Long Nights Moon & New Edition Sizes

"Long Nights Moon", Copyright Jim Nickelson. All Rights Reserved.

First up is a new image from December that you may have seen in my 2011 Favorites, Long Nights Moon. December’s full moon has many names but my favorite (and the one most appropriate for this photograph) is Long Nights Moon. I really don’t know how this image will look on everybody’s monitor as dark images such as this one are particularly susceptible to monitor variations, but the print really sings. The print also is an incredibly tough one to print – one of toughest I’ve ever done – because when you are printing in the shadows everything must be perfect for the print to feel right. I’m still fine-tuning the print as I live with the image on my walls right now. Next up in my Adventures in Celestial Mechanics series is tonight’s full moon, the Wolf Moon – I’m pretty optimistic with the images I took in the last 24 hours for this one. More on this soon…

In other news, I’ve tweaked things a bit on the business end for 2012. Most importantly, I’ve reduced my edition sizes significantly for any new editions (i.e., new photographs and editions that have not yet had any sales). My new edition sizes are 10 16″x16″ prints, 8 24″x24″ prints, and 5 36″x36″ (along with a sub-8″ open editions). The prices have also changed accordingly for the 16″ and 24″ sizes.

Mailchimp vs. Constant Contact Email Platforms for Photographers

"Thunder Moon III", Copyright Jim Nickelson

Recently I launched my first email newsletter for my photography and printing businesses using Mailchimp (you can sign up here if you are interested in receiving future ones). Services like Mailchimp provide a valuable service to photographers or other artists who are marketing their work, providing a means to create and deliver attractive and effective e-mail newsletters. Since I’ve also used Constant ContactConstant Contact (find it here) quite a bit during the last year (as part of FocusMaine), I thought my thoughts/review of the two might be useful to other artists who are thinking of using one of these services, especially since these two seem to be the two biggest players in this space. Mind you, this won’t be a full review or blow-by-blow comparison — just my thoughts as a photographer and newish user of each.

Before I discuss the differences between these two, there is a threshold question – why not just send emails from your normal email program? The first advantage for me is that email platforms provide an easy and clean way of managing a big list and, importantly for compliance with anti-spam laws, also provide a quick and safe way for people to unsubscribe from your lists. If your list isn’t big now, hopefully you will be in the future, and it is better to start off with a platform rather than trying to move an existing list. The second advantage is of design – you can create much nicer and more professional emails using these platforms than you can with your regular email editor. The third advantage is deliverability – I have no way of confirming this, but apparently more of your emails do get delivered by using these platforms as anti-spam technology recognizes that emails coming from these sources are less likely to be spam. The final advantage for me is tracking and reporting – for each email campaign, you can track pretty much everything – where people clicked and didn’t click, who opened and clicked, what worked and didn’t work – and thus improve future mailings.

So, why did I choose Mailchimp when I already had experience with CC? First, it is a bit less expensive than CC for comparable plans, and their forever free plan that limits you to 2000 subscribers is actually pretty full-featured. CC gives you a free two-month demo but it obviously has an end. CC also had a number of small but annoying fees, such as charging you extra if you wanted to have more than 5 image files loaded for your account.

Another advantage of Mailchimp is that it is ridiculously easy to use and to create a good-looking email. CC seems to have more potential power and is not horrible in terms of user-friendliness, but I think Mailchimp hits a sweet spot on capability and usability, particularly for more general users. As one example of its power and simplicity, when I used one of the standard Mailchimp templates, it went out and automatically found my home website, grabbed the colors and such from there, and made my template match – just like that. Slick. I found Mailchimp’s design templates to be both more varied and also more attractive than those I used with CC, too.

As a warning, Mailchimp inserts monkey-related humor throughout its website, too, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personal sense of humor (I like much of it personally). But it is reflective of its user-friendliness when compared to CC, which feels more corporate.

Both of these services are free to try and I encourage any photographer wishing to make their email marketing more powerful and professional to consider either one. I think many people, particularly visual artists, will be better served by the clean designs and ease-of-use of Mailchimp, but CC is also certainly worth a look to see if it has exclusive features you might find essential.

Do you have experiences with either of these programs you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below…



E-mail marketing for photographers

I’m in the process of starting to send out email newsletters (you can sign up here!) and I thought that it might be interesting to other photographers to hear my thought process, and lessons learned, as I go through the process of learning another way of marketing.

Photoshelter just created a short but useful overview of e-mail marketing for photographers – find the free download (along with many other free resources) here. That is a pretty good starting point and well worth the short time to read. They also just posted a short interview with one of the photographers featured in the overview if you want to find out more about how one person has handled this.

So what have I learned so far? Use a provider such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact to send the e-mails to make it easier to obey anti-spam laws. Don’t be heavy-handed in terms of selling. Everybody has too much in their inbox, so make your emails short, direct, and of value to people. Include good, and large, photographs, since that is what we do and it is the kind of content that people enjoy. Link to your website — and give people a reason to do so. That is all pretty general, of course, but I expect to have many more specific thoughts as I get ready to launch my first newsletter.

If you have any thoughts as an e-mail recipient as to what you like or don’t like, feel free to comment here!

"Lincolnville Beach, Sunrise Study #6", Copyright Jim Nickelson. All Rights Reserved.