I’m Taking A Break From Photography

Three loves dominated my 20s: running, reading, and photography. Last month I started my 35th year on Planet Earth 1 and I find myself re-evaluating my life priorities and goals, as I wrote about from a work/job perspective last month. Today, however, I find myself re-evaluating my personal priorities, especially those ones that fill my ever-decreasing free time. That’s why I’m writing here about why I’m taking a break from photography.

Why Take A Break?

My 30s brought tremendous change – good and “less than good” – to my life. A diagnosis of clinical depression. Weight gain and loss of fitness/wellness. A wedding videography side business. Unemployment for my spouse. Two new jobs within 6 months for my spouse. 7 years of marriage. Our first child.

I stubbornly tried to hang onto those major loves from my 20s, all the while trying to keep my head above water while managing all my life changes. The running comes and goes. The reading is fairly steady. However, I’ve found the photography took a back seat to other priorities such as our baby daughter and our wedding videography business.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

It’s funny to me how a physical print can have so much power compared to the same photo shown on a 5” phone screen. As I sat on the couch tonight, admiring a recent print enlargement, a realization occurred. I no longer find myself jealous towards those pursuing their photography dreams. I don’t have a “fear of missing out” when I look upon the fantastic works I see on Instagram and other places.

I asked myself, “Why?” Why am I not jealous? Why do I find myself not missing photographic opportunities as they arise?

It’s an excellent question, and I think the answer lies in the satisfaction and joy I’ve gained and found in other areas of my life. Photography held a place near and dear to my heart for almost two decades. A new child, however, fills up your heart almost entirely on their own, leaving little space for anything else in your life. You are forced to cull your priorities to the ones you hold dearest.

Not The End

Today, I find my joy of photography is filled by the joy of my daughter, personal photography, and my wedding videography business. I am comfortable with these changes in my life priorities because I’m coming to a realization that we live many lifetimes within our single life.

My early adult lifetime was filled with discovery, including the discovery of my love of photography. My 30s are now filled with the discovery of my love of my daughter and growing family. I know priorities change and I know life brings about many changes, however, this is not a good nor a bad change, but merely the evolution of my life.

I am looking forward to seeing where the next changes will come from, and what they will entail. Are you?

Growing Your Email List in 2018

Why growing your email list in 2018 is important, via Only Influencers:

Fast forward to today. Ignoring the need to add new email subscribers to your list is no more an option now than it was before. Your list is either growing or it’s shrinking. Shrinking is not a good strategy for any email marketer. Besides, email is not just for retention. New subscribers have a funny habit of becoming customers.

The above quote from Chris Marriott succinctly positions the email marketing industry in 2018. There are many rules, written and unwritten, that those in email marketing need to follow. The consequences of not following those rules, however, have never been greater than they are today. It’s those consequences that are the reasons why you should be growing your email list in 2018 the right way.

Consequences of buying your email list.

Seven years ago, I started a new position in corporate marketing at GreatAmerica Financial Services. I learned all about email marketing while on the job, and can safely say that I’ve learned how buying or renting an email list is bad news. As Chris Marriott explains in the aforementioned article, many marketers previously found ways to “justify” buying or renting email lists, mostly because the consequences were equivalent to a slap on the wrist.

Attendees at the numerous email marketing conferences began to follow their own version the of the Rules of Fight Club from the 1999 movie of Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton:

  1. The first rule: you do not talk about Email Subscriber Acquisition
  2. The second rule: you DO NOT talk about Email Subscriber Acquisition!

My experience match Mr. Marriott’s, and one not-so-proud-moment in my own personal marketing history follows. I acquired a list of several thousand email addresses via one of those infamous “business research companies.” When we sent out the email blast – remember that term?! – we were immediately inundated with an email bounce rate greater than 30%.

What was our punishment or consequence? Nothing. Not internally, not from our ESP, not from a blacklist, nothing.

Consequences of poor email list hygiene

Fast forward to this year. One email that we sent to a customer list had a bounce rate over 10%. While this certainly isn’t good – nor is it typical of our regular email sends – we quickly received notice from our ESP inquiring about the situation.

  • Was the list created through permission-based practices?
  • Was the list purchased or rented?

And so on. It was clear that our ESP was ensuring that we, their customer, would operate under the guise of permission-based marketing. No longer would the ESP tolerate even a 10% bounce rate, let alone the 30% bounce rate we saw a half-decade ago.

Advances in email list best practices

It took me the better half of a decade, but our company finally came around to what Marriott calls “The New Rules of Email Subscriber Acquisition.”

  1. Don’t jeopardize the inbox.
  2. Quality is in; quantity is out.
  3. Don’t rely on dumb luck.

And just as my personal experiences reflected the “not-best” practices of yesteryear, today my experiences closely mirror the New Rules.

We care about the subscriber.

We’re not blasting every message, to every list member, all the time. No. We ensure that those on our email lists are there because they want to be, because they signed up to be there.

We care about the message.

Is this what the subscriber signed up to read about? Is the email relevant to the recipient? We ask and answer those questions before each email is sent.

We care about the data.

Every number, every subscriber, every open, every click. All of these help tell a story. It’s important to me and my team members that we listen carefully to what story the data is telling.

Growing your email list in 2018 is not sexy.

It’s hard work, and the dividends are difficult to see in the short-term. The consequences of growing your email list the wrong way are too great for email marketers to ignore in 2018. Yes, it’s not sexy. Consumer trust – or a lack of consumer trust – dominates today’s marketplace, and doing the right thing, no matter how little, is worthwhile to keep or gain that trust.