There’s one crucial aspect your photography business needs to be successful.
Without people who are willing to pay for your photography services, your business isn’t a business.
However, finding those clients can be frustrating, especially in the beginning. But once you learn how to get more photography clients and implement a strategy that works for your niche, things should pick up. Let’s look at what you need to know.
Who Is Your Ideal Client?
The first step is to figure out your ideal client. No matter how much you market, you won’t get clients if you market to people who don’t want your services.
Or, it’s possible that you get clients, but feel frustrated because they aren’t your ideal client. For example, you might love the excitement of wedding photography but lack the patience for newborn photography. If the only clients you get are new mothers looking for pictures of their babies, you’ll burn out quickly.
Once you have your ideal client in mind, you need to figure out how to get yourself in front of them. The best way to do that is to think about the things that interest your ideal client. Direct your marketing to places where they go so they will find you.
Here are some ideas.
- What are their hobbies or interests? The answer to this question will almost exclusively direct your marketing campaign.
- Where do they like to shop?
- What social media do they like to use? This one is essential because social media marketing is a powerful tool for small businesses. But you have to be in the right place or you’ll get lost in the crowd.
- Use Google Search Trends to understand whats going on in your clients’ areas of interest.
- Get involved with organizations that support your clients’ areas of interest.
- Last but not least… What Facebook groups might they hang out in? Lots! Try to think outside the box… For example, if you are marketing specifically for family photos in a tourist town… research Facebook groups dedicated to helping travelers plan trips when coming to your area, and, PRO tip! Ask to join as either as your Photography Page or yourself.
Think through this list carefully. You should come up with some ideas of places where your ideal client is likely to hang out — on or offline.
Now it’s just a matter of presenting your work. Let’s look at some ways to do that.
Use Your Website
It might feel like your website just gets lost in the virtual crowd. However, your website is one of your most powerful tools for getting new photography clients.
Unfortunately, many photographers don’t use their website to its full potential. Their website consists of their portfolio, contact page, and perhaps a few blogs of client sessions.
This isn’t enough to tell the story of you and inspire people to want to hire you.
Tailor Your Website to Your ideal Client
Again, think about your ideal client and make sure your website would appeal to them. Include information that would be helpful to them — such as how to prepare for their shoot, what to wear, etc.
Utilize the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on your website to its full potential. Showing up in the search results as much as possible is a great way to create a strong online presence.
And don’t be afraid to showcase yourself! Obviously, clients want to see your work because that’s what they’ll be paying for. But people are also more likely to hire you when they feel a more personal connection.
Multiple Sites for Multiple Niches
Finally, don’t try to cram too much into one site. Your website should be geared entirely toward your ideal client. If you shoot photography in two completely different niches, it's impossible to market to both groups of people with the same website — you need two.
There is some gray area here. If the niches are complimentary, they can be on the same website. For example, wedding photography leads to newborn photography leads to family photography, etc.
However, trying to market corporate headshots and wildlife photography on the same website won’t work.
Join Groups to Meet People
Networking is and probably always will be the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal. People are far more likely to hire someone they’ve met or who has been recommended to them by a friend.
This means you’ve got to get out in your community and make connections. This isn’t an easy task for the introverts, but it’s necessary if you want your business to grow!
Thankfully there are many opportunities.
Find Facebook Groups or Other Online Communities
An easy one is to join Facebook groups or other online communities where your ideal client is spending time. Again, to find them, concentrate on your clients interests.
Groups for new moms are great for marketing newborn photography. Wedding planning groups are perfect for wedding photographers. Groups for business owners are ideal for brand or commercial photographers.
Get to Know Business Professionals in Your Niche
A powerful networking technique is to get to know business professionals working in areas related to your business.
For example, wedding photographers should build relationships with wedding planners, florists, caterers, and other vendors who serve weddings. Those professionals are working with people on a daily basis that are in your audience and have many opportunities to recommend your services.
Often, there are organizations or networking groups that you can join for this very purpose.
Volunteer Your Services
Volunteering your services is a great marketing technique that can also be a lot of fun. Donate your time and services to organizations that interest your ideal client.
For example, to market pet photography, donate your services to your local pet shelter. Spending time at adoption events is a great way to become known among the pet owners in your community.
Photograph Community Events
Take photos at your kids’ sporting events. You’ll be there anyway and can use the opportunity to become known among parents in your community. You can use this technique to market family, senior, or even event photography.
If you want to be more known in your neighborhood, talk to your local HOA about photographing neighborhood events.
Open city events like parades are also a great opportunity to become known in the community. Be sure to share the photos later with the city or event organizers. Most of the time they will post these with credit — yay for free advertising!
Always Be Ready to Market Yourself
When you’re out and about with your camera like this, always be ready to market yourself. Have business cards on hand that you can offer to curious passersby. Even if you don’t have too much time to chat at the moment, they can always check out your website later.
However, chat with people as much as you can. Be friendly. Make a good impression. Build personal connections. This is the type of stuff that will help you build your business.
It can get crazy, but try to take notes as you can on the people you talk to. If people are interested, don’t just hand them your business card, get their name and contact information too.
When you get home, put all this information into a spreadsheet or your CRM software to keep track of them. A couple of examples of CRM software are Honeybook and Studio Ninja. Follow up with these relationships later or connect with them on social media to nurture the planted seed. Eventually, the contact could grow into a paying client!
Maintain Strong Business Relationships
What’s the worst thing you can do after going to all this work to build your client list? Let it wither due to your inattention.
Like a plant that needs constant watering, your business relationships need constant nurturing to remain strong. Always make time to market yourself — even if it’s just a little. This helps keep you top-of-mind with your current relationships as well as ensures the pipeline of new inquiries doesn’t dry up.
Once your business starts taking off, you might not have as much time to network externally as you did before. That’s a good thing! And hopefully you’ll be getting referrals from happy clients that helps to build your client list.
But it doesn’t mean that you can slack off on marketing yourself completely.
Keep up with social media and your online presence. Build an email list from your contacts so you can reach out now and again to stay in touch. These are both great ways to stay current that aren’t too time-consuming.
Continue to make time for networking or community events and don’t forget to follow up!
Don’t Give Up, You’ll Get There!
You won’t build a successful photography business in a day. Apart from learning how to get photography clients, it takes time to network, become known in the right circles, and build a steady stream of inquiries that you can turn into income.
Keep at it! Your hard work will pay off. You’ll develop a system that works for you and start enjoying a successful business before you know it!