Photography marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of a profitable photography business.
A lot of photographers make the mistake of letting their marketing slip when they are busy. When things slow down, they find that customers are no longer coming through the door.
Here are fifteen easy photography marketing ideas to help you elevate your business profile.
15. Identify Your Target Market for Personalised Marketing Campaigns
The first thing that you need to do before you get started with photography marketing is to identify your niche.
You may already know that you are a food photographer, not a family portrait photographer. But getting even more specific will help you go after your target market.
Food is a very wide niche. It includes restaurants, farmers, advertising agencies and packaging for products.
It may seem counter-intuitive. But choosing a couple of areas to focus on is likely to speed up the growth of your client list.
Different niches also mean different skill sets.
If you shoot outdoors in natural light, you will face some challenges. If you’re a still life photographer working in a studio with a three-light set up? You’ll have different ones.
Stick to what you are passionate about shooting. And focus on the marketing efforts that make the most sense for your business. Don’t try to do everything. It won’t work.
For example, imagine that you are a wedding photographer. Create alliances with other vendors that cater to brides. That’s a smart marketing tactic that will pay off in referrals.
14. Build a Customer Database to Keep Track of Projects
Once you have identified your target market, start building a client database. This way you’ll keep track of all your prospects and projects.
An organized database is crucial.
You can input your research about your ideal client. And information about your past and current clients. You can also make note of potential co-marketing partners, or charitable partners.
A database will allow you to build a pipeline to track your clients. From initial lead trough to your last contact. When times are slow, it gives you a place to turn to for more business.
If you have regular clients that you have not seen in a while, a database can be a good reminder. Send them a personalized follow-up or let them know about a holiday promotion.
There are a variety of databases/CRM software that you can sign up for. These will allow you to keep track of your expenses. You can also write contracts and send them out for signature. Or you can create questionnaires.
You can even sync them with other apps, like Google Calendar.
I like to use Dubsado, which has creatives in mind. But there are several other options, like Nutshell and Insightly.
13. Write a WordPress Blog to Put Your Name Out There
One of the best ways to put your name out there is to write a self-hosted blog on WordPress.
Many photographers feel that writing is not their strong suit. But it’s still worthwhile to have a blog and a regular posting schedule.
You don’t need to write much. A paragraph with lots of pictures works great. You can describe the session and the experience had by you or the client.
If you shoot commercial work, you can post some behind-the-scenes shots. And talk about your process. You can even write an educational photography blog aimed at beginners.
When you write your blog posts, make sure you give your readers information they would like to know. If you are a wedding photographer, write about that. An idea could be tips about how to hire the best photographer for that special day.
A portrait photographer can write about what to wear to a session and how to prepare for it.
A blog helps position you as an expert in your industry, which is very beneficial to you and your business.
A WordPress blog in particular also increases your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Your site will come up higher in Google rankings.
When I started my website, I went from page six in a Google search, to page one in four months. This happened because I was writing my blog in a consistent manner. And I was providing what my target market wanted to read.
Potential clients often contact a few professional photographers on page one of their search. Writing a WordPress blog will help put you there.
12. Start an Email List to Stay in Touch With Your Audience
There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of having an email list, no matter what kind of business you run.
Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook are crucial to growing your audience. But you don’t “own” them.
This means that they can change their algorithms at any time. And it can happen in a way that has a negative impact on your business.
You are also at the mercy of other random decisions these companies might make.
For example, Instagram can ban you for using the same hashtags too much. This can be disastrous if you count on the app as the main way to get eyeballs on your work.
But your email list is your own and you can do with it what you please.
It is a personal way to stay in touch with your audience. And a platform you can use for some of your other marketing efforts. You can run a giveaway or send out your latest blog post via an RSS feed.
When you are deciding on an email provider, look for one that will allow you to build a funnel.
Once the subscriber signs up, they should go through a series of emails that will help build trust. This will make them more likely to buy products and services from you.
Consistency in the timing and regularity of your emails is key. It doesn’t bode well for your business if a potential clients signs up for your list. And then hears crickets for two months.
There are a lot of email providers out there. Convertkit is a popular one that will help you build that crucial sales funnel.
11. Create a Referral Program to Get New Clients
One of the best ways to get new clients is through referral. In fact, referrals are one way your business can experience unprecedented growth.
When you give someone a gift for referring your services, it gives them an incentive to do so.
You can do this in a variety of ways. You can give then a discount on their next session or buy them a gift card for a spa or a nice restaurant.
A referral program will let customers know what they will get for recommending you. It’s a small investment that can pay off in dividends.
Also, don’t forget to thank friends and family. They spread the word about your business and bring you new clients. They can be your biggest sources of referral.
10. Create a PDF Mailer of Recent Work for Advertising Agencies
This is important for commercial or editorial photographers. And if your target market is an advertising or marketing agency, or a magazine.
Photographers contact them all the time, so you can’t count on them to find you on Google. They usually turn to the resources they receive via postcards or 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 use one of Canva’s free magazine layouts and create your own. Send the companies your mailer and update it every four months or so.
This will keep you appearing fresh. 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.
9. Run a Giveaway to Engage Your Audience
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.
Running a contest through Instagram or Facebook will generate new leads and followers. You can spread awareness of your brand and services. And at the same time engage existing fans of your work.
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.
8. Use Google Business Pages to Improve Your Visibility
Google Business Pages is great. It can improve the chances that people will find you on Google when searching for a photographer.
When you search on Google, you might include a location as one of your keywords. Think “London Wedding Photographer”. Google will put the business profile listings first. The organic listings follow after that in their rankings.
These business listings are free but you need to have a physical location for your business.
You might prefer to work on location and have a “home office” rather than a studio. Then you need to be comfortable with listing your home address.
7. Use Social Media Marketing to Increase Your Audience
Pinterest is a powerful search engine. And it can increase your visibility and put you in front of potential clients.
The key is knowing how to use Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy.
First of all, understand that your Pinterest boards are not for you. They’re there 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.
Instagram is one of the most influential channels 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 follow their page.
Take the time to post thoughtful comments that are longer than two or three words. This will improve your algorithms. And it’ll increase the chances that your potential client will notice you.
5. Collect and Share Client Testimonials to Build Trust
Have testimonials on your website or on your other marketing materials. This is a powerful way to connect to your audience.
People generally trust the opinions of others. This is why online reviews on sites like Amazon are so effective. In fact, testimonials are the most effective form of content marketing!
Have a few one or two sentence testimonials posted on your website. Or on other marketing collateral. This is social proof that can guide new leads through the sales funnel.
Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from every single client who enjoyed working with you. Share them on social media. And incorporate them into blog posts, ebooks and other print materials.
Testimonials need not be too polished. In fact they sound more authentic when they are not worded perfect.
4. Build a Partnership With the Right Charity
Sometimes photographers have a tough time with this one. So many of us have done our share of work for free, hoping it would lead to more exposure.
But teaming up with a charity that you believe in or that aligns with your niche can be valuable. People with disposable income tend to give to charity.
You are not only giving from the heart, but also expanding your network. And creating new business opportunities.
If you photograph children or families, work with children’s charity or hospital.
As a food photographer, partner up with a related charity like a food bank. This can put you in touch with chefs or food producers.
If you shoot portraits, offer to do headshots for members of the board.
3. Find Co-Marketing Partners
Find co-marketing partners with businesses that share your audience. But make sure they are not in direct competition with you.
If you are an architectural photographer, create relationships with real estate agents. This is vital. If you shoot glamour shots or boudoir portraits, try lingerie boutiques. Or hair salons and other speciality shops. These 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. But your initial approach should focus on what you can do for them. This approach will be much appreciated. And it’ll make your contact 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.
2. Host an Event
Hosting an event is a great marketing strategy. It’ll reinforce your market position, add value to guests and extend your reach.
When you host an event, you have total control over the style and how you run it. This will reinforce your brand and position in the marketplace.
Your guests will associate a good experience at the event to your brand. This will drive them to buy from you in the future.
You can do a marathon of mini-sessions or invite a panel of experts to speak at your event. Offering something of high value will encourage prospects to attend. When your approach is not “sales-y”, they are more likely to be more open to your offer.
Hosting an event also provides opportunities for follow-up.
You can thank your guests for attending. Send them a little freebie that they would enjoy, or a coupon to receive a discount off a booking with you.
If you host an event that your guests enjoy, you can choose to make it a regular occasion.
Your repeat attendees are likely to bring prospective clients to your next event. And they’ll spread the word about your products and services.
1. How to Build a Strong Brand to Stand Out From the Crowd
As a business person, your brand is essential to your success.
Although your business name and logo are important aspects of your brand, your brand is so much more.
Your brand is what your clients or potential clients think when they see your work. It’s not only about the style of your photography. It includes your website design, and the copy presented on your marketing materials. And your social media presence.
It’s important to take the time to develop your image in the marketplace. And to connect to your target market. A well defined brand sends out a signal to the right customers.
Branding speaks to people on a subconscious level. Think of some of the popular brands around us. You’ll have associations with those products and services. Even if you have not used them yourself.
Think of the associations you have of Apple versus Microsoft. The companies offer similar products. But their perception is very different in the marketplace. And consumers prefer one over the other.
Good branding doesn’t appeal to everyone. It appeals to your ideal client, whom you should define in the very early stage of your business.
Your personality is a huge part of your brand because photography is service-based. In service-based business, a client’s experience is as important as the end product.
A client is unlikely to feel they had a good experience if they can’t connect with you. And they may end up not liking their pictures, no matter how good they are from a technical perspective.
We’ve all seen pictures of people who are uncomfortable getting their picture taken. It shows.
People want to know if you will be a good fit for them and that they will like working with you.
Clients have often hired me over more experienced and accomplished photographers. And it was because my brand and personality resonated with my clients. They sensed that our values were in alignment through their perception of me.
Remember that everything you do in relation to your business gives clients a sense of your brand. Whether it’s negative or positive.
Start with a strong website with a great, professional headshot and compelling copy. This will attract the right clientele. A well-thought out social media strategy is also important.
Photography marketing can seem daunting but it’s a very important part of a photography business.
When businesses fail, it’s not usually because of a lack of talent. But because of poor or inefficient marketing.
But marketing doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated.
Start by trying one or two of these tips and add more as you get more comfortable with them.
You’ll be a photography marketing expert in no time.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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