Not getting enough clients? Need to add some more pizazz to your salesmanship? Here are ten of the most successful, underutilized tips from our fantastic cheat sheet of marketing ideas for photographers.
These tips will help you win clients. They’ll also put you ahead of your competition. Along the way, you’ll learn a great deal about how marketing works today.
1. Treat your website like the work of art it is.
There are plenty of photographers who think that trade shows, fliers, and word of mouth are all there is to marketing. These photographers often end up giving up the profession or working for huge photography companies and still making as little as $20,000 a year.
These people lack 21st-century marketing ideas for photographers. They also need a better understanding of the fundamentals of contemporary marketing.
The good news, though, is that these people are your competition. And I’m about to tell you how to beat them.
All the best marketing ideas for photographers involve the internet. The best way to present your work to a wide variety of potential clients and buyers is online. It’s easy to design a great-looking photography website, and the benefits are huge.
Make your website worthy of your great photography!
A website gives you a place to show off your skills to clients. It can also allow you to sell prints of or rights to your photographs directly. To top it all off, it can create a link between you and clients that allows them to contact you once they’ve discovered your site.
Here’s the takeaway from this: if you don’t have a website, create one right now. If you do have a website, ask yourself the following questions:
Is it appealing to customers?
Does it show off enough of my photography?
Are the pictures on my site my best?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you may need a little help with your photography website. Ask friends or other photographers for help. Alternatively, take a look at our cheat sheet or contact us for a free consultation.
2. Make sure potential clients are actually seeing your website.
Now comes the hard part. Although this is one of the hardest of our marketing ideas for photographers to implement, it’s also one of the most important.
If you have a great website, you need it to be seen. The only way to make sure your website is seen is through a process called SEO. This is short for “Search Engine Optimization.”
Hit the right target every time with SEO!
SEO is a process used not only by photographers, but by every business advertising or selling online. It essentially involves manipulating certain factors affecting your website to make it appeal more to search engines.
How Does SEO Work?
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing use complex mathematical formulas called algorithms to determine what websites to show users after users type search keywords or questions into their search bars.
These algorithms are designed to rank sites by their relevance to the search. They also consider things like popularity and legitimacy.
SEO is the creation of evidence of relevance, popularity, and legitimacy. It isn’t easy to do, but it’s highly important to photography marketing.
To learn about how to do SEO yourself, check out a good introductory guide or take a look at our last article, which offers a more detailed explanation of search engine optimization.
For more detailed and up-to-the-minute information, you can also read SEO blogs. It’s best to start with an introductory guide, though, so the blogs aren’t confusing to you.
In addition to creating SEO solutions yourself, you might think about hiring a professional. There are plenty of professional SEO marketing services out there. Photographer Marketing Academy even offers professional SEO services just for photographers.
Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a pro, learning a bit about SEO is a good thing for an entrepreneur like you to do. SEO is also the basis for many of the best 21st century photography marketing ideas.
3. Expand your web presence beyond your own site.
Once you’ve created a great website and considered some of the benefits of search engine optimization, it’s time to expand your horizons.
Because the internet is the best marketing tool for a photographer, you need to make your presence on the internet as large as possible.
Your website, no matter how great it is, is one drop of water in a very large ocean. However, you can expand your influence online through other means.
With a few other websites, such as social media accounts and review sites, you can turn your drop into a very large part of the ocean indeed.
Benefits of a Larger Web Presence
The bigger your presence online is, the more likely it is that an internet user will find you. That internet user could easily become your next customer.
Having a large web presence also benefits the SEO of your main site. This is because links between different websites are a major factor search engines use to determine popularity and legitimacy.
How to Grow Your Web Presence
Each site connected to your business is a part of your web presence.
The quickest and easiest way to grow your web presence is to create social media accounts. I’ll go into specifics on that in the next few tips.
You can also grow your web presence by signing up for free services like Google MyBusiness and Yelp. These services will also help you get reviews and get your contact information out there to clients. In addition, they can get reviews of your photography online.
4. Use Facebook as a way to boost your customer base.
One of the best marketing ideas for photographers I’ve ever come across is utilizing social media. And of all the social media platforms, Facebook is the most widely used. It also just might be the friendliest to photographers looking for marketing opportunities.
A Facebook account is easy and free to set up, and the benefits are almost endless.
Benefits and uses of a Facebook account for professional photographers include the following:
The social media giant can serve as free advertising for your business.
Facebook’s photo sharing interface is easy to use and can help you show off your best work.
Your Facebook business profile is a great opportunity to mix professionalism with personality – always a great way to attract new clients.
There are plenty of other benefits to using Facebook’s business services as well – including an SEO boost. Don’t forget, it’s also a simple and effective way to boost your overall web presence as well.
5. Utilize Facebook’s often untapped direct marketing potential.
There’s another huge benefit to having a Facebook profile. Although plenty of photographers have a Facebook account, this is one of the most underutilized marketing ideas for photographers. Facebook has untapped potential.
That potential is for direct advertising. Facebook offers affordable, easy to use direct advertising services that have been shown to be highly effective. They’re so effective for two reasons:
The word of mouth generated by ads on Facebook means that they’re more far-reaching than traditional digital direct advertising.
The Facebook advertising interface allows you to target your advertising to very specific groups, maximizing its effectiveness.
While you will have to pay for this service, it’s not terribly expensive, and it’s better than wasting money on old-fashioned flyers and trade shows. Facebook advertising truly works.
To make the most of your use of Facebook advertising, be sure to read up on how to create effective Facebook ads first. As with most forms of marketing, you get out what you put in.
There are also some great tips on Facebook direct advertising in our last article and on our free cheat sheet.
6. Make sure you’re using other social media services like Instagram and Twitter.
That’s right – as big as Facebook is, it isn’t the beginning and end of social media. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter are almost as large and just as important. Instagram especially can be useful to photographers because of its strong visual focus.
Creating a profile on one or both of these services is as easy as signing up for Facebook. The platforms are also both very easy to use.
In addition, there are helpful guides to using Instagram and other social media services on the web. Read some of your favorite photography blogs and see if the photographers you follow have anything to say on the subject.
Be sure to use hashtags in your Twitter and Instagram posts for maximum exposure. This technique also works on Facebook. However, hashtags are most popular on Instagram and Twitter.
Bonus Pro Tip
Be sure to link all of your social media profiles to one another for maximum exposure. Facebook supports automatic sharing of both Instagram and Twitter posts!
7. Consider the amazing benefits of retargeting.
Retargeting, something we discussed in depth in our last article, can give your marketing a huge boost. This tactic is also detailed in our free cheat sheet.
It’s a bit complicated, and can get expensive if you aren’t careful. However, it can be one of the most rewarding forms of marketing since the dawn of the internet if you use it correctly.
Furthermore, evidence shows that this tactic is currently underutilized as a marketing tool for photographers. That means that you can beat the competition to the retargeting gold rush. There’s nothing in business as beneficial as being ahead of your competitors.
What is Retargeting?
While this won’t bring your site new traffic, it can make converting site visitors to clients much easier. Most internet users do research before making any kind of purchase, including purchasing photography services. Retargeting can put your ad in front of people who are comparing you and your competitors.
While retargeting is expensive and difficult to set up on your own, it can be done easily with professional help. Although there’s always an up-front investment with retargeting, it can make you plenty of money quickly.
8. Use the right language in your marketing materials.
The right language can make all the difference.
Even with the best marketing ideas for photographers, the promotional work doesn’t get done by itself. What you put in to your web presence, your social media materials, and your direct advertising matters.
That means that the language you use in all your marketing materials matters. The right language means more customers for you, while the wrong language means failure.
When you’re writing content for your blog or for social media, keep your audience in mind. The people most likely to buy your services are not professional photographers.
That means that you should avoid discussions of jargon and particular gear for the most part. Use non-technical, non-specialized language whenever you’re writing anything a potential client might read.
You’d be surprised how many professional photographers make the mistake of not thinking about word choice. This can lead them to use too much jargon, which can be off-putting to customers.
However, you also want to sound like you know your craft. Be sure to do your research beforehand and that everything you say is correct.
There’s a fine line between using too much jargon and seeming like you don’t know your craft. The way to walk this line is to be as specific as possible without being too technical for the average reader to understand.
It also helps to be open to questions, and be ready to explain things when potential clients ask questions.
If you put the work in, your clients (and your wallet) will thank you.
9. Don’t waste time and money on marketing ideas for photographers that aren’t working for you.
When it comes to promoting yourself and your work, you’re spending time and money. Although that’s impossible to avoid, it is possible to make sure you’re getting all your time and money are worth.
Wasting money is never a good marketing idea.
I’ve mentioned old-fashioned marketing ideas for photographers like flyers and trade shows several times in this article. That’s because so many photographers fall into the trap of relying on these methods.
The internet is the fastest way to reach a wide variety of potential customers. It’s also the cheapest. Also, as it becomes more popular every day, the pool of people you can reach with online marketing grows ever larger.
If you’re not utilizing the power of the internet, you’re wasting time and money. Other, older-fashioned marketing methods suffer from some of the following problems:
They’re expensive and time consuming.
They don’t reach the widest variety or biggest number of customers.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with traditional marketing methods, they simply aren’t as effective. If you’re just starting out running your own business, your resources are limited. Don’t waste them on marketing that doesn’t work for you.
10. Knowledge is power: know the numbers, know the competition, and know the path to success.
This might be one of the most important marketing ideas for photographers. You need to know that learning about marketing is the best thing you can do at this point.
No one is successful with scattershot, poorly planned marketing tactics. These tactics will lose you money instead of earning it on your behalf.
Even though photography is your main work and your main art, you need to know the craft of marketing too. You should also collect data on your own business, your competitors, and the people you’re trying to reach.
The more information you have, the better you can plan. A better plan will lead to greater successes.
Try reading marketing, SEO, or photography blogs for marketing ideas for photographers, as well as advice on collecting and using data. You can also check out our free cheat sheet, which is available on our home page.
Furthermore, we’re available to talk to you directly. If you’d like to contact us, give us a call or fill out the form below. We offer free consultations to anyone interested in our services. We can also help you out if you’re just interested in learning something about photography marketing.
Remember, knowing everything you can know is what will lead you to success in this business. Don’t cut corners, and you’ll be a big success in no time.
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!):
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.
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.
This photo turned plenty of heads on Instagram recently.
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 great-looking WordPress site like this sample can work wonders for your photography business.
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.
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.
SEO in general can be learned from sources like the Moz blog. This blog updates regularly with the latest information and also features guides on the basics.
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.
It’s easy to start taking pictures, but it takes a lot of skill to become a great photographer. However, there are some amazingly simple and quick steps that can speed up your journey to taking amazing pictures every time.
Though we’re mainly a marketing site, there’s nothing we appreciate like good photographs. Also, there’s a simple fact for you to keep in mind. If you want to make money at photography, it helps a ton if you’re a great photographer.
George Lange can famously take excellent photographs with virtually any camera, including lower end models. Of course, having an amazing camera does make it a bit easier to take amazing photographs. The photographer determines the picture much more than the machine, though.
One of the reasons Lange can consistently take such great photographs is his understanding of the camera as machine and tool. It’s certainly not the only thing – his years of experience, understanding of photography basics, and artistic vision all also play huge roles. However, understanding the camera brings you one step to more closely understanding photography.
Get to Know Your Camera
That’s right, the tip’s that simple.
Before you take your next photograph, spend an hour or two really getting to know your camera. You may think you know your camera pretty well already, but you can always get to know it better. Here are a few ways to get better acquainted with your camera.
Read your owner’s manual in its entirety. The information therein can be life changing to a true photographer.
Know what every button on your camera does. Keep in mind that this also includes the advanced, specific settings options given to you by newer, higher end digital cameras. Explore all your options for best results.
Understand how your camera works. Spend a little time reading about how cameras actually work. You’d be surprised how much mastery over the fundamentals of photography a bit of basic knowledge here will give you.
As a true photographer, you should think of your camera as a very dear friend or, better yet, an extension of yourself. In an analogy appropriate for the recent release of the latest Star Wars film, you should look at your camera like a Jedi looks at his lightsaber.
Once you truly get to know your camera, you’re virtually guaranteed to take better pictures. This is because you will truly understand every option at your fingertips, and the intricacies of how those options affect your pictures. While knowing your camera is no substitute for twenty years’ experience in the industry, it’s certainly a faster way to improve a bit and get your foot in the door.
If you’ve been studying, practicing, or even just looking at photography for a while, you’ve probably heard the name George Lange. He’s a great photographer, and occasionally gives out wonderful advice to other photographers, particularly those new to selling their services.
He’s written a new book called The Unforgettable Photograph that looks to be a good one. While doing my weekly photography reading, I stumbled on some sample tips from the book over at The Huffington Post. While the article gets a bit sales-pitchy for the book at times, it’s a great read – and honestly, the book sounds like a good buy for anyone who wants to take great photos.
Here are some of the highlights of my interpretations of tips from The Unforgettable Photograph.
Get close to your subjects!
When George Lange shoots, he doesn’t rely on the gear too much. Scott Mowbray has said that Lange can shoot a great picture with any camera, even a cheaper point-and-shoot model or (gasp) an iPhone.
Instead of using a zoom lens – which is often either very unreliable or very expensive – he gets very physically close to his subject. This produces a more natural, stable photograph, and also allows Lange to notice detail.
And it’s all in the details.
The tiny details are what elevate a photograph to being a true piece of art – and that’s what you want to provide for your clients. Notice the tiny details of the room, the crowd, and the people when you’re shooting pictures.
For example, if you’re photographing a wedding, be sure to capture some of the architectural features of the church or other venue while you’re taking crowd shots. Work to catch the colors and angles of the bride’s dress or groom’s tux in the best light.
Don’t shoot in overly lit areas.
There’s nothing that makes a photo look bad like having too much light. Just as you would never shoot in a pitch-black room, you should never shoot somewhere too fully lit. A moderate light produces the best photographs, and allows you the most control.
If you’re shooting outdoors, aim to take evening shots, or use shade to your advantage. If there’s no shade, try using different filters to diffuse some of the excess light.
Know the light where you shoot.
You should know where the light sources are, as well as the brightest and darkest spots, anywhere you’re shooting pictures. This is very easy to figure out through observation and trial and error in your home or studio, but what about when you’re on the go?
Try your best to scope out venues and locales you’ll be photographing in advance. You have less control over your subjects and their environment when you’re not in your own studio, so you need to know what you’re working with!
If you try applying all of these tips, you’re sure to improve your photography quickly – and without shelling out cash for any new, overpriced gear!
One of the biggest tips we give to photographers just starting out online, after building a website and starting to do some basic search engine optimization, is to frequently check how their SEO is doing. It’s only by knowing what’s working and what isn’t that you can continually improve your SEO.
Also, it’s important to remember that even if you’re at the top of Google now, you might not be forever. That means that it’s important to always stay on top of your SEO status and make sure everything you do online contributes to your SEO.
We did a post on the basics of checking your SEO a few days ago, but I thought it would be good for our readers to see some specific examples of the types of SEO tools available. Like in the last article, we drew a lot on Web Gnomes’ list of free SEO tools, as well as on their article on SEO analysis tools (which this SEO thinks is one of the most important types).
What are SEO analysis tools?
SEO analysis tools are diagnostics that seek to create a report that gives you a big-picture view of how your site is doing SEO-wise. They’re a great tool for everyone doing SEO – they’re good for beginners because they’re simple and broadly focused, and good for more advanced SEOs because they can point out problems you didn’t know you had and let you know when to use more specific tools.
Raven Tools’ Site Auditor is one of the best SEO diagnostics out there, but it’s also expensive. I wouldn’t recommend this for your photography business unless you start expanding to multiple large geographic areas – you can hire a marketing consultant company like ours for not much more than you pay to use Site Auditor. That being said, Raven Tools does offer a 30-day free trial of Site Auditor, and their services are used by a lot of professional SEO marketing firms, so this tool is always worth mentioning.
A good free/freemium alternative to Site Auditor is WooRank. This diagnostic is easy to use, and most small businesspeople and photographers who aren’t ready to pay for SEO yet can get away with using the free version. The paid plans are also cheaper than those offered by Site Auditor.
What about other types of SEO tools?
Other types of SEO tools are more specific than analytic tools. They’re often utilized by advanced SEOs to start a deeper investigation into some of the problems with a given site that an analytic picks up on.
All of these tools can help you make huge, fast changes to your SEO profile – which can set your website up for success. It certainly takes some time to learn each tool, and then learn how to use the data each tool presents, but each one can be a big part of the SEO puzzle.
A lot goes in to SEO – how can you find out what you’re doing right (or wrong)?
When it comes to SEO, the worst thing you can do is shoot in the dark. If you want your photography site to be highly sought after and widely available (both of which mean more customers for you!) then you have to a) know what you’re doing when it comes to SEO and b) look for evidence showing you how your SEO is doing.
One of the things that challenges photographers and other small business owners most is checking on the status of their SEO. It sounds simple. However, like many things in the SEO world, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Even looking to see how your SEO is doing can be a challenge.
The Most Basic Way to Check Your SEO
This may be obvious, and it is helpful – but it’s not enough to put you at the top and let you stay there on its own.
The most basic way to check your SEO is to Google (or search on Yahoo or Bing) some of the search terms you want your site to rank for. If you’re on the first page, that’s good – it’s even better if you’re in the top three.
Please note that you should log out of your Google accounts or use another computer to get accurate results this way. Google uses data on individual users more and more lately to give them SERPs tailored to their needs – which means your site might get a favorable bias when you search for it and not when someone else does.
This is certainly a good quick diagnostic of your SEO. However, it won’t help you much when you’re just starting out, because you still have a lot of work to do to get anywhere near the top. It also won’t help you see how a particular piece of content has performed, or if your SEO stats are rising or dipping (either of which could precipitate a change in the SERPs you want your page ranked on).
However, there are many options out there for deeper, more specific analysis – and you’ll need these to succeed.
Advanced SEO Options
I’d love to write you a comprehensive list of all the good SEO tools out there, but the fact is that would take days for you to read (and even longer for me to write). I can give you a few ideas, though.
Yoast is one of the biggest purveyors of SEO tools, many of which are free or very reasonably priced. If you use a WordPress site, their free WordPress SEO plugin is one of the best reviewed tools in the industry.
There’s also a great list of 33 free SEO tools (some of which are actually “freemium”) over at Web Gnomes. If you take a look at this list of tools, you’ll get an idea of how specific SEO tools can get. You probably don’t need every tool on the list, but downloading a few of them that focus on areas you’re highly interested in improving could make a big difference for your photography business.
There’s a lot of research out there on the web when it comes to SEO keyword research – almost everyone has something to say on the subject, and information from one site often contradicts information from the other.
We’ve spent a lot of time doing keyword research and analyzing the effectiveness of SEO keyword research techniques here at Photographer Marketing Academy, and we’ve done it all with photographers in mind. Although no SEO marketer can say 100% that he has the right answer all the time, we believe we’ve hit on a powerful method of using keywords to boost photographers’ SEO – and that’s focusing on the specifics.
Let’s be honest – no SEO marketing firm, no matter how great it is at what it does, can optimize a site or page for every keyword that could bring customers to the site. Doing keyword research involves figuring out which search terms will bring the most customers the most often, instead of scattering the limited resources that SEO marketers and small photography business have.
We’ve found that the best way to find the search terms that work the best is to aim for specifics. For example, the search term “photography” is never going to work as a keyword. Why? There are several reasons:
The competition for the keyword “photography” is too high for a small business to fight for dominance of this term and come out on top. There will always be a bigger business that includes photography services – it’s best not to try to compete with international corporations when it comes to SEO.
People rarely search for something as general as “photography” anymore. Rather, they search for something more specific like “wedding photography in Topeka.” Even if they do simply search for “photography,” Google’s location based search results will favor local results for their SERPs, and Google (or one of its competitors) will likely suggest more specific search terms like “wedding photography” – which users are likely to use when their more general searches don’t turn up the results they really want.
The upshot of all this is that a photography firm (or an SEO marketing team who works on behalf of a photography firm or individual photographer) must use those more specific search queries as potential keywords. For example, if you’re primarily a wedding photographer, you should have “wedding photography” optimized as much as possible throughout your site!
You should also take location into account, and use your geographic location as often as possible in conjunction with words and phrases like “photography” and “wedding photography.” This will help you win at local SEO, which is where you’re going to pull in the most clients anyway.
You’ll also want to use a wider variety of keyword phrasing when you’re focusing on specifics – for example, it’s probably equally likely that a potential client will search either “wedding photography in Topeka” or “Topeka wedding photography” – and the upshot of that is that your site should be optimized for both (if not more).
The guys at the Stone Temple Blog put out this helpful infographic not too long ago, and I thought we should share it with our readers here at Photographer Marketing Academy for several important reasons.
First of all, the SEO game is hard. It takes a good, experienced company to help you market your product, whether it’s photography services or something else entirely.
Secondly, there are a lot of shady companies out there masquerading as SEO gurus. Some of them use black hat methods that are both unethical and only viable in the short term, while some of them are (even worse) straight up scams that are out to get your money and give you nothing in return.
Obviously, we want to sell you our services here at Photographer Marketing Academy – and we really do believe we’re the best around. However, even if you don’t end up going with us, and decide to either use another online photography marketing service or strike out on your own, we want to be sure you don’t get scammed or otherwise taken in by an unethical company.
Let’s look a little bit more closely at a couple of the warning signs of a bad SEO that apply to photography particularly well.
1. Don’t work with SEOs that want to automate page creation.
Automating page creation means writing programs or using other techniques to generate web pages without any human input, and that’s bad for a lot of reasons. The major one is that these pages will likely not have any quality whatsoever – meaning that even if they do give you a short term photography SEO boost, the traffic won’t keep coming. Worse, your site could get removed from Google entirely.
As a photographer, you’re an artist – and that means that a little artistry and consideration should go into every page on your site. If you choose to work with an SEO firm, make sure it’s one that will match your level of dedication to the craft.
2. “They propose massive link building” – is it a warning sign?
Well, yes and no. It really depends what’s meant by massive link building.
Backlinks are one of the most important pieces of an SEO plan – many would say the most important. So a company that proposes getting you a lot of links isn’t a bad one – it’s just that many companies offer thousands of links that are worthless.
If you’re considering working with an SEO, make sure that the links the company offers you are legitimate, and not links from dummy pages or sketchy forums.
As the infographic says, you also shouldn’t trust a company that charges per link – rather, you should look at one that charges based on the time involved in developing your SEO, or charges more or less for certain types of businesses or based on keywords you want to rank for.
If you follow these simple rules when looking at SEO marketers you may want to work with, you should stay in the clear. And if you want more detailed analysis of what makes a good SEO marketer and what makes a bad one, we’ll have another post on this subject soon.
When it comes to online content, there are two things that Google and consumers want: immediacy and relevance.
Nobody is interested in looking at your sample photographs or reading your blog posts from five years ago, and Google knows that – so it (and its competitors) prioritize websites with content from the very recent past – often from the very same day the search is made. Many SEO gurus term this the “fresh factor.” This is where the immediacy comes in.
Now for the relevance: you don’t want to fill your photography blog with non-photography-related content. You don’t want to use your personal Facebook account primarily for photography marketing on social media and you certainly shouldn’t use your business Facebook for personal activities. Readers (and search engines) want to see content that is related to the keywords and links used to optimize it for search engines – not content that is unrelated or, worse, just plain awful.
So what does all this mean for you? It’s simple:
You should create fresh content for all of your online properties (including your main site, your blog, your business Facebook and other social media accounts, etc.) every day or at least as often as you can.
For some properties, such as Twitter and Instagram accounts, it makes sense to update even more often – sometimes as many as three times a day.
While you’re doing this, you should also check external properties such as Google or Yelp – they may have new reviews or similar content available that need your attention. Also check your reviews and messages on Facebook at least once a day.
While you have to be professional, your clients and potential clients want to feel like they’re interacting with a real person – that there’s a heart beating behind the computer screen they’re using to review or contact you. You have to create fresh content and interact with them so that you become a living, breathing person to them – not just another web site.
Remember, when you’re responding to reviews, always be professional. Never react defensively to a bad review – instead, let the customer know you’re fixing the problem, and contact them privately to see if there’s anything you can do to make them feel better.
While you’re busy creating all this content, remember that in addition to being immediate, it has to be relevant. So make sure it’s good and you’re really putting your best effort into it.
Always remember the old SEO axiom: content is king.
If you keep all of these tips in mind and truly update your properties as often as you can, you’ll be sure to find success much more quickly than most photographers trying to sell their services online.
And if this all seems to be too much to handle in addition to doing what you do best – always remember that there are professional marketers to help you with SEO, social media, and similar activities that help you promote your photography business online.
When it comes to keyword research, a lot of business people are in the dark, and this includes photographers as much as anyone else. However, there’s an easy way to do keyword research, which is one of the most important basic building blocks of SEO.
When it comes to deciding which keywords to optimize your content for, you need to think of two things: popularity and relevance. It’s hard for small business people like photographers to do the kinds of research into search term popularity that big corporations can, but if you use your head you can figure out what’s trending and what will work for your business.
How to Be Sure Your Search Terms are Relevant
To make sure the terms your optimizing for are relevant to your business and your industry, you’ll want to be sure not to waste time optimizing for unimportant words – if you exclusively shoot still photos, for example, optimizing for terms like “video” would be a waste of time and a bit misleading. If you do shoot videos as well as stills, though, you’ll absolutely want to play that element up in your content!
But, more importantly, you should know that it’s a lot easier to target more specific terms – something as general as “photography,” for example, will likely pull up a Wikipedia entry before anything else, whereas “wedding photography in [your town]” will most likely pull up a business-heavy SERP – and you want to be sure your business is at the top of that SERP!
There’s a lot of trial and error involved with keyword optimization, especially for smaller businesses, but keeping in mind exactly what kinds of customers you want to attract and how you want to attract them will make the process a great deal easier.
You’ll also want to focus on as specific terms as possible for the majority of your keyword optimization – and that’s the big life-changing tip. While general terms may, if you’re lucky, have a huge short-term effect because they’re so popular, the more specific search terms are what is really going to keep your business thriving for years to come.
You’ll also want to make sure that your keywords (and every other piece of your SEM plan) are optimized for local SEO – because it’s local SEO that ultimately determines whether or not a good number of small business people succeed.