I’ve had a pretty exciting and exhausting 18 months. I’ve been traveling, leading photo tours and workshops, and finishing my latest book. We’re so excited around here as it heads for the printer!
My experience is that I need to feel passionate about whatever I am doing to do it well. This goes for my artwork as well as writing books, emails, and this blog. Sure, I do things anyhow because life must go on—as we all do—but it is always so much better to be creative and passionate.
Recently, I designed a survey for subscribers to my email list (if you are interested in my email list, you can subscribe here). I wanted to find out what people liked about what I have been doing, what they didn’t like, and also maybe get some ideas about how to change things to make it more exciting for all of us.
I have never designed a survey before, and I’m not sure I did a very good job. I know one thing I personally hate when I take a survey is a radio-button list, where I must choose one, and somehow so much of the time none of the choices are right. So I designed my survey without radio buttons, and with only optional questions. There were only checkboxes to enter answers, and if none of the answers were right there was a text box for putting in one’s own answer. This textbox could also be used if the person filling out the survey wanted to elaborate on something they had checked, or just send me an observation.
Roughly 350 people completed my survey—thank you all very much!
My first question was “How did you find out about my email list?” The biggest category of response was from my website and/or blog (43.2%). The two other major categories, with about 20% each, were my books, and webinars/webcasts. There were 75 individual open-ended responses, including “Our kids went to school together,” “I think I may have first found you on Flickr,” “Got to know Harold on a photography trip to Cuba,” and “Took your class on Craftsy.”
Next, I asked about interests in photography. Roughly 90% of the respondents checked each of the boxes to indicate that they had an interest in photographic technique, and creativity in photography. 50% of the responses indicated an interest in workshops, with a number of individual and specific interests indicated in the open-ended section, from iPhoneography to “using cameras with biological and stereoscopic microscopes” and “I am especially interested in learning how to take good photos in dark churches!”
“Do you follow my work elsewhere besides this email list?” came next. A whopping 82% of those who replied said that they read my books. 40% said that they read this blog, another 50% use my blog-to-email service, and roughly 20% were members of the Photography with Harold Davis meetup. 15% watch what I post on Flickr, and each of the conventional social media channels got between 5% and 10%. (Note to self: the overlap between the email list, my blog readership, and Meetup is troubling because I’ve been using the same content in each place. Nothing wrong with that, but it means that readers may think I am sending the same thing to them multiple times on purpose, when that is not my intention. Must work on doing this better!)
Generally, the answers to what people would like to see in my emails fall along the same lines as with their interests in photography: photographic technique and creativity are big, with some interest in learning about my books, workshops, web offerings, etc., with some significant interest in photography and business issues, and of course some individual interests.
Every kind of workshop I listed garnered some interest, with the most popular ones being Creativity and Photography (66%), Landscape photography (51%), Flowers, Night Photography, and Black & White (each at 47%), and Photoshop (43%). (Since people could check more than one, the total responses add up to more than 100%.)
A number of the responses to this question, and to the one about photographic destination tours understandably note that affordability is an issue for many; for example, “I’m very interested in your destination photography trips and would love to join you, but at the moment they are a bit out of my price range. I am not saying that your instruction isn’t worth it, and I do understand the costs involved, but they are unfortunately just at too high a price point to be affordable for me.” Fair enough.
I left space at the end of the survey for any general comments, and I am appreciative of everyone who took the time to leave me their thoughts. Clearly, there are some people who think I send out too many emails, and there are also some folks who think I try to sell too much. I am going to try to fix these issues (see below). Many people appreciate my emails, and what I do:
- “Enjoy reading your emails and hearing what you are doing photographically. They help with the creative process.”
- “Despite your incredible workload, you have kindly replied to my emails, with helpful information.”
- “I think your work is beautiful!”
- “Keep the emails coming. :=)”
- “Harold Davis’ photography will always be a wonder for me to admire and study”
One person summed up both positions like this: “Frankly, while sometimes I feel I get a bit too much communication from you, when I think about it, it’s about right.”
So I do feel badly that some people feel they hear too much from me. If you get more communications from me than you’d like, there is something you can do, and something I can do to fix this.
What you can do is to make sure that you are only registered with one email address on the email list you are subscribed to. What I can do is try to be more organized about not overlapping content, and not sending the same email to each of the destinations that I write content for. Let’s give it a go!
I do have a busy life, with four kids, books to write, photos to make, workshops to teach, and so on. I made a decision awhile back not to accept advertising on my blog, because it is a labor of love.
Thanks to your input, I do expect to be regularly blogging, perhaps on a wider variety of topics than in the past. I will use both blog and emails to keep readers abreast of what I am up to, and I will plan to include links from the email to my blog so the emails can be more condensed. I want to include more content that is simply useful and exciting!
Many folks said in the survey that they had topics that they would like me to cover in webinars and workshops, as well as travel destinations that they would like to photograph with me. This survey has helped me hone my thoughts about my own creativity, and what I like to do to help folks learn more about photography and creativity.
I want to make better use of my creative capital and only do projects, give workshops, and go to photo travel destinations that I’m really excited about. I want to keep my travel groups very small–six or less. This way, I’ll have more time to spend with the folks who travel with me, and more time to take in the wonders of the destination. I also want to make sure that the folks I spend time with in workshops or on destination photographic travel are sincerely interested in improving the creative aspects of their photography, and appreciative of what I have to offer. It is clear that I’m not for everybody, nor do I want to be for everyone.
You are a great community of photographers and I’m really inspired that the internet lets us connect in this way. So thanks for your input, thanks for reading, and more soon!