Earning money doing something you love is the ideal job, but always having to hustle and look for new clients can be draining and demoralizing. Don’t give up though! Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can take time to build a reputation and get that ongoing pipeline of clients that you know are out there somewhere.
The best way to make sure your ideal clients will find you is to brush up on your marketing skills. Make a plan for how you’re going to attract customers and build a strong client base for your photography business.
Not sure where to begin? I’m here to share my experience with you and start you off with 8 tried and tested ways to get more photography clients.
8 Ways to Get More Photography Clients
One of the best parts of running your own business is that you’re in charge and you get to make all the decisions – including which marketing strategies are best for you. The following tips are designed to be a launching pad. Read through them and then make your own plan, depending on your unique business needs.
It's a good idea to start with the preliminaries – like establishing your online presence and setting up a reliable payment system. You can tackle the rest of the steps later on.
1. Determine Your Ideal Client and Target Your Messaging
If you try to market yourself to everyone, you’ll end up attracting no one. Even if you’re happy to photograph anyone in any type of situation, you’ll be much more successful at getting clients if you identify the ideal persona that you want to work with.
This doesn’t mean you have to be super specific – for example, decide that you’re only going to take pictures of small weddings that take place outdoors – but you could choose between focusing on events versus family portraits versus corporate headshots.
The narrower your focus, the more direct and targeted your marketing messages can be, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to have an overall niche and then several sub-categories. For example, you may decide to focus on family pictures and then within that focus, offer subcategories like maternity or newborn shoots.
As soon as you decide on your niche, you can clarify your message. For family pictures, you’ll want to reach out to parents or grandparents with messages about time moving quickly and capturing the meaningful moments. If your target client is a corporation, you might want to focus on the importance of having professional headshots on a website.
2. Leverage Social Media
Whether you love it or hate it, the fact is that social media is one of the best free advertising tools out there. It’s a great way to spread your message far and wide.
Your first step should be to do some research and learn where your ideal clients hang out on social media. If you’re looking for professionals and corporate clients, LinkedIn may be your platform of choice. Gen Z folks love TikTok, and of course there’s Instagram and Facebook for everyone else.
As a photographer, you’ll mostly be sharing photos, so platforms like Instagram and Pinterest may be of more value to you than others, but you can always try out different things and see what works best.
If you already have at least a few followers, you can try to continue to grow organically. Using hashtags, commenting on other people’s posts, encouraging shares and discussions are all good ways to increase your reach.
If you’re just starting out, you may want to invest at least a little bit in some paid social media advertising. You can do it yourself or hire a professional to help you.
- Don’t kill yourself trying to be present and active on all platforms. Pick the one or two that work best for you.
- Share lots of images from shoots you’ve done for other clients with testimonials when possible.
- Post pictures at least 3 times a week.
- Don’t forget to include calls to action in your posts, encouraging people to reach out to you and book sessions.
3. Make It Easy for Customers to Use Your Services
Consumers today are all about instant gratification. Make it so easy for potential customers to contact you, learn about you, book a session with you, and pay you that they can’t help but choose you over any other competitor.
Maintain a list of packages and services that customers can see online or that you can email to them. Make sure that you include pricing information.
Whether you take bookings online or over the phone, offer as many different payment options as you can, including credit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, and other payment methods that are popular in your local area. When you sign up with Pay.com, you can easily accept a wide range of payment methods.
With the Pay Virtual Terminal, you can take payment information over the phone and then enter it into the system manually. You can also use Pay Links to send a customer a direct link via email or SMS. The link will lead them to personalized checkout page where they can put in their payment details.
4. Offer Discounts and Host Events and Giveaways
Let people get a taste of your talent without having to make a big commitment: try offering discounts or special promotions for first-time customers. Along the same lines, you can host a free event where people can show up, have some snacks, and get a free portrait taken.
You can also run a giveaway on social media. Create a post where people have to “like,” comment, and tag a friend in order to be entered into a drawing to win a free photoshoot. You can, of course, specify limitations on the shoot if you don’t want to give away too much for free.
These are low-cost ways that you can start to spread the word and show off your skills. Once people see how good you are, they are more likely to book you for a paid gig when they are in need of a photographer.
Just be sure that you don’t pigeonhole yourself as a low-cost photographer who is always willing to drop rates in order to get clients. It’s great to use discounts as a way to get customers at the beginning of your journey or when you’re launching a new package, but make sure you go back to your regular prices after a while.
5. Maintain an Email List
It’s a good idea to collect and save the email addresses of everyone who interacts with your business in any way. Even if your list starts off super small and consists of your mother and your best friend, keep adding to it slowly and send updates regularly.
Obviously, you don’t want to spam anyone, so make sure that the emails you send contain timely and relevant information. You can include helpful information, like top tips for taking better pictures with your phone, how to get a child to sit still for a photo shoot, or any other topic you can think of.
An email list is also a good tool for sharing information about new packages or services that you plan to offer. You should always encourage readers to share the email with others, so that they can sign up too.
Everyone likes to get something for free. One of the best ways to get potential customers to sign up to your mailing list is to offer them something of value at no cost when they enter their email address.
For example, you can create a simple ebook or an infographic with information that is likely to be of interest, such as “The Top 10 Photography Errors Rookies Make.” There are many free online design tools that can help you create a gift-worthy product very easily.
If you have a customer's email address, you have a direct line into their inbox. Unlike with social media, you don’t have to worry about algorithms changing and your content never being seen.
6. Incentivize Referrals and Repeat Customers
Past customers can be your best marketing tool. You can always ask them to refer you to other people who are in need of photography services.
Some may be happy to do so out of the goodness of their hearts, but others may appreciate some incentive. You can offer a discount on their next photo shoot or a free print to anyone who refers a new paying customer.
To encourage customers to keep coming back, you can offer a loyalty program with certain discounts or free prints that accumulate based on how many photo shoots they book. If you’re a newborn and baby photographer consider selling a package that includes photos taken at particular ages and milestones as the baby grows.
7. Give Back to the Community
Giving back to the community is a win-win situation: you get to support a cause you care about and grow your business at the same time.
If you become known as that photographer who volunteers their time to photograph charity events, for example, people may be more inclined to choose you as their photographer for paid events as well.
It’s also an opportunity to showcase your talents and expand your reach, because you can share the pictures you take and ask the charity to share on their social media as well.
8. Develop a Strong Online Presence
An online presence doesn’t only mean social media. You can also create and maintain your own website. Especially as a photographer, this is a great way to maintain a portfolio of your best work, that people can browse to get a sense of what you can offer.
You can go all out and hire a web designer if you’ve got the budget for it, or keep things simple and use a DIY website builder – some of them offer some professional-looking templates you can customize. You don’t necessarily need a very complex site, just a clean and simple way to showcase your work and let people contact you.
In addition to displaying up-to-date examples of your work, you might consider writing a blog. You can write about your experiences, share testimonials, offer helpful tips, and more. With even just a little bit of keyword research, you can up your rankings on Google and ensure that more people end up on your site.
What's the Best Way for a Photographer to Accept Payments?
You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you, and that means offering a variety of payment options. Cash and checks aren’t as common as they used to be, and many customers will want to pay by credit card or online payment methods.
You’ll need to make sure you have a payment service provider that takes care of the backend and ensures that payments make it from the customer’s credit card to your bank account. That’s exactly what Pay.com does – we make it easy for customers to provide payment information and for you to get paid.
If you offer fixed-price photography packages, you can embed a customized checkout page into your website. For custom-priced projects, you can send your clients direct Pay Links or even take their card details over the phone.
The Bottom Line: How Should You Market Yourself as a Photographer?
Don’t fret if your calendar is looking bare. It’s time to take control and start spreading the word about your services – and talents. It might take some effort on your part, but once you find your groove, the appointments will start rolling in.
It’s worth trying an assortment of the marketing ideas above. Mix and match until you find the magic formula that works for your business. Just a word of warning that marketing is dynamic, and you’ll probably need to keep tweaking that magic formula every once in a while to make sure it doesn’t lose its touch.
The only thing you’ll never have to change is your payment service provider. Pay.com will always remain the simplest and most convenient way to accept payments, no matter how much your business grows. Click here to get started now!