Monday, March 31, 2008

7 Steps to Building A Successful Photography Business: How to Finance Your Habit – Part 2

In the last lesson 7 Steps to Building A Successful Photography Business, we discussed building your business by going to people who you already know when looking for new customers.

Once you start getting some business it's natural for you to consider expanding your marketing efforts. Often this will become necessary once you exhaust your list of personal contacts. So what's the next step? Well besides printing business cards many photographers will be thinking about putting together their first website.

Today having a website is necessity for marketing any kind of business, websites are especially important for a photographer. Now while having a website is great I've seen far too many photographers make a critical mistake in setting up their first site and that's what I'm going to address here in lesson 2.

Don't worry it's painless and if done properly the process will be far easier than actually setting up the site. So read the next line very carefully and commit it to memory...Ready? Here it comes.

Step 2: Don’t even bother setting up a website if you don’t set up a way to collect the email addresses of the people who visit. Period.

If you want to see an example of this in action go to my website at www.rodneywashington.com I have a sign up box on the bottom of the home page of my website.

Collecting email addresses is one of the smartest and easiest ways to do business on line and off. As a matter of fact, if you don't commit your marketing efforts to collecting the email addresses of your site visitors you are throwing away potentially thousands of dollars of business.

You will want to use email management software to collect and manage your database.

DON’T and I repeat DO NOT use a regular email service like Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or any other consumer level program to handle your professional mailing list.

The risk you run is that you could be shut down by your internet service provider as well have the headaches of managing your growing list will be a logistical nightmare. For starters you will have to manually remove and add new contacts to your list. In addition your emails may not be delivered to your subscribers because the spam filters could block what it suspects as mass emails.

To make matter worse it's illegal to send mass email this way, so to avoid all of the drama is pay a small amount to hire a list management service to maintain your list for you. The benefits for using a list service are many. I'll give you three.

- First, it's very affordable, most services are under $20 dollars a month.
- Second, subscribers can confirm, remove and update their information without your direct involvement.
- Third, can set-up templates easily from within your service that can be timed for delivery. The benefit is that you won't have to remember to write an email each week. You can write up a batch and pre-schedule them weeks and months in advance and your emails will go out automatically.

Suggested list services:
Aweber: Aweber
Constant Contact: Constant Contact
1ShoppingCart: 1 Shopping Cart

There are other services available that do practically the same as the services listed. To locate them do a Google search, but I highly recommend either of the three above. I personally use Aweber and Constant Contact to manage my lists and doing so is a breeze.

All are very affordable and easy to use. Once you register for an account the service will walk you through the set-up process and will generate a simple HTML code that you cut and paste into your webpage. If you don't know how to do this you refer this your web designer.  

Once your webpage is updated with the code you upload it to your website hosting service or have you tech do it and voila your done! Once your page is active on your website this leads to step three.

Step 3: Lead Generation, the rule of thumb here is give site visitors a reason to sign up and stay on your list.

You can offer to send subscribers a photo of the day or the week. For example: Let's say you love to photograph babies or pets, anyone’s who’s visiting your website would probably love to receive a photo e-postcard of either of these subjects.

Think about how you can communicate with your list and make sure that you do so in a way that serves them and you will create a list of raving fans that will be glad to hire you and buy your images.

All of the list management services listed in step 2# provide templates that you can easily customize with your photos. All you do is import your images into the template and write your copy, save and schedule the email to send out to your list.

You can even offer a coupon on the bottom of the e-postcard (although I caution against doing this with every email you send) but occasionally offer a discount of say 10 percent off of a portrait session, prints or products you offer for sale.

If you decide to send emails once a week, limit your promotional offers to once a month especially when you first get started. Increase as you build your rapport with your list.

You can increase the frequency of your promotions over time but you don’t want hit your subscribers over the head with blatant sales pitches. Don’t burn out your list.

Remember: People don’t like to be sold too, but they love to buy from people they know like and trust.

This concludes Part 2 of this lesson on 7 Steps to Building a Successful Photography Business, Part 3 will be coming soon. Be sure sign up to receive part 3.

Learn how to use and get great photos from your digital camera every time. Receive FREE tips by subscribing to my ezine Digital Photo Secrets Revealed.

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3 comments:

Brett said...

Great post

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