If you want to be a photographer, although you would like to just take photographs and enjoy life, the reality is that you have to do more than that to make money. You have to market your images. In fact, like any business, it’s all about the marketing. And, that may be something completely new to you, so what are the best ways to market your photography business? We’re going to answer that question with 15 photography marketing ideas to help you sell your images.
There are a number of techniques you might not have thought about to market your photographs. We’ve identified 15 marketing ideas that are among the most effective. Let’s take a look at each.
1. Launch a Website
Really, this is a good tip for anyone trying to sell something, but it’s particularly important when marketing for photographers. You should think of your website as your digital storefront. It’s designed to introduce people to work and convince them you’re the photographer they need to hire.
A well-designed website is arguably your most important internet marketing tool, and the elements of a good website include the following:
- Buy an easy-to-find and remember domain name. Ideally, it will match your business name, but you should avoid anything that is difficult to spell or too long to remember.
- Get yourself set up with a reliable hosting provider. Because you’ll be uploading images that may be large files, you want fast loading times, and more reliable hosting providers can give you just that.
- Upload your pictures to themed portfolios. Make sure they’re your best work. You want to create stunning galleries for your potential customers to browse.
- Your website should be intuitive. You need to place things where customers can find them easily, and the site should be aesthetically appealing too. That makes it a good idea to hire a website designer to help make your website the best it can be. Remember, it will be potential clients’ first impression of you and your work. You want it to scream, “professional, creative and consistent.”
- Set up a Google my Business location for your company. This will help you rank higher on Google searches by local clients.
When people search on Google for a Photographer a list comes up of local results. You can easily be added to the list of results by visiting google.com/localbusinesscenter. All that you need is an address and a telephone. It also helps to have a website. You will be walked through the steps to Market yourself locally on Google by visiting the local business center link.
To design a good website, it’s essential to identify your ideal client. That way, you can design the website to most appeal to that ideal client, and attract more of them to your photography business.
2. Identify Your Ideal Client
When you’re able to identify your ideal client or target audience, you can tailor every part of your photography business to the kinds of things he or she likes. This involves a little contemplation on your part.
Address the following points to identify your ideal customer:
- Clarify what exactly you’re selling. In this case, photographs, but what kind? What is your niche? Are you a sports photographer or a landscape photographer. Yes, you might do a little bit of everything, but what is your passion? You have to be crystal clear on your product before you can identify your ideal customer.
- What do you offer your customers and how does it help them? For example, if you’re a portrait photographer, then you might say your customers are helped by memorializing the most important moments in their lives. You help them document the changes in their lives over time. That’s what you do for them.
- Why should a customer buy from your as opposed to your competition? Maybe you have a particular creative flair that most of the competition doesn’t have, or maybe you can offer the lowest prices. But, it’s best not to get too hung up on prices, because you’ll want to emphasize quality over price. Prices change, and you won’t be the least expensive forever. Additionally, clients like quality, and they will pay for it. What you’re really addressing here is what makes you different in this particular photographic niche?
Once you’ve identified your ideal customer, you can really offer them the kinds of photographic opportunities you know they’ll like.
3. Create a Blog
This is a great way to generate traffic to your website, and then, you can also generate email lists so that you can send out promotional materials to potential customers. And, don’t just blog about your photography experiences; rather, blog to educate your clients and show them you are an expert. If you don’t have time to blog, you can always hire a freelancer to do it for you.
You want your blog to be SEO-optimized too. That means it will have the right kinds of keywords so that your photography blog will come up higher in the rankings on search engines like Google. If a client searches for something you’ve blogged about, you want your blog post to come up ideally on the first page.
For that to happen, you’ll need the right focus keyword, an informative, helpful post, and both internal and external links. The external links should be to authoritative companies in photography–for example, camera makers like Canon or Nikon. The internal links should ideally be to other pages on your website, perhaps blogs you’ve posted in the past about a particular type of photography. If you’re blogging consistently about your photography sessions, you’ll likely have many pages you can link to in an informative blog post.
4. Use Social Media
Social media marketing is one of the best photography marketing strategies out there. Social media is ubiquitous in our culture today, and it’s one of the best places to highlight and sell your photography skills.
You can link your blog posts to your social media feeds. For photography, many clients appear on the following social media platforms:
Having friends and following is the last key to getting yourself out there. Social media platforms allow you to be seen and share your work with others. They also provide “juicy” links back to your website. The marketing schemes that can be formed on social networking sites are limited only to your imagination.
Flickr is a great place to store lots of your best photographs. It’s a place where people can stumble upon your work and then contact you. It’s important not to share your photographs over 800 pixels in width as your photographs can be printed, reducing the incentive for your clients to purchase the rights to your photographs in digital or printed form and making it easier for fans of nature or landscape photographers to steal work.
You don’t necessarily have to be on every platform, but you definitely want to be on the ones where your ideal client will be found. So, do a little research and devote half an hour daily to updating your profiles on those sites. Also, don’t forget to encourage people on those platforms to visit your website. It’s a great way to generate more traffic.
Here is a list of 3 best social media marketing automation tools:
5. Work Your Email List
An email list is still one of the best ways to market your photography business, and it allows you to connect with clients and nurture your relationship with them. If your clients are impressed enough with your work to give you their email address, you want to maintain that interest by updating your blog posts, uploading your latest work, and even sending out newsletters, and letting your clients know about it by using that email address.
This will keep your photography business foremost in their minds, and when it comes time for that wedding photographer or pet photographer or portrait photographer, they’ll remember you. It’s also a great way to offer promotions to get people purchasing your services or buying your photographs.
Here is a list of 3 best email marketing services:
6. Use Referral Networks
Referral networks allow you to get recommendations from other professionals. These can be a very powerful way to convert a potential customer into a paying client. The professionals don’t necessarily have to be other photographers either; they can be make up artists, model agencies, wedding planners, wardrobe designers and more.
Of course, you hope your stellar photography will generate word-of-mouth referrals, but if you haven’t had a chance yet to show other professionals how good you are, you can always offer them an exchange or reward for referring clients to you. You could, for example, provide a discount code for 5 referral clients, or you can agree to give them referrals as well. As for clients, you can give them access to something like a private image gallery of their own photos for their referrals. Having a good referral program in place will help your business grow rapidly.
7. Video Marketing
According to Forbes, 90% of customers use video clips to help them make buying decisions, and 64% say a video makes them more likely to buy. And, creating a video is much easier thanks to software programs like Adobe Spark, Animoto, and Lightroom.
You can make videos on any number of subject, but here are a few ideas about how to use videos for marketing:
- Create a VLOG (video blog) on how to take a particular kind of photograph, something your ideal client would like.
- Upload your videos to your social media accounts, and to YouTube.
- Don’t forget to use your videos as supplements for the content on your website written blogs. In fact, you can insert a link that will allow customers to view the video in a blog post.
8. Align Yourself with Other Professionals Who Share Your Ideal Client
This is a great marketing idea to make the most of everyone’s marketing traffic. If you’re aligned with another business, then they can recommend you and you can recommend them. These should be businesses that resonate with your business in some way. For example, a fine art business might have similar ideal clients who would also like artistic photography. You’re not selling the same thing, so they’re not competition, but they share a similar client for marketing purposes, and this can benefit you too.
9. Run Contests and Promotions
Promotions are a great and easy way to generate excitement about and market your photography work. You can both attract new customers and have fun. While you can’t give away your services too often, you can run an occasional contest where the winner gets a free short shoot, for example, or money off an album.
These kinds of contests help you show off your work and your playful personality. They can help strengthen existing client relations and build new ones as well. You could also partner with one of your affiliated professionals to offer their services for low or no cost along with yours.
10. Donate Your Work to Charitable Causes
Many non-profit organizations hold fund-raising events and they need prizes for things like auctions or contests. If you put together a high dollar value, special session and donate it, you will bring attention to your services, meet new customers, and collect many more names and email addresses for other customers as well.
The key here is to follow up after the event, and don’t forget to remind them how you got their information. It’s a great photography marketing tactic that will get you in touch with clients who have a higher price point as is typically the case with fundraising events. It’s a great idea when planning something like this to choose events that are related to your genre.
For example, if you’re a pet photographer, you might team up with an animal shelter. Or, if you take portraits, you might team up with a cancer non-profit and offer a session to help cancer patients feel beautiful or handsome despite what they’re going through. This highlights not only your skills, but your compassion as well.
11. Display Your Work in Local Businesses
You can always ask your local cafes, gift shops, florists, pet stores, real estate agencies, and many more if they would display your photos in their shops. Again, if you can align it with your niche, this works even better. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you could display your work in a shop that sells wedding dresses. You can also ask them to display your marketing materials–business cards or brochures–so that inquiring customers can contact you. They get some nice wall art and you get some nice marketing.
12. Teach Photography
Teaching photography classes will help you get more clients indirectly and hone your skills. It will also help you earn some extra cash. And, who better market to than clients who are interested enough to take a class.
It’s not that you’ll be hard-selling them; rather, you’ll be demonstrating your expertise by teaching them the basics. And, they’ll pass your contact information on to other potential clients with a great word-of-mouth recommendation. Don’t forget to advertise your classes on your social media platforms too.
13. Host Mini Session Events
The idea behind this is to hold a mini session on a regular basis, like monthly. This is a great marketing tool that can bring new clients through the door. Mini sessions are little samples of your work, and it’s best to make them themed. For example, you might do a mini session theme of Santa, Mommy, and Me or Halloween Hobgoblins. Whatever you do, it should be completely different than what you would offer in a normal session. These can be a great way to attract new clients. Once again, advertise your mini sessions on your social media platforms to draw a bigger crowd.
14. Market Your Photography Business as Mobile
Everyone’s busy these days, and if you can offer potential clients more convenience than the competition, that’s a great reason to choose your services over theirs. You can do things like setting up a backdrop and lights at a co-work office space and offering headshots. Many of your clients may not have planned on getting a headshot that day, but you just made it so convenient, they decided to get it done. If your clients are busy parents, offer in-home lifestyle sessions. And, you can even charge a premium price for that convenience.
15. Share Real Client Testimonials
Client reviews are really a photographer’s lifeline. That’s why you want to tout your best client reviews. And, of course, you want to avoid those negative reviews. You want to focus on setting up well-designed review pages on the popular review sites, like Yelp and Facebook. That will help encourage your clients to give you a review.
You also don’t want to forget to ask your clients for reviews, and make it clear where you would like them to go to give you that review. If client’s send you an email praising your work, for example, kindly ask them to post a review of your work on Facebook or Yelp, and include the link where they can easily do that. Then, share those reviews on your other social media platforms.
You can also encourage clients to post a review as part of the follow up to your services. When you’ve completed a shoot, send out an email asking the client for a review, and once again, include the links to make it easy for them to do.
Finally, devise a strategy for dealing with negative reviews. You want to show clients that you’re open to ‘making it right.’ If they were unhappy, offer a free reshoot or a refund. When clients know you’re willing to ensure their satisfaction, they’ll mention that in subsequent reviews, and that can save the day!
Now that we’ve gone over these 15 photography marketing ideas to help you sell your services and products, you’re probably wondering how much marketing will cost you. Let’s take a look at the bottom line.
The Cost of Marketing Your Photographic Skills
One of the first things you want to understand about photography advertisement is that you want it to build your photography business. That may seem basic, but as a business owner, it’s an important point. So, you need to do enough advertising to make your business blossom. Recent surveys have shown that many businesses budget less than 5% of their revenue for marketing strategies. And, less than 30% were spending enough money to adequately market their photography business. That’s not good for the growth of your business.
Marketing photography skills are the most important things you’ll learn to do for your photography business. If you don’t budget enough, you won’t be able to achieve your business goals, and you will fade from existence. So, what kind of budget and strategy should you employ?
Start with the End
One of the first things it’s important to understand when discussing marketing for photographers is that you need to know how much you think you can make in the coming year. Make it realistic and use it to determine your marketing commitment level. Most companies will spend approximately 10% of their total revenue on marketing, and very aggressive companies dedicate as much as 15 to 20% of their budget to marketing. So, if you want to make $100,000 in the coming year, and you want to dedicate 10% of your budget to marketing, that means you will need to plan on spending $10,000 on your marketing efforts.
Create Your Marketing Campaign Calendar for the Year
Now that you have a dollar amount in mind, create your marketing campaign calendar listing each marketing campaign along with its budget. You’ll have an exact list of each campaign and when you will run it. That gives you a year-long plan that you can easily follow.
To get started, analyze each of the activities you are planning for the year and calculate the expected income along with the costs associated with each campaign. Additionally, determine what kind of marketing strategy you will employ.
Use this Year’s Numbers to Project Growth in the Coming Year
Using this year’s numbers can give you a realistic approximation of how much your photography business will grow in the coming year. If you made $100,000 this year and you’re projecting a 20% growth, then your estimated income for the coming year will be $120,000. Then, you can apply your 10% budget for marketing, which would equal approximately $12,000.
If you’re just starting out, then you have work with your start up budget, but you still want to estimate the income for the coming year. Are you going all out pro? Or, are you just doing this on the side until you can build up a client base? Whatever the case, you should still budget at least 10% for your marketing costs. And, if you’re going all out pro, you might want to get more aggressive at 15 or 20%. Regardless of your goals, having a solid business plan and marketing strategy in place will help you achieve them much faster and easier.
These photography marketing ideas will help you grow your business quickly and effectively. Photography is a competitive marketplace, and these strategies can help you get your work noticed and build a large client base as well as attract new clients regularly. By creating a visually stunning and easy-to-use photography website, you can attract traffic in a way that will allow you to build an email list. With that, you can offer promotional sessions and prices, and maintain those client relations.
A great way to do that is to create informative blog posts and offer lessons in basic photography as well as mini sessions to grow your client base. You can also make good use of referral networks and other businesses who share your ideal client. You can also find innovative ways to get your work out there, like donating to charitable causes or displaying your work in local shops.
Marketing photographers isn’t always easy, but each of these 15 ideas listed above can help you to grow your business, and by allocating sufficient funds to marketing your skills, your photography business will soar.