When a photographer doesn’t succeed, it’s not usually because they are not talented enough. It’s because they don’t know enough about photography business marketing. Or they failed to market in the right way.
There is a lot you can do to make your name known and attract clients to your photography business.
Read on for 10 essential tips to market your photography business.
Go After Your Target Market
Before you can get started with any photography marketing efforts, you need to know who your ideal client is.
Not everyone can be your client, nor would you want them to be. You need to focus on who you want to serve.
If you want to work in advertising, the ad agencies representing big name brands is where you should focus your efforts. Use promotional campaigns that will get their attention.
If you want to shoot destination weddings, create strategic partnerships with wedding planners and travel companies.
It’s helpful to create an “Ideal Client Avatar”, so you can get very specific. Give them a name and think about their wants and needs and how you could meet them with your services.
This exercise will also allow you to create more effective marketing strategies to go after them.
Start With An Online Portfolio
Every photographer needs a website to showcase their work.
Even the simplest, most basic website is better than no website at all. That will brand you as an amateur.
There are so many options to build a website quickly and easily. Gone are the days where you needed a programmer and thousands of dollars for this.
Some of the most popular web builders for photographers include Photoshelter, Squarespace, and Format.
Wix is also another site that has improved in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. It is highly customizable. And it offers a ton of different templates to choose from.
Sites like Photoshelter and Format are specific for photographers. They offer various tools to help sell and distribute images.
Don’t Forget to Print Your Work
Despite what many people think, print is not dead.
If you are a commercial photographer, a print portfolio is essential. If you work on the retail level, such as wedding photography or portraiture, it’s still useful to have printed work to show prospective clients.
People love to see something tangible, something they can hold in their hands.
Good quality print offers a dynamic range that is more obvious in a photograph. There is a mysterious and unquantifiable beauty in a print that a computer can’t match.
It’s a quality that can make or break a sale for a client who is on the fence.
In the commercial and advertising world, agencies want to see how your work holds up in print because any flaws in your work become much more obvious.
Plus, a lot of their campaigns will be printed in some form. It’s important for them to see how your work translates into print before they hire you.
There are several sites like Artifact Uprising and Sal Digital. You can have good quality photo books printed at a reasonable price.
You can also opt to purchase an artist’s portfolio with clear pages that function as pockets. This will allow you to switch out your work as you update it.
Start An Email List
The algorithms can change at any time, which can have a huge impact on your business. Your account can get deleted or banned at any time. You’re at the mercy of any random decision these companies might make.
A recent example is boudoir photography. Many boudoir photographers are being impacted by the banning of the hashtag #boudoir. This makes it a lot more difficult for prospective clients to find them.
You can even get banned for using the same hashtags too often.
However, your email list is your own and you can do with it whatever you please.
Having a regular newsletter through a provider like Mailchimp or Convertkit is a personal way to stay in touch with your audience and build a tribe of raving fans.
Your list can also serve as a platform you can use for other marketing efforts. This includes running giveaways or sending out your latest blog post via an RSS feed.
Write a Regular Blog
One of the best ways to put your name out there is to write a blog. A blog helps position you as an expert in your industry.
If you feel that writing is not your strength, it still may be worthwhile to have a blog. You don’t need to write much. A paragraph with lots of pictures will work great.
You can describe the session and the experience had by a client. This gives prospects an idea of what it will be like to work with.
If you shoot commercial work, you can post some behind-the-scenes shots and bring readers into your process. You can even write an educational photography blog aimed at beginners.
When you write blog posts, make sure you give your readers information they would like to know.
If you’re a wedding photographer, you can write posts with tips about how to hire the best photographer for that special day.
If you’re a portrait photographer, you can write about what to wear to a session, and how to prepare for it. This will do double duty by also educating your clients for easier and stress-free sessions.
A WordPress blog in particular can increases your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), allowing your site to come up higher in Google rankings. This is really important if you have a lot of competitors in your area.
Potential clients often contact a few professional photographers on page one of their search. Writing a WordPress blog can help put you there.
If you decide to blog, just be sure to adhere to a regular posting schedule. Posting once every four months is not likely to inspire trust and confidence in your consistency.
Utilize Social Media
Just because Social Media has its drawbacks, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. On the contrary, having social media accounts has become non-negotiable in this day and age.
Pick one or two social media outlets and concentrate on bringing up your visibility on those channels.
Pinterest, for example, is a great tool for photographers. It’s a powerful search engine that can increase your visibility and put you in front of potential clients.
The key is knowing is using it to benefit your target audience.
If you are a wedding photographer, all your boards should pertain to weddings. This includes related inspiration, like party planning and bridal dresses.
Make sure that you use relevant tags and write a succinct description for each of your boards.
You should also sign up for a Pinterest approved app like Tailwind. It’s not expensive and will pay off for you in time spent.
You can schedule your pins for the week. Tailwind will post them for you at the times where they are most likely to receive the most traffic.
You can also sign up for “Tribes”, a powerful sharing tool that can get your pins seen by more people.
Most photographers are active on Instagram. It’s arguably the most influential channel for visual imagery out there. But you don’t have to have thousands of followers to make it work for you.
More and more attention is being paid to engagement. The number of followers and likes an account receives is becoming less important.
As with other types of social media, you should focus on defining your target audience and following their pages.
Take the time to post thoughtful comments that are longer than two or three words. This will improve your algorithm and increase the chances of potential clients noticing you.
Create Print Promos
Photographers contact ad agencies and magazine them all the time. They won’t come looking for you on Google. They usually turn to the resources they receive via PDF mailers.
Research the companies you want to work for and have a PDF of your work designed by a professional.
If your budget is tight you can purchase a magazine layout on Creative Market or Graphic River and create your own in Canva.
Send the promos to your target market every three or four months. It often takes someone several time to encounter your brand in order for them to notice you.
If they do remember you, it’ll give potential clients the impression that you are busy and doing well.
You can use this same tactic if you work with clients in a more direct way. Whether they are commercial or “retail” clients, such as brides or boudoir clients.
It’s a nice way to keep in touch with past clients and it can inspire them to buy from you again.
Create Strategic Partnerships
Find co-marketing partners with businesses that share your audience but are not in direct competition with you.
For example, if you are an interiors or architectural photographer, create relationships with real estate agents. If you shoot boudoir portraits, connect with lingerie boutiques or even bridal boutiques. They can be great allies for cross promotion.
Reach out to these businesses and pitch an idea or two of how you can support each other. It can be as simple as a mention in an email newsletter. Or exchanging discounts for referral customers.
Your end goal is to develop a relationship that is beneficial to both.
Your initial approach should focus on what you can do for them, so your contacts will be more likely to want to reciprocate.
Make sure to discuss what each party wants out of the partnership. This will ensure that you’re both on the same page so no one ends up feeling their expectations went unmet.
Host Giveaways and Contests
People love free stuff. Hosting a giveaway on social media or through your blog or even a charity event is a great way to bring more eyeballs on your business.
As a photographer, it can be difficult to engage with your clients or potential customers.
Giveaways and contests are a great way to boost your business. They’ll maximize your interaction with your ideal client via visual content.
There are different ways to run a giveaway, but keep in mind that the goal is to create leads.
One way is to ask your followers to tag their friends for a chance to win.
Decide on a prize that will fit your target market. Your offers should be in line with the type of photography you provide. And they encourage future purchases.
A free engagement session can lead to being the wedding photographer.
Reward Frequent Buyers
Create a system of rewarding the clients that give you business again and again.
How you decide to do this is up to you and dependent on the niche that you’re in.
Discounts are always effective, but you can get creative with other ways to rewards loyalty.
Reward the clients that refer your business to others. Word-of-mouth can create massive growth for your business is a short time frame.
Clients have an incentive for referring your services when they are rewarded for doing so.
You can reward this in a variety of ways. You can give them a discount on their next session or buy them a gift card for a spa treatment or a nice restaurant.
These are small investments that can pay off in dividends.
Also, don’t forget to thank friends and family who spread the word about your business. They are often neglected, even though they can be one of your biggest sources of referral
Marketing can be daunting for many photographers who feel most comfortable behind the camera as opposed to being seen out in the world.
But getting noticed in an increasingly saturated marketplace means stepping out of your comfort zone and building the relationships that are so essential to any business.
Hopefully, these tips have given you some inspiration to step up your photography business marketing game.
Looking for more great tips on marketing? Check out our new post 6 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid for Photography Businesses or Where to Sell Your Photos Online next!