15 Things That Photo Buyers Love To See In An Email

15 Things That Photo Buyers Love To See In An Email

If you are photographer who uses email as a way to market yourself, then you should download 2 free research reports that will help you fine tune those efforts. If you’re not using email, you’re missing the boat. Email marketing works.

The reports, “Email Marketing for Photographers“, and “What Buyers Want from Photographers“, were recently created by the PhotoShelter Research Team, both of which contain a wealth of extremely candid information from photo editors and image buyers.

In these reports, photo editors and art directors tell how photographers can get their attention, and leave a positive impression, via email.

I’ve decided to take things one step further by adding additional commentary for each of the points.


1) Images must be beautiful, striking, high quality

This probably sounds obvious to you, right? Of course this is important! But what’s less obvious is the fact that you are incapable of being an objective judge of your own work. Consider getting someone else involved here – in fact, consider getting several other people to play editor for you. (Preferably someone who is already a photo editor/photo buyer.)


2) State relevance in subject line

If you could take a look the typical inbox for a photo editor, you’d probably be shocked at how many photographers are flooding them with emails each day. Let’s face it, there are a lot of us out there – and we all want work. And you know what? Not all of those emails are read. The subject line is of critical importance when it comes to open rates. But what’s most important is what comes next – after the email is opened.

If you create a misleading subject line just to get them to open it, and the content doesn’t match the subject, you’re going to lose some trust points with that editor/buyer.


3) Image(s) and copy immediately relevant

Make sure that the images and/or story idea that you’re emailing about is clear and obvious right away, and it’s appropriate for the recipient. Get right to the point. Photo editors are extremely busy, and they should know what your email is about within a few seconds of opening it. Keep that in mind as you write.


4) Unique style or technique

Don’t be like everyone else. You should have your own unique style and approach to photography, and it should be loud and clear in your email. If you end up looking (and thinking) like everyone else in their inbox, you stand a good chance of being ignored.


5) Images truly represent a photographer’s work

Make sure that the images (style, subject matter, technical approach) in your email are also present on your website – in an easy-to-find location. If a photo editor loves your style enough to visit your website, make sure you can give them more of what got the excited in the first place.


6) Highly targeted vs. clearly a mass mailing

There’s no replacement for doing your homework. Very few people actually do it, so this is an easy way to stand out from the crowd. Know who you are emailing, what they’re interested in, what they’ve recently used, what styles work with their publication, and the subject matter that hits their sweet spot. By sending an email that’s personally tailored to each person, you look like a savvy in-the-know photographer instead of a lazy spammer.


7) Simple and direct

Similar to point #3, keep things simple. Avoid the long-winded stories about your background, or the details leading up to the reasons why you are super passionate about photography. Be simple and direct, get to the point right away, and leave them with a link where they can find out more information if they want to.


8) Emotionally riveting/ evocative

Don’t be afraid to play with their emotions – in a good way. Make them feel something when they see your images, or read your stories. In doing so, they will get a feel for how their readers will react. Connecting on an emotional level is one of the best sales tactics in human history. Describe feelings, moods, and use expressive terms to sell your story, photos, and yourself.


9) Demonstrate problem solving

Photo editors want to work with people who don’t create additional problems. When a challenge comes up during an assignment, the photographer will find a solution without bothering the editor. They just get shit done, period. If at all possible, you should be showing that you are a problem solver, not a problem maker. Let them know that you take direct and personal responsibility for making things run as smoothly as possible — and that it’s not all up to them.


10) Clever and creative copy/ headlines

This is another way to make yourself stand above the crowd. It’s not all about photos – it’s also about writing and words. Your images should to have their own style and approach to them – so should your words. Avoid obvious cliches and typical boring words and phrases. Being clever and creative can set you apart.


11) Share work in use by other campaigns

If you’ve been published recently elsewhere, don’t be afraid to share it. Photo editors/buyers love to see how your photography has been used before because it gives them a better sense of your range and professionalism.


12) Sensible, accessible geographic location

Photo editors want to know where you are. What’s your home base? They want to know this because most assignments don’t have budget for travel, and they want to find someone local to that area. Don’t hide this information (many photographers do!) If you have a fear of not getting a cool assignment that involves travel because you’ve mentioned your location – you should instead have a fear of missing an assignment in your own backyard.


13) Good self promotional design

When you’re sending out a mass-mailing or a newsletter to many people make sure that you’ve designed the email to give you the promotion that you need. (That’s the whole reason for the email in the first place, right?) This means making sure that your images are large enough to have impact; your name and contact information is clearly visible; and your specialties are obvious. These things should be built right into the design of the email itself, and not buried at the bottom in small text. It’s OK, and expected, to promote yourself in these emails.


14) Highlight the photographer’s abilities, specialties

Similar to what I mentioned above (in point #13), if you have a specialty, or a set of unique abilities, make sure you make this very clear and obvious. Don’t assume that every photographer has the same set of skills that you do. Remember that photo editors want to find a photographer who is going to perform, and come back with the images they need. You can build up their confidence in you by listing your abilities – thereby increasing the chance that you’ll get the assignment over someone who doesn’t.

15) Consistency/ regularity in sending promos
One email isn’t going to cut it. Your overall goal is to become a household name for photo editors, and that can take a while. This is the reason why big companies run ads in magazines over and over again. It takes a certain amount of repetition for you to go from an unknown to a known. Be consistent and regular with your promo emails. If you’re promoting a specific style, don’t showcase a totally different style with each email – stick to the style you want to be known for. Also, you should stick to a regular schedule for your email promos. This shows that you are dependable, disciplined, and consistent in your approach to business.

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Speaking of email, you should also get your hands on Email Marketing for Photographers, another FREE guide that will teach you how to turn your client emails into an effective marketing tool. Produced by the PhotoShelter research team, this 15-page guide shares valuable information that will help you grow your business using proven email marketing tactics.

Download this free guide right now!

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This article was written by

PhotoShelter co-founder and GM

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