No photographer wants to get into the photography business with the aim of becoming a marketing expert. But the reality is that if you don’t focus on the marketing and business end of photography, your business will not be able to survive long enough to do the fun stuff. It stinks, but this is the truth.
1. Use Your Personal Network
Nobody wants to be that annoying marketer that always pushes their business on their friends and acquaintances. However, this fear can push photographers way too far in the opposite direction, never working with the people that have grown to trust them the most. Your personal network is your strongest asset and even more so at the beginning of your photography business. These are the people who will give you your first jobs and introduce you to your first clients.
Photography is unique in that no matter what genre you are involved in, people in your network will most likely need your services at some point, whether it’s wedding or event photography, business portraiture, family portraiture, or print selling. So let your network know what you do and how you can help them.
Create a mailing list and send out an announcement to your network. Show your best work, talk about your photography business, and make sure to explain how you can help people. How can your business benefit them? They will not know unless you tell them. In addition, make sure to ask for referrals.
2. Take Advantage of Local Marketing
Whenever you say the word marketing these days, for some reason everyone immediately starts talking about social media. That is funny, because as important as social media is, it should be one of the last steps to think about for any marketing plan.Your first step should be working within your local community. Similar to the last point, these are people who know you. You are just down the street from them. There are businesses of all types in your community that can probably use your work, so create a plan for how to get in front of them.
3. Create a Mailing List
Use a mailing list provider such as MailChimp or Aweber to keep up with your clients, personal network, and fans. Email lists have the highest engagement of any form of marketing, and it is the way for you to stay on people’s minds. Ask people if you can add them to your list, and always have them opt into the subscription. Put signup forms or popups on your website that encourage people to join. Consider giving away something to encourage them to do so, such as free computer wallpapers of your photography.
When sending out emails, create content that your list will enjoy. Do not sell too often with it. The more benefit and interest that you provide for the people on your list, the more they will enjoy it and the more they will like you. Then when you sell, they will be primed to purchase your services or product. When it’s time to sell, sell.
4. Create a Personal Project
Personal projects will not bring new clients to you right away, and they will take away time from building your business and making a living. This is the tougher side of doing projects, but they are immensely important for the long term growth of your business and for growing your voice as a photographer. A project can be done slowlyover a long period of time, so you can build it into your weekly schedule.
Think of an idea that will resonate with both you and your community. This is a way of keeping your passion for photography alive. It will also help to set you apart from the other photographers in your community. It will show people that you are an interesting person. They will be more interested in working with you, even if the paid work you do is a completely different genre. It will be a way for you to gain press coverage and something for you to talk about to engage people. All in all, a personal project will make marketing yourself so much easier, and it will feel much more natural.
5. Respond Quickly
There is no point in building your photography business or marketing your work if you are not going to respond quickly to inquiries. Respond quickly at every step of the process throughout a job as well. Responding quickly does not have to mean within the hour, although sometimes that can help when getting a new inquiry. It can mean responding within 12 hours or a day, as long as you are consistent and prompt.
Fortunately for you, a lot of photographers are terrible at this, so this will quickly set you apart. It will show people that you are a responsible person, and it will make them more comfortable working with you.