Are you a photographer struggling to get enough clients? You aren’t alone; photography is a competitive business, and self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Most photographers don’t have a large marketing budget, so paid advertising campaigns may not be a viable option. Fortunately, a few lost-cost strategies are all you need to build your client base. You can always invest in more expensive campaigns as your business grows.
Try these 10 strategies:
Lend your skills to a worthy cause
Most charities need images of some kind. For instance, an animal adoption center might need portrait shots of pets in need of new homes for their website, or a community organization might need a photographer for an annual gala or awards ceremony.
Offer to take a few shots for free, in return for a mention on the organization’s website or leaflets. If you do a good job, particularly if you work with the charity on a frequent basis, local businesses and individuals will remember your name. When they need a photographer, they will think of you.
Start a photography blog to share your knowledge
Establish yourself as an expert, and showcase your images at the same time, by starting a photography blog. Write about the latest trends in the photography world, how to select the right photographer for an occasion, your favorite techniques, your personal projects, and your favorite photographers.
Share your content on social media, and leave supportive comments on other peoples’ work. Become active in the online photography community, and you may get more work as more people start to recognize your name and images.
Offer classes and demonstrations
Do you have an adult education center or community college nearby? You could offer to teach a workshop, or give a demonstration to people with a general interest in photography. Encourage your students to engage with you afterwards; signpost them to your portfolio and social media presence. If you impress them, they might book you for a shoot, or at least recommend you to friends and family.
Shooting photos for a contest is both a creative challenge and a valuable publicity opportunity. Look for both local and national competitions. If you make it through to the later rounds, your work may be exhibited in galleries, thus raising your profile.
Join a local meetup or group for small businesses
Make contact with your local chamber of commerce to find networking opportunities with nearby freelancers and businesses. Whatever their sector, businesses often need professional images – and many prefer to hire local photographers.
Networking with other photographers is also a great way to get some social support. If they are especially successful, they might even pass on clients they can’t fit into their schedule.
Maintain your social networks
The more people know about your business, the better. Don’t bore people by talking about your photography at every opportunity, but make sure your family, friends, and acquaintances know that you are a professional photographer looking to grow your business.
Don’t be shy; if you have done the necessary work and reached a professional standard, you have every right to be proud of yourself. The more people know about you, the more likely you are to get both direct bookings and referrals.
Overhaul your online portfolio
Nowadays, people review products and services before making a purchase. A polished online portfolio is crucial for any photographer looking to impress prospective clients. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a website.
Make sure your business card shows off your work
Pick a couple of strong images that look great at a small size, and have them printed on the back of your business cards. You will create a good first impression, and it serves as immediate proof of your skill.
Be generous. Give them out to anyone who expresses an interest in your work, even if they aren’t looking for a photographer in the foreseeable future. If your business card is beautiful, they will hesitate to throw it away. Instead, they will probably keep it lying around. When they need some photos taken, they will reach for your contact details.
Ask for testimonials
People are more inclined to use a product or service if it has positive reviews. Get in touch with previous clients and ask them for a short testimonial. Collect several quotes and position them strategically on your website.
It’s a good idea to keep a paper trail when compiling and publishing reviews. Always send a copy of a review to a client for approval before posting it online.
Form strategic partnerships
Consider teaming up with other businesses. A good partnership can mean extra publicity for both of you. For example, if you know a hairdresser who specializes in bridal styles, you could suggest that you photograph their work for their website. In return, they could place your brochure on their front desk and recommend you to any brides who need a photographer.
Self-promotion is an art form
Confident, outgoing people are at an advantage when it comes to landing clients. However, even introverts can learn to network with prospective leads. Putting yourself in front of potential clients can be a daunting endeavor at first, but it gets easier with practice. Follow these 10 tips, and you will soon build a strong reputation as a professional – and popular – photographer.