Photo Seller’s Foundations: Connecting with customers.

A gallery of wildlife photos: a bird with a black bill and orange crest on the left, two zebras viewed from behind in the center, and an elephant facing the camera on the right. Photos by Harshil Gudka, Roi Dimor, Geran De Klerk, Aj Robbie.

Welcome back to the Photo Seller’s Foundations series. If you missed our posts on products and pricelists or coupons and discounts, you may want to start there. Go ahead, we’ll be here when you come back. 

(You can also tackle the series at your own pace on our Photo Seller’s Foundations page, or get a wealth of photography marketing and business strategy knowledge with our free Marketing for Photographers ebook.)

If you’re following along, you should have an established pricelist, a best-selling gallery, and a shiny new coupon ready for your customers. Now it’s time to get in touch. Today’s a big one: we’ll be going over the basics of email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), and we’ll take you step by step through how to post a promotional banner to your website. 

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Getting started with outreach.

Connecting with customers—new or returning—can be the hardest part of selling your photos. But there are a few simple ways to stay in touch with your existing customers, and attract new ones, with minimal time investment.

The most important part of this process is making content that people want to see. We’re willing to bet you’re already doing that with your photography, so let’s dig into the next step: leveraging those gorgeous photos to connect with more people. 

Putting yourself (and your photos) out there.

When you upload new photos to your SmugMug galleries or add new products to your pricelists, do you tell anyone? If so, great! You’re ahead of the game. But if you’re like lots of photographers, it’s upload, add a title and tags (maybe), and move on to the next task at hand.

All those beautiful photos can help you strengthen and expand your customer relationships. You’ve just gotta get them out there. We recommend starting simple, with email and social media.


Getting started with email marketing takes a little work up-front, but it’s easily the best way to keep in touch with your customers. The most important component is a rich and varied list of people to email about your photography. Here’s how to build it.

If you’re just starting out your sales journey, connect with family, friends, and coworkers to see who might be interested in hearing from you and seeing your latest photos. Then get their email addresses, and be sure you’ve got a contact form on your website so current and prospective customers can easily get in touch.

Not sure how to add your own contact form? Episode 69 of SmugMug Live! walks you through the process step by step. Watch it here. 

If you’re an established seller, you’ve got a head start on building an email list thanks to your previous customers. You can export a summary of your sales history by navigating to Account Settings > Business > Selling > Sales History > Manage. 

On the right side of this page, you’ll see the option to download a detailed .csv file of your entire sales history. Open this file in your favorite spreadsheet program, and you’ll see a column for the email addresses of every customer going back six years. 

Copy this column into a word processor or email marketing manager and presto! You’ve got the beginnings of an email list.

Pro tip: Be sure to download your sales history regularly so you can keep your email list up to date with your latest customers. The detailed version is also useful for tracking what types of products are most popular in your pricelist, how your customers are responding to a promotion, and more.

How you manage your email list is entirely up to you. Some photographers maintain their own curated email lists for different types of personal outreach. Others use services like MailChimp or Constant Contact to automate email sends and gain visibility into open rates, click rates, and overall engagement. 

We’ll cover content planning in tomorrow’s post, but whichever way you go, all that’s left is to send those emails! We recommend reaching out whenever you have something to announce: a new product added to your pricelists, photos from your latest shoot, workshops you’re offering, or discounts and offers like the one you made yesterday.

Here’s a sample email template to spread the word about your new promotion. Just download the PSD or HTML file; customize it with your personal photos, logo, and text; maybe throw in some of those best-selling product images from part 1; and you’re off to a great start.

Photos by Ludomił Sawicki, Bruno Guerrero, Amin RK.

One last thing: Email subject lines are an easy way to stand out in a crowded inbox, so don’t be afraid to get adventurous! Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • It’s here! A special gift just for you inside.
  • It’s my turn to thank YOU. Here’s a coupon for your next purchase.
  • Here’s 10% off your next print order, as a way of saying thanks.

Social media:

Many of the same rules for email marketing apply to social media as well. Did you post a new photo gallery, add a new product, or start a new promotion? Let your followers know on your social feeds.

The huge variety of platforms and metrics can seem like a complex beast, but really, it’s all about consistency and exposure. Share your content often (we’ll get to this tomorrow), tag your posts with relevant hashtags for discoverability, talk to other like-minded users, and you’re well on your way.

If you’re just getting started, here’s a quick and easy project to help you get some exposure: connecting your SmugMug site to your social outlets.

  • Log in to your SmugMug account, click Photo Site in the navigation bar, and then select Customize.
  • Choose what area of your site you want to add social icons to, like your Entire Site, or just your Homepage or Contact page. 
  • Drag the Social Icons content block to where you want it to appear.
  • Choose which accounts you want to show in the Social Icons settings, found by hovering over the content block and clicking the wrench icon.
  • Add your relevant URL to each active account, and you’re done! 

To keep you going strong, here’s a sampling of standard-sized promotional images for your social posts that include your brand-new 10% off discount. Download them here.

Getting discovered via SEO.

Photography is a big investment for most customers. People are doing research, comparing prices, and looking for just the right photographer to shoot their wedding, sell them the perfect photo for their living room, or take timeless family portraits. 

That means people are out there, every day, looking for your expertise, your art, your photography. 

SEO is how you get found by those potential customers, and we have a wealth of information on how to optimize your SmugMug site, right here at your fingertips. 

We recommend starting with our Four steps to improve your SEO on SmugMug article for a detailed breakdown of the essentials, and if you’re still hungry for more, our SEO for Photographers guide is available for download here.

While you’re making tweaks under the hood of your SmugMug site, there’s one more tool for reaching out that will help you connect with your customers: on-site promotions.

Building banners for on-site promotions.

You’ve built an email list. You’ve posted to social media. You’ve SEOptimized your SmugMug site, and you’re getting lots of love from organic traffic. What’s a hustling photographer to do next?

How about giving those lucky visitors a pleasant surprise? 

You’ve probably seen websites with promotional banners across the top of the homepage, or for specific categories of products, and you can build the same for your SmugMug site. Here’s how:

  • Make a new promotion for your SmugMug site using the directions from yesterday’s article as a guide. 
  • In your SmugMug account, click Photo Site in the navigation bar, and then select Customize.
  • Choose where you want your promotion to appear from the right-hand toolbar—for this walkthrough we’ll choose “Entire Site.”
  • In the same toolbar under the Content Blocks heading, expand the Text options (marked by a + sign).
  • Click and drag a Text content block to the header section of your “Entire site” window.
  • Fill in the text field with your promotion, then size and adjust your copy until it looks good on the page.
  • Click “Done” to save and close the text box, then click “Done” in the upper right to save your changes, and, lastly, click “Publish now” to make those changes live.
Want to follow along? Click here for a video walkthrough of adding a promotional banner to your site.

You can also make banners for specific areas of your site (like education or photoshoots) or for specific galleries (like a recent client) by following the steps above and choosing those sections, pages, or galleries instead of choosing “Entire site” when placing your text block.

Just imagine: a family friend receives your email about your new discount and decides to check out your SmugMug site. To their surprise, they’re greeted by an even better discount when checking out your galleries. Now all that’s left is for them to fall in love with a photo and bring it home with them—and receive a bonus 10% off their next purchase!

That’s just one of the ways the above tools can combine to drive more sales for you this season, and all year round. But to really bring it all together, you’ll have to check in tomorrow where we tackle the big picture.


Not quite ready to reach out to customers? Reach out to our sales specialists instead with any questions. We’re here to help.