You’re a new photographer. You’ve got the talent, but you need “the people to come.” Luckily, you can leverage your artsy side with a few key digital marketing tactics and quickly build a funnel of leads and inbound sales calls. Learn more about how to get photography clients now!
Does this scenario sound like you?
You have always had a knack for taking pictures and you want to make your passion into a reality. So, you start a freelance photography business. You begin by photographing your own kids, maybe some neighbors, your immediate family, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends… But then the leads dry out.
What’s a photographer to do?
It’s a talent in and of itself to capture precious moments on camera, but an entirely different one to capture clients. “Being able to attract new clients is a key part of making a living as a photographer,” says Format magazine. “Your existing clients may think you’re the bee’s knees, but drawing in new people and convincing them to hire you can be a tricky proposition.”
The key to building a robust list of clients lies in one word—marketing. Marketing is the key to growing and sustaining a long-lasting photography business. So, learn how to find more photography clients and in no time you can generate leads from a robust list of clients.
How do I start booking photography clients?
Before you embark on booking photography clients and actively marketing your business, start from square one:
1 - Forge a brand
You might not think of yourself as a business as a freelance photographer, but YOU ARE! So, as a bonafide business, you should start with the essentials: like creating a brand. There’s a reason top brand names spend millions on market research and branding—it is effective!
Creating a brand identity for your photography business helps do a number of things like:
- Create a personal touch
- Differentiates your business
- Gives your business a more professional look
Before you embark on any marketing endeavors, nail down your core mission. This can be answered in a simple question: “How can you help people?”
Then go further into your values, and utilize your artistic side to develop a color scheme and other design basics, like your logo, theme, and typography.
Here’s a great example of well-done branding from Untamed Wildlife Photography… Simple yet powerful.
Don’t forget! Design and order business cards
There’s nothing that says professional like photographer business cards. Brand them similarly to your other marketing materials, and include a headshot and other basic contact information.
2 - Segment your market and pick a niche
Your area of expertise may run the gamut as a professional photographer—you can specialize in many areas like corporate headshots, family portraits, infant photography, pet portraits, food photography, landscapes, media photography, or novelty shots. Every marketing material and message should lead back to your core expertise and audience.
Narrowing in on a focus allows you to establish yourself as an expert and allows you to centralize every marketing message to that area of expertise. You might think that in narrowing your focus on a particular niche, you’re losing out on business, but it’s actually a good thing. Many searchers browse specific types of photographers, not just a generalist.
Here’s a great example of carving a niche for yourself from Deanstreetphotography.com:
3 - Make marketing a part of your weekly practice
You could spend hours editing a single shot, so where in heavens would you find the time to dig into marketing?
Well, you need to. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there, marketing is an essential piece of the overall photography business pie.
“I’ve seen too many photographers fail due to schedule time on their weekly calendar for marketing,” says JoyofMarketing.com.
“Eighteen years in the photography industry and I still schedule time each week for marketing… I treat marketing time as a client appointment. It’s protected. Never rescheduled. And fulfilled every time. Because without it, I don’t have clients. And without clients, I don’t have a photography business. I just have really expensive photography equipment that I’m not using.”
We know marketing encompasses so many different potential channels, so in we’ll dig into the details of which ones to pursue to find more photography clients, in particular.
How do I market myself as a photographer?
When it comes to photography as a business, it’s not always about talent. It’s about marketing your business and knowing how to get clients,” says ExpertPhotography.com.
Photographers are naturally artistic and creative, so it may be ingrained in you to properly market yourself as a photographer. Give yourself a little credit and follow these tips to be on your way to unlocking a whole new batch of photography leads:
1 - Set up a website
Stop before you settle for the sleekest gallery site around. Think about what your business is trying to achieve… New clients!
The best thing you can do to market yourself as a photographer is set up a website. A website is the ultimate shrine of credibility, especially in the visual arts field. Your website should showcase all things about you, like your:
- “About me” section, including your photographic style
- Contact details / form
- Where to book
- 10-15 portfolio with your best shots
- Pricing sheets
- Client testimonials
Luckily, there are many resources out there designed to help non-website developers with making a website. Leadpages’ website builder is one of them. Engineered to be the easiest, most effective online website builder, Leadpages sites help you transform web traffic into leads and sales. With tools like this, you can use drag and drop functionality to architect the perfect website for your photography business. Start with a theme, and from there, add pages, navigation, and color your website with wonder so it showcases your best self to prospective customers.
Leadpages considers things like page load speed and it impacts on conversion. It also offers downloadable offers and built-in self-scheduling appointments, making Leadpages a winning choice for photographers.
Sidebar: As you set up your website, make sure that at least one point you capture clients’ contact information. At a minimum, source their name and email address.
You can capture this with a landing page, squeeze page, pop-up form, or alert bar. These are all types of lead forms that help you start a prospective client list. Once you have a good amount of contacts in there, you can start communicating with them with an email newsletter through an email marketing platform.
(Pictured: The Simply Confident Photographer)
2- Optimize your photography website for organic traffic
It’s one thing to create a website, and another to get eyeballs on it. One of the quickest (and cheapest) ways to do this is to search engine optimize it (A.K.A. SEO). SEO is a key lever to the success of any small business website, because it matches what searchers are searching for on Google, Yahoo!, and other prominent search engines, with your own website.
“Imagine having people love your photography business so much that they send all their friends your way,” says The Modern Tog. “Think about what it would be like to show up #1 in Google for your desired keyword, and to have enough people finding you to meet your profit goals without stress and without spending thousands of dollars on advertising.”
There are many SEO factors you can control on your website, including the following:
- Internal links: Linking from one webpage of your site to another.
- Meta-descriptions: Meta descriptions are the text that appears in.
- Keyword optimization: Selecting one primary keyword per page to target, and implementing it in your content and meta-data.
- Alt-text: As you upload images, you are making sure that your images include descriptive text that summaries what a visually-impaired searcher may read as well as what a search bot would see.
- Updating your website with fresh content: Google and other search engines love fresh content on your website. This indicates that your material is not stale, and you are doing your best to stay up to speed with what users are demanding. So, the best way to do this is to create a photography blog. You can upload a few pictures (with consent) of your best client work, and include brief description text explaining the subject, location, and intent. Most website builders have a functionality where you can easily add new sections and webpages.
- Using the proper header tags: Let’s take a look at an example from the Landing Pages Guide on the Leadpages website:
H1: What is a landing page?
H2: What are landing pages used for?
H3: Lead generation landing pages
H3: Sales pages
H2: When it’s time for action, use a call to action
H2: Make landing pages work for you
SEO traffic is hard-won but it's easier when you have a geographic component. Even having dedicated landing pages to specific neighborhoods/ cities could bring a lot of extra traffic.
You can see DCCorporateHeadshots.com does a great job of optimizing for location with meta-data. Look for the gray box, and you’ll see they optimize for the term “Washington DC Corporate Photographers”. Smart thinking!
Word of caution: Start where you are, encourage referrals, and an opt-in for potential clients. THEN expand to other traffic acquisition channels. You don’t wait to do too much with limited resources. Get your optimized website up and running so you can focus on conversion generating activities.
3 - Architect a healthy social media presence and test out paid advertising
While you could seemingly spend hours scrolling your friends’ posts Facebook or Instagram, social media is not a waste of time when it comes to building a business.
It’s the wave of the world to be on social media, especially as a business. “Having a strong presence on social media is an important part of how to find photography clients fast,” says Format magazine. “Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all useful tools to let people know about your services and draw them to your online portfolio.”
And, it won’t suffice just to be on one network. Potential clients are searching all over the internet for social reviews, comments, and posts.
So, what’s your best bet on social media success? Here are a few tips:
- Post your work, promotions, blog posts, helpful articles, and links to your website frequently and hashtag relevant keywords.
- Tag businesses or people to increase post visibility.
Here’s an example from Nashville Corporate Headshots:
BONUS: Paid advertising works! Here’s how...
If you’re questioning how to get people interested in your photography services, look no further than paid advertising. And, believe it or not, you can do it for pretty cheap. It encompasses a number of strategies like pay per click (PPC), pay per view (PPV), display advertising, and even social media advertising like Facebook Ads.
Paid advertising offers instant access to the data you need to plug any holes in your sales funnel before you branch out to the other traffic stages. And, these methods can be less expensive than you’d think. In fact, you can set a daily advertising budget of as low as $5 per day, or a maximum campaign budget of $20. That means, your spending is capped at a specific amount, so the platforms won’t charge you any more than you designate as your maximum budget.
Not sure how to use Facebook advertising to grab leads? Check out these Facebook Ad examples.
4 - Invest in directory listings or paid professional services websites
The next step is to start building out the spokes to lead to your main hub, your website.
One of the quickest bangs for your buck is making sure you’re business is listed on resource sites, like paid professional service websites.
Start by using business listings on Google and Yahoo!. (The sites are free to set up an account. You may choose to upgrade your account with paid listings.) Follow the steps listed to complete your profile, and make sure you include details of your business, namely your photography business name, website, location, and business details!
From there, you can advance out to other business listings. There are photography niche-specific directories like Photolinks and the PhotographyDirectoryProject.
In a Reddit post, wedding photographer Squid Viciously, uses multiple wedding-specific directory websites.
Use paid services like Wedding Wire or The Knot to get your work in front of potential clients. Yes, they cost a bit of money, but if your work is good they will easily return the amount paid and a lot more. We pay for the highest tier on Wedding Wire ($3700 per year), and in return, it probably sends us $50-60k per year in revenue.
Some other review sites worth trying to get traffic to your landing page or website are:
5 - Build connections through networking in-person and online
To make new customers appear out of thin air, go out, and network! Networking is essential to any budding business because it forges new connections, otherwise untapped. Networking both online and in-person can be done in tandem. Here are some ideas:
- Tell friends and family you’ve started a photography business!
- Go to a relevant expo, business networking forum, or industry event
- Go to the dog park, PTA meeting, or coffee shop with business cards and just start talking to people!
- Schedule free talks and low-investment workshops at different community venues to get out and meet potential clients.
- Go to photography meet-up to network with other photographers.
- Teach a photography class at a local community college or through your community.
- Drop your business card off at local stores.
- Find relevant Facebook groups online and engage in conversation.
- If someone in your community asks a question about photography on social media or asks for a referral, be the first to respond! This is the key to community management.
- Continuously use social media searches for people who may be searching for “photographer near me” or “seeking photographer”.
6 - Give current clients perks for referring new leads
Your current clients are the best testament to your ability as a photographer. So take advantage of them to source potential new leads from their own networks! Offer any current client you have a special deal for referring new potential clients. Here are some of the perks you could offer:
- Give referrals a free gift card to a local restaurant or establishment
- Give referrals 25% off their next photography session with you.
- Ask social media fans to tag a friend on a post. If they become an actual client, give them something.
- Print off referral cards and encourage clients to fill them out.
Here’s a cute referral card from ReferralRock.com.
And another via Pinterest.
7 - Co-market with related businesses
Tap into related businesses within your community and create a co-marketed business alliance. Don’t co-market with other photographers, or you will compete with one another. Find complementary businesses in your area to work together with! For example, as a wedding photographer, you can pair up with makeup artists, bands, wedding venues, or hairstylists.
You can co-market in a number of ways, like:
- Offering discounts for businesses who refer you
- Giving brick-and-mortar businesses your photography prints to display in their shop.
- Promoting each other’s services online
Have we answered, “How do freelance photographers get clients?”
While you have your work cut out for you as a budding photographer, the good news is there are abundant resources at your fingertips to make your job easier. After putting in a little sweat, you can expand your horizon as a new photography business and maybe even gain lifelong clients.
Draw people to your website with the strategies listed above, so they can get a preview of your photography prowess. And, remember: Your website is the ultimate lead generator, so get the most out of it. Want help? Create and optimize your website with Leadpages. Try Leadpages out for free for 14 days, and watch your website succeed with built-in analytics.
With our drag-and-drop editor, you can easily create the website of your dreams.