There are plenty of people who will try to tell you how to promote your photography business. However, most of them are wrong.
As in any business, promotion is a big deal. Without good marketing, your photography business won’t make you any money.
Unlike most businesses, though, advertising photography services requires some specialized techniques. Many pieces of advice that are good for business promotion in general simply won’t work with photography.
Also, in the photography business, you have a good deal of competition. Even if you’re the best photographer in your area, you might be losing clients to better marketers. Being the best marketer is the surest path to making the most money in this industry.
At Photographer Marketing Academy, we’ve been teaching people how to market a photography business since 2014. Today, we’ve got some of the great tips straight from our renowned free cheat sheet just for you, along with some fresh tips from our experienced team of photography marketers.
The Problem with Most Photography Marketing Ideas
Before we dive into what works when it comes to marketing your photography business, let’s talk about what doesn’t.
Many professional photographers are marketing their services the wrong way. A few of these are giving advice and writing about photography marketing as well.
Reliance on old-fashioned marketing techniques is very high in this industry. Many photographers will wax poetic about generating word of mouth, flyers, and trade shows, but these marketing techniques aren’t cut out for the 21st century.
To be clear, word of mouth is still important in this business and many others. However, techniques for generating word of mouth are entirely different.
The Problem with Trade Shows
A trade show is a great place to make friends, hear about the latest gear, and get advice from other photographers. It is not, however, a place to sell your photography services.
Many photography marketers are a bit misleading on this point. That means that plenty of photography business owners are in turn misled.
Everyone else at a trade show is going to be another photographer or related to the industry in some other way. That means that you’re not going to be able to sell to them 99% of the time.
The one exception is if you create pieces of photographic art, such as exceptionally made prints of your landscape photographs or portraits. Then you might be able to sell to other photographers 2% of the time instead of 1%. Still not great odds, right?
The simple fact is that it’s easier to sell your photography – whether it’s photography services or prints – elsewhere.
The other big problem with trade shows is that there’s no local focus. Even if you live in a city that’s large enough to have its own trade show, many of the vendors and visitors will most likely be from other places.
When it comes to marketing your photography services, focusing locally is key. If you’re a San Francisco wedding photographer, a New York wedding doesn’t do you any good. Furthermore, it’s easier and cheaper to market locally.
Plenty of professional photographers who think of trade shows as a marketing opportunity spend huge amounts of money on signing up for and traveling to trade shows every year. As a marketing tool, it simply isn’t worth the money.
Word of Mouth Yesterday vs. Word of Mouth Today
As I said earlier, word of mouth is still important to selling your photography services. This is one thing contemporary photography marketers have gotten right. However, their ideas about how to generate word of mouth are entirely too old-fashioned.
Just What Is Word of Mouth?
Word of mouth is a form of indirect marketing in which someone who isn’t paid – a current or former client of yours, or someone who is interested in your business – tells someone else about your business.
In a perfect world, the second person then comes to your business and pays you for your photography services. Obviously, it doesn’t always work that way, but word of mouth can still be a powerful tool. Getting a personal recommendation is much better than seeing a TV ad.
In traditional marketing, word of mouth is generated through various techniques. These include the following:
- Letting customers try a product for free
- Staying in contact with clients through mailers
- Relying heavily on repeat customers
Obviously, some of these ideas simply aren’t going to work for photographers. Others, such as using mailers, are outdated.
How to Generate Word of Mouth Today
Today, photographers generate word of mouth and stay in touch with customers through entirely different methods. Many of the tips I’ll give you later in this post focus on generating word of mouth.
Even the Wikipedia entry for “word of mouth” discusses the difference between electronic and traditional forms of word of mouth. That’s how important and obvious this difference is! However, many photographers and photography marketers still don’t consider it.
The simple fact of the matter is that the internet is your most important tool for generating word of mouth now. It’s important because it’s effective.
If, for example, a client of yours simply tells her friend to check out your business, the likelihood of that happening is low. However, if the client shares a link to your site with her friend, it’s easy for him to click on it. That click could easily become a customer.
Read on for six important lessons in using the internet and your creativity to effectively market your photography business.
How to Promote Your Photography Business 101: How to Use Facebook to Market Photography Services
When it comes to marketing your photography business online, Facebook is the golden goose. The social media giant boasts several huge advantages over other marketing outlets, and is extremely easy to use.
The Advantages of Facebook
Facebook has several advantages as an online marketing tool. These include the following (and many more!):
- Ubiquity – there are 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users
- Focus on location – allowing you to get customers in your area
- Personability – Facebook gives you a platform to directly interact with clients
- Cost-effectiveness – Facebook is 100% free for business and personal use
- Facebook Ads – some of the most effective advertising on the internet, which we’ll discuss in detail next
With all of these distinct advantages, you can see how important it is to create a Facebook profile for your business. Once you’ve established a profile, fill it out as completely as possible and start creating content. The more content you post, the more effective your page will be.
Facebook Ads are some of the best and cheapest advertising on the internet. That’s not an exaggeration.
The major reason they are so effective is that they are highly targeted to certain types of people. You’re in control of who sees your ads – meaning you can pick those who are most likely to hire you. Using Facebook Ads can put Facebook’s massive data on users to use for you.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you can specifically target people who have just gotten engaged for your advertising. They’re much more likely to click on your ads than people who aren’t planning a wedding.
Using such specifically targeted ads saves you money. Ads aren’t being put in front of people you don’t think will be interested in your services. That means no time and money are wasted.
It also means that you can keep your marketing local. Having a strong local presence is important for photographers and other small businesses. It also helps generate the most effective word of mouth.
If you decide to sign up for Facebook ads, be sure to follow all instructions and fill out everything carefully. Tweak your settings regularly to make sure you’re targeting the right people.
Also, do your research. There are a lot of great resources out there with specific, actionable Facebook advertising tips.
How to Promote Your Photography Business 102: Beyond Facebook – Using Other Social Media Platforms
There’s one important thing you need to remember about promoting your photography business online:
The bigger your online presence is, the more likely clients are to find it.
This means that it’s important not to rely solely on a Facebook page to get clients. Instead, you’ll need to promote yourself on other social media platforms. You’ll also want to create your own website. The next tip explains how to most effectively build a site of your own.
As far as marketing your business on other social media sites goes, Instagram and Twitter are the biggest fish in the pond. Instagram especially can be helpful to photographers because of its focus on photography.
Once you’ve created a profile on these sites, there are a few important things to remember about using them to promote your photography business. These tips apply to your photography marketing efforts on Facebook as well:
- Update your social media profiles often – every few days at least.
- Since you’re a visual artist, creating visual content is key. Showcase your work!
- Hashtag marketing can be a highly effective tool.
- Ask clients before publishing any photographs of them online so as to keep their trust.
How to Promote Your Photography Business 201: Your Website
In addition to Facebook and Instagram profiles, your business needs a website if it’s going to survive and thrive in 2017. Without a website, you’re losing potential clients every day.
Your website should look good because you’re a visual artist. Also, you should be sure to have a portfolio of samples of your work easily available on the site.
A good place to start with website design is WordPress. Many professionals use it – in fact, this site was designed with WordPress. It’s also very easy to use, and WordPress sites usually look good right out of the box.
WordPress also places a heavy emphasis on blogging, which is one of the most important aspects of your website. Blogging puts personality and personability into your site. It also makes your website much more likely to appear in response to Google searches, which bring us to our next tip.
How to Promote Your Photography Business 202: Getting Your Website “Ranked” on Google with Search Engine Optimization
Now that you know a bit about building a website and making it appealing, there’s something big you need to know. This is how to make your website appealing to search engines as well as customers.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing use complex algorithms to index every searchable site on the internet. They then use those algorithms to figure out what users want or need to see when they use search boxes.
When a potential client types in “wedding photographer,” there are 56 MILLION results – and that’s as of this writing. Tomorrow there may be even more.
That means that your site needs to beat about 49,999,990 others if it’s going to be on Google’s first page. Keep in mind that 75% of Google users never go past the first page of results.
How do you do this? It’s perhaps the most difficult but most important part of marketing a photography business online.
Experts and practitioners call the art and science of getting websites ranked well on Google and other search engines “SEO.” This is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization.
At Photographer Marketing Academy, SEO makes up a huge portion of the work we do. That means I could talk about it all day. However, I’ll just cover the basics here, the most important points.
If you’d like to learn more, please contact us with the form at the bottom of this page or give us a call. We also cover SEO in greater depth in our free cheat sheet.
How Search Engines Rank Sites
When Google’s algorithm looks at your site, it sees over 200 factors that determine where it ranks you for searches you care about. Some of these factors include the following:
- How often the search terms appear in the text on your website
- The number of links from other sites to yours
- The length and importance of your content to the user
- A number of technical factors like your site’s meta description and image alt-text
- Many, many others
Working on a site’s SEO involves altering these factors to best meet Google’s standards. It also involves creating great content that users and other website owners (called “webmasters” in the industry) will recommend highly.
Building great SEO takes time and effort. If you’re interested in some of the most effective SEO techniques for photographers, take a look at the rest of our blog or give us a call.
The Importance of Social Media to SEO
Remember earlier, when I wrote about all the advantages of Facebook? Here’s another one – Facebook and other social media sites, such as Instagram, can bring traffic to your main site.
Creating and regularly updating social media profiles can be a huge way to boost your SEO. It’s also one of the easiest.
Hiring Professional Search Engine Optimizers
Because SEO is so difficult, complex, and time-consuming, many photographers choose to hire SEO professionals.
Hiring a marketer is never an easy decision. However, a professional SEO could save you time, leaving you free to spend more time servicing clients and trying other marketing techniques. We offer professional photography SEO services here at Photographer Marketing Academy.
How to Promote Your Photography Business 203: Using Retargeting to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings
As shown in the above diagram, retargeting is a way to put your advertisements in front of people who have already visited your site.
It’s important to understand that this tactic won’t necessarily bring you new site visitors. That’s what SEO and traditional ad campaigns are for. However, this will bring your site repeat visitors – and those are the visitors most likely to turn into paying customers.
This tactic is also highly valuable because so few others are using it. Our team here at Photographer Marketing Academy estimates that up to 95% of professional photographers either don’t know about this technology or aren’t utilizing it.
How Retargeting Helps You Market Your Photography
Paying someone for his or her photography services is a big deal. It isn’t cheap, and it’s an important decision – after all, your photographs are the only tangible reminders of big events your clients will have.
Often, potential clients will compare and contrast many photographers. Seeing your site again and again makes them more likely to hire you.
How to Promote Your Photography Business, Final Lesson: Passionate Marketing
This final lesson is a bit more general than the other five you’ve gotten today, but just as important. It may even be more important.
If you’re going to become a successful photographer, you need to market yourself with passion and dedication. Practice at marketing as often as you practice photography. Invest money in advertising like you would in new gear.
Most of all, you’ll want to stay in constant contact with your current and former clients. Remember when we talked about the much-disparaged mailers much earlier in this post? In order to stay in business and generate word of mouth in the 21st century, you need a more personalized, honest form of constant contact with customers.
This means responding to Facebook messages and blog comments. It means checking your reviews on sites like Yelp. Constant contact is the art of knowing what people are saying about you, and of knowing your customers.
The Importance of Mentors to Passionate Marketing
A strong mentor can make the marketing process much easier. A mentor can also make your marketing highly effective.
Just as you didn’t learn photography entirely on your own – even if you’ve never taken a class or received other instructions, you’ve probably read about the art – you can’t learn marketing on your own. Also, marketing requires just as much practice as photography.
If you’re interested in contacting us to learn about our marketing mentorship services for photographers, please give us a call or fill out the form below. You can also check out the free cheat sheet on our home page.