Writing Better Cold Emails for Music Photographers

Cold emailing can be an efficient method for reaching new clients as a music photographer. It may be possible to reach dozens or hundreds of potential new clients. What cold emails lack in effectiveness, they make up for in relative ease and reach.

In this article, we'll cover a common mistake many photographers (and in particular music photographers) make when trying to pitch their services.

Effective cold emails should do a few things well. Ideally, your cold emails should:

  • Clearly understand the reader/audience and their potential needs
  • They should very clearly state your value
  • You should establish credibility
  • There should be a clear ask that prompts a response

One common problem with music photographers emailing clients occurs with this last point.

Avoid the Trap of Vague Wording

It's best to be as clear as possible in a cold email. All too often, I hear from music photographers who are asking bands or management if they “need a photographer” or they are generally stating how they'd “love to photograph the show.”

Even the wording “I'd love to work with you” may a little too ambiguous for our purposes here.

When asking if a band “needs a photographer,” it can easily be confused with offering to shoot for free (which is a common occurrence) or asking for access in exchange for photos. Generally wanting to “shoot the show” or “shoot with you” is similarly vague. What comes across at most is a request for access.

None of these requests are what you want to communicate if you're actually inquiring about being paid as a professional. And if you're cold emailing prospective clients to be paid as a music photographer, this is exactly what you want to do.

At best, vague language is only inefficient — and there are situations that are perfectly suited to diction open to interpretation. But at worst, when using vague language you fail to communicate clearly and you won't get the result you want.

Using Specific Business Language

If you want to clear, use business language that is specific as possible if the goal is avoiding any possible confusion. Here are a couple phrases that can help avoid confusion:

“Hire a photographer”

The use of the business specific action of hiring is very clear. You're not volunteering, you're not asking for a photo pass, you're not hoping to trade photos for access, you're not giving away your work. Aside from some willful misunderstanding, asking if they're looking to hire a professional is about as clear as it gets.

“Happy to discuss rates”

This is a great follow up to the above use of “hire,” which may be used well in a follow up. You're reinforcing that you're offering a service, and if they have need of it, you can get into the details. The use of “rates” here isn't jumping the gun with more info than is needed, but floats the discussion of pricing as part of the natural flow of conversation.

End Notes

There's no single magic cold email template that will work 100% of the time. Using cold emails is a numbers game — it's about creating opportunities and forging new connections. Cold emails might have a very low success rate, maybe 10% for a positive response, and an even much smaller percentage for actually booking a job.

Given all the challenges of generating business, using clear language can be a huge asset to the best results when cold emailing as a music photographer.