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Photo Contest Insider Blog

How (and Why) Photographers Should Build Their Email Lists

October 24, 2017

As a photographer, there are plenty of tasks that you must do every day, whether it be planning shoots, editing images, or engaging with your audience through social media. One task you might not think about, however, is building your email list. But did you know that this is one of the most important things every business owner should do?

You see, while boasting a huge social media following certainly has its perks, at the end of the day you don’t actually own those followers. If Instagram or Facebook (for example) decided to delete your account tomorrow, you would lose every single one of those followers, and who knows how long it would take to get them all back again?

Email lists, however, are something you can own, and with the ability to back them up and keep records of your audience, there’s little to no risk in losing them. The other great thing? Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods of all time, as engagement seems to be a lot higher when you’re reaching someone through their inbox, rather than through their social media feed.

Don’t believe us? There’s a bunch of helpful articles written about this very subject (like this one). That’s why we’re going to concentrate on how and why photographers should build their email lists today! You’ll have yours up and running in no time.

Email Management Systems

Firstly, in order to set-up an email list, you’ll need an email management system to keep track of all of your sign-ups. Wondering how you’re actually going to get these sign-ups in the first place? Don’t worry, we’ll cover all of that below!

We recommend you research the following email management systems to find a platform that works best for you. These are the three most popular:

  • MailerLite
  • MailChimp
  • ConvertKit

In case you’re wondering what all of the hype about email management systems is (and why you can’t just save your audience’s email addresses manually), there are a few reasons. Firstly, these systems allow you to easily insert a link, button, or form online (such as on your website or through your social media posts) so your audience can simply click it and insert their details to join your email list. Your email management system runs 24/7, collecting your audience’s email lists in the background while you focus on other important tasks, such as your photography!

You can also set up emails to be automatically sent out to your subscribers when they join your list (such as a welcome email containing more information about your photography services), saving you a lot of time and energy in the long-run. Automation is certainly the key here!

Opt-in Freebies to Grow Your Email List

For the second part of this article, we need to discuss the fastest and most rewarding method of automatically growing your email list – opt-in freebies.

An opt-in freebie is simply something you offer for free, in exchange for your audience’s email address. Think of it as extra incentive to win them over!

There are numerous opt-in freebies you can offer as a photographer to dramatically grow your list, so we’re going to reveal 5 of these below.


eBooks can easily be created on or even through programs such as PowerPoint and Microsoft Word. The aim of your eBook is to educate your audience on a specific topic (or set of related topics). Think about what you would consider yourself to be an expert at and then begin planning your content!


Checklists are highly valuable to your audience, as they’re a quick and easy way for them to achieve something awesome! Perhaps you’re highly-experienced at editing photos in Photoshop and can talk people through the process with your checklist? The options are endless!

Discount Code

This is another great incentive to offer to those who sign-up to your email list, as everyone loves to save money! The discount might apply to your photography services, or even any products you have to offer (such as greeting cards, calendars, or Photoshop actions).

Stock Images

Photographers are in a great position to create a simple yet stunning package of stock images to offer to their email list as an opt-in freebie. This also encourages people such as bloggers and small business owners to join your mailing list (which may prove helpful for turning them into paying clients for work!)


We’ve written an in-depth guide to creating online courses (a.k.a eCourses) on the blog previously, and these serve as one of the most effective incentives to get people on your email list – especially when the eCourse lessons have to be delivered via email in the first place! Online courses are also perceived as being highly valuable, so offering them for free is certainly enticing. Like the eBook, you just have to think about a topic that you’re especially knowledgeable about. In what ways can you help your peers? You can then create fun bonus content (such as worksheets, cheat sheets, checklists, and more) to accompany your lessons.

There you have it – our quick but helpful guide as to how and why photographers should build their email lists! You can easily implement this advice today to start growing your very own email-focused audience.

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