Devoting more time to family while doing what you love: isn’t that the American dream? It was for Courtney Slazinik, the entrepreneur behind Click It Up a Notch. It all started when Courtney bought her first DSLR (aka a very fancy camera) in 2010. But something was… off.

“My pictures didn’t look like my friend’s pictures, and we had almost the same camera,” Courtney said. “I had her come to my house and teach me everything. I was a terrible student; it wasn’t easy.”

Once Courtney got the hang of photography, she saw an opportunity to help others who were struggling like she once was.

“I love teaching. I love photography. I thought I could combine them and maybe down the road create an income so I could stay home with my girls.”

That’s how Click It Up a Notch was born.

Today, Courtney has over 350,000 website visitors a month and 47,000 loyal email subscribers. She makes enough to stay at home with her daughters. And yet her marketing budget is nearly non-existent.

So what’s her secret? You guessed it. Email marketing.

Quick Stats on Click It Up a Notch

Open rate: 28-32 percent

Click-through rate: 5-10 percent

Monthly website visitors: 350,000

List size: 47,000

Getting Over Those Growing Pains

Courtney has an awesome following today, but when she first launched Click It Up a Notch? That’s a different story.

“One of the biggest challenges I had in the beginning was the slow progression of growing my business,” Courtney said. “It’s not something that happens overnight. You see other people’s websites and you’re like, ‘How are they so much bigger than me?!’”

Like most entrepreneurs, Courtney was super focused on, well, running her business during Click It Up a Notch’s first year. She didn’t use email marketing from the get-go, something she regrets today.

“I tell everyone that when they start a business to start getting emails right away,” Courtney said. “I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner!”

The lesson here? Start building your email list today, especially if you’re just starting out.

Doubling Email Sign Ups with a Pop Up Form

Once Courtney realized the value of email marketing, she started testing new ways of growing her subscriber list – something that any email marketer can do (hint-hint).

One of those tactics was her pop-up form.

“I put up a pop up about a year ago, and my list doubled in three months,” Courtney said. “I use a pop up with a free ebook incentive. As soon as they sign up, they get an email with their incentive.”

It’s true that pop up forms have gotten a bad reputation. But when they’re done correctly, they get real results. Case in point: Courtney’s list grew from 16,000 to 32,000 subscribers in just three months.

Driving Revenue with Email + Exclusive Offers + an Ebook!

If you’re one of Courtney’s subscribers, you’re on her VIP list. That means you get first dibs on her latest photography courses, newest resources and all of her blog updates.

“I started a course that I marketed only to my email list,” Courtney said. “I give them exclusive info because I value those people and I want them to know that.”

One of her biggest revenue-drivers is her ebook, The Unexpected Everyday. The book is designed to teach amateur photographers everything they need to know to start taking beautiful photos in 30 days. Because Courtney’s subscribers are already loyal fans, they’re the best audience to promote to.

“Every now and then, I’ll push my ebook in my newsletter and I’ll see an increase in sales,” she said.

To date, Courtney has sold nearly 3,000 copies of her ebook. All hail the power of email!

Streamlining Content for Success

Back in the day, Courtney sent long, detailed emails to her subscribers. Lots of businesses do this because they don’t want their subscribers to miss a single update. Unfortunately, this can backfire and cause information overload, which can lead to people unsubscribing from your list.

Courtney’s short, to-the-point emails benefit both her and her subscribers.

“My emails are pretty simple – that’s an intentional choice that I made,” she said. “I used to sent a pretty thorough email once a month with a lot of info. It was a lot of work on my part, I was struggling with what I wanted to write. So I streamlined it to a quick recap of what’s happening on my website. I keep it short – two or three paragraphs. I want to make sure they open it, read it and click the links instead of thinking, ‘I don’t have time to read this email!’”

As a result of her refined content, Courtney sees open rates of 28-32 percent.

Building a Community

Like any good entrepreneur, Courtney is very hands-on with her customers. She responds to comments, answers emails and listens to feedback so she can provide the content her customers need.

“I go out of my way to make sure I’m helping people,” she said. “I answer every email I get. I want to be the voice behind my business.”

Courtney understands how valuable her customers are to her business. Taking the time to make sure their needs are met is a huge priority for her.

“I want people to be able to capture their lives in the way that they see it,” she said. “I am here to be their biggest cheerleader, teach them and encourage them.”

Her Email Advice to Entrepreneurs

“I tell my friends who want to start a blog or an online business to start capturing email addresses now. Provide value – once you start spamming them or annoying them, they will drop from your list. Then, continue to provide them with value.”