Marketing is an essential part of any photography business. It’s important in a competitive industry to make sure you have a strategy in place that helps you to acquire new business. Once your marketing strategy is in place it’s important that it’s sustainable for you. It can be tough to find a balance between being busy creating and editing your work and managing your marketing.Here are some marketing tips for photographers.
Build Your Brand
This may seem an obvious step to seasoned professional photographers but a strong brand is the foundation stone of your business. If you already have a brand but business is slow - it could be time to consider a refresh. The quality of your work is, of course, paramount but your branding is just as important.Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my ideal client?
- How do I appeal to my ideal client?
- How do I connect with my ideal client?
- How does my client get a sense of my work and personality?
The decisions you make about your business, from the name and the logo to the design and copy you use - all say something about you as a photographer. Consider how and where your clients connect with you. Know precisely who your target audience is. As a photographer - have you properly defined your niche?This will help you to focus on the marketing efforts that are likely to have the most impact on your business.
If you don’t already have one - you need your own website. There are many website hosting platforms that allow you to build and design a website yourself.Take a look at:
This can make it very easy to update and maintain a website. However, working with a website designer may give you a more professional finish. Here is some more information about the pros and cons of great website design for photographers, including tips on creating client areas, image quality, and speed.Your website should include:
- A professional headshot and bio - clients like to be able to put a face to a name
- Easily located contact information
- Compelling and creative copy
- A showcase of your work and style
- Any awards you have won or brands you regularly work with
- Your experience and your kit
Online search is one of the most relied upon methods of finding services. If you can invest the brainpower, an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy is relatively simple to implement. Many website hosting platforms also have built-in tools to help you with this.Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Start with content - create useful, shareable content on your website
- Study keywords for photography
- Research link building strategies
- Understand local search results
It’s impossible to talk about SEO for photography websites without mentioning Image SEO. You can optimize the size of your images for search rank as well as the text associated with your images. “Alt Text”, for example, tells search engines what your image is showing - which impacts where it is shown in organic search results.“Backlinking” is another strategy used in marketing to boost a website's prominence in search engine results. This involves working to make sure other sites are linking to your website.For more in-depth information we highly recommend this great resource on SEO for photographers from Mark Condon at ShotKit.Website SEO, Image SEO and backlinking are large topics that can be leveraged at varying levels. You must decide how much time to invest in this aspect of your business and you could consider enlisting the help of a freelancer or specialist to help you.Top Tip: Remember to remain active in online directories and other listings. Figure out where your ideal client spends their time online and make sure you have a presence there.
Social Media Strategy
A strong social media presence should be part of your brand strategy. Social media platforms give you direct access to your target market. It’s important to know how much time you have available to dedicate to this aspect of your business. Social media marketing requires consistency but it’s important not to get lost in the noise. Define your niche and stay as active as you can, but don’t get too lost in the power of a “like”.Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your time:
- Define your ideal audience and post for them
- Use relevant tags and write creative captions
- Take time to follow others and to leave comments
- Follow other photographers and see what techniques they use to boost engagement
- Remember that everything you share should say something about you, and your brand
For in-depth info on using specific social media for your marketing efforts, check out this resource, which includes information on where to post, how to set and track goals and how to create a posting schedule.
Social media channels are a great way to connect with potential customers but you can’t control them. A lot of creatives are already frustrated with the way algorithms change. Having a marketing method you can own is advisable - which is why an email list is a good idea.Firstly, make sure that any email address you have was acquired legally. If you don’t have a client email list or client lead list consider ways to create one. You could add a signup form to your website. Email is a great way for you to share your content or to promote giveaways or other incentives.It’s best to subscribe to an email provider for the purpose of sending marketing emails. You can get creative and build funnels so your audience receives a series of automated emails that maintain consistency and build trust.Top Tip: Remember not to overdo it - and always include an unsubscribe link.
Use A Referral Program
Once you’ve invested the time, energy and talent into creating an excellent client experience, referral marketing can work wonders. Recommendations from others is word of mouth marketing at it’s most effective. Staying in touch with previous clients using some of the methods outlined above is a good first step. This way you stay at the top of their referral list. Another way to further leverage this relationship is a referral program.This involves you offering former clients or other industry contacts an incentive for recommending you. You could offer a discount off of further services, or a special package. You could also incentivize a recommendation using vouchers or experiences they would benefit from or enjoy. Offer a special gift for when a recommendation to a friend or family member leads to further work.
Collect and Share Testimonials
As we’ve already outlined, word of mouth marketing can go a long way. Identifying the clients who are happy to speak highly of you and your work is a great way to drive future business. One way to really optimize this is by collecting this feedback in the form of testimonials. Testimonials are essentially a type of content marketing. This is why big sales platforms include them - they build trust.Here’s how to use testimonials effectively:
- If you’ve given a client a great experience don’t be afraid to ask them for a testimonial
- Include these testimonials on your website and other marketing materials
- Share testimonials on social media
- Keep testimonials authentic. It’s also nice to include an image of the client
Top Tip: Make sure you have the written permission of any client to use their statements about your business. Clearly communicate to them how and where their statement will be used. You should also make sure they have granted you proper permission to use their image.
Create a PDF Resource
A PDF is an important tool for professional photographers, especially anyone engaged in commercial or editorial work. Creating a PDF is about appealing properly to your target market. Perhaps you have a target client in mind? A PDF is a great way to quickly showcase your brand. If your design skills are up to scratch you can put together a PDF of your recent work and contact information yourself. This is another area where a professional designer can really help you get your brand to stand out. Great design will make your PDF look slick and professional. You should keep this resource updated. You can then use it when pitching or negotiating for new business. You can also include it in your regular mail outs.
Find The Right Partners
Once you have properly defined your target audience it should be easy for you to spot other businesses in the same niche. For example, most successful architectural photographers have good relationships with real estate professionals.Finding the right partners is about identifying good allies within your particular area of the industry. Don’t be afraid to network and build relationships. Once you strike up a conversation there are probably ways you can support each other. Perhaps a mention in each other's email marketing? You could also build referral programs for each other. Create mutually beneficial relationships that make your brand stronger.It’s also advisable to become a member of recognized professional bodies, such as Professional Photographers of America (PPA) or The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). There are many more that you can find here. This is something that looks great on your website and gives you access to help and resources that support your businessTop Tip: Be transparent about your aims and expectations.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of marketing tips for photographers. It’s advisable to research what works best for you and your niche. Don’t be afraid to try different techniques to measure their impact.
- Build Your Brand
- Make sure you have a well-designed website
- Optimize your website content
- Create a social media strategy
- Consider email marketing
- Use a referral program
- Collect and share testimonials
- Create a PDF resource
- Find the right partners