Email marketing secrets from a creative freelancer

Jeff Slutz

What we learned from photographer Michelle Koechle

In 2011, Michelle Koechle did something a lot of folks only dream about doing.

She took a leap of faith, left her career in human resources to study photography and started her own portrait business.

But there was much more to learn than just photography. Michelle had
to think creatively about ways to stay in front of clients and attract new ones. So in addition to honing her craft, Michelle got into marketing

After all, says, Michelle, “being a photographer is 80 percent business
and 20 percent making art."

Between photo shoots, editing and all the administrative work that
comes with running a business, Michelle decided to focus on her blog.
It's where she features both her latest photo shoots and her easy-going, friendly personality – making it clear she’s the kind of photog you’d want
to spend a few hours smiling for.



The send-off, at a glance: 

  • Sent on a Wednesday at 7:45 p.m.
  • Open rate: 34.4%
  • Click-through rate: 22.8%
  • Why Michelle calls it a success: "Besides having a lot of
    beautiful work to show, this email linked to my first outfit-of-the-month blog post, which features my favorite fashion choices. It got quite a few clicks, and that helped me know to include personal content like that in future mailings."



Emma's custom design services made it easy

Once the blog was up and running, Michelle had a new challenge: getting people to come back regularly to check out new content. That’s when Michelle joined Emma. Now she creates monthly recaps of her blog content. Michelle teases several posts with beautiful imagery and a few friendly sentences to draw in readers. “I want my emails to feel like an extension of my blog,” says Michelle.

When you’re running your own business, finding help is a key to success. And Michelle found that help in Emma's custom template design service. “I like how I was able to really affordably hire somebody at Emma to design a template for me,” says Michelle. Her custom email template matches the aesthetic of her website and blog, so she delivers a consistent monthly brand experience right to her subscribers’ inboxes.


List growth equals business growth

Just in the last year, Michelle has more than tripled her list of email subscribers. How? She collects email addresses of visitors to her online galleries and offers signup opportunities at the weddings she shoots. She attributes this steady growth in her online audience to the success of her business, because she’s attracting blog visitors who value her style and gladly refer her to friends.


The takeaways

Be yourself. What are the best parts of your brand? Focus your marketing efforts where those things are on full display. You won't just attract customers – you'll attract the right *kind* of customers.

Try something new. Your emails are a great place to test new content (like Michelle's outfit-of-the-month), because real-time tracking will tell you what's working.

Be intentional about your marketing. What sets Michelle apart from many other freelancers? She acknowledges that marketing is a part of being a creative professional, and she intentionally builds it into her workflow.



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