January is the time of year that many family photographers set goals for their businesses. Some of these goals are photography skill related and some are more back-of-house business focused. One of the most common goals I hear newer photographers set is to develop or build their mailing list.
A mailing list can be a source of a lot of intimidation. What do I write about/share with my audience? How do I build a list of contacts and collect their email addresses? When and how often should I send communication out? Let’s delve into 5 basic tips for starting a list.
If you’ve never started a mailing list before, you might have visions of an excel document full of email addresses and a lot of copying and pasting. Don’t fret, there are lots of programs out there that do the work for you. MailerLite is my personal favorite of the free options. It offers drag and drop customizable templates that make it easy to create a fairly eye-catching newsletter. It also can connect with your Google Analytics account so that you can track your open rate, click rate, and analyze the best times to send your emails. There are sites out there that offer a lot more bells and whistles and more gorgeous templates like Flodesk that have a monthly cost. Don’t be afraid to start with a basic one if you’re not willing to shell out money monthly quite yet.
This is the easiest way you can start to build your list beyond your current clients. There are likely lots of people who peruse your website or your social media channels who have not yet booked with you and may not be ready quite yet. If you have an easy way for them to sign up for communication from you, it keeps your business at the forefront of their minds. A well-timed holiday sale or a mini-session announcement might be just what they need to push them from a follower to a paying client.
People won’t know that you have a list if you don’t put it out there. One of the easiest way to generate interest in joining your mailing list is to state that your mailing list gets priority for booking certain things. Put it out there on social media that you’ll announce seasonal openings and offerings to your mailing list first. People like to be ‘in the know’ and having the priority to book before the general public.
If you ever have to turn clients away because you’re booked, suggest they join your mailing list for first dibs next year! In the Autumn when I don’t have room for more clients, I include a link in my email to give them an easy option for the following year.
We’ve all been a part of those mailing lists that send very frequent emails. Weekly and sometimes even daily content! Don’t overwhelm yourself with a goal like this. Start small with committing to a monthly or quarterly email. Here are some things you can include:
The time that you send your emails makes a huge difference for having an engaged audience. I like to think about who my email is targeting before I send it out. If I am targeting a family with young kids, I don’t send it at 8 or 9am. Why? Because I AM this young mom and I can’t read emails at this time. I am throwing breakfast at three kids, wrestling people into clothes, and wrapped up in getting through the morning. For me to have time to read something, it needs to be around 7:00AM or after 8:00PM. Weekend mornings are great too! If I am targeting couples without children, I might send an email mid-work day during the week. Many adults like to take a quick scroll of personal email during the work day for a brain break.
Use the google analytics feature to test out different timeframes and solidify what times work best for YOUR audience!
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