Last updated on February 11th, 2019
Have you heard the expression, “Good things come to those who wait”? Well, when it comes to marketing your photography business, nothing could be further from the truth. According to photography marketing expert Lara White, “A successful photography business is 20% photography, 80% business.” It’s simply not enough to make good work, you need top-notch marketing skills too.
Sadly, great work can suffer from bad marketing. It’s likely that you know someone who’s insanely talented but doesn’t get nearly enough recognition. What can you do to avoid succumbing to this marketing injustice?
Here Are Top 9 Marketing Tips For Photographers
1. Build An Online Photography Portfolio
For photographers, a successful online portfolio will become your most powerful marketing tool. It shapes your professional story and exposes your work to countless potential clients worldwide. In fact, a recent poll of 250 executive-level advertising and marketing people revealed that a portfolio is the deciding factor when it comes to hiring a candidate.
It’s simple: build the perfect online portfolio and your work will travel around the world in an instant. With the click of a button, your talent is showcased to clients and creative collaborators. Without a portfolio, you’re limiting your reach and true potential. Even worse, a bad portfolio can devalue your work and cost you money.
Building an online portfolio doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. With services like Format, you can showcase your photography professionally and beautifully on your online portfolio without learning to code.
2. Make Social Media Work For You
Social media provides a huge opportunity for you to build and connect with an audience of potential clients, editors, peers and fans.
Start by keeping your social handles and visual identity consistent across platforms—don’t make it difficult for people to find you online. Be sure your efforts spent on social media are focused in the right place. You don’t need to be on every social network—choose the ones that resonate with your target audience. As a photographer, this should include Instagram, arguably the most visual of all social platforms.
Keep your accounts up to date but remember there is more to social media than just posting. Communication is a two-way street.
You can’t just spam people and expect them to click, like or share your work. But if you’re active with your community of followers and interact with their posts, it’s likely they will do the same.
3. Pitch Your Work
If you’re looking for more than “scroll and like” engagement, getting your work published—online or in print—is a good way to get your name out there.
There’s nothing quite like seeing your name in a magazine or newspaper beside work that you’re really proud of. It promotes your work and gives you a publishing credit that you can add to your portfolio. If there’s a publication you really love that suits your work, reach out and ask to be featured. Your outreach email should be short and to the point with a link to your images.
The hardest publication to get is your first one. Afterwards, you’ll see a snowball effect. Don’t get discouraged if your first pitch isn’t a homerun. Keep doing your work and send it to editors.
4. Create An Email List
From the get-go, you should be collecting email addresses from clients. Build a list of people you have worked with, or those who are interested in your work and you’ll have a group of engaged people who want to hear about your business.
Whether you’re promoting a new project, a workshop or a sale, email newsletters are a powerful tool for directly connecting to your target market.
In fact, email is 20% more effective at customer retention than social media (eMarketer, 2015). People spend more time reading emails than social media posts. By using a service like MailChimp or TinyLetter, you can add a link to your portfolio that says “Sign Up” and visitors opt-in to stay informed.
Remember to keep your subject lines snappy and emails full of information that your subscribers are interested in.
5. Blog As Much As Possible
Writing blog posts for your portfolio might seem like yet another creative task to add to the list, but sharing what you know and the process behind your photography can be a real boon for you and your audience.
Blogging helps create a personal connection with your material. It reminds your readers and followers that you’re a real, live, photographer behind what they see— not an anonymous, faceless robot. Focus on writing a couple hundred words with a few beautiful, high resolution images. And write in your own voice, the way you would speak to your friends. Try reading blogs that can help you improve your writing skills like Daily Writing Tips
6. To Cross Promote
When you’re a photographer navigating the industry, you are part of a wider community: why not reach out to other creatives and collaborate? It makes sense to join forces. You can meet cool people, reach a wider network and explore new territory to think creatively.
Working with another creative person can be a major source of inspiration. Find makeup artists, stylists and fashion designers in your city (or do a digital exchange) and see what you can create together.
If you’re a wedding photographer, why not collaborate with a hair stylist and local designer on a contest, or a styled shoot? Look for successful, non-competing creatives that cater to the same kinds of clients and take your passions to the next level together—two brains are better than one.
7. Apply For Contests And Awards
Whether you’re a professional photographer or emerging talent, contests and awards should be on your radar. It’s an opportunity to be recognized by the creative community for your exceptional work.
Many of the top prizes include high-profile exhibitions and magazine features. The World Press Photo Contest, for example, exhibits their winners in forty-five countries. Its accompanying publication is internationally distributed and will be a go-to source for photo editors.
8. Network IRL
In an increasingly digital world, it’s tempting to keep your marketing strategy and efforts online. You can know how many clicks, likes and shares you got this week. You can track your digital footprint. But what you’re forgetting is that there is a real world out there.
Digital marketing tools are extremely useful for photographers, but there is still real power in word-of-mouth marketing and meeting people face to face. Turn off your computer, put down that smartphone and venture out a couple of nights a week. Go see gallery shows and openings, network events, industry conferences and professional talks.
Integrating and balancing online and offline marketing strategies is the best way to cast the widest net possible.
9. Share Your Expertise
Once you’ve ventured offline for your marketing needs, you might consider speaking at a conference, seminar or industry talk.
Not only will you have a chance to share your knowledge with your peers or your target audience, you’ll be featured on the event’s website essentially giving you free exposure.
You’ll also have the chance to meet potential clients and collaborators, and increase your visibility in the industry.