Top Tips for Building Your Photography Portfolio

When you’re starting out as a photographer, one obstacle that you’ll need to overcome is how to build a photography portfolio. If you want to attract new clients, you’re going to have to showcase your experience.

Very often photographers will use stock images in their marketing material because they don’t have images of their own. This is not the best approach. The reason for this is because if a potential client inquires about one of the stock images or asks for something similar, would you definitely be able to replicate it?

A good portfolio is an essential tool for all photographers; it’s what you’re selling. Your portfolio is the physical product that potential customers will look at when deciding whether or not to hire you.

Top tips for building a killer portfolio

Below are a few ideas to help you build a portfolio that sells:

  1. Sign-up for a workshop. As a photographer, you never stop learning. There’s always a course or workshop that you can attend to improve your skills. If you’re looking to attend a workshop or course, try and choose one that offers a shootout or model photo shoot so that you can leave with images to use in your portfolio. Just remember to find out whether you’re workshop host allows you to use the images in your portfolio or for marketing purposes. Even though the other workshop attendees might be using these images in their own portfolios, at least you will have something to show potential clients.
  1. Use what you have. There’s a good chance that some of your family and friends represent your target audience. If they do, ask for their help in building your portfolio. Do you know of a friend who’s getting married soon? Ask if you can shoot some engagement photos for them. Have a sister who’s having a baby? Arrange a maternity or newborn shoot for them.
  1. Hire models. If you have the budget, hiring one or two models for a shoot is a great way to start building your photography portfolio. You’ll find a few websites where people who are new to the modeling scene will be willing to exchange time in front of the camera for prints. While this can be an affordable route to take, these models don’t necessarily have enough experience to give you really good results. It’s best to approach a professional modeling agency about hiring models for the day. Make sure that your model’s hair, makeup, and outfits look impeccable and stylish, and ask that they have a few different outfits ready for the day so that you can get several different shots. You may want to select the outfits for them ahead of time to make sure the look resonates with the target market you are trying t reach. And don’t forget that model release form!
  1. Shoot for free? As a new photographer, you need to find a balance between building your portfolio and still earning an income. Offering to shoot photos for free doesn’t mean that you’re giving everything away for free though. Try offering the “sitting fee” or “session fee” only for for free (and use the word “complimentary” instead of “free”) and then give the clients the opportunity to purchase prints from you. This way you’re still making some money for your time. Put a time limit on the shoot to make it worth your while and don’t forget to setup the in person sales meeting with them afterwards so that you can sell them the prints, albums or canvases. This approach helps get potential customers through your door and gives you invaluable experience, plus helps you make some money at the same time.
  1. Arrange a styled shoot. Successful photographers know how important networking and industry partnerships are. Make a list of vendors who compliment your area of expertise and arrange a shoot with them. This way everyone is contributing something to the shoot and benefitting from it at the same time. You’ll also make some great connections for any upcoming shoots or events. For example, if you specialize in weddings, partner with a venue and a caterer for some great shots that you can all use in your portfolios. As an added bonus, create a small welcome guide or brochure that includes the images and the details of all vendors involved so that everyone can use it for marketing purposes.

Building a photographic portfolio isn’t difficult, it just requires a bit of planning and some creative thinking.

A Photographer's Guide to Pricing Mini Sessions

Mini sessions are a great way for photographers to add a new offering to the mix that will appeal to a wider audience. Offering mini sessions doesn’t mean selling your regular services and products for less money, instead it means simplifying your offering and spending less time on the shoot.

One of the biggest questions most photographers have is how do I price my mini sessions? Below are some things you will want to consider when creating your price strategy.

How to price your mini photography sessions

  1. Outline your goals. Decide how much income you would like to make from the sessions and how much time you will be willing to dedicate to them.
  1. Consider all expenses. Before you set your prices, remember to factor in all costs that you may incur including marketing, editing, props and hiring an assistant.
  1. Limit the time. A mini session shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes so consider this when setting your prices and timeline.
  1. Make it a limited offer. To make your mini sessions even more appealing, highlight the fact that they’re available for a limited time only. Scarcity motivates people to take action sooner rather than later so that they don’t miss out. By making your mini sessions sound more exclusive, you’ll attract clients faster.
  1. Add something extra. Increase the appeal of your mini sessions by adding something unique to your offering such as a frame or an 8x10 print. Don’t forget to factor this into your pricing.
  1. Create packages. Change up the available options by offering mini session packages. But don’t offer too many options to choose from as it can be overwhelming. I suggest limiting the packages to no more than three with your optimal pricing package being the middle one.
  1. Outline the session. Make sure that potential clients understand that the mini session won’t be like a regular photo session. It will be specific and simple and won’t include outfit and background changes.
  1. Create a fun price list. Make your mini session price list stand out by running sessions around special events such as Mother’s Day or Christmas. And make sure all your marketing materials and mini session price sheets match when it comes to design.

    How to Get Moms as Clients for Your Photography Business

    Mother's day is a great way to not only bring in a lot of new clients but can also be a great way to show some extra appreciation for the many moms in your community. While May can be a busy time for most photographers you don't want to pass on the opportunity to do something special just for the moms near you. When you develop a relationship with these moms early they are more likely to think of you when they need photos of their family, kids, or special events. Here are 3 ways you can attract more mom clients to your business for Mother's Day.

    1 - Mommy and Me mini sessions

    One of the best ways to bring in new clients is to set up a mini session. Mommy and me mini session are a fantastic way to promote your business to new clients who may not have the means or time to book a full session with you. While mini sessions can be a good amount of work in a short period of time they can be hugely successful and beneficial. Not only will you get to meet new clients but, assuming all goes well, you will have a significant amount of raving reviews to help boost your reputation as well as get some new referrals.

    2-Teach a mom's digital photography class

    Momtographers is a thing. Plenty of moms pick up photography as a hobby once they have kids because they simply are taking hundreds of more photos they ever have before. Whether they want to start a side business or just want to learn how to take better images of their little ones you can offer up a Mother’s day photography class or a Mommy and Me Photography Class for them to bring their littles. It can be a great way to make new connections, bring in new clients and get your named passed around to a whole new market.

    3- Mommy makeover headshots

    Mom's are so busy taking care of everyone else that they simply forget that they deserve a little special treatment every now and then. Chances are you already know plenty of hair and makeup artist in your area that may be willing to do a special for mother's day. Team up with your favorite hair or makeup artist to give moms a little makeover before stepping in front of the camera. Not only will you have the moms you reach but also the moms the hair or makeup artist brings in to fill your schedule with.

    Why Your Wedding Photography Business Needs a Blog

    More and more wedding photographers are actively running blogs on their websites, including famous photographers such as Katelyn James, and Jasmine Star. So why is it important for wedding photographers to have blogs?

    As a wedding photographer, your clients are including you in a very special and personal day in their lives. They’re trusting you to capture moments throughout the day that they’ll treasure forever, which is why the more they can get to know you, the more they’ll trust you and want to hire you.

    Top 3 reasons to have a wedding photography blog

    1. Educate your clients. Brides are always on the lookout for tips and information that will help make their day as perfect as possible. A blog gives you the chance to educate potential clients and might even get them thinking about extras such as engagement sessions, bridal portraits and day after shoots, providing you with great upselling opportunities. Imagine how much better your clients’ weddings would flow if you’ve already educated them on things such as how to pose, the first look, the cake cutting and how to get family members together for formal photos.
    1. Showcase your work. Running a blog ensures that you’re always updating your website with your latest work. Use your photos in your blog posts to demonstrate ideas, poses, and tips and showcase your work at the same time. This also gives potential clients a better idea of your shooting style and what they can expect if they decide to hire you. Brides usually also share tips and ideas with friends, family, and their wedding party, offering you additional reach and opening the door to referrals.
    1. Search engine optimization. When someone searches for a wedding photographer in your area, you want your website to show up on the first page of Google and actively running a blog will increase your chances of ranking well, especially when you’re using keywords in your copy. Being present on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat is also a great way to share your work and boost your online rankings but Instagram posts and comments fade and Snapchats disappear after 24 hours. Having a blog means you’ll be able to preserve your work and clients will always be able to find your content and portfolio.

    Not only will a blog showcase your expertise but it will give you the opportunity to let your personality shine through. It will also give clients a good idea of what it’s like to work with you and ultimately help you connect with your ideal client.

    5 Ways to Use Customizable Magazine Templates in your Photography Business to Increase Your Bottom Line

    You’re a photographer – not a marketer! Shooting pictures is your passion, you would much rather be behind the lens than strategizing how to sell yourself and bring in more clients. Business cards, logos, websites, trade shows, and mailers are all on your to-do list to bring in the foot traffic that your business needs in order to grow. However, there is one tool that you may not have thought of. It can increase your prospects, engage your current audience, help keep your past customers, and even help you become known as an industry expert. One simple marketing tool can help you achieve your financial goals for your photography business. The tool is a customizable magazine.

    The most popular (and competitive) industries for photographers are covered: weddings, maternity, newborns, kids, high school seniors, pets, and food. Each magazine template is filled with your best work; information about your company; and, most importantly, your knowledge about that particular industry. Stop fussing in Photoshop to cut the costs of graphic designers, sitting for hours in front of a word document to attempt writing marketing copy, and putting together endless amounts of information packets. Just one customizable magazine can save you hours of work and start generating business now.

    Generate revenue today with a custom magazine add-on for clients.

    Custom magazines are an excellent add-on for clients. With the average cost of $4.00 each, a magazine allows you to provide a larger selection of products for a small amount of money and time. Custom products also provide a wow factor when meeting with clients. For example, the Engaged magazine template is perfect for couples looking for a wedding photographer. Many wedding photographers bundle an engagement shoot with the wedding day collection to create a higher perceived value for their clients. However, with so many photographers offering this already, it’s no longer a unique product offering. Wedding and engagement packages are as common as wedding photographers. So, other than your featured work, what are you offering to potential clients that someone else isn’t?

    A custom Engaged magazine is a great (and easy) way to tip the booking odds in your favor. This particular magazine can be used by the couple as a:

    • Save the Date
    • Invitation
    • Out of Town Guest Welcome Packet

    Brides are always looking for ways to make their event as unique and memorable as possible. A custom magazine fits the bill. The template contains pages for engagement shoot photos, bios for the bride and groom, a cute infographic that shows how the couple met, an area map, wedding agenda, information on the wedding registry, and a RSVP tear off. Not only will you catch the glimmer in a bride’s eye, but it also doubles as a take home marketing piece for everyone who is invited to the wedding, while providing all the relevant wedding information for the guests. It’s useful to the client, their guests, and yourself.

    So, to recap, the Engaged magazine helps you:

    • Up-sell your photography package to increase revenue immediately.
    • Create a higher perceived value of your offer than your competitor.
    • Market to everyone at the wedding without having to push, beg, or steal.

    Other magazines that accomplish similar goals are available for high school seniors, graduations, and newborns.

    Define yourself as an industry expert with pre-written articles featured in magazines.

    The term, “Content is King” is so widely used, when marketers hear it they shudder. However, the reason the term was coined is because content is powerful. Content doesn’t have to be found only on a blog on your website to attract leads. Content in a client magazine or welcome guide can be just as effective at getting results.

    We talked about the importance of creating a point of difference between yourself and the competition. If you want to be seen as a leader in a particular niche, you need to show your potential clients that you have the knowledge necessary to fill those shoes. A magazine helps you step out of your competition’s shadow and speak directly to you prospects. Clients are looking for a company that they can trust. They want someone who will answer their questions give them an honest opinion. Clients want to make sure that they are not only getting what they are paying for, but that they have all the knowledge that they need to make sure the experience was as successful as possible.

    A Magazine, like Headshots, that doubles as a Welcome Guide is a great way to showcase your knowledge while providing answers to common questions. A marketing tool that not only puts your business out into the pool of prospects, but also builds trust and confidence before the client even steps foot in the door. It is going to produce more results in the long run than a business card.

    Provide useful information to clients to help you achieve better outcomes.

    Pre-written magazine articles cover topics such as “Why hire a professional”, “What to wear”, “Put Your Best Face Forward: Professional Headshots and Your Business” and “Tips to Rock Your Senior Session”. These topics are not only building trust between your company and potential clients, but they are also helping you:

    • Answer commonly asked questions
    • Provide information to clients they may not have thought to ask.
    • Encourage better outcomes so clients can help you get the best picture possible.

    Increase your prospects with a magazine that generates leads through a downloadable PDF.

    A good marketing funnel for a photography business should have at least three parts.

    1. Generate Awareness

    This, you are already doing by creating magazines for clients and distributing them with your information and logo on it. Social media, traditional and online ads, and search engine optimization will also help you keep the top of your funnel full with traffic and inquires.

    1. Prospects

    This is the point in the funnel when your action is required. If you have been attracting customers in an honest and organic way, the traffic you are generating is interested and in your target market. The next step is to gently nudge them into interacting with you. For this step, you will need tools to convince the potential customer that you are the perfect business for the job. The tools should be easy to use and automatic. A magazine that speaks directly to your target customer is the perfect way to attract qualified leads.

    For this example, we will use the Maternity Magazine. Photographers looking to grow their business may choose mothers-to-be. This particular niche is the perfect way to begin a long relationship with a growing family. The Maternity Magazine would be advertised through your awareness channels and then available for download on your website. In order to download the PDF, the interested party will need to provide their email address Once they do, you have officially converted someone with general interest into a potential prospect.

    To help you get started collecting leads, here are four ways to increase your e-mail sign up conversion rate:

    Place the e-mail newsletter sign up box in a prominent spot on your website. The location you pick can make or break your results. Choose an area that is seen on every single page. An example would be to have it on the footer, or in a margin column. Make it obvious, and use a great call to action.

    Install a pop up window. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! A pop up will produce more results than an idle form. Call out the benefits of the sign up, either the Magazine download or another marketing offer.

    Promote the magazine on Twitter and Facebook. A best practice to follow is whenever you are posting to Facebook to do it at a peak time. For Twitter, focus on creating three distinct headlines for the magazine and e-mail sign up. Schedule them to post 1, 2, and 4 weeks apart.

    Keep the sign up simple. Ask only for an email address and first name. Even better, integrate it with a social media sign in. The easier it is for a prospect to give you their information, the more email addresses you will get in return.

    The email address allows you to continue sending information and building a relationship with that potential customer. This, in turn, can eventually lead to a sale. Not every person who likes your Facebook page or clicks on your website will be ready to hand over their email address though. Your job is to make your magazine as enticing as possible.

    Instead of posting the link and saying “Available for Download”, try using something catchy like “Find the Perfect Prop for your Maternity Session” or “The Ultimate Guide for Amazing Maternity Pictures”. Photography props is a pre-written article already in the Maternity magazine, other articles include “Getting Ready for your Shoot,” “How to Prepare for Your Photo Shoot”, and information on a fun Gender Reveal. Create interest, urgency, and need with the way you market the magazine. The more daring you are, the better results you will get and the fuller your funnel will be. 

    1. Customer

    The best part of all your marketing efforts culminates when a prospect finally converts into a paying customer. If you’ve utilized magazines each step of the way, the last part should be easy! The customer already loves your work, trusts your business, and feels like you understand them and their goals. You officially obtained a higher perceived value than your competitors. That means your calendar will be full and your prices can go up. Don’t be surprised if you can’t take a weekend off for the rest of the year!

    Create a newsletter that contributes to the client lifecycle of a photographer.

    Once you have converted a customer, or during the prospecting phase, e-newsletters are the perfect way to stay in touch. Both past customers and potential ones want to see what you have been up to.

    Magazines are available in print and digital form. In this case we are going to use them to propel your marketing campaign with e-newsletters. The only writing you will have to do is say a warm hello. Your prospects and customers just want see the good stuff.

    Add links in the email to your latest projects featured in individual magazines. Send an email newsletter to parents, or school officials with links to last year’s top Senior Look Books. Once they see the creativity, there’s no way they will book with anyone else.

    Wedding professionals may find that a quarterly or yearly e-mail newsletter is a great way to show their clients and other industry contacts any styled shoots that they worked on. Brides-to-be plan their weddings years in advance. Having contact with you throughout their planning process will make them feel like you are involved and you value their business. By collaborating with other wedding vendors like wedding planners or florists you get the additional benefit of merging your email lists for the e-newsletter. Not only will you renew interest your clients, but also your partner’s clients who may not have found you otherwise.

    In the event industry, follow best practices in cleaning up your list. A mandatory field for you is the event date. After a bride and groom tie the knot, transfer them from the wedding newsletter to the newborn and maternity list. One of the best features of email is that helps you keep your customers. A key principle to a successful business is repeat purchases. Creating emails may feel like a hassle, however, it is less expensive to keep your old customers than to go and attract new ones. Segment your list based on marital status, number of kids, and event date to help keep your emails relevant to your clients. It also keeps your business top of mind for future opportunities.

    Replace the piles of marketing collateral in your office with one magazine.

    We’ve gone over so many uses for customizable magazines in your photography business. From generating awareness and collecting leads to capturing sales and propelling relationships with customers. Magazines can touch on each part of your business. Customizable magazines are a:

    • Take away at bridal salons (instead of a business card!)
    • Giveaways at tradeshows (instead of a price list)
    • Mailers (with more than a couple of photographs)
    • Take homes for consultations (instead of the generic folder)
    • Guide for initial meetings (Move from initial information, what the customer gets, tips to make their experience exceptional and end with pricing)
    • PDF download on website for Prospecting
    • E-Newsletter content to keep your customers coming back year after year.

     

    10 Quick Tips for Photographing Fireworks!

    Happy fourth of July! 

    Here are top 10 quick tips for photographing fireworks:

    1. Arrive early to find a good spot.

    2. Use a tripod and remote shutter release.

    3. Use a small aperture between f/5.6-5/16 (f/8 is usually good).

    4. Use a slow shutter speed. Between 5 to 10 seconds is good.  You can also use bulb setting.

    5. Set your ISO to around 100 or 200

    6. Make sure you flash is turned off.

    7. Focus your lens ahead of time.

    8. Shoot most of your shots at the beginning of the show. As it progresses there will be more smoke in the air and the sky won’t look as clear. 

    9. Shoot wide.  Make sure you have enough room in the frame to get the full bursts of the fireworks. 

    10. Take some test shots. 

     

    3 Ways to Earn Extra Income for Your Photography Business During the Holidays

    Earn Extra Income in your photography business for the holidays

    Simple but effective ways for photographers to earn an additional income over the holiday season.

    The holiday season is an exciting time. People are in a festive mood and on the hunt for gifts for their friends and loved ones.

    This can be an especially lucrative time for photographers and the perfect time to start spreading the word about your services as you move into the New Year.

    As we approach the end of the year, you might find that your traditional photography business slows down a bit. This means that you’ll need to thinking of other ways to supplement your income. Below are three ideas to get you started:

    Santa Photo Sessions

    Every year, thousands of children line up to have their picture taken with Santa, making this the perfect opportunity for photographers. Click here to find out more about earning an income by offering Santa photo sessions.

    Teach Photography

    There are loads of budding photographers out there that would love to learn from a professional so why not use this opportunity to earn an extra income over the holiday period? You could have a Kids Photo Camp over the holiday break with the Kids Basic Photography Curriculum.  Or you could offer a FREE photography class on how to take candid family Christmas photos... bring in the students as a way to get them thru the doors of your studio and then offer them a special deal on family portraits.  Want more tips for teaching? Read this article for tips on how to start teaching photography.

    Offer Gift Cards

    Photos are in every home and people love adding to their collection of memories. Now is the perfect time to start marketing and selling photography gift cards that can be used in the New Year. Click here to find out more about creating and selling photography gift cards.

     

    3 Mistakes Photographers Make with their Mini Sessions

    1) Not Limiting their Mini Sessions

    Keep the sessions short (approx. 15-20 minutes per client). Make sure you are clear about how many photos are offered and everything that is included in the session. Limit the frequency of your mini sessions; once or twice a year is ideal. Remember, the goal is to get the clients to sign up for full sessions- not to encourage them to wait for mini sessions, which can be viewed as a sale in their minds. You want your mini sessions to give a sampling of your amazing photos, and not the ONLY photography service your clients enlist you for.

    2) Not Promoting Mini Sessions

    Spread the word with an online graphic that provides all the details. Share on Instagram with relevant hashtags (such as the city you live in, #minisessions #portraitphotography, #photographyspecial, and the type of session, such as #backtoschool and #schoolportraits, etc. Share on Facebook, and consider posting a boosted ad there as well. You can choose your target audience by age, gender, and area, which can be very helpful. Make sure to tag friends and family in your social media promotions, and ask them to share posts and help spread the word!

    3) Not Upselling 

    One of the main objectives in hosting mini photo sessions is to gain new customers who will book you for full-price photography services. There are several things you can do to increase your chances of turning mini session clients into loyal customers. One thing you can do is design and print a coupon for a special discount or offer pertaining to your full-price photo sessions. Highlight on the coupon that this special is just for new mini session clients, so that they feel like they are a part of a very exclusive offer. Another way to promote your full-price services is to have a beautiful studio welcome guide on hand, featuring your portfolio, list of photography services, and content that convinces the potential client that working with you is a win/win situation. 

    5 Tips from the Pros on Starting a Photography Business

    Today we have a guest blog post from Zenfolio. They have beautiful websites and client galleries for any genre of photography business. You can create a beautiful website in minutes and manage your site from your mobile device.  They even have a shopping cart and partner with the leading print labs.  Today they will be sharing with us 5 tips about starting a photography business. 

    You’re restless in your office cubicle, or maybe the number of friends’ compliments on your photos is increasing, or perhaps you’re just ready to dive in and do what you love for a living. Before you start your own photography business, you’ll need to do some serious research and planning. Here, five Zenfolio Pro Team members share their words of wisdom on what you should take note of before taking the plunge. 

    Being a full or part-time photographer means more than clicking the shutter. You are running a moneymaking business, and it’s important to be financially wise and put together a business plan so you can set goals. Several Pro Team members agreed: It’s definitely more business than photography.

    “Take as much interest in the business side of things,” says music and commercial photographer Martin Hobby.  “So many businesses don’t have a business plan, but without one you are wandering around in the dark. How do you know what you should be charging if you have no idea how much you need to earn to survive each month?” He recommends starting with a piece of paper, and asking yourself:

    1. How much do you need to earn to cover all your basic living expenses each year?
    2. How much is your basic business overhead? (Add up all your equipment costs, insurance costs, advertising, office rent, etc.)
    3. Add these two figures together
    4. Divide by the number of jobs you think you will do a year: this gives you the minimum you must charge per job to cover your basic lifestyle.

    There are a lot of factors that go into starting a business that go beyond your vision. “Research general requirements in your area, such as licenses, taxes and insurance requirements,” says music and pet photographer Amiee Stubbs. “You should also research the competition! It’s surprising to me how many people start a photography business with little awareness of what is already being offered in the market.” 

    Erica Peerenboom, senior portrait and boudoir photographer, says it’s best to seek professional help. “Check with your state about the requirements and permits needed to start a business. If possible, I recommend having a professional help you set everything up. I did this, and I didn’t want anything left out that I could later get in trouble for, especially with taxes!”

    “The photography business is one of the few professions where clients look at your actual work and not your resume first,” says sports and nature photographer, David Liam Kyle. Your website is everything these days: your billboard advertisement, your storefront, your portfolio and blog. Make sure your site not only beautifully showcases your work but also helps get you more clients and increase sales. “Zenfolio is my modern-day portfolio. I can refer clients to specific links and private client folders that they can view and download images from in a professional manner. This also gives them the opportunity to see more of my other photography while they are at my website.”

    “Zenfolio is a huge time-saver: it’s so easy to use that I don’t have to devote much time to creating a fantastic-looking website,” says Amiee. “I stay so busy that I don’t have time for in-person sales, so it allows my clients to purchase directly through the site.”

    And lastly: “What is that old saying? You only get one chance to make a first impression…” says Erica.

    What’s the cheapest and easiest way to get your work out there? Using Facebook and Instagram to grow your following. Olympic photographer Jeff Cable has more than 40K fans on Facebook alone and gains new followers by posting live action Olympic shots during the season. “Social media is critical these days,” he says.

    Some photographers, such as Jeff, use social media to communicate with other photographers; others use it to gain more clients; and others use it to showcase their personal lives. “I am different than many other photographers, because my social media is aimed more at photographers than potential clients. I teach photography all over the world and have a following from that.”

    Martin lets his personality shine through not only on website but on social media as well. “The lines are blurred between me and my business. I don’t want to come across as too slick and corporate. I would sooner be regarded as slightly used, battered and eccentric,” he says.

    Just because it’s your photography doesn’t mean you need to run the show alone. It can be wise to enlist the help of friends and family when starting out, and down the line even hiring an accountant, manager or team members to help keep you organized and sane. (Plus, how many creative people enjoy doing the booking and numbers?)

    Help from a spouse is common among the Pro Team: Martin, Amiee and David all have spouses who help run their businesses.

    “My business is run by my wife, Dawn, who is my boss,” says Martin. “She’s rock solid and handles all the admin and bookkeeping stuff that I absolutely hate. She’ll be taking over all the social media side once our little boy starts school.”

    Martin also uses a freelance retoucher for editing jobs, and has started working with a marketing agency to rebrand his website.

    “A good accountant is also a must, they will save you more money than you pay them.”

    Ready to take the plunge? Get started on developing your professional website today with Zenfolio, and check out the great marketing and selling tools that Magazine Mama has to get your business off the ground.

     

    25 Ways to Get More Photography Clients for $25 or Less

    Creative ways to effectively market your photography services.

    You’ve followed your passion for photography and started your own business but how do you get your name and photos in front of the right audience?

    Marketing your photography services need not be expensive and time consuming. All you need are a few clever ideas to get the market talking. Below are some photography marketing ideas to get you started on your business journey.

    1. A few brownies go a long way. We have found that sending out treats such as brownies to planners or vendors has secured us a number of weddings because we were kept top of mind. Spending $20 - $25 on a box of brownies in return for potential business worth $2 500 makes it well worth the expense. At the same time you’re also building a relationship with these vendors, which is a great way to potentially be considered for future projects and events. Don’t worry if you’ve recently missed photography marketing opportunities such as this because there is still a chance to send out year end and holiday gifts. Tell the vendor how much you enjoyed working with them or simply wish them a prosperous new year. If you are looking for real convenience, companies such as greetabl.com send out little gifts with hand written notes for that personal touch.
    1. Send out handwritten notes. If you have recently worked with a venue, vendor or client, send them a hand written note after the event to thank them for their business.
    1. Take advantage of samples. Make a list of venues you would potentially like to work with and create sample photo books for them to keep on the premises. Ensure that your logo, website address and contact details can easily be seen by potential clients. When considering venues, ensure that you enjoy working with the vendors and that the clients would be able to afford your photography services. Refresh your photo books every 6 – 9 months to keep them looking professional and to ensure that they aren’t placed at the bottom of a pile of similar books. Showcasing your work at venues is like social media marketing, you need to regularly update your material to stay top of mind. Another clever idea is to place a few canvases at relevant stores. Bridal stores being an example.
    1. Networking is key. Building relationships with vendors and other photographers will increase the possibility of new opportunities. The law of reciprocity works wonders here. By referring vendors and creating strong relationships with them you are keeping yourself top of mind and this increases your chances of being referred by them too. If you are referring someone to a client, CC them in the email and speak to their strengths. This is not only gives your brand a positive boost but it’s also helpful in emergency situations.
    1. Set up a referral list. Make a list of 2 – 3 vendors in various categories that you enjoyed working with and tell them you would love to include them on your referral list. Place this list on your website so that potential clients know who you prefer to work with. Rather not ask for anything in return as they may or may not want to reciprocate. 
    1. Reward client referrals. Another great photography marketing idea is to setup a referral program for your clients that let them advertise for you. Offer a discount, free prints or a free album when they refer family or friends to you. Pay attention in your consultation to find out what they would potentially like to purchase but cannot afford. For example, if they refer two clients that book with you they get a free album. That album might cost you $500 to produce but two weddings could bring you $5 000 in return.
    1. Give out printed proofs. In an age where digital reigns supreme, it’s nice to actually have printed photos around the house. Print out proofs for clients that have your brand on them that they can give to family and friends.
    1. Use photography marketing cards. A great way to use this at weddings is to create business cards by printing the couple’s engagement session and display these cards at the wedding (Check out the Magazine Mama Shop to purchase these). This way you are helping the bride out because their family and friends won’t need to ask for prints. Guests can simply take their card and refer to the online gallery. Keep in mind that the bride probably has a number of friends who are engaged and going to get married so this is a great way to get new sales. These cards will help you capture email addresses for future marketing purposes because whether it’s a wedding, a family shoot or head shots, everyone needs professional photography services at some stage. Another great opportunity is if you shoot to sell at a wedding. Take photos of people dancing with their dates, you’d be surprised at how popular these photos are. Some brides will even use these as favors on the tables. You can use moo.com/uk to print these cards and have a variety of shots on each card, almost like a trading card.
    1. Become a guest blogger. Find a few blogs or websites that have large amounts of content and offer to be a guest author for them. This may come in handy if they’re out of town and need someone to fill in for them. This is also a way to showcase your expertise and market your photography services.

    Blog planner for photographer

    1. Blog about others. Jot down the names of a few leading industry experts and interview them. Send them a link to the interview that they can share on their platforms. Instant marketing for your business and brand. Just be sure that they work in an industry that would be relevant to your services.
    1. Create a focus group. Find a group of individuals who make up your target audience and perform your own market research. Find out about their needs and at the same time get feedback on your own offering and photography marketing material.
    1. Setup a styled photoshoot. Contact some of your favorite vendors and offer a free photoshoot. Provide the vendors with the edited files for use in their marketing. You can also use the photos to create a hard cover sample album that they can show potential clients. Be sure to clearly display your branding and contact details.
    1. Create a co-op photography marketing piece. Design a postcard, flyer, brochure or magazine insert that features some of the photos from your vendor shoots.
    1. E-mail Marketing. Get your customers to sign up for a weekly newsletter. A great way to collect email addresses is to offer something for free in exchange for their details. Research has shown that sending out newsletters on a Tuesday morning is very effective. Use pop up boxes on your website to make visitors aware of your newsletter. Try Pippity or Optin Monster for this. Offer visitors valuable content to keep them coming back.
    1. Social media advertising. Boost a few social media posts to get your content and brand in front of the right audience. The social media advertising model is great in the sense that you can limit how much you spend each day. Facebook also has a great feature that allows you to create a look-alike audience by using the names and emails of clients you usually market to.
    1. Print Business cards. The beauty of printing business cards is that you can carry them with you everywhere you go. If you happen to exchange cards with someone, jot down a few notes about them so that you can connect with them on a more personal level when you do contact them. If you have some additional budget you can also consider printing two different types of business cards. One with your branding and general contact details and another with a specific special offer on it. Websites such as moo.com allows you to print on both sides of your business card. Use one side for your logo and contact details and the other side for your photos. This could be senior, wedding or even newborn photos. Business cards are also an easy way to drive more traffic to your website.
    1. Use every day situations. If you happen to be at the checkout in a store and they ask you whether you want your receipt printed or emailed to you, opt for both. By using your business email you can potentially spark a conversation about your photography services. You never know who might be getting married or wants to learn more about photography themselves. This gives you the chance to sell them your services or tell them about an upcoming course that you’ll be hosting. Remember to have your business card ready to hand over.
    1. Volunteer for non-profits. This is also related to reciprocity in the sense that because you are doing something for free and helping someone else, they will more than likely want to help you in return. This is a great way to get your name out there. For example, if you’re a pet photographer, offer to volunteer at your local animal shelter and take pictures for their website or at their fundraising events.
    1. Conduct a survey. There are various ways for you to use a survey to improve your business. One way is to use an exit survey that clients can fill out after they have used your services. Another way is to use a survey to perform actual market research. Present potential clients with a survey before they actually book you or even meet with you. In exchange for completing the survey, send them something like a $5 Starbucks gift card or you can enter them into a draw to win a gift card worth a higher amount. If you are dealing with a specific audience such as brides, make the gift card for a store or event that they would really be interested in. Once you have your prize figured out you can craft your survey and fill it with three of your key selling points.

     One of the platforms that I highly recommend is Survey Monkey. For example, one of your questions might be:

    Your Studio Photography includes high resolution files in their packages. How important are these digital files to you?

    • Somewhat Important
    • Very Important
    • Not Important At All

    You want to keep your questions brief and easy. If you stick with multiple choice questions, that is usually the best approach. If you are a wedding photographer ask them to provide you with their wedding date and find out whether they have booked a photographer as yet. It might also be helpful for them to indicate the budget range they have available for their wedding photography so that you know whether this is a potential lead or not.

    Thank them for their time and for taking the survey. Let them know when the prize draw will be taking place and how the winners will be announced and contacted. You might also want to include a yes or no box asking them whether they would like to be contacted about a consultation.

       20.  Rent a studio. By renting a studio space or a meeting room in a nice office     building you can professionally meet with your clients and avoid any distractions such as those you would find in your local coffee shop. It is well worth the investment and there is also the option to share a rented space with other suppliers or photographers if you want to cut costs. A proper studio space also gives you the opportunity to properly present and sell your photography services.

    1. Offer free shoots. Offer to do a free shoot for a venue or event. Don’t charge them to begin with as this will get your foot in the door and it gives you the opportunity to upsell them at a later stage.
    1. Try out Groupon. This tends to be quite a controversial photography marketing idea as a number of photographers say it makes your business look cheap. However, if you are just starting out and want to build up your portfolio, it might be a good option to look into. If you do decide to go ahead with Groupon you should make it a limited offer so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Limit it to a certain time period or even to specific areas. Make sure you set an expiry date.

    You’ll want to keep a calendar and sign-up sheet in order to keep track of bookings and to avoid double bookings. It’s also a good idea to let clients know that there are no refunds or chances to reschedule if they don’t make it to their appointment. Be specific about being paid for time only and that any additional purchases are separate. It’s also highly recommended that you give the client a time limit for the shoot as well as how many people are included. If they want additional people to be included then rather charge an additional fee. Set aside specific dates and times to deal with Groupon clients so that you can spend the rest of your time on your other clients.

    1. Giveaway gift cards. Allowing clients to purchase photography gift cards is a great marketing idea for photographers, especially during the holiday season. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, approximately 81% of adults in America will purchase one gift card during the holidays if not more. Gift cards let clients take advantage of a special offer now while still having the flexibility to schedule their photoshoot at a less busy time of the year. Below are 5 ways to use gift cards in your photography marketing plan:
    • Offer a special on gift card purchases. Buy One, Get One Free or even Buy Two, Get One Free are examples of potential offers. Customers give the gift of photography to someone else and are still rewarded with a gift for themselves
    • Offer kickback incentives. Provide a client with a certain amount of credit for every ‘x’ amount purchased in gift cards for others. This will vary based on your business model but perhaps $10 for every $100 or $50 for every $200 spent etc…
    • Include charitable giving with gift card purchases. Everyone loves it when their purchase helps a good cause. Find a cause that is dear to you and let your clients know that you will be donating a certain percentage of their gift card purchase amount to your chosen charity
    • Offer discount incentives. For example, purchase a $350 gift card for only $250
    • Give away gift cards for free. Surprise your best clients by sending them a gift card for a free session. You can then upsell them at a later stage. Or send them a gift card for $50 off a purchase of $200 or more. Again, the amounts you use will depend on your business and the cost of your packages and products. 

    Print your gift cards on quality paper and present them in beautiful packaging. Include details such as the gift card amount, expiration date and any relevant disclaimers.

    1. Get published. Another marketing opportunity for photographers is to use a service such as twobrightlights.com to submit your photos. Ensure that the photos you submit are in line with what the magazine features. Also, don’t send photographs that the publisher doesn’t ask for and definitely don’t include a watermark on your images. The magazine’s demographic should also match your own. 
    1. Run a contest. Use a company such as heyo.com or www.rafflecopter.com to collect email addresses. Have the contest run for around 7 days and keep the mechanics as simple as possible. They should only have to provide their name and email in order to sign up. Send the participants an email update that tells them when the winner will be announced. Once the winner is announced you could even send all participants a thank you email, which includes a coupon code that they can use to claim a discount on their next photo session. Remember to include an expiration date as motivation for them to sign up sooner.

     

     

     

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