So what's next? And how do you actually get clients?
Welcome to the fun part of being a business owner! It's time to market yourself! The best part of all of this is there are so many ways to market your photography business. Some ways will work well for you, while others won't. The important thing to remember is that there will be some trial and error when it comes to marketing. It took me almost a year to figure out which marketing avenues worked the best for our business.
In this series, I have compiled 7 tips to starting your business with marketing. Not all of these may work for you, but this is a great place to start. I encourage you to go through this list and choose one or two to begin with, and then slowly implement the others. The time frame is up to you. It may take you week or a month to decide something is or isn't working for you, and that's ok. Make sure to keep track of your progress as you go.
7 Tips for Starting Your Photography Business
1. Build Your Portfolio
This is one of the key elements to marketing a successful photography business: Show what you want to sell. Remember when we talked about finding your niche? This is where this comes in to play. If you want to be a wedding photographer, don't show corporate headshots and real estate photos in your marketing. If you only want to photograph families and children, don't show off your wedding images. When you are first starting out, I understand there may be a need to photograph anything that will pay, but that doesn't mean you have to market for it.
Ok, you're asking what do you do if you don't have images that you need to market? Make them! If you are a wedding photographer, photograph some styled shoots or ask to be a third or second shooter for an established wedding photographer to build your portfolio. If you are a family photographer, ask a friend or family member if you can do a mini portrait session for them to build your portfolio. If you're a real estate photographer, clean your house and photograph it. Ask friends or family if you can photograph their house to build your portfolio.
Now make sure you make a cut off date for yourself. You cannot portfolio build forever.
2. Network With Other Professionals
One of the greatest assets you can have as a business owner is someone else's trust. If you are going to hire someone for their services, how would you choose that person? More than likely you will go to your friends and family and ask if they have any recommendations because you trust them. If you can build trust-worthy relationships with other professionals, they will refer you to everyone. For wedding photographers, some really great professionals to build relationships with would be wedding planners, venue owners, dress shops, florists, DJ's and caterers. For portrait photographers, you could make some great connections with child boutique shops, local influencers, and local schools. No matter what you photograph, it's also good to get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce or Junior League. The more people you can network with, the more people who will know about your services and be able to refer you to anyone!
3. Get Social
Social media is a wonderful, FREE tool for marketing your photography business. If you haven't already set up your Facebook and Instagram accounts, you need to do that. This is the perfect place to share your work and market your services to everyone. They key to success on social media is actually being social. Sharing content multiple times a week and engaging with other accounts as well. Obviously this can get exhausting if you're constantly having to be on social media all the time, but there are ways of making it easier. The first thing I do is set time aside at the beginning of each week to plan my posts out for the week. I like to use a free app called Planoly to do this. Planoly will help you design and schedule your Instagram posts and allow you to share those same posts to Facebook with one click! Then I set aside an hour a day, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, to like, comment and share other people's posts.
4. Run Facebook and Instagram Ads
This type of marketing will take a lot of effort and patience, but can be extremely rewarding once you figure it out. My favorite resource for Ads marketing is Samantha Grant's Facebook Page Booked Up Photographers + Wedding Pros | Facebook Ads, Marketing and More! She offers ton of helpful information and tips on how to create the best ads for your business. She also has a course that she opens up a few times a year that offers a more in depth look at how to create ads.
5. Bridal Shows or Niche Expos
This one is my favorite and our most effective form of marketing! Most wedding photographers believe bridal shows are a waste of money. That may be true for some, but if done properly, bridal shows can actually be very fruitful in more ways than one! The biggest thing we've found about bridal shows is to look for the ones that are on a smaller scale and charge brides to attend. Charging for attendance means you will be getting serious brides, not brides that are price hunting and looking for free food and cake samples. This is also a great way to meet other wedding vendors like planners and venue owners who you can connect with and become referring partners with.
For those of you who are not wedding photographers, you can still do this type of marketing as well! Mom and Baby Expos are perfect for maternity and newborn photographers! If you do headshots and branding photography, a hiring expo would be a great place to set up a booth and maybe take some quick headshots or book full branding sessions! Senior photographers, call up your target schools and ask if they do any kind of fundraisers or expos to raise money and get a space to market to the juniors and seniors!
6. Work On Your SEO
Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website to get organic, or un-paid, traffic from the search engine results page, such as Google. Like #4, this type of marketing will take a lot of work and patience. SEO is created and built over time and involves a lot of research. If you're super tech savvy, this may be right up your alley! I am not that savvy and will not even pretend that I know what to tell you about SEO. This is one thing I hire someone else to do for me!
7. Have an Amazing Client Experience
This kind of goes with #2 and networking. You want to make sure that, no matter what, if you want your clients to come back, they need to have the best experience with you! A great experience provides trust and gets people talking. Not only will they come back to you, but they will send all their friends and family as well. As a wedding photographer, I strive to give my couples and their families the best experience during, what can be, a very stressful time. The experience I give them determines whether or not they trust me enough to send any of their engaged friends to me! I also have the opportunity to photograph future events for them and their families, such as, family parties, maternity, family portraits, and more! Always take care of your clients and they will take care of you!
There you have it! This is just a handful of ways to market and promote your business to get started! As I said, I highly suggest choosing one or two of these ideas to get started and then you can branch off from there! Remember to have patience and give yourself some grace when things to go as you planned. You can do this!