Photography Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Business
When you have a photography business, you will spend a lot of your time marketing it.
If you type ‘photography marketing ideas’ to a search engine, you’ll get a lot of results, but most of them are listing the same, outdated ideas. In an era where online marketing is taking over, lots of conservative ideas don’t work effectively anymore. Some still work (we call them ‘The Classics’), but you also need to make sure your effort involves online marketing as well, as everyone relies on the Internet to find information these days.
That’s why we come up with this comprehensive list of photography marketing ideas. We’ve curated this list to include the absolutely essential things from the classic list, but we also put a lot of fresh, creative ideas to help you with marketing your photography business online. From using social media, optimising your website and getting your work seen, we’ve covered it all.
Photography Marketing Ideas for Online: SEO, Directories, Collaborations with Influencers, and Your Website
1. Work on the SEO for your photography website
These days, everybody relies on the Internet to do research, and this is why SEO is important. It’s a big topic to cover and there’s a lot to learn, but at the very least, you should rank for local search. If you’re a maternity photographer living in York, for example, you should rank for the keywords ‘maternity photographer in York’ or ‘York maternity photographer’.
For a start, you can read these 5 SEO tips for your photo website. Getting down to the nitty-gritty, this guide to SEO for photographers and 50 SEO tips to maximize your Google rankings & get found online are both excellent resources.
2. Name your photos and post titles with Google-friendly descriptions
As a part of your SEO effort, you should name your photos and post titles with phrases that can easily be picked up by search engines. Instead of naming your photos and article ‘Jennifer and Matt’s Wedding’, write something descriptive that explains the wedding, like ‘A Bohemian Wedding at Poconos Pine Forest’. This is important to help search engines to find your images and posts.
3. Write a unique and personal ‘About Us’ page
What sets you apart from the other photographers? You can write about how you started, or why you’re so passionate about your work and capturing special moments. Write a genuine and personal story that people can relate to, something that makes you stand out from other photographers.
4. Set up Google My Business for your photography business
Setting up your company on Google My Business listing is important to increase your online visibility for local search. You want to make sure your business appears on Google search, Local Finder, or even Google Maps. This guide can help you to optimize Google My Business listing.
5. Build an email list, and send regular newsletters
From the very beginning, build an email list and send regular newsletters to the subscribers. It’s easier to advertise to people who are already interested, i.e. people who are on the list! What should be in the newsletter? It can be updates about your business, special discounts, blog posts, new sessions or packages, etc.
6. Create a list of local vendors in your industry to post on your website
Compile a list of the local vendors in your area to help your clients. If you’re an event photographer, for example, your list can include your favorite venues, florists, event planners, and of course, yourself as the photographer.
Apart from helping potential clients, creating this list can help your website to get discovered and seen by a lot of people. Share your links in local forums and groups as well to widen the exposure.
7. Participate in photo contests
The exposure your work will get when winning a photo contest is an amazing marketing opportunity you shouldn’t miss. Keep updated with contests that fit your line of work and niche, and submit your best work that shows your expertise, and can emotionally connect with the viewers.
8. Submit your work to relevant blogs in your niche
Many web directories have blogs that open for submissions, as they need regular fresh content. Find their submission page to learn about the requirements, and submit your work to their blogs for a feature.
9. List your website on local business directories
Having your website listed in the local business directories is important to increase the exposure and the chance to be found online, especially by potential clients in your area. Try to list your website in as many directories as possible. Here’s a list of 50 Online Local Business Directories/Listings for Local Marketing by HubSpot which covers important and relevant listings you cannot miss. You can also use Yext to help you scan your listings on various online services.
10. List your business on photography directories
Not only business directories, you can also list your photography business in photography directories to increase your exposure. You can try listing it on 500px, The Photographer Directory, Photography Directory Project, or find a specific directory like Wedding Photo Love.
11. Register as a vendor on relevant directories in your industry
So you’ve done photography and local business listings, but there’s one more thing you can do: register your business as a vendor on specific directories for your industry. Especially if you’re in the wedding industry, the Internet is full of web directories that many brides-to-be use to find the perfect vendors. Style Me Pretty, Junebug Weddings, Rock My Wedding, Bridestory, and WeddingSutra are just some of the many directories you can find.
Tip: Focus on the local directories first before branching out to regional, national, or even international directories.
12. Write useful articles for your clients
Clients will appreciate useful tips that come from experienced photographers, so create articles for your blog that will help them prepare and look their best for the photo session. Here are a few ideas on the topics you can write:
- How to choose a wedding/maternity/newborn photographer (depending on your niche)
- What to do to prepare for a photo session
- Location recommendations – give your clients the options so they can choose what works best for them
13. ‘Talk’ to your prospective clients in videos
It’s easier to get people’s attention with videos than any other form of content. With videos, you can also show your personality to your audience. What should be the content of the videos? It can be the FAQs, tips to prepare for a photo session for your clients, or anything that will be interesting and useful for your clients.
14. Reach out to bloggers
Collaborating with bloggers is a good way to bring exposure to your work, thanks to their abilities to reach a large audience. Your potential clients can be those in the blogosphere community and/or their followers.
Create a list of bloggers whose readers and followers are in your niche, reach out to them and pitch your ideas of how your photography can help their work.
15. Collaborate with vloggers
Are there any vloggers whose videos you admire? You can approach them to offer a free/discounted session in exchange for a behind-the-scenes video, for example.
Videos can show what pictures can’t, so working with prominent vloggers can help people to have a closer look of your work (maybe even a glimpse of what’s behind the scene) and the amazing results you can deliver. Many vloggers have high engagement with their followers and also a big influence, so work with them as a part of your marketing effort.
16. Use meetup.com to get event photography experience and clients
If you’re a photographer specializing in event photography, you can reach out to a few local meetups and offer to document the events. If you’re a photographer who is just starting out, this is a great chance to build your portfolio and network.
As you get more experience, you can target sponsored or funded meetups and offer your services at your usual rate.
17. Write guest posts for other vendors
Having your writing published on other websites can help in 2 ways: it’s a channel for cross-marketing (especially if you write for other vendors), and more importantly, it’s a way to get backlinks you need to improve your SEO.
Writing guest posts can be one of the ideas to market your photography in the off-season.
18. Set up Google Alerts to get notifications when your name/business is mentioned
With Google Alerts, you can choose a set of keywords. You will get a notification when there’s new content published containing any of those keywords.
You might wonder, ‘What does it have to do with marketing?’ Here’s how it can be useful::
Monitor your name and your business – whenever there’s a mention of these, check it out and if it’s not linked to your website, send them an email to ask them to link it. This can help you get backlinks to your website, and also it can be a door to opportunity for sales or collaborations.
You can also use this to monitor your competitors and industry topics, so you can keep updated with new trends.
Photography Marketing Ideas for Social Media
19. Tag clients AND business pages on social media
When you post a photo on Facebook or Instagram, don’t just tag your client, but tag the vendors whose works shown in the photo. They will appreciate having their work shown beautifully, and your photos might get reposted by your clients and also the tagged vendors.
To increase the chance of your posts getting seen and discovered, use the most relevant and effective Instagram hashtags for photography.
20. Join relevant Facebook groups
There are two kinds of group you can join to help your marketing:
- Facebook groups whose members are your prospects. For example, groups for mothers in your area if you’re a maternity or newborn photographer
- Facebook groups for photographers where you can network with other photographers and learn about the industry, standard prices, business knowledge and tips, etc.
With Facebook groups, it’s important to note that hard-selling rarely works (it can even get you kicked out of the group). What works is building relationships, gaining trust, and make your presence known. This can be done with sharing valuable knowledge/tips and engaging with the members.
Only share or promote your work when it’s relevant (for example: when someone asks for photographer recommendation, or when there’s a specific thread/discussion intended for promotion).
21. Offer free photo prints for reviews
Encourage your clients to review you on Google, Facebook, or Yelp by offering them free photo prints. Reviews are really important to gain trust for your brand, so be proactive and ask all your clients to review you.
22. Utilise Facebook ads
In the recent years, Facebook engagement has been decreasing, especially for business pages. You can consider using Facebook ads if you have the budget. There are different types of ads you can choose, and it all depends on your purpose (do you want to raise brand awareness, increase conversions, or get more engagement?). If you’re a newbie, you can read this article by Hubspot, The Ultimate Checklist for Creating & Optimizing Facebook Ads.
Many people are reluctant to spend money on marketing when they can do it for free, but if $5 can bring you a $1000 sale, then it will pay out. We will say though that Facebook ads need a lot of research and experimentation to get it work well, but once you get the hang of it, it will be worth it.
23. Use Pinterest to give inspiration to your clients
Pinterest is full of creative ideas about decor, art, photography, and many more. Imagine your ideal clients, what would they search for and what would be helpful for them? Fill your Pinterest boards with ideas and inspiration that your potential clients can use, including your inspiring photos and helpful blog posts as well.
This article by Modern Tog, The Ultimate Pinterest Guide For Photographers can help you get started with Pinterest.
24. Use Promoted Pins to boost your pin
Promoted Pins can be useful to boost a pin that can drive traffic to your website. Whether it’s for your product/service or a blog post that can help your potential clients, boosting can give significant results and increase the exposure of your brand.
25. Encourage your clients to post unboxing videos
Unboxing videos are so popular because they’re fun to watch and they cater to people’s curiosity. Encourage your clients to do this on Instagram or Facebook, so their friends and followers can have a glimpse of your beautiful work (and packaging). Not only that, these fun videos can also serve as a review or testimonial.
26. Post behind-the-scenes snippets on Instagram story
Make people anticipate your upcoming posts by showing them glimpses of what’s happening behind the camera. Aside from increasing brand awareness, this is also a good way to keep people engaged.
27. Use geotags when posting venue photos on social media
Use geotags when you post photos that show particular venues. There’s a good chance that people who are looking for information of a particular venue need a photographer as well, so make it easy for them to find you.
28. Use a unique hashtag
Having one unique hashtag for your social media posts is really helpful for (potential) clients who are curious and want to see more of your work. Use this unique hashtag for all your photos, so when someone clicks/type the hashtag, they will be presented with all your photos.
29. Create an Instagram challenge
Many people have seen an increase in engagement and followers with an Instagram challenge. Create a unique theme, and encourage people to share their photos. The prize doesn’t have to be expensive; a shoutout, a mini souvenir, or a voucher would work.
30. Host a giveaway on social media
Hosting a giveaway can increase brand awareness and engagement, drive traffic to your website, and get more followers. People love discounts and freebies, and it doesn’t have to be an expensive gift. Something useful or fun for your targeted audience is as good as anything.
31. Give incentives for clients to post on Facebook or Instagram
Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the best ways to get clients. In this digital world, that can happen on social media, so incentivize people to share your work and their experience with you. Free photo prints, discounts, or vouchers work for this.
32. Share your clients’ testimonials on social media
Photographers usually share clients’ testimonials on their photography websites and that’s it. Testimonials are powerful, so share them regularly on all your social media channels. Let people know how great you are.
The Classic Photography Marketing Ideas
33. Design a stunning sample album to show your potential clients
An online portfolio is good for reaching out to as many people as possible, but when you have a face-to-face meeting, a beautiful sample album might be your best tool to win the clients. Seeing images in print make it easier for the potential clients to visualise how the photos will look. Bring a sample album everywhere you go, from consultation meetings with clients, to trade fairs, or any other place where you can potentially make deals.
34. Create beautiful, personalised packaging, and show it off
While packaging is not the main reason why people would choose a photographer, it helps to add a ‘plus’ to your photography business.
There’s also another advantage: it’s good for publicity on social media. People on Instagram especially appreciate good visuals, and a lovely packaging will get people curious to at least check your profile.
35. Participate in trade shows and fairs
This is one of the classic photography marketing ideas, but it’s a classic for a reason: because it works. Especially if you’re a wedding photographer, participating in wedding fairs and has been shown to bring a lot of new clients.
Make sure you come prepared. Bring sample albums and photos to show your clients, create a slideshow if you want to show more on your laptop, and have a stack of business cards ready to hand out. Many photographers offer discounts exclusively for deals made in the fair to add urgency, and this strategy often works in securing many deals during the course of the fair.
36. Create a referral program
Word-of-mouth marketing is still alive, and sometimes a little reward can go a long way. Encourage your clients to share your work with their friends and family. You can offer a discount, gift card, or a bonus (like free prints, for example) for clients who come to you through referrals, and for their friends who have recommended you.
37. Have consistent branding
Consistent branding helps people to recognise your brand and work. Make sure your images, typeface, wording, and overall branding is consistent for your website/blog, social media channels, business cards, brochures, and other profiles.
38. Put a QR code on all your marketing material
You need more than the tiny space on a business card or even brochure to show your best work. Obviously, your portfolio wouldn’t fit in this, so what you can do is make it easy for people to see your portfolio, online: give them a QR code they can scan. Direct them to your portfolio page where they can see your stunning imagery.
39. Increase your rates
This might sound counterintuitive, but raising your rates can actually bring more clients. When you undercharge, people doubt your skills and expertise. Increasing your rates (sensibly) gives assurance to people that you’re good at what you’re doing, and you know your worth. For special events in their lives, people don’t mind paying for quality.
40. Send anniversary or birthday notes to your clients
A little gesture goes a long way, and it can help maintain good relationships with clients. On their first wedding anniversary (if you’re a wedding photographer) or the first birthday of their kid (if you’re a maternity/newborn photographer), send them a thoughtful card (with your logo on it). Include a few business cards as well that they can give to their friends.
41. Document a local event
Your first clients are most likely to come from your area, so this is where you start establishing connections. While you’re documenting the event, make time for conversations with the attendees, and have your business cards ready to hand out.
Finally, once the images are nicely edited, send them to the organiser and share them on your social media. This is a good way to introduce your business to people in the area.
42. Shoot for a local charity
Local charities often welcome anyone who wants to help, and this is your opportunity to give support, while also building networks with your local community. Shoot for free and engage in conversation with the organisers and the participants. When you send the photos to the organisers, include your social media handles so they can tag you when they post it online.
43. Send photos to relevant vendors to help their marketing
If there’s an opportunity to take photos of other vendors’ works during a job, do it to help with their marketing. The venue providers, caterers, and even florists need high-quality photos for their promotion. When they post them on social media, their followers and clients might be interested in your photos and check you out.
Take a few photos that you know will be good for the vendors’ websites or marketing programs, and email these images to them once you’re done with the post-processing. Don’t forget to include details of your social media handles and website so they can tag you.
44. Partner with other businesses
Do cross-marketing with other vendors in the same field. Once you’ve built a relationship with a vendor, ask them politely to put you on the list of ‘preferred vendors’. Venues are most likely to have this list, but don’t discount other possibilities. It’s also worth pursuing planners, florists, caterers. Just remember to build a genuine relationship first, and you can use tip #11 to open the way for collaborations.
45. Create a sample album for your favourite venue
They would really appreciate your help in showing their venue with all its glory, and they can even use the sample album as a promotion material when they’re dealing with potential clients. Make sure you include your logo, website, and social media handles in the album, so they know where to go if they want to see more.
46. Partner with other photographers for referrals
It’s always useful to have connections in your field, and that includes fellow photographers. You can choose 2-3 photographers in your area with a similar price level, experience, and style, and become referral partners. When you get an inquiry for a date you’re already booked, refer your referral partners (tip: it’s also really helpful if you can write short, great reviews when referring your partner).
47. Send your clients holiday cards
Holidays are the opportunity to get in touch with your existing clients, apart from special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Send them cards to wish them a happy holiday, and include discount vouchers they can use for them or their friends and family.
48. Use special occasions to offer discounts or unique sessions
Use special occasions to advertise unique offers or discounts. A few ideas: discounts for maternity photo sessions around Mother’s Day, out-of-the-box Halloween photoshoots, family photoshoots for Christmas cards.
49. Showcase your creative projects
Doing photography as a business doesn’t mean you can’t do something completely different from your usual niche. People like to see fun and creative projects, and if you have a creative photography project you’ve been doing for fun, there’s no harm in showcasing it to garner the public’s attention. It makes you stand out from the other photographers, and unique projects have a higher chance to go viral, which can bring fame to your name (and business).
50. Create photography workshops
This is not a direct marketing to your prospects, but by doing photography workshops, you establish yourself as having expertise in the field. Not only that, this will give you a chance to widen your network, and also get some exposure for your photography business.
So that’s 50 photography marketing ideas for you to try! The most important thing is to be observant, persistent, and patient. There will be some ideas that work better than others, and some of these take time before you see any results.
Do you want to learn more about using social media to improve your online marketing and grow your photography business? Download our FREE eBook: ‘The Ultimate Social Media Guide for Photographers in 2018’, and learn social media best practices and how you can use these to create effective strategies!