10 Ways to Grow Your Email Subscribers for Photographers and Videographers

Email marketing is an essential tool for growing and scaling any business in 2020. This is especially true for freelancers and photography professionals. This can actually become a life-line in your business that frees you from having to depend on just word of mouth marketing or expensive ads. This makes the ability to grow your email list extremely important. 

According to Statista.com, there were 3.9 billion email users in 2019, and businesses that invested in email marketing received $42.00 for every $1.00 spent.  This is clear evidence that email marketing is alive and here to stay.  

The problem with paid ads is that you are borrowing traffic. You don’t own it. Your email list on the other hand is a group you own and can make offers to whenever you need additional business.  This can often be an underutilized tool that can increase the lifetime value of your customers and provide an avenue to get new customers. 

This leads us to how we actually grow our email marketing list. The only reason potential customers will give you their email address is that you are offering to give them something of value in return.  The value that you are giving in exchange for an email is commonly referred to as a lead magnet. 

Before we go into lead magnet ideas to help you grow your list, let’s look at elements that make a good lead magnet. Lead magnets should provide a quick win for your customer.  You want something that is simple and easily consumed.  It should offer value. The higher the perceived value the better. You know you have a fantastic lead magnet when people think to themselves, “Wow, I would have paid money for this.” 

Here are 10 methods you can begin to use to help you build up your email list:

1. Offer Your Equipment List

This is a list of all the gear you personally use with a breakdown of what each does.  List why you use that particular brand and you can also offer a lower-cost alternative to any high-end gear. You can also leverage this to raise additional income by using affiliate links. 

Websites like Amazon.com offer affiliate programs that allow you to link to products on their website using an affiliate link. If someone makes a purchase using your link, then you will get paid for the referral. This method won’t make you rich because the payouts are generally small, however, it is nice to have additional income streams.

Here is an example equipment list to give you an idea of what you can create:

Note: This example is a blog article. For a lead magnet, you would want to create a PDF page someone receives after giving you their email list. 

2. Provide a Case Study

A case study outlines a particular job you did that turned out really well. You should provide background on what the job was and the fantastic result you were able to deliver. People also love seeing behind the scenes. Anytime you can provide a general idea of how you managed to get this outcome it provides extra value to the customer.  Here is an example of a case study for a wedding shoot.


They outlined the background of which client they were serving along with the challenge that particular job presented. Next, they outlined the solution they came up with to help that client.

Overall, it provides value for their fans and it allows them to capture their audience.

3. Free Training Mini-Course

Mini-courses are really popular and provide exceptional value. Here is an example from Ranch House Designs that is offering a mini-course on cattle photography: Mini-Course Example

What is something simple that you can teach to your customers? 

The added benefit of offering a training mini-course is that this positions you as the expert. Your customers will see you as someone who has the experience needed to complete their job. 

Here is another training example offered from expertphotography.com.

4. Give a Free Ebook

Don’t panic. We aren’t encouraging you to go out and write the next Harry Potter novel.  This can be a small 10-30 page book that covers a specific problem that is common to your field. Similar to the mini-course, this option can be a tool that positions you as a leading expert. You can type up your ebook with Google Docs or Microsoft Word and use Canva.com to create the cover. 

Here is a link to a list of free photography ebooks that can give you ideas on what type of ebooks you could offer.

5. Software List

This example is similar to the equipment list option, but instead focuses on all the software you use. What photo or video editing software do you recommend? List all the software you use to work your projects. You can list expensive and lower-costing alternatives. Go to the software company’s website because many of them also have affiliate programs where they will pay you for people who sign up using your link. 

It’s generally best practice to make our audience aware that you might receive compensation for them using your link, but also include that these are genuine recommendations. 

6. Giveaways!

Giveaways can provide massive motivation for individuals to give you their email. The more expensive or higher the perceived value the greater your odds of your giveaway leading to a lot of opt-ins. The main issue with giveaways is that it might attract people who aren’t your ideal customer. 

If the potential customer isn’t interested in your service, then they will quickly unsubscribe from your email list immediately after entering your giveaway or contest. This means your prize should be something related to your industry that users would enjoy and that wouldn’t be as interesting to people who don’t care about your work. 

For example, an author would give away a kindle that only lets you read ebooks. A photographer might give away a camera or a free photoshoot. 

Many of the top contests will offer those who enter the opportunity to get more entries by sharing the giveaway on social media. This has the added benefit of increasing your email list while also helping you to build your social media following and help your giveaway to potentially become viral. 

There are many websites you can use to help you host your giveaway like gleam.io or rafflecopter.com.  

7. Discounts or Coupons

This tactic offers a discount on one of your packages or services. It adds an incentive to your potential customer for giving you their email address. One of the huge benefits is if someone signs up for this then, you know they are very interested in your service.  

The downfall of this option is that you get less money for your work. I would also avoid using services like Groupon.com. They get a percentage of your already reduced cost offer and rarely lead to repeat customers. It can in many ways be a race to the bottom when you are competing with other videographers or photographers for the lowest cost offer.

Lastly, Groupon can further reduce your discounted cost whenever they would like. I would only use this option if you have very little work experience and need customers to start off. 

8. Free How-to-guide

You can offer a visual step by step guide to overcoming a problem experienced by your audience. Maybe as a videographer, you can outline how to overcome bad lighting or how to shoot a video using just your iPhone. 

Think about common problems faced by your industry and how you can provide a quick win. These can be made with free software like canva.com which allows you to create journals or magazine type images and even import your own photos. 

9. Swipe File

A swipe file is a collection of examples for your audience to refer to, similar to Pinterest, or a mood board.. These are generally best practice examples meant to help your audience get ideas of what they can do. Swipe files are often used by media buyers, designers, and email marketers to help them get ideas to incorporate into their creations. 

The great thing about swipe files is you don’t have to only use your work for all of your examples. You can choose other examples that are best in class and cite who your sources are. If you want to see an example of swipe files, check out their site here.

10. Free Instant Quote

This method is appealing to new customers especially when they aren’t sure how many hours will be involved with a particular project. This also allows you to bid for bigger projects where your prices aren’t always set in stone. 

The customer gives you their email so you can email them back the quote. Now you have a new potential customer added to your email list. If they don’t take you up on your initial quote, then you can come up with a new offer based on their initial request and email it to them later to potentially get their business. 

How to get even more ideas

For more ideas on what you can give in exchange for an email, find other photographers or videographers who offer a lead magnet and give them your email. You can unsubscribe at any time, but you will gain a ton of ideas on what you can do personally. 

Take note of what they are doing that you can do even better. One important piece to keep in mind as you continue to do your research is don’t completely steal someone else’s work. You should take others’ ideas and make them your own. If you take them and improve the offer, then you will create a worthwhile reason for your customers to give you their email address. 

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