Marketing Advice: Photographer Stacy Kranitz’s Attention-Grabbing Email Newsletter

June 3, 2019

By David Walker

©Stacy Kranitz

Stacy Kranitz, who is based in Lexington, Kentucky and Smithville, Tennessee, included this map in her most recent email newsletter. She wanted to show potential clients her proximity to the many U.S. cities where they might need to send a photographer.

Responding to a question PDN asked about the best ways for photographers to reach out to ESPN, the sports network’s senior photo editor Julianne Varacchi called attention to the email newsletter of photographer Stacy Kranitz. “It’s the perfect template for me for photographers that reach out,” Varacchi said. (See the full interview here)

A fine-art documentary photographer with frequent editorial assignments, Kranitz blasts a newsletter two to four times annually to a mailing list of about 2,500 contacts. They include curators, gallerists, photo editors, some fellow photographers and others who have expressed interest in her work over the years. The frequency of the newsletter depends upon the ebb and flow of her work. “You want people to have eyes on your work, but the 2,500 [recipients] have an easy opt-out option, and I value their time. So if they’re going to open my newsletter, it’s going to be filled with stuff.”

Photos © Stacy Kranitz
Click the image to see the full version of the email. Photos © Stacy Kranitz

A highlight of Kranitz’s April newsletter is a hand-drawn map of the south-central Appalachian region. It shows all the cities within a few hours’ driving distance of Lexington, Kentucky and Smithville, Tennessee, the two cities where Kranitz divides her time. “I spent a whole day making [the] map,” she says, explaining that she did it to help clients visualize her proximity to many places they might need a photographer—like Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, as well as Indianapolis and Columbus. Clients “keep sending people from New York and it’s driving me crazy!…So I really have to show them,” Kranitz says.

Kranitz started sending newsletters by email about a decade ago, “when things kind of collapsed in the media industry. I had less money to spend on [printed] promotions.” Email promotion was a lot cheaper; she estimates that it costs $300 or $400 annually to send newsletters.

Kranitz arranges each newsletter in sections presented as linked lists, including lists of recent assignments, recent and upcoming exhibitions, recently published reviews or articles about her work, and a list of anthologies that have included portfolios of her work. She keeps the text to a minimum, and with each section includes four or five recent images. “I just do it the way that it looks good to me. And I keep it the same every time, with just a little variation: image text image text.” Sometimes, she tailors the newsletters slightly for different groups of recipients—sharing her travel itinerary to editorial clients, for instance, but not with gallerists and curators. (Keeping a good database, with recipients divided into categories, is an important part of the job, she notes.)

Looking at Kranitz’s April 2 newsletter, Varacchi provided PDN with a list of everything she liked about it:

  • Stacy’s contact info and website are right at the top, and she begins with fresh news about her personal work.
  • She gives you a sense of her focus and passion working in Appalachia and also how close she is to other cities.  Which is hugely helpful.
  • Stacy also has a list of recent work – the outlet and a link that is easy to read and not pages long.  Sometimes photographers will say they work with many different clients, then list them, then have photos broken down with links to recent work.  And then multiple links to different sections of their website.  Stacy does all of that in one concise list without repeating the obvious – she works with a lot of different people on various topics. When you give people too many options they won’t look at any.
  • Stacy lets her work speak for itself without an overly detailed artist’s statement or repeating information.  It reads like a journal entry, you get to know a little about her as a person and photographer (which is important for editors to know… we work with many amazingly talented photographers but when it comes to making decisions on who to hire for a specific assignment knowing who you are is just as important as experience and approach)
  • Even the font choice and size adds to the overall feel
  • I don’t have to read paragraphs! Making a newsletter feel personal is nice, but doing that in one or two sentences is best.

The newsletter title, which appears in the subject line of her email blasts, “is probably more important than a lot of things I worry about,” Kranitz says. She wants it to be “catchy,” but “not misleading,” she says, “So I try to be literal and straightforward.”

For instance, “Stacy Kranitz: New Book + Exhibition” was the subject line of the newsletter she sent on April 2. She leads off by announcing that 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of her ongoing Appalachian project called “As It Was Give(n) to Me.” Twin Palms will publish the work as a book this fall, and the work will be exhibited at Les Recontres de la Photographie in Arles, France this summer.

Kranitz says 30 percent of her 2,500 recipients—about 750 people—clicked on her April 2 newsletter to read it. The open rate on her previous newsletter, last fall, was 43 percent. That’s typical, she says: open rates fluctuate from one newsletter to the next by about ten percent. Kranitz studies her analytics, which tell her who is opening the newsletter and who isn’t. Beyond that, she’s been unable to glean many clues about why some newsletters are more successful than others. “I know none of the secrets,” she says. “A lot of it is confusing to me.”

Kranitz says she is always consistent about sending her email blasts on a Tuesday or Wednesday, around 11 a.m. Her advice to other photographers who send out newsletters is to “get someone to proofread it before you send it out.”

She also advises against sending newsletters too frequently. “More than quarterly seems a little aggressive to me,” Kranitz says. “I’m not all that convinced that sending more emails is going to get peoples’ attention.”

Kranitz says she’s planning to send print promotions again after a ten-year hiatus, with hopes of reaching the people on her mailing list who never open her email newsletter. “It’s important to have a multi-pronged approach, but the beautiful thing about email is that it’s so affordable.”

Want more PDN? Click here to sign up for our email newsletter and get the week’s top stories delivered straight to you.

How Stacy Kranitz Avoided Stereotypes in her Series on Appalachia

Stacy Kranitz & Zoe Strauss on their Collaborative Examination of American Economic Decay

Who I’ve Hired: Julianne Varacchi, Senior Photo Editor, ESPN

Facebook Comments