A Photographer’s Survival Guide to Email Marketing (Part 2) | Fearless and Framed

A Photographer’s Survival Guide to Email Marketing (Part 2)

If you’ve ever wondered how to get more engagement with your email list or how to turn more of your subscribers into new photo session clients, this is the post for you. First, if you want to know why you should create an email list and how to start, read A Photographer’s Survival Guide to Email Marketing Part 1. Now, we’re going to talk all about strategy and personalizing your subscriber’s experience on your email list. Our mission is to create a journey from stranger to friendly fan to client. And, if you read this post through to the end, you’ll learn how you can earn a freebie from me! 🙂

But first, I want to foreshadow if you read this email to the very end, you may qualify for a FREEBIE from me. And speaking of freebies, there’s also this you can grab now:

Email Service Providers

For years, I was using the email service provider: Mailchimp. As far as functionality, this service served its purpose. I liked their interface and their pricing. As my email marketing knowledge grew, I wanted something far more customizable as in tailored to my subscriber’s behavior (not customizable as in making it pretty).

You want your subscribers to be treated more as if they’re walking into a boutique and being directed in-person to exactly the information or items they need – the opposite of being in a sea of many as a general newsletter to your entire list can feel. This treatment will result in higher open rates off the bat.

You can set up multiple lists inside of Mailchimp, but when you have a subscriber on multiple list, you pay MORE. For example, say you create a list for people specifically interested in your Fall Minis, a list for your past customers and a list for your general newsletter. Someone could be on each list… which means as far as Mailchimp is concerned, that’s 3 subscribers. Because I wanted to be able to segment out my subscribers into different categories just like in the example, it was time for a change.

At first, I looked to the big dogs of email marketing: InfusionSoft and Ontraport. They do a lot more than only email marketing, but the email system is all I wanted. Both were $199-$299 per month (one also had a one-time required training fee of almost $2,000). I couldn’t afford that.

And then came ConvertKit (*), which has many of the email marketing features InfusionSoft and Ontraport have for a fraction of the price. Sold! I’ve been using ConvertKit since March 2016 and am loving them.

ConvertKit (*) will allow me to send specific emails based on my subscriber’s behavior. Let’s talk deeper about what this means, why it’s so valuable, and step-by-step how to do just that:


4 Ways You Can Personalize Your Email Marketing System For Your Photography Business

First, do a brain dump of all the possible communication pieces inside of your business. This likely includes things like:

  • Automated emails to deliver your lead magnet
  • Emails to inquiries
  • Welcome emails to new clients
  • An after session email series
  • A general newsletter
  • Emails for each type of promotion you run
  • Challenges you set up for your audience
  • Going deeper, you have separate communication pieces for all of these if you have multiple subject types (maternity, family, couples, etc.)


Personalization Technique #1

Rather than setting up separate email lists for these items, ConvertKit has one big list. The way you’re able to sort out your subscribers is by using tags and/or creating segments.

This way, you pay for a subscriber only once. If you have someone that’s a wedding prospect, you can exclude them from receiving your next email blast geared towards your maternity prospects about Local Birthing Centers. Pretty cool, right?


Personalization Technique #2

Say you run a Summer Documentary Photo Session promotion or whatever kind of promo you run in your photography business. When you run a series of promotion emails, you’ll have people that are completely uninterested in your promotion, but still interested in you as a photographer. Meaning, they like other topics you write about and may want a session eventually, but not right now. Instead of bombarding them with emails they are uninterested in, leading them to unsubscribe from your email list entirely, you can set up a Link Trigger inside of ConvertKit.

A Link Trigger can do several things, but for this purpose, you can use it to avoid people that love your content to unsubscribe completely from your list. You can give them the option to only unsubscribe from the topic at hand. To do this, set up a line at the end of your email that says something like this before your actual Unsubscribe button, “To stay on my list, but stop receiving emails about the Summer Documentary Promo, click unsubscribe here.” See how you can personalize the experience for them?


Personalization Technique #3

When people opt-in to be on your email list, you can send an email using a Link Trigger in a different way – to set the foundation for their experience. This is one of my favorite features! Say they sign up to check out your Client Guide and ConvertKit automatically sends it out to them.

Now, you want to build on the relationship and learn more about your subscriber, right?

The next email sent could include a few strategic links. For example, say you market to couples. You may want to know if they are married or not yet, actively planning a wedding, or if they are beyond the wedding season in life. You could set up Link Triggers like this:

“Thanks for checking out my client guide! I’d love to learn more about you and send you some more juicy content. Just click one of the links below – they won’t do anything yet, but the next emails you receive from me will make sense for your needs.

  • We’re not planning our wedding
  • We’re actively planning our wedding
  • We’re beyond the wedding planning season
  • I’m not a couple, but am interested in something else”

What happens is when someone clicks whatever link is for them, ConvertKit can tag your subscriber. So if they are actively planning their wedding, CK can tag them “Planning a Wedding” or whatever you want to call it.

Translate this into whoever your main dream clients are, of course. If you’re a family photographer, you can learn about the age-range of their kids, if they’re interested in session ideas, if they’re interested in how to display their photos, if they’re interested in DIY photography teachings, anything!

The fun doesn’t stop there!

Next, you can create an automated email sequence. So when someone is tagged “Planning a Wedding” from the Link Trigger, then they could automatically begin an email sequence you’ve written and customized specifically for your subscribers planning a wedding.

See how awesome that is?!


Personalization Tip #4

When a new subscriber lands on your list, before sending them into your generic newsletters, you want to build up the relationship from the second they hit ‘Confirm.’ To do so, you should have a series of 5-9 emails set up in a Sequence (that’s what ConvertKit calls them). You can even be so crafty and strategic to get bookings out of this email series, but that’s another topic for another day.

While subscribers go through your Welcome sequence, you DON’T want them to get your newsletters, because that could mean they are getting multiple emails in one day from you.

So when someone enters your email list, you can set CK up so they go through a Welcome email sequence. Then, create an Automation Rule (this is where you set a trigger and then an action is applied). In this case, you’ll set the trigger to be something like “Subscriber Completes Welcome Series” and the action to be “Add Tag: Newsletter”

Then, when you create a Broadcast (ConvertKit’s fancy term for sending an email campaign/newsletter to your selected subscribers), rather than emailing your entire list you can email only those who have the Newsletter tag. This way, you won’t interrupt anyone going through an email sequence.

I mean, it’s BRILLIANT!

Good stuff, right? Pin this so you can reference back as you start taking action on you email marketing: 

email service providers for photographers


Step-By-Step How to Set Up ConvertKit to Work for Your Photography Business

Step 1. Get set up.

Go here to set up your ConvertKit account (*). After you set up your account, import any current subscribers you have from your previous service. Here’s how.

I’m not going to re-invent the wheel from ConvertKit’s Getting Started page. This page covers their terminology and some more in-depth tutorials on each. My goal here is to get to the good stuff in how all of this translates to your photography business.

Step 2: Get your forms together.

You can create a quick & easy Form for new subscribers and embed this into your website. Now, when you drive traffic to your website or directly to your lead magnet, they can opt-in. Hello growing list! Yay!

Step 3: Set up a Welcome series of automated emails inside of a Sequence.

This way, you are immediately able to serve your new subscribers better than ever.

Step 4: Create that automation rules to make the process seamless:

  • Create a rule when someone subscribes to (Name of) Form, they are tagged with (Form Name) – this is so you can track where people are coming into your site from/why they are subscribing.
  • Create a rule when someone subscribes to (Name of) Form, they automatically begin your Welcome Sequence
  • Create a rule when someone completes your Welcome Sequence, they are tagged with Newsletter (or whatever you want to call it).

You can repeat steps 2 – 4 for all your communication needs inside your photography business! When someone books a new session with you, you can manually tag them and have them begin a net client welcome series, for example.


Maintain Your New Network with Consistent Newsletter Content

Now that you see how email marketing can play a big role in personalizing your subscriber and even client/past client experience, let’s talk about nurturing your list. Nurturing essentially means keeping in consistent communication on topics that your subscribers are actually interested in, building rapport and trust along the way.

To really go deep here and know what kind of newsletters you can send out, I have 3 options for you to take next:

    1. Check out Mastery Moment-Seekers course where we spend an entire module dedicated to learning about your Dream Clients.
    2. Grab the Client Attractor Toolset, which will help you uncover more information about your Dream Clients + map out your first email sequence.
    3. Download the freebie content upgrade: 10 Emails Every Photographer Should Have to Turn New Subscribers into Engaged Readers by clicking the image below.


Reader BONUS Time:

Because I believe so much in ConvertKit, I’m offering a free gift to anyone that signs up with ConvertKit using my partner link here.

What is the free gift?

The C.A.T. is an invaluable tool to help you hone in on who your Dream Clients are so you can start coming up with blog + newsletter content they will just eat up! It also comes with a map to help you set up your first email sequence driving new subscribers from strangers to booked clients.

get more documentary photography clients

Here’s how to get this bonus:

  1. When you sign up for ConvertKit using my link here, email us a copy/a screenshot of your CK receipt (hello@fearlessanframed.com).
  2. We’ll verify you used our link and then we’ll send you a code to redeem the Client Attractor Toolset absolutely free ($79 value)!

That’s a wrap!

Please ask any questions about email marketing on this blog post – we like to update our posts occasionally to make them bigger & better for you, so we need your questions to give the right info. 

*affiliate links used in this post, because I am a supporter of ConvertKit and use the service inside my own business daily. 

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