ups. I get it, I don’t love them either but…they work. Like crazy work! You can be very strategic about how you use them by putting them on a time delay, popping up only after they scroll so far on a page or as an exit intent (when they are about to leave your site)
There are a lot of different companies you can use for the optin forms. As I mentioned earlier, ConvertKit http://mbsy.co/convertkit/20810434 has some for free forms and optin boxes you can use.
If you would like more customizable ones like the ones I use check out:
Sumo (one of my favs)
If you are looking for a one stop shop this is it. The welcome mat alone had tens of thousands of subscribers on my site. I also love the heat map since it allows you to see what people are actually clicking on your site. If you want to use the scroll feature like I mentioned, they have a scroll box that will pop up once someone hits a certain point of your page. What I love about this tool is it is something that is used by some of the biggest sites on the internet, but is also easy to use and accessible for people like me and you.
This is another fantastic tool for creating customized optin forms and pop up boxes. I like how this one allows someone to click a link or button on your site and then a pop up box appears. I use this feature on my homepage.
What should I include in the emails I send out?
Congrats! You set up an email service and have optin forms on your site. You probably even have a few subscribers. Rock on!
This seems to be the part where most people don’t do. You have to actually email these people.
Let’s get rid of the biggest lie you may be telling yourself right now.
You are NOT bothering the people you email. Remember, they gave you their email address. They actually want to hear from you. They will be excited and open your emails when you send them.
Okay, now that is out of the way.
We need to email them. I like to email my list at least once a week. Since my site is all about teaching photography, I have a lot of tutorials and new things each week that I want to share with my email list.
If you are a photographer and not writing weekly tutorials you may not need to email your list as often.
I would start with emailing your list at least once a month. You won’t want to have them forget they gave you their email address.
The thing we want to remember is to always be providing value.
This can come in the form getting first access to the new sessions you just opened up, a discount, or maybe you do have some information you want to teach or share.
As long as you are providing value you are serving your community.
I would avoid sending an email to your list with every session you blog. Yes, we photographers look to work at your work but my guess is the people on your email list don’t want to see every single session. Maybe one a quarter.
I know two photographers who have email lists and completely book out their calendar when they send out the email letting their clients know when the dates are available. In fact, one of the photographers told me she books out a whole year in advance to her email list.
Imagine that feeling of being completely booked without the stress of Facebook ads, Facebook algorithms or Instagram hashtags.
What would you business and life look like if you could send out one email to a list of people who are dying to hire you? It would be incredible.
That is the power of an email list.
I hope you have realized that your time is better spent on building an email list versus a Facebook or Instagram page.
Please don’t make the same mistake I see so many people making.