Email marketing is one of the most commonly used tools when trying to land a new job. However, knowing what to write, who to write to, and how to follow up can make or break your campaign. In this article, we will take a look at some dos and don’ts of email marketing.
My first email campaign was a disaster. Not only had I sent the wrong thing, but I also sent the wrong thing to the wrong people making me look like a clown. Just imagine, I was emailing the creative director of the inflight magazine of AirFrance, barely having done two shoots. Suffice it to say that they did not get back to me. I’ve come a long way since that disaster, and in the process of doing so, figured out a few tips and tricks to do an effective email campaign.
Let’s start at the beginning. Assuming you have a portfolio of work you are excited to show to people, you are ready to launch your first campaign. But, you can’t email a PDF without any text and expect a reply. What to write is a very specific question, but it must be to the point. Nobody is interested in your life story. Your introduction email should be about who you are, what you do, and why you are good at it. My personal favorite template is this:
My name is X, I am a commercial photographer shooting “genre” based in “city”. Recently I have been shooting for X, X, and X among other clients. My images are delivered to brief, on time, and within budget.
Attached is a copy of my portfolio as a PDF. If there are any potential projects I may be suited for, I would be delighted to arrange a time to meet with you.
This is a short and snappy template that gets your message across in no time. Further on, you may write longer emails, but keep the opening short. As with any good advertisement, the faster the audience gets the message, the better.
This depends on what job you are trying to land. The examples I have is from the commercial and editorial world, as this is where I primarily market to.
If you want to land an advertising job, it is best to reach out to the creative director, the art director, or the art buyer. The job of all three is different, however, in smaller ad agencies it might be combined into one person. If an agency has an art buyer, prioritize them and reach out to them first. This is because the art buyer is essentially the person who does all the hiring, including the photographer. Another good one to reach out to is the producer, as they are handling the logistics of each production.
If you want more editorial jobs, perhaps to add them to your portfolio, try reaching out to people such as the photo editor, or the visuals editor. They are the ones who work with anything that is not text-related. Should the magazine be smaller than that, the art director is also a good choice.
Not every brand works with an ad agency, though. Some do their marketing in-house. In these cases, their marketing team may have what is called a marketing communications director, or maybe someone with the word “photography” or “producer” in their job title.
The success rate of email campaigns improves over time. This is true for most genres of photography. Don’t expect any replies from your first campaign. It might sound nihilistic, but it will probably be like that. As your work improves, you might start getting a generic no, then a personalized no, and then, finally a yes. The success rate of your email campaigns depends solely on how consistent you are with them, and how much your work improves.
Another factor that impacts success rate is of course if you email the right person. For example, if I am trying to land a campaign for Dior, emailing their retail manager will not help me at all. However, if I send the promo to an agency that worked with them as a client, I might see more success.
Usually, email marketing is either done via a mailing list service or through manual sending. Depending on the style of campaign you are doing, you may either use one or the other. I prefer sending out personalized emails at the moment, just because my marketing is less about casting a wide net and more about sending a few personalized emails consistently. However, if you want to cast a wide net, use such services.
MailChimp is by far the most popular. It has a forever-free email marketing plan that is suitable for the ones who are just dabbling in email marketing. While they are very popular, it is said that they lack a lot of advanced features that other services have. That said, there is enough for most photographers who just want to send out a fairly simple email campaign. Even the free version has a drag-and-drop email builder, as well as the capability to send out 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 recipients. This is more than enough to cast a wide net in most photography markets. Even if there is only a 1% success rate on your campaign, you still get 20 clients, some of which will be returning.
If you are after a more advanced emailing system, try Constant Contact. Their paid plan offers unlimited emails, easy tracking tools, an image library, as well as online customer support. If you want more data from your email campaigns, advanced templates, and unlimited emails, this one is for you. The pricing starts at only 9.99/month, but you can test it out with a 60-day free trial.
Email marketing is my second most effective tool, after word of mouth. The key to a good campaign is consistency. If you want to really build up a solid marketing infrastructure, you can’t be sending your work when you hit a no-work period. It won’t nearly be as effective, and instead of sending out a message that you’re available, it will send out a message that you need work asap.
Illya Ovchar is a fashion photographer based in Europe. In his work, Illya aims to tell stories with clothes and light. Illya’s work can be seen in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and InStyle.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Lee!
Keeping emails short is definitely the way, as most people don’t have the time/interest to read your career story haha.
Have you tried agency access? I heard they are pretty good no?
It is absolutely not easy. Sometimes I do wish that I started way earlier. It sounds like it was almost too easy back in the day haha.