Real estate photography is a business first and photography second. It’s a well-known fact that marketing efforts take a large chunk of time in this area.
Lead generation and then efforts to keep them as returning clients, cold calls, flyers, brochures, meetings and networking. What to focus on and what works?
In this article, I’ll try to outline some creative real estate photography marketing ideas to get you going.
1. Word of Mouth
Good old word of mouth should still be at the front of all your marketing efforts. Many photography businesses exist just because of it.
You can start with friends and family asking them to refer you to some real estate agents they know. Ask friends to put your visiting cards or flyers on their office message boards.
Sometimes just mentioning your real estate photography in conversations can get the ball rolling.
You’ve got to be well prepared for word of mouth to work though! Have an online presence ready, shiny and functioning. You need a great website with portfolio, contact form, reviews and testimonials.
Of course, you need to produce great photos/videos so that this method brings you customers. Bad real estate photos will repel all the newcomers.
2. Free and Paid Social Media
Successful photographers are usually experts at promoting themselves across various social media platforms.
And unless you already have a large following, your free posts have a low chance of getting noticed. The only possibility is that it’ll work in the same way as word of mouth: if someone you know reshares them.
The better approach is to pay for ads. But there’s a trap! If you set up your Facebook marketing campaign wrong, it’ll eat up a lot of money without bringing any results.
Study your audience, make a targeted campaign. And these ads should have a highly attractive front cover. Use something spectacular, like a house front at twilight (they are the biggest sellers).
Look up and examine a bunch of profiles so that you can rule out your ads criteria.
Another excellent approach to social media is to create something unusual or viral. No one is going to repost your brilliant house photos.
But they could repost an unexpected behind-the-scenes video or a beautiful drone footage combo. Some people go all the way and produce a whole film on this topic.
Before and after photos could also go viral. Make sure to ask consent from the agent/owner to use their pictures. Or you could make a few crooked snaps with your phone and compare them to your final shots.
3. Real Life Networking
This type of activity was an eye-opener for me. I had never thought it was even possible. Here is the deal – ALL business owners struggle to get clients and to build relations with other businesses. You are not alone.
Therefore, to fix this issue, there are business meetings happening all over the place, every week, in every town. You just need to find and attend them. Have your business cards and flyers ready.
You’ll find other business people trying to grow their business. They are already open-minded and prepared to cooperate, just be friendly and learn to present yourself nicely and briefly.
You may want to contact the organisers to see if there are any real estate agents or brokers attending. Step up and talk to them. They’ve come to find new opportunities after all.
Usually, these meetings happen early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Start your search on meetup.com or bni.com. All of these meetings are free to attend usually with RSVP needed.
4. Flyers and Brochures
You need a quick and easy way to present yourself so that it won’t be discarded immediately. An excellent way to achieve it is to print flyers and brochures and deliver them to the prospective clients.
Printing is easy, and you can either do it yourself or hire a designer or just get a gig on fiverr. Easy to do and very useful.
Here are a few ways to get eyes on your flyers and brochures once you have them:
- Bring them to offices. You need to be a charismatic person to get past the gatekeeper or have a super eye-catching flyer.
- Put it in their post box. They put their flyers in yours all the time anyway, don’t they?
- Visit open houses and have a quick chat with the agent. If it’s too crowded, just leave a bunch of your printed materials on the table top.
5. Presentation at the Office
I haven’t done this, but real estate photographers all over the internet keep saying it’s the best way to get a lot of clients right away. You must be good at speaking in public and creating convincing presentations.
The strategy is the same – you find an agent at an open house or go directly to their office and talk to the gate-keeper saying you are a pro photographer looking to provide business. Ask if you could make a presentation along with some fantastic first-timer offers that no sane person could refuse.
Your displays should be as attractive as possible, and of course, you should have a great offer to mention.
The overall time they give you at their daily meeting is typically 5-15 minutes at best. Think ahead – you must bring some printed materials to leave with them afterwards, and you could bring your laptop to show some links/graphs/portfolio/videos.
6. Email Marketing Campaign
Build a well-targeted email marketing campaign and reach some clients directly. First, collect emails from all spam brochures you and your friends get into your mailboxes. I get a dozen a week maybe.
Collect emails from real estate sites. Start with something like 50 personalised crafted emails. Do not send general faceless junk, make it feel like you are sending directly to them. Use the agent’s name, mention one listing they have that could use better photos, tell them you are local to their area, etc.
Also, when collecting emails from the sites, look for those agents who don’t have great photos or where your photos would naturally stand out as better.
You may also offer a free first shoot if you struggle to fill your portfolio. But don’t fall into the freebies trap as some agents could try to take advantage of you.
You don’t need to provide free sessions for everyone (or anyone) if you already have a portfolio.
Photography business SEO is a vast topic, and it deserves at least a long-form article itself or maybe even a course. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is how we try to please Google and other search engines and rank high.
Why is it important? It can quickly become a single source of leads with not many other things to do (except choosing between the clients and shooting their valuable properties).
The bad news is that SEO is hard to master. It can take months if not years to build an authority website that ranks well for competitive keywords.
SEO for photographers is no different from other businesses:
- Optimize your website. A useful guide is here: https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo.
- Build backlinks
Easy, huh? No! While optimisation is doable within days or weeks, linkbuilding takes ages. To rank high, you don’t need spammy backlinks from shady sites; it doesn’t work anymore.
Instead, you need links from reputable sites and awesome content.
Some quick ways to start out and build backlinks:
- Add a bunch of local citations. You can use brightlocal.com to find the sites to add your local listing. Sites like Yelp, Google Business, Houzz and many others.
- Send your content to public sites like BoredPanda.com and hope it gets re-shared.
- Track how people use your photos using Pixsy.com and ask them to credit you.
Linkbuilding is state of the art. So, if you have a budget, delegate it to professionals. Just don’t fall into the trap of cheap packages on fiverr, they could earn you a penalty.
8. Local Working Directories
Like I have mentioned above, you need a lot of local citations. But there is more. Lookup local directories and join them. A good directory is client-oriented, and potential customers go there to find a photographer. A good example is Houzz.com, which has local subsites all over the world.
Speaking of Australia, we have photographers.com.au, which also brings in some clients. Study your competition there, learn their ranking rules and try to make it to the top.
It’s OK to try a paid membership for a couple of months and see if it works. Typically, a single client will cover your membership costs for at least 3-5 months.
I must repeat – every single such directory has different ranking rules and to succeed you should adjust your profile to be on top. Some sites favour a vast portfolio, others – lots of reviews. Some pay attention to what you left out from your profile.
Read their terms and FAQs and start from there. Don’t hesitate to contact support and ask questions. Business is business after all.
9. Cold Calls Done Right
Cold calls are evil. We all hate telemarketers that keep calling. Last week, I had added a listing on a few sites and was overwhelmed by telemarketers.
I would give 2 seconds per call and if I figured it was another “you are not ranking in the first page of Google”, I would just hang up and block the number forever.
It is essential to make it right and to have a pro outlook instead of being another spammer.
Choose your audience
- Be really picky! Go to your local real estate listings website and try to find agents who have at least a dozen listings per year.
- It’s a gem if they don’t use a pro photographer yet. You can easily tell from their past listings.
- Try to find agents, who have their current listing for at least a month.
With all these criteria met, you have an excellent starting point. What’s next?
Make the Call
Call them without sounding overly official.
Say something like “Hey, it seems your listing has been online for a while now. I thought maybe you would consider bringing a few professional photos and seeing if it works better for the house? It could help you strike a deal and close it finally. I’m a local photographer and could help you out.”
If you sound casual yet convincing, you have better chances of finding consensus.
10. Property Site On Your Site
Last but not least is displaying properties right on your site. I don’t mean adding a bunch of new photos to the portfolio gallery. Instead, create a whole listing on your subdomain or in the folder.
Create a slideshow, insert a video, add an agent’s profile and a map. Make it look like a serious real estate listing. Why?
First, it could bring you additional backlinks. Second, the agent will drive traffic to the listing. Third, anyone browsing the listing will immediately see your portfolio, contact form and could become the next client.
The only thing here is that you will either need to delete the listing after it has been sold or mark it as sold and archive. The latter is much better, of course – it adds to your portfolio and shows just how many listings were sold using your brilliant photos.
I’ve listed some real estate photography marketing ideas for you to try out. Of course, the final strategy should consider the unique local conditions, which could be different for every area.
I can recommend reading business books, talking to people and looking around to figure out your own ideas and strategies. There are many great online guides to starting a photography business.
But the primary factor is, of course, the quality of your real estate photos. It should stand out and speak for itself, and that’s how the word gets shared from agent to agent, from owner to owner.
For more great tips, check out our article on real estate photography pricing!
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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