Wondering how to market a photography business? A few years ago, I sat across the table from a photographer. The days leading to that meeting had been spent gathering data and researching ways to drive more traffic to her photography website. This would lead to more bookings for her business.
For photographers, marketing is crucial to success. That’s because there is an abundance of photographers who all want to get the same jobs, and employers have many choices. You can get a competitive edge by marketing yourself with other ways to let people know your skills. While there are several ways of doing this, many photographers limit themselves to more traditional avenues such as print advertising or brochures.
To really stand out, you need to think outside the box and become innovative. (If you don’t, you risk ending up working for everyone else in your town instead of the other way around.)
So you have a photography business, and now you want to get started marketing it. It’s a great idea—and if you have a business degree, you’ve probably already read through all the marketing resources you can find and know the basics of what you need to do. But maybe you are looking for some direction on how to implement a marketing plan. Here are five tips and ideas to help you get started.
1. Research your target audience
If you are guilty of thinking that everyone is a potential customer for your photography business, think again. While it’s true that the more people you can reach, the greater the pool of potential customers will be, it takes more than just putting yourself out there to get noticed.
Please do your research on knowing who your target audience is and where they are located. You’ll probably need to do some online research or talk to other photographers to learn what kinds of clients they have. If you don’t have a list of clients yet, start one. It’s the first step to bringing in more business.
Once you know who your potential customers are, the next step is to find out what needs they have and how your service or product can best meet them. This might include holiday gift ideas or just an inquiry about where to buy something unique for a specific gift idea. Once you discover what your customers are going through and their needs, make sure you cover them accordingly.
2. Find out what your competitors are doing
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. While most photographers are small business owners, not all of them are. There will be a lot of competition out there from other photographers, and knowing about what they are doing might help you get an edge.
You can learn a lot by looking at other websites that photographers are running in your area. (Here’s more information on how to find out what your competitors are doing.) While you’re there, you can also see if their photography websites have some fresh content. If their site is lacking in photos and looks outdated, chances are you didn’t update it in a while.
You can also find out what social media they are using and see if they have any online presence. Most people use Facebook these days for their main marketing, so make sure you’re following them on that platform too. The more information you can gather about your competitors’ websites or social media profiles, the better. You can learn from them to start your own marketing campaign with something new.
3. Use your social media to advertise
Social media makes it easy for you to get your name out there, even when you are just starting. It’s a great place for photographers to advertise themselves by posting photos of their work, any workshops or seminars they might be offering in the future. It puts your name out there and lets people see what kinds of things you are involved in. (Here are some other benefits of using social media. If you are a photographer who creates products such as photo calendars, photo books, or greeting cards, make sure you post these kinds of photos to your social media pages too. Let people share in the fun of having them on their walls or desks.
Social media is also a good place to mention any discounts you might have going on or anything special that you are offering at the time. It’s important to keep in mind while doing this that not everyone looking at your profile will be ready to buy something right away. It would be best if you were confident that you have a good number of followers to reach them with the right message at the right time.
Develop a social media strategy
If you are looking for ideas about where to start your social media marketing, you might get more results by asking your friends for advice. Because they interact with you regularly, they will know exactly what kinds of things work and what doesn’t. They can also offer perspective about what types of photos attract readers. If you’re looking for some more concrete information, check out blogs and articles online to get some tips. (For example, here is a post from Photographer’s Market that offers helpful information about developing a social media strategy.)
Be sure that your strategy outlines what kinds of items you will be posting on each platform and how often. Most people who share photos on Facebook do so several times per day, while LinkedIn tends to get less action. If your strategy is to post a photo once or twice a week on Facebook and three times per month on LinkedIn, you might have better results if you stick with that.
It would help if you also thought about the most effective kinds of content in each platform. Most people use Facebook to share photos of their kids, parties, and holidays, so make sure yours are in line with this. Instagram is a good place for photo tips or ideas for holiday clearance sales or promotions.
4. Make a website
If you don’t already have a website, you are leaving money on the table. Not only do people visit websites before making a purchase, but they also share information about your company through their social media pages. If you do not have a website, you are missing out on several potential customers.
In terms of making one, there are many free tools online that will offer some nice templates for photographers. You don’t want to spend money on a website unless you know what kind of site it will be. If you are beginning out, you don’t need a whole e-commerce site. You might be able to get a nice blog going with a free template and upgrade your site later on.
Once you have your website built out, then it’s time to start learning some SEO tricks. Search engine optimization is the art of getting people to find your website when they look for certain things such as “photographers in London” or “photo session tips.”
5. Create an email list on your website
You don’t want to miss out on people who are interested in your services when they make a purchase. You also have the opportunity to offer them some exclusive deals or early access to your latest deals without having to spend money on advertising.
But for this to work, you have to give them a way to sign up for your email list. You can do this by creating an opt-in form that people can fill out at the bottom of each blog post or the end of their contact page. Once you have collected their email address, it’s time to start sending them emails. Nobody is going to want to get a weekly or daily barrage of emails, so you can give them a choice to opt-in for more emails or send out a few per week.
Posting images on your website is not enough to promote your photography services. You need to market yourself in other ways if you want your business and brand to grow beyond what it is today.
Final Tip: Diversify your portfolio
This is not a must! Niching down has its advantages. It makes it easier for those looking for specific skills to find yours. Diversifying your portfolio does not mean abandoning the niche that you love. It allows you to show potential clients all of your skills and experience.
What’s your favourite tip from this list? Perhaps you have other ideas? Let us know what is working for you!