For Photographers

Email Newsletters -- Workflow Series pt. 23

This is the top of my monthly e-newsletter that I sent out in June. We send these out at the end of each month to re-cap what has happened in the past month at Melissa Jill Photography.

Today I'm continuing my series on Workflow for Photographers and sharing another one of my "bells & whistles" -- one of the added extras that can really help take your business to the next level. If you want to browse the rest of the workflow series to get caught up, click here!

For the past 8 years I have blogged an average of 3-4 times per week. I put a TON of work into my blog. And it's well worth it -- blogging has done wonders for my business. I've taught entire workshops on how valuable it is. But only about 50% of Americans read blogs. How do we as photographers reach out to those who aren't in the habit of following blogs and keep them connected and engaged with our brands?

The monthly e-newsletter is a great solution. It's my way of delivering the goodness of my blog in a pretty little package straight into their inbox. I've been sending out monthly newsletters for 7 years now and I still get people commenting on a monthly basis that they receive them and love them. This simple tool is SO valuable for keeping you and your business at the forefront of people's minds.

If you're a photographer, it may seem like just one more thing to add to your list of things to do. But here's the secret: There is no unique content in my newsletters. It's all basically copied and pasted from my blog posts that month. So people who read my blog on a regular basis will be bored. But, it's not intended for them. It's intended for the people who DON'T read my blog.

Throughout the newsletter, I give small teasers along with beautiful images, all intended to entice the reader to click on the links that direct them to the full posts on my blog. My hope is that they catch up on my blog once a month and then find themselves checking in on the blog on their own -- without the nudge of the newsletter. It's all about creating blog readers and customer evangelists out of those who have shown interest in me and my business.

So, who do we send the newsletter to? Initially, I added my family and friends to the list. We add any clients, vendors and wedding planners we work with along with wedding guests who sign up on the little half sheets of paper that we put out at receptions indicating they want to see the photos online. Individuals also have the ability to sign up to receive my newsletter on my website. So we get a good number of photographers signing up there as well. Over the years, our newsletter database has grown to 5000+.

There are a number of great e-newsletter services out there. We have used Constant Contact and Emma in the past, but currently use Infusionsoft -- and really love it. The great thing about Infusionsoft is that it does SO MUCH more than just email newsletters -- it's a super powerful tool that I'll try to share more about in the future. Infusionsoft allows you to easily format your email newsletters to fit your branding. All of these services help you organize your database and also make it easy for people to opt-out of receiving your emails if they'd like.

If you don't already do so, I'd highly recommend sending out a monthly newsletter. It's a great thing to do to maximize the reach of your blog, build your brand and increase and solidify your network. If you'd like to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, you can do so here!

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For Photographers

Referral Gifts -- Workflow Series pt. 22

It just doesn't get said enough.

My mom always taught me that it's nice to say "Thank You." But man, sometimes life is so full, and I'm so quick to move on to the next thing that it's hard to remember to stop, celebrate, and show appreciation. For years I simply thanked people who referred clients who booked me to shoot their weddings with a quick note over email. Looking back on that, I'm a bit embarrassed. After all, I only shoot around 10-15 weddings a year, so each wedding is a huge chunk of my business and a tremendous blessing to me.

A few years ago I sought out to remedy this situation by adding referral gifts to my regular workflow. These gifts are specifically for vendors who work in the wedding industry who are an ongoing source of referrals for me, or who have the potential to become such. Typically I already have a relationship with them and have worked hard to invest in it over the years, so this is just one more step in an ongoing relationship building process.

When I was thinking through what type of gift I wanted to give, I naturally thought about what I would want to receive. Duh!! Cupcakes and chocolates. Haha! I found two amazing companies that could customize and brand products for me and they also deliver!

Our most recent referral gift addition is a box of Anna Shea chocolates. I found out about these when a box showed up on my door as a thank you from a friend and I about DIED! These are not your standard box of assorted chocolates. They are miniature works of art that melt into sweet heaven in your mouth. I spent the week eating them and trying to decide which flavor was my favorite. It was a painstaking process that I gave my full efforts to. There wasn't one I didn't like in the bunch. So just like with anything I love, I immediately took up the mission of sharing the amazingness with everyone else! After having Anna Shea create a custom chocolate with our logo on it, I had to order another box for quality control purposes. Of course.

The box of chocolates is a great gift for individuals, but when a team refers us, we bring in the big guns with Sprinkles cupcakes.

Their branding is amazing, and I love that they have the perfect box of a dozen cupcakes ideal for spelling out "Thank You." My logo looks awfully scrumptious on sugar, don't you think?

We always deliver our referral gifts with a hand-written note, and in person whenever possible.

Because it is so easy to forget, I made sure to add "send referral gift" to my Wedding Workflow Checklist. That way completing this important task never falls through the cracks.

Writing this post has left me with a gigantic sweet tooth. I'm salivating and suddenly in desperate need of a chocolate. And a cupcake. Maybe a chocolate ON a cupcake? Is saying "Thank You" to yourself a thing?

Click here to find a complete list of the posts in The Workflow Series and get caught up! And let me know if you have any questions or added thoughts by leaving a comment below.

To find out about more resources I offer photographers, click here!

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Rancho Cucamonga MJ2Day | Day 2

Finally I get to share about this amazing group of people! These are the fine folks who attended the MJ2Day last week in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Most of the attendees came from various places in California but two crossed the country from North Carolina, and one traveled in from South Dakota. Starting at the top row L to R: Susanne Ashby, Jodi Lynn, Alex Mo, Promise Tangeman (our amazing host!!), Summer Shea, Hannah Nowill, Sara Nevels (my awesome office manager & workshop assistant), Jeremy Chou (workshop alumni & behind the scenes photographer), Becca Rillo, and Randall Nowill.

It was a great group and we packed the two days full to the brink. If you missed the recap of Day 1 of the workshop or the mock engagement shoot click on the links to get caught up! On Day 2 we covered business topics like the state of the market, workflow, album design & sales, vendor relations & networking, blogging & social media, initial client meetings, pricing, websites and branding. Phew! In essence, I poured the full contents of my brain on them. In the midst of all this learning, connections were made and relationships were formed. I think that's one of the best things about going to workshops! You come away with a whole new set of friends who share your passion!

On Day 2, we of course started with coffee.

Parker was worn out from all the excitement of Day 1 but Promise passed out some mimosas to keep the rest of our spirits high.

I LOVE talking about albums! Every couple should start their life together with one of these as their first family heirloom. We talked about how to sell them profitably and efficiently.

And we had a fabulous guest speaker!! Promise is an amazing graphic designer and she joined me to talk about websites and branding. We even critiqued a few of the attendees' websites -- two brave souls who volunteered!

In the early evening light we went outside and photographed one another. I did quick 5 minute sessions with each of the attendees. I usually only share the black and white head shots at the top of this post, but I couldn't resist sharing a few more of each attendee this time. They are a good looking bunch!

We had our very first husband and wife photography duo attend the MJ2Day this time! Could these two be any cuter? I'm so excited for them -- they are expecting their first baby girl in the coming months!

I found the perfect spot, apparently with a great mix of backlighting and a flattering hair breeze :).

And one more shout out to our generous host and my friend Promise Tangeman! This girl is beyond gorgeous, and the amazing thing is her beauty runs all the way to her core. She is such a generous, lovable person and I'm so thankful that she opened her home to us for the week! Thanks Prom!

Photographers - if you're interested in attending an upcoming workshop, the next one takes place in November in Phoenix. It's at my home and there are a few spots left! Click here to go to the workshop website for all the details!

One more HUGE thank you to our 12 sponsors who gave away over $13,000 worth of prizes to our attendees. THIRTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of stuff to only 7 people!!! CRAZY! I wanted to give a shout-out to our fabulous sponsors who added so much value to the attendees' workshop experience: Destination I Do Magazine, Pictage, Jared Platt Workshops, ShowIt, Two Bright Lights, Electric Dreams Design, B&H, Epiphanie Bags, ShootDotEdit, ShootQ, PASS, and Sitehouse. Thank you so much for your support!

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Rancho Cucamonga MJ2Day | Shoot

I just got back from California where I taught my most recent MJ2Day wedding photography and business workshop. We had SUCH a fun group and I can't wait to share more about them soon. But first, I wanted to share some photos from our shoot that we did on the first day of the workshop. During the day, before the shoot, we talked about photography topics like shooting techniques, finding great light, composition, posing, and interacting with clients. Then we went out into the good light the hour before sunset so I could demonstrate how I run a typical engagement shoot and put into action the topics we covered earlier in the day. Our two models were Mike and Erika who are married and just had their first baby girl only 2 months ago! Mike is a photographer himself and I loved getting to know these two a bit during our shoot. As you will see, they are drop dead gorgeous AND adorable together. I felt super-spoiled as we walked around Claremont and I got to photograph them in these beautiful locations! Throughout the shoot I took time to turn to the attendees and give them my thoughts on why I was making the choices I was making and what my settings were. Interspersed within my photographs below you will also see some behind the scenes photos. Thank you to my friend and MJ2Day alumni Jeremy Chou for taking those!

And of course we had to take a group shot at the end of the shoot!

Stay tuned for a recap of Day 2 of the workshop as well as more info about the Rancho Cucamonga attendees!


Equipment used for portraits of the models: Canon 5D Mark III // Canon 50mm 1.2 lens // Canon 70-200 2.8 lens

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Rancho Cucamonga MJ2Day | Day 1

Earlier this week photographers from across the nation converged on Rancho Cucamonga, CA for two intensive days of learning goodness at Promise Tangeman's house. Promise and her husband Brian were so kind to open their home to host one of my MJ2Day workshops, and it was the PERFECT space for teaching, learning and making new friends. They blessed my socks off by sharing their home with me and my workshop attendees and I couldn't be more grateful.

Parker the Goldendoodle had fun getting to know the attendees and trying to herd Dixie away from them -- haha!

I was able to stay with Promise and Brian for the week and I felt so cozy and welcome throughout my time with them.

Many an evening were spent in this hot tub -- including the last night of the workshop with all the attendees! So fun!

On day 1 we covered topics ranging from shooting techniques, to lighting, interacting with clients, posing and off-camera flash. A HUGE thank you to my friend and MJ2Day alumni Jeremy Chou for these behind the scenes photos! (All the unwatermarked images are Jeremy's.)

A big shout-out to our sponsors who lavished the attendees with all kinds of goodies!

We talked about finding good light for portraits as well as shooting in harsh light for ceremonies when we don't have the luxury of selecting beautiful light.

Dixie is a seasoned workshop attendee and enjoyed lots of snuggles.

Promise hung out with us a bit and served us Margaritas mid-day!

What an amazing first day! After our sessions, we headed out into the gorgeous light of the evening and did a mock engagement shoot where I was able to demonstrate all of the photography techniques that I taught throughout the day. Stay tuned for photos from that session soon!

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