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Want to Grow Your Email List? See How This Photographer Grew His List by 300 percent

James Maher photograph

James Maher is a New York Photographer, a huge Knicks fan, and a lifelong New Yorker who got his driver’s license at 30 years old — as any true Manhattanite should. Maher never took the conventional route. His love of photography started with using Photoshop to make fake driver license IDs at the University of Madison with his college roommates. 

Over time, he grew his business to offer an eclectic mix of products and services — including photography print sales, a portrait business, conducting workshops, creating online content, and authoring three books. Despite having a diverse business, COVID-19 still shut down his business along with the rest of New York.

He knew he had to transition some of his business online, so he took some time to look at short-term revenue options that could set him up for long-term growth. He began brainstorming how he could re-create traditional in-person experiences into new online opportunities.

In order to do so, he followed 5 essential steps to grow his email list and pivot his business to an online format.

The 5 essential steps to growing your list

Step 1: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a process of optimizing your website to get organic (or unpaid) traffic. Maher drives traffic by regularly providing unique, engaging, and free content on his site for people interested in learning about photography. 

For example, he gives away a free New York travel photography guide on his website. This free guide is an essential part of Maher’s SEO and content marketing strategy.

New York Photographer's Travel Guide

“Email and SEO together are the two backbones of my business. It is a vital way to reach my fans. I don’t think I could have as diverse of a business without it,” said Maher.

He also guest blogs on other photography websites that link back to a sign up form on his website to help drive traffic.  

Step 2: Unique sign up forms 

Each piece of content on Maher’s website is downloadable when a user enters their email address. Maher uses different signup forms for the various pages of his website that hosts unique content. The sign up forms connect directly to a list in Maher’s AWeber account.

The New York Photographer's Travel Guide sign up form.

Step 3: Automated email series

Depending on the content users download, Maher sends more in-depth information in an automated email series, which allows him to share information and tips, build relationships with new subscribers, and promote paid products.  

Automated email on an Introduction to Street Photography

Although each audience member will receive multiple emails in the sequence, Maher reminds them at the top of each email of the content they may have missed or that will be coming in a future email.

Each email includes thought-provoking images and step-by-step instructions for other photographers.

Email showing how to steps and thought-provoking images

“My email list was always vital and incredibly important to my business, but it’s even more important now because I have started to transition to more online content,” says Maher.

Step 4: Let analytics be your content compass

AWeber’s analytics help guide Maher determine the type of content he sends and when. “It gives me a lot of information about how my information is perceived, and if the content is engaging,” says Maher.

Maher reviews regularly both the open and the click-through rate on the content that he sends. Sending engaging content has allowed him to attract new audiences to his email list.

AWeber's analytics dashboard

Step 5: Expand your reach

Maher uses his downtime to set himself up for long-term success by creating content and online products to grow his email list. 

His latest online product, “Editing and Putting Together a Portfolio in Street Photography,” drove revenue and allowed him to promote some of his other services like individual portfolio reviews.

Landing page for the online class: Editing and Putting Together a Portfolio in Street Photography

While social distancing is still in place in New York City, Maher takes 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 around the country. Most people who attend the presentation visit his website and join his email list.

Promote to your own email list

Maher also promotes the new online course to his email audience.

Email on James Maher's online class: Editing and Putting Together a Portfolio in Street Photography

During this time, when many members of his audience have reduced income, Maher has adjusted his payment model to “pay what you can.” 

The suggested price for the online class is $25. The average payment turned out to be about $25 because some people were getting it for free or $5, but some people paid $50 or $100. 

“I’m going to do that going forward for more of my products now. It provides me some income and builds my emails list, so it is a win-win for everyone.” says Maher.

Online class sign up form

Take advantage of lower advertising rates to promote on social media

The rates for advertising are much lower than usual due to COVID-19, so it is a great time to promote posts on social media to stand out from the crowd.

Maher uses Facebook ads to target local photographers in the Northeast. They see the ad, download the photography travel guide, and are added to his AWeber list.

AWeber then sends an automated email sequence that lets them get to know Maher, learn photography tips, and get a sense of the type of content they will receive from going forward.

Example of a Facebook advertisement

“I’m testing and tweaking the Facebook ad a bit now given that people aren’t really traveling to New York with COVID-19 going on. But I’m finding that it’s still doing very well at converting photographers, particularly with the cheaper ad pricing. If you provide them with good, interesting content, you can grow your list,” says Maher. 

Short term cash needs can translate into long term growth

Maher has shifted his business’s focus toward creating online experiences that provide short-term revenue that keeps his business going. He created online classes about photo editing and online photography portfolio reviews. He even started working with photographers to help them create portfolio websites. 

Every post, promotion, or email drives people to his sign up forms with the end goal of growing his email list. 

The creation of each online product is just the first phase of its product life. “Each online product will eventually integrate into a bigger package in the long term. I’ve been building this business for about 17 years, and I had the formula down — but COVID-19 broke the formula,” says Maher. 

“The silver lining is COVID-19 gave me the time to execute on ideas I always had in the back of my head. I believe my business is going to come out of COVID-19 stronger and more prepared for the future.”

Connect with your audience and start growing your email list today!

With AWeber, you’ll get everything you need to grow your own business online — including sign up forms, newsletters, landing pages, and access to our award-winning customer solutions team. 

Start your 30-day free trial today.

The post Want to Grow Your Email List? See How This Photographer Grew His List by 300 percent appeared first on AWeber.

How This Travel Blogger Used Email Marketing to Grow — Even When the Tourism Industry Lost $2.7 Trillion in Revenue

Michele Frolla owner of the Intrepid Guide

Michele Frolla is a travel and language blogger at The Intrepid Guide. She earns a living from affiliate commissions, advertising revenue, and working with tourism boards to promote destinations.

Unfortunately, when the world stopped traveling, affiliate income and ad revenue for bloggers in the travel industry stopped too. But for Frolla, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise. “It has forced my hand to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” says Frolla.

Frolla always wanted to launch a language program to teach her audience new languages. To help her decide if this was the right direction to take her business, Frolla turned to her email marketing platform and email subscribers.

It turns out her audience is as interested in language as the destination where the language is spoken.

So she launched a new language program using email marketing for every step of the process.

Here’s how she did it.

Build your email list to protect yourself from the unknown

Frolla learned the hard way, as did many in the travel industry, that things can change overnight.

The World Travel and Tourism Council is projecting a global loss of 100 million jobs and $2.7 trillion in revenue due to COVID-19. And Statista forecasts that global revenue for the travel and tourism industry will be down 34.7% in 2020.

Explore new revenue opportunities

The COVID-19 experience led Frolla to take a good look at her business and consider how she could continue earning money that’s not dependent on travel, advertising revenue, or social media platforms. 

As a travel and language blogger, Frolla’s previous revenue sources had included income from affiliate commissions, advertising revenue, and working with tourism boards to promote destinations. Unfortunately, when the world stopped traveling, Frolla’s affiliate income and ad revenue from the travel industry stopped too.

That’s why she decided to investigate the option of creating a language education program. With a program like this, she could continue to provide value and a service to her audience — even when they can’t travel. 

“I can sell my language products. My audience can purchase the product and use it when they’re commuting, at home, or traveling. It’s something that I’m quite passionate about and makes sense with the way things have been for the tourism industry the past few months, “says Frolla.

To promote her new language program, Frolla knew she would need a larger email list. 

Frolla used 2 tools to grow her email list and welcome new subscribers.

1. A landing page

When Frolla first created her travel blog, she knew that email marketing was important. She chose AWeber because she wanted to go with a platform that was going to grow with her. “I’m getting my head around the incredible power of the tool,” says Frolla.

Frolla has found that landing pages created with AWeber’s Landing Page Builder are an awesome way to grow a list by being able to share specific information. She drives traffic to her landing page from her social media, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Intrepid Guide landing page

“The landing page was easy to set up. I decided to direct traffic to a certain landing page to get my language and travel tips, as opposed to having pop-ups all the time or having a sign up form that might not get seen,” says Frolla.

2. Automated email campaigns

After someone enters their contact information on your sign up form or landing page, you should immediately send an automated email to welcome them to your email list. This is exactly what Frolla does with AWeber’s email automation platform Campaigns. 

Frolla welcomes subscribers to her list, includes links to some of her most popular content, and sets expectations on how often she will communicate with subscribers.

Related: [Infographic] How to Write an Engaging Welcome Email

The Intrepid Guide autoresponder

Your email list is an excellent way to gather product feedback.

Frolla uses email marketing to identify users and provide feedback before she launched her product. 

Recruit your most loyal followers to test your product.

Frolla recruited some of her most loyal subscribers to be part of a testing team for her new product. Via email, she sent them a form to apply to be a part of her testing team. It allowed her to get real user experiences to improve her course.

The Intrepid Guide testing team email

Don’t forget to ask for testimonials.

She also was able to get testimonials from her testing team Frolla uses the testimonials in all of her promotional materials as social proof of its impact.

The Intrepid Guide testimonial quote

The Intrepid Guide testimonial quote

The Intrepid Guide testimonial quote

Promote your product to your list

Frolla announced to her entire email list and on social media that she had a new course coming to create some buzz around the launch.

How to Master Common Italian Phrases course

Giveaways can get your audience’s attention.

Frolla gave away two free courses as part of the launch. In the email, she made it super easy to enter the giveaway by including a link to enter.

The Intrepid Guide giveaway email

Explain why you’re passionate about your product

A lot of your audience may purchase the product because of the creator as much as the content. While it is essential to detail the features and benefits of your product, don’t forget to tell your audience why this product is important to you. 

How to get other people to promote your product 

The power of email is magnified when you can get others to promote your product using their own email list. You should never buy an email list. But you can extend your reach when influencers or affiliates promote your product to their own lists. 

Related: Why You Should Never Buy an Email List

Extend your reach by creating an affiliate relationship with influencers.

An affiliate arrangement can be a win-win situation for everyone if done right. 

It helps you quickly grow your audience by introducing you and your product to a whole new group of people. You can set up your affiliate program so that you and your affiliate both earn a percentage of revenue every time someone purchases your product. The affiliate, or influencer, will receive a commission for each product they sell. 

How Frolla created her affiliate group 

Frolla reached out to people in the language community — bloggers that she knows and trusts and bloggers who know and trust Frolla.   

The communication Frolla sent was straightforward. She would send an email or message on social media and say: “Hey, I’ve got this course coming out. Would you help me promote it?”

If Frolla received confirmation that they were open to promote her product, she would send them a link to a Google form so they could provide details to set them up as an affiliate.

Expand your affiliate group beyond your network.

Frolla also expanded her outreach to people she did not personally know. With the Facebook community administrator’s permission, she posted in private Facebook groups and asked the group members if they would like to become an affiliate.

She also reached out to content creators of courses Frolla had previously signed up for or taken. Since she was familiar with their class, she could be sure they created quality content and had an audience with similar interests to Frolla’s own audience.

Make it easy for your affiliates to promote your product. 

Frolla uses a course creation platform (Teachable) that makes it easy for customers to purchase her product and for affiliates to get their commission. There are several platforms available, so make sure the platform that you are considering integrates with the tools you are already using — like AWeber.  

Frolla includes bonuses that are exclusive to her product and only available for a limited time, so there is an urgency to take action.

Frolla also sends her affiliates a product launch kit that includes:

  • Social media banners for FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • A sequence of six emails for her affiliates to customize to their audience.
  • Product information.
  • A list of benefits of being an affiliate.
  • The retail price.
  • The commission percentages that affiliates earn.
  • Launch dates.

The Intrepid Guide twitter social media post

Pro tip: Make the process as easy as possible for your affiliates. Do all the heavy lifting for your affiliates so they can focus on promoting your product. 

Send email swipe copy to your affiliates.

To make it ridiculously easy for affiliates to promote your product or services, send them email swipe copy. They can quickly customize the email content and send it to their list. 

Frolla sends her affiliates a document containing a 6-part email sequence. She includes email copy and images of the product. She recommends that each affiliate adapts the emails to their own voice.  

Here’s what the email sequence covers:

Email 1: Introduction to course 

Email 2:  Benefits of learning italian

Email 3: Frequently asked questions about Intrepid Italian

Email 4: What people say about Intrepid Italian (testimonials)

Email 5: Creates urgency. (24 hours left to buy)

Email 6: Final warning. (2 hours left to buy)

Try AWeber and start growing your business online.

You’ll get everything Frolla  uses to grow her own business online — including sign up forms, newsletters, and landing pages.

Start your 30-day free trial today.

The post How This Travel Blogger Used Email Marketing to Grow — Even When the Tourism Industry Lost $2.7 Trillion in Revenue appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.