To earn money from your travel photography, it is crucial to connect with potential clients who are interested in purchasing your work. This could include magazines like National Geographic, travel book publishers, travel agencies, tourism boards, and designers of wall calendars, among others. While the market for travel photography is vast, it is important to know how to reach out to the right individuals.

With that in mind, here is a comprehensive guide on how to effectively cold email potential clients who may be interested in buying your travel photography. Avoid common mistakes that can lead to your emails being ignored or marked as spam. By following these protocols, you will significantly increase your chances of making a successful connection.

Customize Your Approach

A cold email is your initial introduction to a potential client who has not requested any contact from you. While they may not be familiar with you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do some research about them.

Utilize the internet to gather information about the company and the type of photography they typically use. If you only have access to a generic email address, reach out to ask for the direct email and name of the person responsible for purchasing imagery. You can also inquire about their preferences, such as whether they prefer buying images individually, using stock photos, or commissioning specific photo essays.

Once you have identified the recipient of your email, personalize your message accordingly. It is more effective to craft individualized emails for specific individuals rather than sending out a generic email to a large group of people. This personal touch will enhance your chances of success.

Keep It Concise

No one wants to open an email and be greeted with a lengthy essay about your personal background, accomplishments, and why you’re perfect for the job. Photo editors lead busy lives and don’t have time to spend on cold emails from unfamiliar senders.

Therefore, keep your email concise. Introduce yourself with a single line mentioning your current position and relevant publication credits if applicable. Clearly state the purpose of your email, whether it’s to learn more about their process, showcase specific photographs, or inquire about potential commissions.

You can include polite pleasantries, but avoid unnecessary details. Direct the recipient to your portfolio website and end your email there.

Be Clear and Direct

Don’t leave potential clients guessing about your intentions. If you simply send an email stating that you’re a travel photographer with impressive recent works, you haven’t given them a clear call to action. Your email will be treated as insignificant news.

Make sure to specify what you want them to do next. Ask them to review your portfolio with the intention of hiring you, inquire about any current commission opportunities, or mention the specific photographs you’re interested in selling. Respect their time by being straightforward and to the point.

Pay attention to your tone and how your message may be perceived. Avoid sounding demanding or assuming that they will immediately pay you. Instead, politely ask them to evaluate your work and consider further steps. Keep in mind that they likely receive numerous emails of this nature on a weekly basis.

Showcase Your Work

It’s often a good idea to include one or two images in your email. If you have a stunning photograph in your portfolio or one that you specifically want to sell, embed it in the body of your email or attach it as a file.

Consider the inbox limits and keep the file size of any attachments as small as possible. Avoid overwhelming the recipient with numerous large attachments as they may take a long time to load. Including one or two carefully selected examples of your work should suffice. If the editor wants to see more, they can visit the portfolio link you provided. Your chosen samples should effectively showcase your skills. If they fail to impress, it’s unlikely that the editor would have been interested regardless.

Be Persistent

Due to the high volume of emails people receive, it’s not uncommon to experience a delay in responses. Expect that you may not receive an immediate reply.

Wait at least a week, or longer for particularly busy individuals, before following up. Send a brief message asking if they have seen your previous email and recap the essential points. If there is a time-sensitive aspect to your photographs, such as capturing a specific event or attention being focused on a particular location, mention this in your follow-up email to emphasize the urgency.

Avoid following up more than twice as it may come across as too pushy. Editors with heavy workloads will not appreciate this. Additionally, be mindful of not following up too quickly, such as within one day. This portrays a lack of respect for their workload and the numerous emails they must address while performing their actual duties. Remember, everyone involved in this exchange is a human being, and pushing them may leave a negative impression.

Building a relationship with a client is more valuable than a single sale. Annoying them may result in only one sale, and thereafter, no further business. Conversely, maintaining polite and respectful communication, and even engaging in casual conversation, could lead to long-term sales opportunities even if they decline your initial proposal. Cultivating a positive working relationship can be more lucrative than a one-time transaction.

Consider Timing

The timing of your email can significantly impact its effectiveness. For example, if you are cold emailing wall calendar manufacturers in January, they may be busy fulfilling current orders for the year. However, if you contact them in December, you may already be too late as the production process has likely begun.

Each industry has specific dates and cycles. Research and determine the appropriate timing for reaching out to potential clients in your niche. You can even ask them directly about the best time to submit new work if you are unsure.

By avoiding common pitfalls such as being rude or aggressive, providing excessive information, and using generic copy, and employing these positive techniques instead, you will greatly improve your chances of success when cold emailing potential clients in the travel photography industry.