Photography marketing can be a tricky, but essential part of running a photography business. So if you can take a decent photo and want to make money out of it, read on.
The term ‘marketing’ can apply to so many different things, from paid adverts to casually exchanging business cards at a party.
There are many options for creating a clear marketing plan. Let us guide you through our top 15 photography marketing ideas that will get you more clients.
1. Build a Relevant Portfolio of Images
You need a portfolio of relevant images to show potential ideal clients. But how can you build a portfolio without clients? This is where TFP work comes in.
What Is TFP?
TFP stands for Trade For Portfolio. It describes when creatives collectively get together for a photoshoot so that all involved parties have images for their portfolios. It’s a great way to create portfolio work that fits your ideal client.
TFP work is often seen in the fashion photography world and in the wedding industry. Here are our tips for seeking collaborations:
- Portrait photography and fashion photography: Search sites like Model Mayhem; this is for models seeking photographers who will take portfolio photos for them.
- Wedding photography: Look for styled shoots set up between vendors (make-up artists, dressmakers, venues, etc) to bring together an elaborate scene that mimics a styled wedding.
PRO TIP: Be clear in your communication with all parties involved. Remember it’s a collaborative effort meant to benefit all. If someone else’s vision isn’t aligned with yours, move on to another candidate that fits your brand.
2. Set up a Social Media Presence
Social media is an essential part of any photography marketing plan, so make sure that you’re using it in the best way possible.
- Consistency is key: You need to create a relationship with your viewers by posting regular content. They need to become familiar with you. This does not mean you should post five times a day, but every day or two. Start with the goal of posting once a day. From there, adjust the frequency to test what works best for your audience.
- Stay on brand: Consistency in branding is just as important. Make sure all your posts have the same tone, color palette and message each time; this increases connection to your viewers. The goal is to build likability so that a relationship develops with your audience.
- Offer value, not sales pitches: Consistently post value, not sales pitches. Rather than posting about family portrait mini-sessions, post about how clients can coordinate outfits for their family photoshoot. Or talk about how amazing your client’s event is and link to their organization. Inform your audience and give them value in the form of education–leave the sales pitches to rare occasions.
PRO TIP: Take a leaf out of entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s book with his ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook‘ approach, where japs are the values you offer to your social media audience, the right hook is the ask.
3. Create a Google Business Page
If your website and contact details are not listed on Google Business, you may as well not exist.
Make sure that your business shows up by completing your Google Business listing. The profile is free to set up and it helps you show up in local online search queries.
You do need to have a physical address for these listings, however, you’ll either need a studio location or you should be comfortable listing your home address. Plus, you can list your hours, pricing, sample photos, and start collecting highly valuable Google customer reviews for your business.
PRO TIP: Keep your profile up to date as business information changes. Also, pay attention to reviews and reply to comments. It shows you care about your business.
4. Partner with a Complementary Company
There are bound to be other businesses that share the same ideal client as you. It is a great photography marketing idea to team up with such local companies and create joint offers.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
- If you offer family photography: Consider teaming up with a local kids’ clothing boutique to offer discounted services when clients use your services together.
- If you offer wedding photography: Team up with a local cake-maker or bakery to offer clients a discount if they book you to photograph their wedding.
Aside from discounts, teaming up with a complementary business can also create referrals for you: the kids’ boutique owner will think of you when clients need a kids’ photo session, and the bakery owner will recommend you to couples looking for a wedding photographer.
PRO TIP: Team up with companies you genuinely like and would yourself recommend to clients.
5. Donate Your Time and Photography Skills
There are always organizations looking for free coverage of local events. Donating your time to local organizations or events can be fantastic photography marketing, but only if you do it strategically.
Here are some tips on how to achieve that:
- Be strategic: Choose an organization that relates directly to your ideal clients or your brand. For example, if you photograph babies, try photographing an event for a neighborhood association, that will put you in contact with local families.
- Make your terms clear: Communicate your needs clearly with the organizers. In exchange for your services, they may offer some form of advertising; a spot in the event program, an acknowledgment by the MC, or photo credits on their website are all standard requests to consider.
- Sell prints: You may be able to sell prints from events. If you’re documenting attendees, speak with the event organizers about the possibility of offering prints for sale.
Related Article: Best Online Photo Printing Services
PRO TIP: You may be able to make money by selling prints from events. Speak with event organizers if you are documenting guests at events such as gala dinners. Sites like Snapped4U can help make this process smoother; you could walk away with new clients and extra cash in your pocket.
6. Write a Photography Blog
Another option for increasing your online photography marketing presence is to set up a blog.
Blogging is not a solution for fast growth or immediate results, but it does create a lasting online presence that you can monetize as you grow.
It helps to create a relationship with your audience. Here are my top blogging tips:
- Be consistent: You should post consistently; be that monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or even daily. Offer valuable information each time you post. It’s better to post less often with incredible content than it is to post often with questionable content.
- Know your SEO: This stands for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is about how to optimize your blog posts, images, and photography website so that search engines, such as Google, can rank you for related search queries.
PRO TIP: Think about the words or phrases your ideal clients would search for online when looking for a photographer. Use these words in the text of your blog posts, image names, and titles.
7. Paid Ads on Social Media
If you post on social media but feel your photography marketing is not gaining enough reach, you can pay for adverts on the same platforms.
The advantage of social media advertising is that you don’t have to spend much and you can experiment as you learn the ropes. The key to success is learning how to target the users who are most likely to book sessions with you.
Here are my tips on how best to advertise on social media:
- Ensure your profiles/feeds look good: People often click through to your profile from an ad, so it needs to be consistently on-brand.
- Be clear who your target audience is: The more specific you can be about your target audience, the better. Define and filter your audience options as you set up your adverts so that your Dollars are spent wisely.
PRO TIP: Pay attention to audience numbers and feedback you get from various platforms; you can then evolve your advertising and tailor each one to your target audience.
8. Speak at an Organization Meeting
If your ideal client is a professional in a specific industry, working with a professional organization is ideal marketing.
Organizations continuously plan meetings for their members, and the meetings often include public speakers in complimentary services.
To find an organization that fits your brand, consider your ideal client:
- What profession are they in?
- What industry does that professional work within?
- Search online for organizations within that industry. Be sure to include your city in the search so you get local results.
For example, if you photograph weddings, consider organizations that include event planners, caterers, and venue owners.
If interior photography is your goal, seek out the local organizations for realtors or investors.
If you want to photograph products, consider organizations for local business owners, such as your local Chamber of Commerce.
PRO TIP: Attend a few meetings first to get a feel for the crowd; it will make you more comfortable with the prospect of speaking in front of the group, and confirm if it is a good fit for your photography marketing.
9. Network in Person at Local Events
If you don’t have the opportunity to speak publically at local events, you can still attend but instead, network among the guests.
These organizations often have mixer events for their members that are open to the public. These mixers aren’t educational, so there wouldn’t be an opportunity to speak, and they’re often smaller affairs. These would be a great opportunity to attend and socialize.
PRO TIP: Hand out lots of business cards and make it a goal to create at least one genuine connection at each event. Be sincere and enthusiastic, and soon you’ll have potential clients you can build a relationship with.
10. Connect with Fellow Photographers
Connecting with fellow local photographers, especially ones who are more experienced than you, can be a great way to market your services.
Other professionals can provide support and friendships, but they can also provide referrals.
Seek out local, more experienced photographers offering the same niche as you. Introduce yourself, ask for advice, offer to help them in any way you can.
Building these relationships will involve you in a larger network of photographers, who may think of you next time they need to refer a client to someone else.
11. Swap Skills for Client Reviews
If you already know people who fit your ideal client profile, consider offering them a complimentary photo session.
Propose an exchange–you’ll complete a session free of charge if they commit to writing a short testimonial you can use in your photography marketing.
Related Article: Photography Pricing Guide
Testimonials help give potential clients confidence when booking a session with you. They are especially important if you don’t have a large portfolio of images yet.
Request the testimonial immediately after you have delivered their images, so their experience with you is still fresh in their minds.
PRO TIP: Ask at least 2 questions for testimonials: what were their favorite aspects of the shoot and do they have any suggestions for improvement? Share positive feedback on your website and all social media.
12. Host a Social Media Contest
A great way to build interaction with your brand on social media is to host a contest.
You can offer a shoot to the winner or, better yet, team up with a complementary vendor to offer a package of goods as a prize. Some ideas might be:
- Connect with a children’s clothing boutique to offer a gift card to your winners, so they can look stylish for their family session; or
- If you shoot boudoir, team up with a make-up artist to offer a makeover photoshoot to your winner.
Build up your following on social media first to ensure you have a large number of participants.
PRO TIP: Make the entry process interactive: ask them to tag three people, add a specific comment, or share your post in order to qualify for entry.
13. Create an Email List
Social media is a fantastic tool, but nothing beats emailing straight into someone’s inbox.
Email marketing is very important, but you can’t start without client emails. The key is to start building a client email address list early.
The best way to do that is:
- Create an email subscribe box in your website/blog
- Via in-person connections from networking;
- Occasional social media posts asking people to sign up for email updates; and
- Add current clients to your email list, so they can be kept in the loop about any promotions or new services you will offer.
Email updates or newsletters are a great way to send fresh content and value to your clientele. You don’t have to email often, sending something out quarterly or monthly should be enough to keep your audience hooked.
PRO TIP: Always ask people before you add their addresses to your list. Plus check the data protection laws of your country–you may need opt-in permission from clients to store their email address; be that via signed paperwork, or an online tick box.
14. Make Yourself Visible
Nobody will know you’re available for hire if you don’t put yourself out there. The more visible you make yourself, the more people will become aware of your business.
Consider guest appearances on relevant podcasts, other blogs, and niche websites.
Consider what podcasts or sites your clients frequent, and seek out opportunities to be a guest. Here’s how to pitch:
- Consider the expertise you can offer;
- Make sure your knowledge is a good fit with a particular podcast or website;
- Make your content valuable to their audience; and
- Advertise coverage as much as possible when the episode or article is broadcast/published, as these appearances are often unpaid.
PRO TIP: Make sure you get the podcast organizer, writer or blogger to include your details (website, social media tags, etc) in the episode and on any website pages linked to the broadcast/article.
15. Be Clear About Your Brand
None of these tactics will work if your branding is not clear.
If you haven’t already created an ideal client profile, mission statement, and cohesive graphics for your brand, then take some time to do it before launching any sort of marketing plan.
Your marketing efforts will go much further if you have a clear, branded message that is consistent across all your channels.
Start Your Marketing Plan
A photography marketing plan can include all sorts of tactics, and knowing which ones to use for your business can take trial and error. Here a few marketing plan templates you can start out with.
The tactics we’ve outlined will give you a solid starting point, to help your business thrive.
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