To get noticed by customers and stand out as a photographer, you need to get your name out there. Marketing is essential for every photographer, regardless of how long you’ve been working in the industry, but even more so if you’re just getting started.
Taking great photos is not enough to get you noticed as a photographer. You’re going to need to think outside the box and test out several different approaches if you want to make a name for yourself.
This guide was designed to give you the inspiration you need to develop a unique marketing strategy for your photography business.
1. Offer to write a guest post on a local website in your niche. Find a few blogs or websites that have viewers in your niche and offer to submit a guest blog post. This can be beneficial on both local and national blogs or sites. It’s a way to showcase your expertise and get your photos published.
2. Blog Your Sessions:Consistently blog your photography sessions. Be sure to use the keywords of your photoshoot location, especially if it’s a wedding venue and a place where your ideal clients get married.
3. Feature Others on Your Blog. Jot down the names of a few leading industry experts and interview them for your blog. Send them a link to the interview that they can share on their social media platforms. The result is instant marketing for your photography business.
4. Blog to Educate Your Clients. Blogging is another way to educate your clients and create content that can be shared across media channels and within your e-mail newsletters. Not only is it a great way to be known as an expert, it also helps your sessions go smoother. If you're busy and don't have time to write your own blog posts, you can find some pre-written blog posts for photographers here. Or if you're a wedding photographer, you can find pre-written wedding photography blog posts here.
5. SEO Still Works. When you are blogging, don’t forget to include your keywords. If you need help finding appropriate keywords you can use sites such as SEM Rush or keywordtool.io. Don’t forget that your blog isn’t the only place you need to focus on SEO; keywords play a big part in getting found on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
6. Volunteer for Non-profits. Find a non-profit organization that is near and dear to you and ask them if they need a photographer. When you offer to help someone else, they will more than likely want to help you in return.
7. Donate to Non-profits.Non-profit organizations often host high ticket fund raising events and need prizes to bid on for silent auctions. Put together a special session with a high dollar value and donate it to a non-profit for their silent auction. If possible have a giveaway for people to enter to win so you can collect names, e-mails and addresses of potential clients. When you follow up with them after the event, don’t forget to remind them how you got their information. This tactic is great if you are looking for clients at a higher price point as people who attend fund raising events will likely have a higher income. When working with non-profits, try to find a non-profit that is related to the genre of photography services you offer. For example, if you’re a pet photographer, it would make sense to team up with an animal shelter. Or if you’re a women’s headshot photographer, team up with a non-profit that helps women with cancer and offer to do headshots and photos to help women feel beautiful even with all they are going through.
8. Offer a FREEBIE. Offer a free download on your website. This could be a simple pdf such as "How to Look Great in Photos." By opting in to receive the download, potential clients are agreeing to receive your future e-mails.
9. Send Annual E-mail reminders. Each year should bring updated headshots and family photos. Set up a reminder calendar for the following year to encourage repeat business from your clients.
10. Send Monthly E-mail Newsletters. Keep top of mind with your clients and potential photography clients by sending out a monthly e-mail newsletter.
11. Send Weekly E-mails. In addition to your monthly e-mail newsletter, consider sending out an e-mail at least once a week to your e-mail subscribers. It doesn’t always have to be about a promotion; it can be a simple e-mail sharing a testimonial from a previous client or a link to a recent blog post. If you need some pre-written marketing e-mails, check out this bundle here.
Want FREE training on E-mail Marketing for Photographers? Click here.
12. Word of Mouth Marketing. Get your current clients to help you spread the word about your photography business. Offer them a special on their next session or offer to throw in something extra like a free print.
13. Have a Referral Page in Your Welcome Guide. Dedicate a page in your photography welcome guide specifically for marketing your referral program. Offer a percentage off on their next photo session for every “x” number of clients they refer to you.
14. Get Referrals from Other Small Business Owners. Clients aren’t the only place referrals can come from. Talk to some business owners in your area and see if they need marketing photos or headshots for their website. Let them know about your referral program.
15. Organize a Giveaway. Talk to some local business owners in your area and put together a prize package. Create posters announcing the contest with each of your business names and logos on it. You could even consider contacting your local tv or radio station and let them know about the giveaway and get some good old-fashioned PR.
16. 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.
17. Network with Other Photographers. Many photographers feel intimidated by their competition, but if you work together, you may be able to help each other out. Look for photographers in your area that have a similar style to yours and ask them if they’d be interested in meeting for coffee. Get to know them and if you have a photography inquiry on a date you are booked, send them the referral. You may find that they will start sending referrals your way, too!
18. Display your Photography in Shops and Local Businesses. Ask your local cafes, salons, gift shops, florists, pet stores or real estate agents if they would display your photography in their shop. Perhaps you reach out to a florist in your area and offer to photograph some of their bouquets and then give them a framed canvas to hang in their shop. Don’t forget to ask them to display your welcome guides or marketing materials in exchange for the complimentary wall art.
19. Share Album Samples with Businesses.Make a list of venues or businesses you want to work with and create sample photo books for them to keep. Don’t forget to include your logo, website address and contact details somewhere on the samples that can easily been seen by the potential client. Make sure that it’s a venue that you enjoy working with and that the clients would be able to afford your photography services. Refresh your sample 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 for photographers - you need to regularly update your material to stay top of mind.
20. Teach Photography to Kids and Moms. Not only will this idea help get you more clients indirectly, it will also help you earn some extra cash in your not-so-busy seasons. You know when people come to learn photography that they most likely love photography themselves. Who better to market to? I’m not talking hard sell marketing here. Just show you are an expert by teaching them the basics of photography. You can have your work on display at the class and even collect potential client leads.
21. Facebook Marketing.All types of photographers can benefit from Facebook marketing. Facebook is considered a “pay to play” platform but you can still get lots of reach if you post the right content at the right times.
22. Host a Facebook Group.Consider creating a private Facebook group for your clients as a place for them to ask questions about their upcoming sessions. If you offer wedding photography services, create a special Facebook group for your couples. It’s a great way for them to ask you questions and interact with each other. The bonus is you get to be a fly on the wall of their conversations and get to know your ideal client even better. If you want to join my private Facebook group with other photographers, you can click here to join. It's totally FREE!
23. Pinterest Marketing. Wedding planning is a hot topic on Pinterest, so if you are a wedding photographer or destination wedding photographer, you will definitely want to take advantage of this platform. You can also use Pinterest as a way to create inspiration boards for your clients’ photo sessions.
24. Instagram Marketing. Instagram is a great way to connect with new potential clients. You can use apps such as Linktree to link to different portfolios if you offer more than one type of photography. Try using scheduling tool such as Tailwind where you can schedule to post on multiple social media platforms at the same time. Bonus tip: find an Instagram influencer in your area and offer to shoot some photos in exchange for some publicity on their Instagram account.
25. Connect with Clients on LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn as a way to connect to other business owners is especially helpful if you are a headshot photographer or personal branding photographer. Look at your current LinkedIn Connections. Have you noticed that many of them need updated or professional headshots? Send an email to all of your connections and offer them a special package for headshots. Remind them how important it is to look good, especially in front of colleagues and potential employers.
26. Postcards. Send out yearly reminders for your clients to get updated photos for the new year or family photos during the holidays.
27. Include Great Content in Your Photography Welcome Guides or Brochures. Content marketing is huge when it comes to booking clients. Including helpful, relevant content in your photography welcome guide will help you stand out as the expert in your area. Bonus, it will also help make your sessions run smoother.
28. Place Your Welcome Guides in Local Businesses. Many of my Magazine Mama customers are using this tactic. For example, some birth, newborn or maternity photographers will place their welcome guides in doctors' offices while one of my senior photographers placed her welcome guide in orthodontists' offices.
29. Client Testimonials. Feature your best client testimonials on your website, your blog and social media accounts. Bonus tip: use your testimonials in your advertising and use the same words or phrases from them throughout your marketing materials to appeal to more ideal clients just like them.
30. Use your pricing as a marketing strategy. Keep in mind that if you're in a low pricing range there's a chance you could be viewed as an amateur photographer. If you want to get photography clients that will pay for your experience, creativity, and expertise, then you want your pricing structure to reflect this. There's an old saying you get what you pay for and sometimes people let that guide their purchasing decisions.
31. Send Out Thank Hand Written Thank You Cards. Sending out hand written thank you cards to your clients can make them feel extra special. You can send a thank you card after a potential client meeting or after a photo session. Your clients will notice that extra special touch that makes you stand out from your competition.
32. In Home Shopping Party: Have you been to a jewelry or makeup party at someone’s house? If so, then you know that wine, friends and shopping can be profitable. Try organizing a shopping experience with your photography studio and partner with a few of those local businesses. Holidays are a great time for parties because people need to buy gifts, but you don’t have to wait for a holiday to have an excuse to throw a party.
33. Mom’s Night Out Events: Partner with other businesses and host a mom’s night out event. You could have mommy makeovers or even mommy and me mini sessions.
34 Happy Hour Event. You can spin happy hour events in many different ways. For example, you could have a “Headshots Happy Hour” event or even a “Bridal Happy Hour." The key here is to combine forces with a couple other complimentary businesses and you each reach out to your client base to bring in attendees.
35. Facebook Fridays/Social Media Saturdays. Choose one weekend a month and host a a social media event where people can come and get updated photos for their social media profiles.
36. Mini Session Events. Some photographers have mini sessions every month. And this can be a great marketing idea for your photography business as long as you keep in mind the ultimate goal of your mini session should be to bring “new” clients through the door as opposed to always giving your current clients mini sessions.
37. Build a Portfolio Around Your Ideal Client. Remember who your ideal clients are when you are selecting which images to include in your website portfolio. Make sure all the photos in your portfolio reflect your ideal client. If you want to shoot small intimate weddings, then showcase small intimate weddings. If you need to, consider setting up a themed photoshoot specifically to get photos that will speak to your ideal client.
38. Collect E-mail Addresses. Make sure your website has the capability of collecting e-mail addresses. The location you choose to place your e-mail newsletter sign-up form can affect your results. If possible, choose an area that is visible on every page of your website. An example would be on the footer or in a margin column of your blog.
39. Maintain Great Customer Service. Want to get more repeat clients and referrals? Provide excellent customer service. Limit the number of photoshoots you book so you have more time to provide excellent customer service to your clients. You may need to increase your prices to make up for the limited number of photography sessions. Going the extra mile will help you generate referrals since happy and satisfied clients are more likely to recommend you.
40. Follow Up. Don’t forget to follow up with current clients and potential clients. Let’s say someone has e-mailed you as an inquiry. You respond and then don’t hear back from them. Reach out and ask them why. Sometimes people just get busy and appreciate when people take the initiative to reach out to them.
41. Get Your Photos Published in a Magazine. Try to get your photos published in a printed magazine. Photography clients, especially wedding clients, like to know their photographer was featured in popular publications. I was lucky to get my photos featured in People Magazine which helped take my business to a whole new level. Make sure the photos you submit are in line with the publication's core values and target audience. Don’t send images that the publisher hasn’t requested; you will just be wasting your time and theirs. Don’t watermark your images.
42. Get Your Photos Featured on a Blog. Printed magazines aren’t the only place you can be featured. Blogs are equally important. Look for blogs that your ideal client would be reading. They can be national blogs or smaller local blogs.
43. Give Away Proof Prints. With so many people living in the online and digital world, it’s nice to actually have hard copy prints of photos. Print out some extra proofs for clients with your logo and contact information for them to give away to family and friends. They will love the added surprise prints and now your work is being passed around to their family members and potential clients.
44. Rent a Studio and Market as an Established Professional. If you have the opportunity to be part of a co-op studio, you may want to consider this as a marketing strategy, especially if the location is in an area that gets lots of foot traffic. Display samples of your photos in the window or have your logo on the door. By renting a studio space or a meeting room in a nice office building, you can professionally meet with your clients and give them the proper presentation to help market and sell your photography services. This is also a great idea if you use the in-person sales business model.
45. Market Your Business as “Mobile.” If you work with people that have busy schedules, it might make more sense to go to them instead of asking them to come to your studio. Consider setting up a backdrop and lights at a local co-work office space and offer headshots once a month. You may also want to adopt the mobile truck strategy. If your clients are busy moms with young children, offer to do in-home lifestyle sessions. You can even charge a premium price if you are coming to them as it is more custom.
46. Attend a Trade Show in Your Niche. Set up a booth at a local trade show. Don’t forget your main objective of the trade show will be to collect leads. Have a giveaway for people to enter.
47. Place Marketing Pieces in Trade Show Bags. If you’re unable to attend the trade show or if the cost is more than what you want to pay, ask if they have bags they give to attendees that you could insert your printed marketing pieces in.
48. Have a Contest on Social Media. Have a contest on social media to grow your social media following. If you’re a wedding photographer, have the couples submit their story of how they met and choose the most creative one. You could also have entrants submit a photo and pick the best one.
49. Facebook Live. If you have a Facebook page, it’s a great idea to go live so your audience can connect with you. You can take them behind the scenes at a session, show them what you do to prepare for a session, or show them your steps in editing photos. You could also have an “unboxing” of a client’s finished albums before you deliver them to your client.
50. YouTube. YouTube is a great place to host your videos. You can create educational videos for your clients to teach them how to pose or share steps to prepare for their session. Consider taking some of your blog posts and turning them into videos. You could also put together a slideshow from specific locations you’ve shot at. Don’t forget to add keywords and a link back to your site within your videos’ descriptions. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here.
51. Video Slideshows. Animoto is a popular platform used by photographers to create slideshow videos of their sessions. These are great for posting on your social media profiles or for sending to your clients for them to share with friends and family. Make sure to brand your videos and include a link back to your website.
52. Facebook Video Marketing. If you’re doing any type of advertising or marketing on Facebook, you may know that you can get more reach when posting videos on your Facebook page. You can also build an audience of people who have viewed your videos and use this as an audience for your Facebook advertising.
When it comes to establishing yourself as a professional photographer, creativity and consistency will take you far. Once your calendar starts filling up and you have a steady stream of income, don’t fall into the trap of becoming complacent. Keep thinking of new and innovative ways to market to new and existing customers and watch your business thrive!
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