You know how to use your camera on manual, and take the most beautiful pictures, but in order to live the dream and do this full time, you have to learn how to market your photography business too.
Most of us creatives don’t get into photography because we really love marketing or even business. This comprehensive guide on marketing for photographers will help you learn how to quickly and easily get started.
Thanks for joining me to learn how to get your photography seen by the right customers so that you can keep doing what you’re actually passionate about.
Many of these tips you can start working on today, or even as you’re reading this. Here are the 30 ideas that make marketing for photographers as easy as pie, and a downloadable checklist that you can print out and work through any time.
Ideas That Make Marketing for Photographers Easy
1. Get serious about collaborations
When it comes to collaborating, you have a lot of options. My advice is to find out if there are professionals or businesses that would benefit from your photography that would like to talk about your photography as a trade.
You could also set this up so that you’re creating a styled shoot with another business or influencer that will help you get noticed by the right customers and get the word out about your business. An extra bonus is that you’ll have more images with a planned style to add to your portfolio.
2. Showing up every weekday using social media marketing
You’ve heard it before that you need to be marketing for professional photographers is all about social, but did you know that you can really simplify the process and time suck involved with showing up on social media by getting a social media planner?
Tools like Planoly, Tailwind and Later allow you to schedule your social media posts in advance and see what your even Instagram feed will look like as you add to it.
Planoly is my go-to choice for Instagram and has features that help you see comments and likes right on their platform. Facebook has it’s own free in platform scheduler with all of the info you need to get the job done. Finally, I will die on my sword and say Tailwind is the best choice for Pinterest.
Take the stress out of showing up consistently for your photography business and potential clients by spending one day a week scheduling your posts in advance.
3. Use your existing community
You probably already know many people that would like to be photographed by you. Do you have friends that are getting married? Ask them if they already have a photographer or if there is anything they want to know about finding the right photographer. There’s a chance that just by having a conversation about it, they will be reminded that you could be the perfect fit.
The same thing goes for family photographers. You likely have access to families within your own community and network that need photos. Put yourself out there once every season to let your friends and family know what you’re offering, and what it would look like to be photographed by you.
As a headshot photographer, you can talk to your friends and family that own businesses about what photography could do to help them. It is possible that they never even considered a photo shoot and you’re giving them the idea by starting a conversation.
For me personally, when it comes to friends and family, I have a discounted rate that I always offer to show them that I care and to avoid them assuming I’m free. You don’t have to do things for free, and people shouldn’t expect you to either. It’s important that you take charge of the situation and bring up pricing in a way that is healthy for you and your photography business.
4. Start a newsletter
Did you know that most people check their inbox as soon as they wake up? I am personally guilty of doing this on a regular basis.
Because I’ve seen the power of this content marketing method for my photography business, this is one of my favorite and best ways to market. I am constantly adding emails to my list, and it’s more valuable to me than having 10x the number on social media or 100 people visiting my sites.
Getting a name and an email address from your ideal clients allows you to reach out directly to the people that you want to work with. You don’t have to worry about hashtags or fighting the algorithms because your email address shows up in their inbox no matter what.
My absolute favorite resource for this is Convertkit, and I’ve tried multiple email service providers for my photography business and this one is by far the best. It allows me to set up freebies, landing pages, and pop-ups that get more people on my list every day.
5. Offer Freebies on your website
The last idea on the list leads me straight into this one. Freebies are such a great way to get customers and their email address on your email list. If you spend the time to think about how you can benefit the customers you want to work with, you can make sure to get seen by the exact people you want to have hire you. Here’s one of my favorite freebies for photographers if you’d like to see how this looks.
Create freebies using the knowledge you have in your business. This kind of work helps to set you up for success from the beginning and your following will continue to grow as well as your opportunities. Sharing information or answering questions with a guide also helps leads to trust you as the authority and expert.
I stick these into blog posts or as stand-alone landing pages using Convertkit to help me get their email address.
6. Use the power of scarcity
This is another powerful marketing tool, but it’s important to be really honest and have integrity around using the power of scarcity because…well, it’s really powerful. One way to use this marketing idea in your photography business is to choose how many photoshoots you’ll take every month, and make an announcement when you start running out of options.
You can also make a second announcement when your month fills up so that you’re able to tell people that if they want to book with you, they will need to get in touch about next month before you fill-up. I’ve seen this be successful time and time again for portrait photographers.
If gives you that social proof that you are valuable, that other customers want to hire you for your services. It also shows that you aren’t available all the time, so if someone is on the fence, they should get going and contact you!
7. Start a referral program
A referral program is different from the ambassador program that I mention later on. The referral program doesn’t have to have any benefit to the giver or sharer of the referral unless you want it to. The referrals just mean that you’ve set some sort of system in place to help you get more clients through your existing community or past clients. It’s a great idea to give incentives so that people want to give referrals to their friends or family members.
When I wasn’t booking as far in advance as I am now, I used printed out cards that I gave to my clients as thank you cards. It allowed them to give any one of their friends a free sitting fee with me. At the time, I was doing in-person sales and most of my clients were buying digital files from me after the photo shoot. As Sue Bryce likes to say, it gets butts on seats in your photography business and giving your sitting fee away as referrals incentive is very effective.
Creating a process to get referrals or ask for referrals can be huge when things are slow, and you can really get heavy-handed about giving away your sitting fee. As long and your pricing is set up in a way that allows you to make a profit, it will help your business grow.
Referrals without an incentive can also work. When someone hugs me at the end of our experience and asks if there is anything they can do to help my business, I ask them for referrals. I let them know that for any small business, word of mouth referrals is one of the biggest and most impactful things.
8. Offer mini-sessions
I want to be careful about recommending this one because it can be a great quick win, but if you don’t do it right, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You don’t want to discount your prices unless you are offering less. Otherwise, customers start to perceive your everyday price as too much.
Also, if you offer mini shoots too often, clients stop booking you and just wait until you have your next mini-session.
All of those warnings aside, I’ve actually seen businesses thrive using mini sessions all year long instead of scheduling normal longer shoots. They have one photoshoot a month and schedule their full day in advance. This works especially well when you have an upsell option like additional prints or digitals released after the session.
9. Start showing up in Google searches
Another one of my absolute favorite photography marketing methods is search engine optimization or SEO. Part of why I love this method so much is because, well I’m a huge nerd, and it’s one of the most powerful in the world. Getting your name at the top of search engines can change your business when you use the right keywords.
Using SEO wisely helps define the purpose of your website using rules that help you be found when someone is searching for exactly what you’re offering. When my clients search for “Denver Headshots” or “Personal Brand Photography”. I show up at the top of searches typed in my hometown. The leads and relationships I create from ths accounts for the majority of the business that I do.
So, if you’re ready to nerd out on search engines and SEO take a look at this tutorial offered on skillshare by the ultimate SEO guru Rand Fishkin for free. If they ask you to create an account to watch the video, you can create a free trial and cancel anytime.
10. Create your own Google My Business listing
Google my business is great for your photography marketing! This is a super simple quick and easy win for you that you can do right now. Follow this link to set up your own Google my Business listing.
You will be asked to specify a location or locations that you serve and then they will send you something in the mail with a code to confirm that you gave them the correct information. If I were to start a new photography business today, this would be my first step.
The reason why you want to make sure you have this is that you can bypass all of the others ranking at the top of Google just by being closer to the person that’s searching in your area. Google adds a special section to the first page of the search results with local listings using a map. You’ve likely seen this many times before.
An example of this is my studio space. I often have Denver locals reach out to me for photoshoots that tell me they are right down the street from my studio, and they found me through a Google search. I know that they often see me first because I’m the closest portrait photographer or place nearby.
In addition to showing up in local listings, it gives you an edge in your SEO and will help you show up higher just because you’ve created one.
Set yourself up for success, create a Google My Business and start booking customers that are searching near you.
11. Work with an Influencer as a trade
As photographers, we have a special gift that we can trade for exposure. Please hear me when I say that I don’t often believe you should work for exposure, but sometimes, it’s exactly what will help get you leads.
If you know that your target audience for your family photography business is mothers with young children, see if you can find an influencer in your town that speaks directly to fans in that target audience. You are looking for high-quality posts and mentions about your business and not just an image credit, all rights reserved or copyright attributed to you. Decide in advance what a trade would look like, and make sure to be very clear from the very beginning about your expectations. You don’t want to hand over your images and limited copyright only to find out that they didn’t realize you expected links, mentions and Instagram Stories to boot. Save yourself some stress and heartache and list out what you want in return from the very beginning.
If you are ready to build relationships influencers, make sure there is always a call to action for their fans your potential customers to contact you so this strategy will start pulling in leads for your photography business. Of course, likes are nice, but this isn’t about likes or vanity metrics. Marketing is about getting leads and conversions. Have a plan.
12. Plan a workshop
You can put a workshop on a site like Meetup and get events in front of your clients or other business owners teaching a subject they’d want to know about. Even if you are showing your target audience how to take pictures, they will still get to know you as the expert and see you as the authority over your competition in the photography industry.
13. Start posting videos on youtube
Youtube videos are more likely to get you seen because it’s less competitive than other types of search engines. If you are willing to do videos you are already ahead of the game. It’s more likely that leads will watch your videos to the end and pay attention to what you have to say.
There have been many studies about attention span, and click through rates related to video. Pair your photography video strategy with other social media platforms and your business will get a lot of notice. There are a few ways to ensure that your video will be seen. One, make it something worthwhile by finding out what your ideal client wants to know or see like a guide, tips or a how-to. Two, use titles and keywords that searchers would use to search for a video like yours. Don’t just name it the name of your company, but really think about it like a search engine and name your titles accordingly. Three, get as many people to your video as possible on the day that you launch it. You can do this by posting it around on your other social channels for more impact.
14. In-person networking
Find out where your ideal clients and target audience are hanging out and networking and plan to join in on the fun. This can be your local chamber of commerce, a mommy group, or if you’re a wedding photographer a planned networking event for the wedding vendors in your town. Do a quick google search to see what’s happening near you related to your industry and services.
15. Start scheduling coffee dates
Start taking friends and friends of friends out to coffee. This can be with wedding planners if you’re a wedding photographer or local businesses. If you’re a family photographer you’d benefit from a highly connected mom that could get you in front of other moms. We all have access to well connected people. Just take them out for coffee to get to know them.
16. Direct mailers
This can be very effective and there are ways to target the customers you want to show your services to using the UPS audience targeting service. This one certainly comes with a cost, because you’re creating a printed product, and spending money on stamps but when you do this right, you are getting in front of your potential customers that otherwise never would have known you existed.
17. Use targeted paid ads
Targeted advertising can be a true investment in your business. That said, please don’t make the mistake of boosting posts on Facebook and expect to get leads. This is a much more advanced marketing technique that requires a lot of research and planning. The advertising approach works best, when you know specific details about who your ideal client is, so that you can get your photographs or resources in front of your prospects through your ads.
I’ve heard of people wasting thousands on ads because their approach didn’t start with learning everything about their ideal clients. If you do know who your ideal client is, consider using ads in your marketing. Jenna Kutcher completely changed my outlook on using Facebook ads in business, she spends thousands on ads to make many more thousands, and it’s worth it when you’re still making a profit.
In addition to the correct targeting, you need to have a call to action that either invites them to call, email or sign up for something. Otherwise, they will see your post and move on.
18. Develop a LinkedIn content marketing strategy
They say Linkedin is the wild west of social media channels these days and content marketing is key. If you create and share a post that lives on Linkedin, it can get picked up and shared like crazy. This method is especially important for those wanting to connect with businesses.
19. Start writing blog posts
You are on my website right now because of this blog post. Getting content up makes it more likely that others will see your work and land on your website.
Of course, as photographers, it’s tempting to post a ton of pictures rather than writing an article, but Google is a search engine run on words. Find out what everyone is searching for when they look for businesses that offer what you do and use those words on your blog post or article. Remember to always end the article asking people to contact you for more information. You can expect more leads when you are clear in your articles and give directions.
20. Create a landing page that converts
There are a few key elements that help a landing page market for you.
Number one is to make sure that visitors know what you do within moments of landing on your site. They call the first view that a searcher sees “above the fold” this term comes from old newspapers and the strategy to let people know what they are looking at before they have to scroll down further. Let them know what you do, and who you do it for or you may lose them just like that.
Number two, as a photographer you may believe that your images need to be huge and high quality, but man those large files will slow your site down and studies show that if your site doesn’t load in four seconds, you’ve lost leads. Searchers get bored that fast. The solution here is compressing your jpegs without losing quality. I use a really cool paid program that’s perfect for compressing while maintaining quality. I am suggesting it because I don’t know anyone else that offers something quite like this. They also have a trial for a certain number of jpegs and you can get by on the trial for a good while. Here’s the link to Jpegmini.
Number three is that you need to create a path your viewers can take to move forward on your website. Let them know where you want them to go next by creating links at the bottom of the site inviting them to learn more or to contact you. You will be more successful if you think about their journey through your website.
21. Ask for Yelp reviews
Yelp is one of those companies that tend to show up at the top of search engines when someone searches for things like a wedding photographer, or family photographer. It makes sense to create a presence there and to ask clients that want to rant and rave about you and their experience to share their love online.
The number of positive ratings you get on Yelp makes it more likely that everyone will want to reach out to you and see you as the expert. Set yourself up for success by having a system in place where you make your page on Yelp easy to find.
22. Ask for Testimonials
There are some great methods that I use when asking my clients for feedback after the shoot. I learned this from Storybrand and it has helped me get raving testimonials that I’ve placed all over my website to emphasize that I offer an amazing experience. Ask your past clients to share the love, and you can use these all over your website.
These testimonials will help to show your potential clients that you’re worth it, give you instant credibility, and hopefully inspire them to reach out.
23. Throw a party
Give people an incentive to spend time with you with events. Create an incredible experience and first impression in person. Have a get together during any season, or for any reason at all. Generally, as long as you have food or alcohol at your event, you’ve got yourself a great time and potential customers!
24. Start using Pinterest
Pinterest is one of the best places for content marketing for photographers in 2020. As a visual search engine, you’ll be sending people to your website left and right. Now I don’t believe that Pinterest is always the best source of new clients, but it shows Google that your site is legit and worthy of the traffic it’s getting. This, in turn, boosts you up in the search results so that when your ideal clients want what you’ve got, you’re at the top.
All you have to do is add your images to blog posts or straight to Pinterest and your content marketing machine gets going.
25. Use calls to action
I cannot stress this enough. Do not leave anything on your website or on your social media without a call to action. You have to tell people what the next step is. What do you want them to do? If it’s that you want them to contact you or ask more about your products and services, add a button or link to the bottom of each site asking them to contact you.
This leads them down a path that makes it more likely to get you booked.
26. Make your about me page, about your clients
People tend to go straight to the about page if they are really interested in your services. I want you to think about this page as an opportunity because most people end up here wondering if you’re the right person for them. The reason they haven’t gone straight to contact you, is that they still have some issues they are hoping you can solve for them before moving forward.
You need to make sure you are using this opportunity to address whatever it is that’s preventing them from taking the next step. If you’re a family photographer and you know moms are worried that their kids will be crazy on shoot day, let them know that you are the best at handling this situation. Be authentically you, but still add value and address fears. This is one of those strategies that my clients bring up in person. That they came to my site worried about not looking good on camera, and I addressed making them feel comfortable as one of my passions.
Take a moment to write down all the things that stop people from booking you, and use these strategies to address their fears or worries head-on through your about me. People will start reaching out more and more once they know you are in fact, the right person for them.
27. Host a contest or a giveaway
Try to use this method to get more followers whether that’s on your email list or on your social. You can give away your services or pair up with a small business or photography business to cross-promote on social media and watch those numbers grow. I personally recommend getting people on your email list when possible. This ensures that you’re photography marketing efforts go directly to them without any issues from the algorithm.
28. Get into guest posting
Guest posting on blogs or on social media is a great way to get your content marketing and photography in front of an established audience. Do the work to make sure that their audience is a good fit for you before taking the time.
29. Get interviewed on a podcast
Piggybacking off of the last idea, podcasting is a content marketing technique that gets your photography in front of an established audience. As their podcast grows you will see continued growth on your website. Extra credit if you can come up with some type of content marketing freebie that the host can enter in the show notes to lead people to get on your newsletter.
30. Write your own press release
No one ever told me about this until I launched Art of Her. I was asked by the content marketing team in the studio where I set up shop if they could create a press release for me and have it published in the papers. This immediately led to links to my website and interest in my launch event. This part is free but takes a moment to write. Check out this post on how to write your own press release.
31. Give away your sitting fee at charity auctions
I love this idea because it’s a win-win-win. You get to support a charity of your choosing and also get your name in front of people that are often there because they have the money to support a charity. In addition to getting your name out there, you can also have additional upsells for your products and services so that you’re still making money if the charity winner loves your work.
32. Work as a partner with a non-profit
This is something I’ve done in the past for my own photography business. I’ve partnered with small businesses and non-profits to utilize their audience and email list. The way this helps is that I donate a portion of the proceeds from the photoshoot to the non-profit of my choosing and they put in the effort to advertise for me. Whether you’re offering your own products and services or anything else. I generally set this up as a photoshoot that lasts one day. People are able to book me online and choose their time slot through my calendly.com.
You can make this more efficient and successful by helping to pre-write any copy that you want the non-profit to send through their email campaigns or as part of their social media posts and provide your own photography to accompany it. They certainly won’t mind the additional help and it you can make it exactly what you want.
33. Create an ambassador program
An ambassador program is different from referrals. A program like this is generally a chosen and ongoing relationship. This works especially well for senior portrait photographers, but I’ve seen it in be really successful for other types of photography businesses. Essentially the entire foundation of an ambassador program is that someone else gets a perk or earns a specific reward when they get enough people to book with you. For senior pictures, they may get their shoot for free if they can get you enough inquiries. For personal brand photography, I’ve seen it work where the client gets a discount for each additional business owner that they can get to book.
34. Market yourself in Instagram stories
One of the best photography marketing ideas at the time of writing this in 2020 is to use Instagram stories. There is currently nothing more powerful in your social media marketing strategy than stories. This can be really effective when it’s part of multiple methods. This can be behind the scenes or announcing mini sessions. This can also be updating your new clients on the number of photoshoots you still have available for them to book.
Now that you’ve seen the 34 best ideas in 2020 that make marketing for photographers as easy as pie, my hope for you is that this list of 34 photography marketing ideas will help you get more new clients than you can handle. When you get started, remember that content marketing is not a one-time or two-time thing, but an ongoing process. Choose the ones that you think will get you to your goal fastest or the ones that are easiest for you to keep up with.
Thanks for joining me, oh and if you’d like you can download the photography marketing checklist that I created here to help you work down the list in your own time. Happy marketing!