Small business owners are prone to a yearly philosophical check in – or let’s be real – a yearly panic attack. As the owner of a portrait photography business with one employee (yes, that’s me), I get it. I have found myself each February with a deeply furrowed brow, fully engrossed in small business blogs, tutorials, webinars, and more. I wonder, how do I grow this business? Do I want to grow? Am I really offering what people want? What’s my plan? These fundamental questions flood my brain until I am frozen and unable to get anything done.
So, if like me, you start watching the online business gurus with ginormous social media followings. Maybe you become one of their followers. The gurus wag their fingers from their perfectly crafted Instagrams and say that what you need is….an email list. Wait? What? That’s it? Spam customers? Nobody wants that. It smells of telemarketing which is why we love that “block caller” feature on our phones.
Thankfully the gurus actually advocate something very different from spam. Phew! The gurus want you as a small business owner to succeed by “servicing” clients through thriving email lists. And they actually have amazing ideas on just how to do that. Ideas like: free downloads, ebooks, educational webinars or podcasts, online quizzes and games, consistent and authentic content, exclusive offers for subscribers, and more.
You may be thinking “Wow! Those are great ideas!!” You may also be thinking that those ides could literally take Every. Waking. Moment. You. Have. In. Life. Who exactly would be left to run the business and do the work? Who creates the products and services that actually make money? This is when it feels appropriate to cover your eyes with your hands and fantasize about how it might just be easier to work for someone else.
I realize that I have set up quite a problem. Thank goodness, it’s not a problem without a solution.
Once you recognize you are only borrowing space on social media and that email lists are a way to create a community of subscribers that is truly yours to keep, there is no going back. It is absolutely worth the time to make it happen…but you may need help. That’s okay! Sit down and figure out your strengths and capabilities beyond the business you have created. Then sit down and figure out what your weaknesses are. If you are not already a photographer-copywriter-email-platform whiz, then it’s time to consider investing in a local professional.
There are people who actually love and “get” social media and how it can help build your email lists. There are people who can write a newsletter or white paper or even just an action-driven subscriber landing page. They know about email campaigns and can wordsmith to reflect your authentic voice and image. There are people who are able to create the content that fits your vision and that is an investment that should ultimately pay for itself.
As a photographer, I have been privileged to help entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits with fresh headshots and images to fill websites and newsletters with content that is intentionally crafted and enticing. No more lackluster Instagram grids! As a copywriter, I have written impactful e-newsletters, thank you letters, annual reports, website content, guest articles for local publications, press releases, and more. I can evaluate where you are now with your online presence to craft the ideal strategy that uses email lists to reach the right audience and inspire them to take action.
I am a firm believer in the power of email lists for just about every business that I can imagine. But, it’s okay as a small business owner or non-profit to say “I ain’t got time for that” and hand it over to a professional. I do what I love, so that my clients can get back to doing what they love.
Angie Windheim is the owner, copywriter and photographer for Angie Windheim Communications LLC