You’re serious about putting email marketing to work for your photography business. So, after creating a great free resource for potential clients, you embed it everywhere. It’s on your homepage, your online galleries, your landing pages, and each one of your StickyAlbums.
Now, when people give you their email address in exchange for the resource, you just have to send them their PDF guide and they’ll book you, right?
If only it were that simple! Even though you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting, the truth is, the way you email information to potential clients can make or break your photography business.
The free resource you email someone may be incredibly valuable. It may even position you as the expert in your area. But unless you use it to build a relationship, you won’t get as many bookings as you could.
In the digital marketing world, this is called email nurture. Essentially, it’s the process of building a relationship of trust with a potential client that takes them from total stranger to booked client.
In this article, we’ll look at how you to use email nurturing in your photography business…
But first, you need to understand the two things all email nurture campaigns have in common.
In a nurture campaign, all emails are:
- Automated; and
- Spaced out over time.
Automation is a MUST
You know the idea of multitasking? Of doing more than one task at the same time? That doesn’t really exist.
We actually do what’s called switch-tasking.
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We toggle back and forth between two (or more) different things, making a mental shift each time we do the other task. Consequently, we do neither task well.
Don’t believe me?
Think about your day today. Did you get distracted at any point? Maybe you got a text while you were fixing breakfast and forgot if you’d already started the coffee. Or maybe, you picked up your phone to check the weather and saw an interesting notification. Five minutes later, you still didn’t know if you’d need your raincoat today.
We get distracted all the time — and we don’t see the harm in it. We think we can just somehow multitask better as more things appear on our radar. We think we should somehow be able to juggle it all without dropping a ball.
But we’re limited.
When we try to do too much, something… or someone… suffers.
When we multitask, we make mistakes we wouldn’t normally make, it takes us longer to finish tasks, and we don’t fully engage with the people around us. We’ve all been there — we try to have a conversation with someone, but they keep looking down at their phone. They’re not fully engaged because they’re trying to multitask.
This happens in our businesses all the time.
A client messages you while you’re editing photos. When you finally finish editing and responding, you realize it took much longer than you realized.
You’re creating a marketing promo when you see a new inquiry pop up. You respond right away, but then it takes a few extra minutes to get refocused on marketing again.
You’re eating dinner with your family when a potential client messages you. “Hold that thought, kids. I’ve got to send a quick message…” A few minutes later, you rejoin the conversation, but you missed the best part of the story your kid was telling.
You’re keyed into shooting for a client and a notification dings for another inquiry. You want to stay in the moment and continue with the session, but what if you forget to respond? So, you rush the shot to send a quick reply with your pricing info and two things happen: the client notices that you’re distracted, and you don’t get that perfect shot you were so close to capturing.
Whenever we split our attention like this, we can’t do our best work, which also leaves us more stressed.
We know we need to respond to new clients immediately or we risk losing their business. The trick is finding a way to respond that doesn’t force you to multitask, but also immediately meets their needs.
What would your sessions and free time look like if you didn’t have to respond to inquiries right away? What would happen if someone else — or something else — responded for you?
That’s where automation comes in.
Space It Out
If we really want people to read our free resource, we have to send it to them in bite-sized pieces, spaced out over time.
We can’t just send a giant PDF in a single email. That’s the old-school model, and it doesn’t work for two reasons:
First, the problem of multitasking doesn’t just affect you — it affects your potential photography clients, too.
People are most likely looking at your free resource in their spare time. They’re not sitting down for an hour to read through a complete A to Z guide. They’re probably checking out your website while they’re on a break at work, scrolling through their Instagram feed, checking out the latest pins on Pinterest, or placing an Amazon order.
Can they digest all you have to offer? They can, but they probably won’t. Not all at once.
Many of us have seen it and done it. We’ve downloaded a cool guide or an eBook — but it just dumps everything at once. We’re overwhelmed so we read a little bit but then we forget about it and we’re off to the next thing.
The second reason we need to space it out has to do with permission marketing.
When someone gives you their email address in exchange for a single eBook, you’ve only earned the permission to send ONE email. You haven’t earned their permission to send a long string of promotional emails after you’ve sent them the resource they requested.
We’ve all fallen victim to this. We type in our email address to receive one thing… and only want that one thing! Perhaps we reluctantly gave in, thinking, “Fine, take my email address — whatever. Now, give me the eBook I want and leave me alone!”
As photographers trying to market our business, we need to earn their permission to send our free resource over multiple emails, and we need to do it in a way that holds their attention.
One way to accomplish this is by offering your free resource as an email course.
The Email Course
When someone offers you a PDF that requires you to give your email address, in the back of your mind, you know they could just make it available for download to everyone if they wanted to.
But an email course is different. To receive an email course, you must enter your email address because that’s how it works. If we offer an email course instead of a PDF guide, our potential clients will know they’re signing up to receive multiple emails and give us permission to do so.
Instead of reluctantly signing over a junk email, they give you their real email address and think, “Sure! I want that course! Here’s my legit email so you can reach me!”
Also, remember that most people are too busy or impatient to consume a ton of information all at once. By sending an email course, the information is naturally broken up into bite-sized pieces and spaced out over time, making it easier to understand and retain.
Putting It All Together: The Automated Nurture Sequence
If you’re breaking your wisdom down into smaller pieces, you’ll be sending a lot of emails.
Without automation, your days would be dominated by sending these individual emails to potential clients — remembering where they are in the email course, responding to new inquiries immediately, and keeping track of it all for the next round.
No one can do that manually and run a successful business. Inevitably, people will fall through the cracks, you’ll be delayed in a response, and you’ll be so stressed that other parts of your job will seem more difficult too.
But with automation, you can set it up and forget about it.
To get started, you’ll need an automated email system that works at the beginning of the nurturing process. When someone wants to learn more about you or requests your resource, that’s when you initiate the sequence.
You begin building trust with this new potential client while you’re literally doing something else. While you’re spending time with your family or working with current clients, an automated nurture sequence begins the relationship with your future clients.
Last year, some friends of mine, Aaron and Elizabeth, put together a Black Friday promotion for their Boudoir photography. They had nine bookings that weekend… while they were just hanging out with their kids after Thanksgiving.
Here’s how it works for Makayla and Dave Harris:
Here’s a quick recap:
- Offering a free, valuable resource is a great way to attract new clients.
- It’s also an opportunity to build a relationship of trust and establish yourself as THE expert in your area of photography.
- By delivering that resource to them over bite-sized emails spread out over time, they’re more likely to open it, read it, implement the advice, and credit you with the solution (making you the photographer they’ll hire).
- You didn’t get into the photography business because you love emailing people. You didn’t get into photography so you could spend your free time responding to people who may or may not book a session.
- The answer to nurturing people over time without drowning in emails is automation.
You don’t have to get better at multitasking. You don’t have to hire an assistant. You just have to set things up your automated nurture sequence and put it to work for you, strengthening your business and freeing you up to spend more time doing what you love.