Case Studies

Prospect List Build: Megan Taylor

Prospecting can be challenging for so many different types of professions, especially when it comes to prospecting appropriate creative clients for professional photographers and visual artists. Rather than relying on external client list build services, Wonderful Machine has chosen to cut out the middleman and become one instead. We’ve revved up our research team to include six producers that are routinely adding relevant creatives to our internal database. That database, which we’ve been cultivating since WM was founded, along with organic research and industry-related connections, is what we build our lists out of today.

I recently had the pleasure of doing just that for Megan Taylor, who was looking to build a list of clients that matched her style and skill. Megan is based in Los Angeles and shoots fashion, lifestyle and youth culture along with some travel work. After looking at her specialties and current goals, we decided that the best way to hone in on appropriate clients would be to start with location. Considering LA as her home base, we built the list out of the Los Angeles metro-area expanding into San Diego and San Francisco.

Megan has this beautiful, bright and authentic style that would be perfect for brands like Levi’s, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and similar contemporary brands. I decided that focusing on LA-based designers and brands should fill up the majority of my list, then I would expand it to include local editorials and boutique ad agencies in California.

Megan felt that the list was appropriate for her skill set and perfectly captured the types of clients she wanted to connect with, so I put my nose to the grindstone and a couple of weeks later, turned out almost 200 solid contacts in Megan’s targeted zone in the industry.

Here’s what she had to say about the results:

This totally exceeds what I was expecting, I’m so excited to begin making contact. Do you have any advice for reaching out via email and print?

And yes, we do have some suggestions on connecting with clients. For emails, avoid mass delivery and consider a more individualized approach. The same goes for snail mail, a handwritten address label or accompanying note can go a lot further than a generic laser-printed label!

Project Pitch: Hospitality Spec Work for Kim Smith

Buffalo photographer Kim Smith specializes in commercial architecture photography. When she joined Wonderful Machine earlier this year, she was interested in refining her branding and expanding her portfolio to include more residential and hospitality images.

Kim had a Hawaii vacation planned in September and thought it was the perfect opportunity to shoot some images featuring tropical homes and travel destinations. She reached out to me about looking into some Hawaiian properties she could photograph during her trip to create fresh content for her website.

Kim was hoping to shoot some luxe, modern homes and resorts. I started with a Google search of high-end realtors and architecture firms that had access to the types of properties Kim had in mind. From there, I hit the phones. Since Maui is nine hours ahead, I was strategic with the timing of my phone calls. After several calls, Liam Ball of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers said he’d love to connect with Kim and see if he could set up some locations for her to shoot.

Although I had several prospects lined up for Kim, while she was planning the itinerary for her trip, she came across the ideal location for her portfolio: The Millhouse Plantation and Resort.


This is it.

This would be phenomenal – the interiors and views are to die for! Let me know which would give me a better chance…you reaching out or me?



I told Kim to enjoy her vacation and leave the contacting to me. My first stop was the Mill House website; there, I found contact information from several people at the company, but nobody related to marketing or photography. This didn’t deter me though—sometimes you have to call around before getting to the person you need. After calling several numbers on the site, I was able to get in touch with Emily from the marketing department—viola! I spoke with her about Kim’s desire to photograph the property and she was happy to have Kim stop by. I then connected them via email and Kim spent two days during her vacation scouting the resort, then shooting the restaurant and café. Take a look at some of her finished shots below:

The Millhouse Plantation and Resort, Maui, Hawaii, hospitality photography, commercial real estate photography, Kim Smith, maui dining

And check out some of the other residential areas Kim had a chance to shoot while in Maui:

The Millhouse Plantation and Resort, Maui, Hawaii, hospitality photography, commercial real estate photography, Kim Smith, maui dining

The Millhouse Plantation and Resort, Maui, Hawaii, hospitality photography, commercial real estate photography, Kim Smith, maui dining

The properties photographed above were homes on Maui. Liam Ball, realtor at Hawaii Life worked with Kim to depict these beautiful properties. Here’s what he had to say about Kim’s expertise:

Kim Smith is first an artist and second a technician. I asked Kim to photograph a modern and unusual house in Maui and she was able to skillfully work with challenging light, clouds, sun, and a limited amount of time to capture the essence of the house and the location. Not only are her images crisp and well lit, but there is something else captured in the work that speaks to her background in art and design. I highly recommend her work.

Kim returned from Maui refreshed and with fresh photos for her portfolio. She’s eager to use the hospitality images from Millhouse and the other residential shots from the island to attract the attention of some new potential clients.

Marketing Partner: A Canadian Campaign for Michelle Gibson

Toronto photographer Michelle Gibson came to me back in the spring, curious about what continuous marketing efforts Wonderful Machine could offer her. At the time, Michelle was at the tail-end of Campaign Manager Pro with Agency Access and was looking for a more personalized business relationship to handle her marketing and advertising.

Dial in Marketing Partner, our go-to service for photographers who can’t fathom going through the motions themselves. With Marketing Partner, I act as a photographer’s singular marketing force and map out a plan with one goal in mind: to expand a photographer’s client network.

Michelle does a fair amount of lifestyle-based assignments for clients such as Holland Bloorview Children’s Hospital, Advantage Magazine, and the University of Toronto. She wanted to focus on American clients in addition to the ones based in Toronto that would be interested in her ability to create authentic imagery.

To reach the United States, Michelle connected with one of our designers, Karen Yee, to design a customized emailer in Mailchimp, (which you can check out below). Michelle’s first emailer featured a project from an Annual Report she shot earlier this year.

Sending mass emailers is an easy and inexpensive way to gauge audience reception and figure out where to throw your dart first. At least, this is the case in the U.S., where opt-ins and permissions are more multifaceted. In Canada, however, sending mass emailers has tighter restrictions with bigger consequences.

This meant reaching out to Michelle’s Toronto prospects would be a little bit trickier… I still wanted to send the emailer (which Karen conveniently exported as a PDF) to these Canadian prospects, but a mass emailer was not going to work. Instead, I sent these PDFs individually and used email tracking software to record the open and click-through rates, then followed up each direct email with a phone call.

And what do ya know, eh? Canadians are super friendly on the phone and great at answering emails. For the September campaign, I got a lot of warm compliments regarding Michelle’s work, plus 67% of the direct emails were opened and 27% replied about her work! Those stats are well over the industry standard. Here’s one response from Frank Casera, creative director at Bryan Mills Iradesso:

Hi Erika, thanks so much for the introduction. Michelle’s capture of humanity is wonderful and I have no doubt that she’s equally great to work with. I don’t have anything at this time that would be appropriate, but I will certainly keep her in mind for any work that I feel might. Again, thank you for sharing her work.

Something even better happened when Andrea Sweet at the University of Waterloo got my emails… After two weeks and a whopping 83 email opens, Michelle got asked to put in a bid for a lifestyle campus shoot at the University! Michelle was ecstatic and I jumped for joy when I saw the email she passed my way!

Hi Michelle,

I came across your website when a coworker forwarded me the link. I’ve also been contacted by Erika Blatt from Wonderful Machine, so let me know the preferred way to work with you.

I would like to throw out an idea for a first photography project. Let me know your thoughts and if you think timing works into your schedule. We are still hammering out a few details. But this is the overall concept of what we are looking for…

And in Michelle’s own words…

Hi Erika, I just got this email thanks so much! You are the best, I’m just in process of asking them more questions so I can quote the job, thanks so much again!

Michelle’s bid hit the nail on the head and she was hired to photograph the campus a few weeks ago! Stay tuned for more of Michelle’s successes related to Marketing Partner…we’ll continue to partner up to get her work in front of even more clients in the U.S. and Canada—I can’t wait to see what happens next! Onward and upward!

Client Meetings: Bob in the Big Apple

Laidback, cool, So Flo. All things that come to mind when I think about working with Central Florida-based photographer Bob Croslin. Bob is well-known across the Southeast region of the USA as an exceptional editorial and commercial photographer. His client list includes Animal Planet, IMG Academy, Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated magazines just to name a few.

Bob’s been working with Wonderful Machine for the past several months to refresh his portfolios, both online and in print with Senior Photo Editor Stacy Swiderski. After reviewing his work from the last several years, Stacy structured Bob’s web edit around his portraiture, sports & fitness and animals, and then included several project-based galleries.

marketing consulting services, wonderful machine, photographer help, client meetings, help with client meetings, erika blatt, bob croslin
Homepage of Bob’s website

For the print edit, Stacy curated a similar selection of images creating a flow that highlights his vibrant style and his ability to get quirky expressions out of his subjects on-set.

marketing consulting services, wonderful machine, photographer help, client meetings, help with client meetings, erika blatt, bob croslin

Bob’s print edit compliments of Stacy.

Armed with a refreshed web edit and brand new portfolio (that Bob printed himself), Bob ventured up to New York City in February in hopes of connecting with some clients.

Bob got in touch with me in mid-February, saying he’d be in NYC for a little vacation later in the month, and wanted to see if I could set up some face time with clients during his visit. NYC, being the most competitive market in the world and with little notice, I was weary of how many meetings I’d be able to lock in for Bob. Little did I know: Bob has some fans in the Big Apple!

For this trip, Bob wanted to focus on some publications that would be into his lively portraits, which were the appropriate type of clients to show off his new edits to! A week and a half before his trip, I set to work emailing photo editors at magazines such as GQ, Billboard, American Lawyer and Consumer Reports.

marketing consulting services, wonderful machine, photographer help, client meetings, help with client meetings, erika blatt, bob croslin

I had a great time chatting about Bob’s photographs and setting up his NYC meetings!

Within minutes, the first response rolled in! Karen Shinbaum at Consumer Reports knows Bob from working on a Nickelodeon shoot years ago. Unfortunately, the magazine office was in Yonkers, not Manhattan and Bob wasn’t renting a car during his trip; but a good connection none the less! Huffington Post was familiar with Bob’s work too. My email made it to Chris McGonigal, a photo editor who’s actually based in Florida. He said Bob’s portfolio has been on his radar for months and he’s on the lookout for a good project to get Bob on. When I emailed Kevin Eans at Guideposts, he was thrilled to meet with Bob. Kevin’s hired Bob in the past while he was in photo editing at USA Today and has always enjoyed working with him. He said him and his wife, Noreen Figueroa (who’s at have been following Bob’s work for years!

All in all, I landed four meetings during Bob’s visit and received a lot of great compliments about his brand during the process. Over the course of his trip, Bob met with photo editors at Yahoo! News, Burda Media, Guideposts and the Wall Street Journal.

Emailer: A Fresh Pick for Stephanie Mullins

Nashville food photographer and WM member Stephanie Mullins came to me in need of a new template for her mass emailer. Stephanie’s work is pretty delectable, so she needed a design as appetizing as her photos to make mouths water.

Queue Karen Yee, one of our very talented graphic designers. I knew that with Stephanie’s fresh and elegant aesthetic, Karen would be the perfect designer to match her style. Karen started by looking over Stephanie’s old designs and then mapping out her goals for the future. Stephanie was looking for clean, image-driven layouts that would appeal to more commercial clients. She wanted something that was more eye-catching than her old emailers, but still served up her enticing images front and center. Karen knew that she’d have to find a design that would maintain the prominence of the food photos while still looking modern and neat.

Stephanie’s old emailer layout

Moving forward, two things were clear: 1) definitely make the images the main course and 2) definitely keep up with Stephanie’s naturally clean and light aesthetic, while utilizing her stylish logo (which WM also designed)! Karen mocked up three initial concepts for the emailers and sent them over for Stephanie to chew on (pun intended). Take a look at Karen’s first three mockups below:

First mockup: Option 1

First mockup: Option 2

First mockup: Option 3

Stephanie liked ingredients of all three emailer mockups and opted for a combination of them. She liked the light yellow border in concept two to complement her branding and make her logo pop in a new way. She also enjoyed how the last content block in concept three would feature a blog post. She said that that would really help inspire her to keep up with posting new content on her blog. For the final ingredient, Karen added a quote into the emailer, helping to show Stephanie’s personality and passion for food instead of just making it another contact link. Check out Stephanie’s final emailer below:

Stephanie’s final emailer design

Once Stephanie was happy with the design, it was time to implement the project into MailChimp. The design shifted a little bit in MailChimp for mobile optimization purposes, but it looks great and is displayed nicely across all devices, which is crucial. Now, Stephanie is able to send the emailers and more importantly, use the template for future updates she can do herself. She is ready to use her fresh new look to connect with clients and we couldn’t be happier to have served her this recipe for success!

Get in touch with me to map out your own custom marketing campaign. And see all of my case studies and articles on the Wonderful Machine blog here.