EP 63: What is a Mailing List and Why is it Important?

Thank you for tuning in to the Photo Business Help podcast. My name is Natalie Jennings, I'm your host, and this week I'm coming at you from Minneapolis. But for the first time in ages, I am sick. And I'm sure you can hear it my voice. So this week, which is the show comes out every Tuesday and Thursday, there are roughly 10 minute episodes twice a week, you'll probably notice that I sound a little under the weather.

I didn't manage to get any episodes produced ahead of time. I've actually done a couple of shows about the importance of batching your work and how it can be really beneficial. Usually, I batch-create a bunch of different podcast episodes. I will write them out or plan them out, record them all and edit them all in one big batch so that I'm not in this situation that I'm in this week, trying to catch up and make sure that these episodes go out on time.

So here I am. Little under the weather, but it's all good. I'm going to try something new this week.

If you are part of our Facebook group–our private-listener, Facebook group–I do a facebook live every Friday to answer questions that you might have. And this week, I asked everyone a few days ahead of time what they wanted me to talk about on the Facebook Live. Typically I just jump in and talk about maybe something I've talked about on this podcast and whatever else comes to mind. But I wanted to get real feedback from members since we are growing a lot every single week and I wanted to just see what people had on their minds.

episode 63 what is a mailing list and why is it important

And so this episode, and the subsequent Episodes–Episode 63 and 64–are going to be direct responses to folks in the Facebook group. If that interests you, if you are listening to this podcast or have been for a while and you haven't joined the group you can search “photo business help with Natalie Jennings” or @photobizhelp you'll find the group. You just have to answer a couple questions so that I know that you're a human and you can join us. It's it's a great community where you can ask questions about building your photo business, you can reach out and make new connections, maybe develop some second shooter relationships, or share studio space or whatever. There's all kinds of things going on in the group. And it's a pretty high vibe positive space for people to connect. So if that sounds interesting to you, it's @photobizhelp. We're also @photobizhelp on Instagram, if you want to follow there. Join us in the group. I'm not actually personally super active on Facebook, I do use it more for business. If you're one of the people that are just super sick of Facebook, it's still one of the best options that that we have right now to sort of connect everyone. If that's the only reason you're on there, it's actually a pretty good reason. Join us in the group.

Let's dive into today's episode. Today I'm going to talk about mailing lists. Someone in the group asked, “I'd like to learn more about mailing lists. I don't have the income to afford paying for a subscription to help me with my emails. What are some free ways or tips to start building my mailing list?”

Mailing lists are simply a collection of emails from people that have opted into something that you offer.

Whether they're a past client, or maybe you have a little pop up on your website that offers a free guide, or some kind of questionnaire or a quiz or something. You can collect emails that way, but mailing lists are made up of willing participants. It's actually illegal, at least in Minnesota, and I assume maybe in most states to just randomly grab emails and put them on a list and send people things from your company, that's just spamming people. So you don't want to do that.

You want your email list to be people that want to be there. You want them to be engaged. If you don't have an email list, it's very easy to get started and you can definitely, definitely do it for free. There are a bunch of different services. I've been using MailChimp for a few years. And because I don't have a massive email list, it's still really affordable for me and does exactly what I needed to do. That being said, if you have a really large email list already, there are some more intricate and in depth companies out there that will give you more options in terms of list segmenting, and all sorts of different things you can do to target your ideal audience. So you're sending the right emails to the right people. But that is that's a totally different topic and for another time.

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I would start with something that gives you a free trial because most of my understanding is that until you have a certain number of email list subscribers, you don't have to necessarily pay for the service. MailChimp has been free for a long time, up to a certain number of subscribers. So that's a great place to start.

Why have a mailing list?

There's a couple big reasons to have a list.

One is because it's the one place where you have ownership of this group of folks. Unlike Facebook or Instagram or any other social media platform, they close their doors tomorrow and any of those contacts and followers that you have made in those spaces would totally disappear. And we saw this happen with some folks that had built up really big profiles on Vine. And when Vine shut down, you know, that was the end of that.

You want to make sure that you have a little bit of control over your contacts in your business. And a great way to do this is an email list.

You own that list, that people on that list have voluntarily opted to be on it. And so it's a continuing relationship.

That brings me to my second point, which is continuing a relationship with your audience.

Whether you're sharing new work with them, offering deals, whether you're just connecting and keeping a relationship going with older clients that you might not have seen for a few years… I have wedding clients from a decade ago that are on my list and are still engaged. So when you send out a list, or I'm sorry, when you send out a an email, a newsletter, whatever sort of thing that you're sending out, you are essentially engaging with that list and keeping the relationship going.

That's a couple of really, really good reasons to start a list. It's an excellent marketing tool. So anytime you want to reach out and let people know that you're booking for something, or that you have a discount for something, or just let them know what you're doing, it's an awesome way to stay in touch with everyone that has already decided that they want to stay in touch with you.

One final thought on the list thing to get started, all you really need to do is have some sort of way for people to give you their email address. Now, there's a ton of different ways to do this. And again, this is a whole other topic, but based on this question in the group, I'll give you just a couple of options to get started. You can maybe have a pop up on your website that says, hey, if you'd like to be on my list to hear about new deals, and the next time I do mini sessions sign up here. I have a mini session pop up that I offer and that list is just for people interested in hearing about my mini sessions. So when I go to book mini sessions in the fall, usually, I email that list first. And that's one of the main reasons that my mini sessions have consistently sold out the last few years.

There's an episode a little ways back that I talked about mini sessions and how to fill up mini sessions. And I do mention having a list there as well. So hopefully this helps you out. If you are wondering what's going on with the whole email list thing. If you don't have a list, don't worry, you can always start building one. It's not something that you need to run a business but it's something that I think you certainly should have. And like I said, if you are solely running your business on other platforms, it's not necessarily the best. So thanks for listening.

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