Would you like to expand your email list? See how this photographer expanded his list by 300 percent
Learn the 5 key steps he has taken to expand his email list and switch his business to an online format.
By Kristin MacLaughlin June 10, 2020
James Maher is a New York photographer, a big Knicks fan and a lifelong New Yorker who got his driver's license when he was 30 – just like every real Manhattanite should. Maher has never followed the conventional path. His love of photography began using Photoshop to create fake driver's license cards with his roommates at the University of Madison.
Over time, he expanded his business to offer a diverse mix of products and services – including selling photo prints, portrait business, conducting workshops, creating online content, and writing three books. Despite a diverse business, COVID-19 closed its deal with the rest of New York.
Knowing that he needed to move part of his business online, he took some time to examine short-term sales options that could set him up for long-term growth. He started to think about how to transform traditional personal experiences into new online opportunities.
To this end, he followed five key steps to expand his email list and switch his company to an online format.
Step 1: search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is a process of optimizing your website to get organic (or unpaid) traffic. Maher increases traffic by regularly providing unique, engaging and free content on its website for people interested in photography.
For example, he gives away a free travel guide for travel photography in New York on his website. This free guide is an integral part of Maher's SEO and content marketing strategy.
“Email and SEO together are the two backgrounds of my business. It is an important way to reach my fans. I don't think I could have such a diverse business without them, ”said Maher.
He also makes guest appearances on other photo websites that refer to a registration form on his website to promote traffic.
Step 2: clear registration forms
Any content on the Maher website can be downloaded when a user enters their email address. Maher uses different registration forms for the different pages of its website, on which unique content is hosted. The registration forms create a direct link to a list in Maher's AWeber account.
Step 3: automated email series
Depending on the content downloaded, Maher sends more detailed information in an automated email series that allows it to share information and tips, build relationships with new subscribers, and promote paid products.
Although each audience receives multiple emails in order, Maher reminds them at the top of each email of what they may have missed or will receive in a future email.
Each email contains thought-provoking images and step-by-step instructions for other photographers.
"My email list has always been important and incredibly important to my company, but it is even more important now that I have started to switch to more online content," said Maher.
Step 4: Let Analytics Be Your Content Compass
AWeber’s analytics help Maher determine what type of content to send and when. "It gives me a lot of information about how my information is perceived and whether the content is appealing," says Maher.
Maher regularly checks both the opening and the click rate of the content he sends. By sending appealing content, he was able to attract new target groups to his email list.
Step 5: expand your reach
Maher uses his downtime to prepare for long-term success by creating content and online products to expand his email list.
His latest online product, "Editing and Compiling a Portfolio in Street Photography," increased sales and allowed him to advertise some of his other services, such as individual portfolio reviews.
While there is still social distance in New York, Maher takes the time to introduce himself to as many new groups of people as possible. For example, he gives photography zoom presentations to groups and camera clubs across the country. Most of the participants in the presentation visit his website and subscribe to his email list.
Apply in your own email list
Maher is also promoting the new online course to his email audience.
During this time, when many members of his audience have a lower income, Maher has adjusted his payment model to "pay what you can".
The suggested online class price is $ 25. The average payment was around $ 25 as some people received it for free or $ 5, but others received $ 50 or $ 100.
"I'm going to do that for more of my products now. It brings me some income and builds up my email list so it's a win-win for everyone," says Maher.
Use lower advertising costs to advertise on social media
Advertising prices are much lower than usual due to COVID-19. So it's a good time to advertise on social media to stand out from the crowd.
Maher uses Facebook ads to target local photographers in the northeast. You'll see the ad, download the photography guide, and be added to their AWeber list.
AWeber then sends an automated email sequence to get to know Maher, learn photography tips, and get an idea of the type of content they will receive in the future.
"I'm testing and optimizing the Facebook ad a bit now because people with COVID-19 aren't really traveling to New York. However, I find that converting photographers is still very good, especially with cheaper ad prices. If By providing them with good, interesting content, you can expand your list, ”says Maher.
Maher has shifted his company's focus to creating online experiences that provide short-term earnings that keep his business going. He created online courses on photo editing and online photography portfolio reviews. He even started working with photographers to help them create portfolio websites.
Every post, advertisement or email leads people to their registration forms with the ultimate goal of expanding their email list.
Creating any online product is just the first phase of its product life. “In the long term, every online product can be integrated into a larger package. I've been building this business for about 17 years and I didn't follow the formula – but COVID-19 broke the formula, ”says Maher.
“The silver lining is COVID-19, which gave me the time to implement ideas that I always had in mind. I believe that COVID-19 will prepare my business more and better for the future. "
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