Being a professional photographer is tough enough, but one hard lesson to learn, especially for anyone new to the industry, is this:
Without quality relationships, professional photographers are doomed to exist in an endless cycle of restarting their business from scratch every day.
But what happens if you ignore those quality relationships?
Business drops off, referrals fade away, website traffic falls, the phone rings less often, and you get fewer inquiries from prospective clients.
When that happens you fall into the dreaded pit of having to restart your business every day from scratch, and you get caught up in a never-ending cycle of relentless and difficult hustle just to find work…
Among the Greek myths, there’s a famous story featuring an interesting mortal character by the name of Sisyphus, who happened to be the former king of Corinth. Although there’s some confusion over the exact nature of his actions, Sisyphus apparently managed to upset the Gods enough to be condemned for all eternity to push a rock uphill by day, only to helplessly watch it roll down by night, right back to where it started.
Sounds like a terrible fate for anyone to endure, doesn’t it?
Imagine the long days spent in arduous work, only to have to go through it all again the next day, and the day after, and so on, until time itself runs out.
Unfortunately, such torment is not reserved only for the hapless folk in Greek myths.
For many photographers struggling to build a sustainable and profitable business, such torment is quite real—even for those who have a good photography business plan.
Day after day spent in the search for new clients, each of them hard won, only to wake up and discover they have to do it all over again the very next day.
And the day after that…
And so on…
Are You Pushing Rocks Uphill?
Does working on your photography business feel like you’re endlessly pushing rocks uphill, only to have them roll back to the bottom the next day?
Frustrating isn’t it?
If you spend your days engaged in the constant hunt for new clients, working like mad to get your name out there, or searching for anything to get more eyeballs on your photography website, or you’re simply trying to be heard above the noise made by everyone else doing the same thing, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
But how can you rise above the competition when every photographer for miles around you is after the same thing?
I endured these same problems back in 2004 when I first started out, here in Memphis. Mistakenly, and new to the game, I accepted the idea that developing a business meant having to constantly hustle for new clients, and that every day was just another new chance to jump in the ring to slug it out and find fresh people to photograph.
Like most photographers, I felt like I was having to restart my business every day, almost from scratch.
The clients I managed to get yesterday were now history, and there was little choice but to go out and hustle some more to find a new batch.
Honestly, looking back on those days makes me cringe at the dumb futility of it all, but I did eventually come to my senses and realize that growing a business doesn’t have to be like that!
The realization was a simple, but important one:
As photographers, we’re in the people business. As such, the success of our business depends on the relationships we build with prospects and clients.
Unfortunately, I see so many photographers still making the same mistakes I did!
The thing stopping most of them is the question of how can you build relationships with people you’ve never actually met?
The answer is to simply become pen pals – and the best tool on the planet for that is email marketing.
Now, before you get all caught up in some of the many negative ideas about using email in your business, here are 3 simple ways email can save you (and your sanity) from the nightmare of having to restart your photography business every day…
3 Simple Ways To Avoid Restarting Your Photography Business
Tired of restarting your photography business every day to find more new clients? Want to build your business properly? Here are 3 ways that email helps...
#1: Capture Prospects Even If They’re Not Ready
In some ways, marketing is a bit like fishing.
A website, your blog, social media channels, SEO, video marketing, word of mouth – all of those are great ways to market yourself, but they’re part of the “attraction” phase of your lead-generation efforts.
In other words, they bring prospective clients to you, but then it’s up to you to connect and engage with those people and turn them into leads.
Most of those people are not actually ready to hire you right there and then – they’re mostly “just looking” or “shopping around”.
And, once they’ve finished looking at your website, most of them are gone.
Not a good outcome.
The missing link from most photographers’ marketing systems is to capture those prospects and keep them involved and engaged until they are ready.
To do that, the first step is simply to encourage your prospects to add themselves to your email list in exchange for something valuable or interesting, and your email list should be treated as one of your most valuable assets.
#2: You’re Building A Ready-Made Audience
Obviously, as you drive more visitors to your website and blog, your email list should be constantly growing, helping you build a ready-made audience you can then communicate with on a regular basis.
Optimizing your marketing to capture as many of your website visitors as possible is something you should treat as a priority.
The best way to do this is to include an opt-in form on every page of your website and blog. Unless there’s an overwhelming reason to do otherwise, I recommend asking only for an email address at this point – asking for full names, phone numbers, addresses, and other information only adds friction to the process and puts people off signing up.
Also, I shouldn’t have to say this here, but please don’t add people to your email list yourself unless they’ve given you express permission to do so. For example, I find myself added to random email lists all the time, lists I never signed up for, simply because the other person happens to be a contact on LinkedIn.
It’s much better to let your email list grow naturally, and there are other ways to expedite the process, such as through ad campaigns.
#3: Nurture And Sustain Important Relationships
Finally, you have to nurture the relationships you’ve worked hard to create, and doing so requires communication – via email, of course.
Now, email marketing does not mean you have to keep sending out special offers all the time, but a weekly note with something your target market would find interesting, entertaining, or useful goes a long way toward keeping them engaged with you.
Over time, the range of interesting content and information you send out in your emails nurtures and strengthens your relationships with both prospective and existing clients.
And, while most of your email communications will be informational in nature, it’s okay to send the occasional promotion to your list.
So when the time comes for them to hire a photographer, who do you imagine they’re most likely to choose? Obviously, they’re going to be drawn to the photographer who feels more like a friend or helpful business than someone else they might pick from a random Google search.
Stop Pushing Rocks Uphill And Take Control Of Your Marketing
There are many more benefits to using email marketing in your photography business, but the best one of all is eliminating the need to reinvent yourself every day.
But who to choose as your email marketing service provider?
But, of all the contenders, the one I recommend for photographers is ActiveCampaign. I’ve personally used them with no problems at all, and they provide just the right mix of features to keep any professional photographer happy.
You can even give ActiveCampaign a free 14-day trial by clicking the link above to see for yourself—I promise you’ll thank me later!
See: Why I Switched From iContact To ActiveCampaign For Email Marketing for an in-depth guide to some of Active Campaign’s best features.
If you do this right, those metaphorical rocks you pushed up the hill yesterday will now stay there, and your business will grow more like the way you imagined it would when you started out.