You can be the most talented photographer in your niche and location, but that doesn’t matter if potential clients don’t know who you are. So, how do you spread awareness of your photography business, keep up with competition, and get people to hire you?
Our list of 25 marketing tips for photographers will help you market your business successfully, using the latest technology and strategies!
What exactly is Marketing? Why is it important to your photography business?
Marketing is the communication to a specific group of potential clients, to increase awareness of your business and lead to sales. To market successfully you must:
- use the right language to communicate with your audience
- know your target market (who you want to connect with)
- establish an effective communication style
- know who you are, the type of photography you do, and how to express that
- know what makes you unique compared to your competition
Marketing will be more effective once you understand communication styles, have a defined target audience, know your brand, and have strong self-awareness.
Before you work through the marketing tips below, answer the following questions:
- Who am I (as a photographer)?
- What makes me different from the rest?
- Who is my ideal target market?
- What is the message they want to hear?
- What is the best way to communicate it to them?
In marketing, there are two main goals – brand awareness and lead generation. Great marketing will achieve both. In the earlier stages of business growth, lead generation is usually more important as you need clients to start booking photoshoots to cover outgoings. Once the photography business is established and you’re booking photoshoots steadily, you can shift to a brand awareness style campaign to keep your business top-of-mind in the target market.
25 tips to market and grow a successful photography business
1. Use SEO to rank high in Internet Search results
SEO is an important part of digital marketing for photography businesses.
Gone are the days when people reach for the yellow pages to search for a business. Most grab their smartphone, tablet or laptop and type or speak to Google to find what they’re looking for. The Search Engine Journal stated “93% of online experiences begin with a search engine”. It is therefore crucial to incorporate Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) into your restaurant or cafe marketing plan.
Ideally, your business will be #1 in Google searches for the keywords being used by your potential clients, or at least appear on the first page. This makes it easier for clients to find you, and enables your business to be more profitable without huge advertising bills or stress. Most photographers only work within a set area, so use a local SEO strategy to drive more business to your website. SEO can be done in-house, or you can pay a professional that specialises in the field.
If you want to keep your overheads down and have complete control over the SEO marketing for your photography business, start by reading SEO for Photographers: Search Engine Optimization for Photography Websites by Georgie Hope. This eBook focuses specifically on photographers who want their business to be found by people in their local area. It gives you everything you need to rank a photography website in Google and other search engines. And, it’s written in plain, easy to understand English, so even a complete novice can implement the strategies successfully!
2. Create a Google My Business page
Google is the largest and most popular search engine.
When looking for a photographer, most people search the internet to shortlist businesses. Most photographers include geographical location as part of their ideal target market, because the potential client is in close proximity to their business location. This is why listing on GMB is so important.
Google My Business (GMB) should be a key online marketing strategy for your business. It allows you to:
- Add images, to increase your visibility online and help with your brand identity
- Encourage potential clients to contact you
- Obtain more leads for your business by increasing your online exposure
- Engage with potential clients
- Attract more clients with special offers
Create your FREE Google Business page and ensure you complete all the details for your profile. Keep the business name, address and phone number consistent across all online listings and your website. Also, make sure you select the correct category for your business, so you appear in relevant searches. Your business description will help you stand out from your competitors, so it is worth spending some time on this. Add relevant and enticing photos. Finally, ask previous and current clients to leave a positive review for your business.
Aim to get as many good reviews as possible. Two-thirds of people say they trust consumer opinions posted online. It is the third most trusted form of advertising. [Nielson]
3. Automate Social Media posts
Clients can’t hire you if they haven’t found you, so being visible online is vital for successful photography businesses. You need to maintain an online presence where your target market is.
With photography businesses in particular, social media is an ideal marketing platform. It’s FREE and can have a huge impact on getting you more clients. Some of the best platforms for photographer businesses are Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. You need to research where your specific audience is, and focus on the platforms you’re best at using.
Use the following suggestions to make your social media presence a successful marketing tool for your photography business:
- As your business is all about photos, focus on image-based platforms like Instagram
- Publish varied content, i.e. highlights from previous photoshoots, snippets from blog posts that re-direct the reader to your website, and behind-the-scenes stories and videos to give the viewer an idea of what to expect when booking with you
- Repost content created by customers and work with influencers
- Respond quickly to comments and messages
- Interact with local businesses and potential customers
- Always link back to your website from social media pages (these are called backlinks and help with SEO)
- If you use Pinterest, Pin directly from your website to Pinterest – when somebody clicks on the Pin, it takes them to your website.
A new social site making waves is TikTok, which is also worth checking out, even if you just share posts back to Instagram via Reels.
Posting regularly on your social sites is time consuming, especially when you have many channels to post to. It’s worth utilising a website that lets you upload content to many sites with one click, and schedule posts for future dates and times. This will create a steady stream of fresh content on your social media, keeping your followers happy, and most importantly streamlining the amount of time it takes to create marketing content. Try Hootsuite or IFTTT.
4. Website Design and the importance of Speed
Your website design should display the specific services provided by your business and have your contact information clearly visible. Potential clients must feel a connection with your business when browsing through your website, as this makes them more likely to contact you and make a booking. Ideally the business website will also perform well via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), as we discussed in step 1.
Another great photographer marketing strategy is having a professional photography portfolio on your website. The portfolio will show potential clients that you have the right skills and style for them to feel comfortable booking a photoshoot with your business.
Here are some key marketing suggestions for a photography website:
- Your website is the virtual storefront for your business; make sure the website design looks professional, as this reflects on your business image
- Make sure you have a services or product page for specific shoots or products offered (e.g. wedding, newborn, pregnancy, real estate, food)
- Showcase your best photographs so clients can see your skill
- Make it easy for the potential client to contact you – have a phone number, email and address visible, plus a contact form
- Update the website regularly with fresh content, latest shoots, etc
- Always direct potential clients to your website from all other platforms (it’s the one platform you have complete control over)
- Make sure your website is able to be viewed on mobile devices
- You are likely to have a lot of high-quality images in your portfolio, so compress them to ensure no lag time
Don’t underestimate the importance of speed, especially with a photographic portfolio website. Potential clients don’t have the patience or time to wait as each page of your website loads, so your website needs to load fast if you want people to book. Here are some tips to increase speed and optimise your photography website:
- Compress images to reduce bandwidth and space required (but don’t alter quality)
- Convert raw files to JPGs
- Select the image size required (larger images will hinder website loading speed)
- Embed YouTube videos
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to provide fast delivery of content (by using geographically distributed groups of servers)
4. Promotional giveaways
Giving away a photoshoot can be a very effective way to generate leads and create awareness of your business.
Use social media platforms to drive leads back to your website, where clients need to enter their information to be in the draw for their chance to win. Posts are easily liked and shared on social media pages, and with enough momentum, your promotion could go viral and create thousands of leads for your business.
For an even bigger promotion that has a wider reach, team up with other businesses in the same industry. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, team up with a wedding venue, hair and makeup artist, wedding dress and suit hire company, florist, etc, so the winner of the promotion wins their entire wedding from the businesses taking part.
5. Blog to your website regularly
Blogging is a brilliant way to show off your uniqueness and express your brand’s personality. Your viewers get to know you as well as your business. You have the opportunity to engage with them honestly and intimately. Ideally, your blog content will do well in Google searches and convert the blog audience into new clients.
The content of the blog is important. You can maximise your online presence by posting relevant content that your potential clients are searching for. Tweak the blog content to work towards higher Google rankings and more organic traffic.
Here are some suggestions to improve your blog:
- Share stories of exciting and interesting photography projects you have worked on – what made it memorable?
- Share location-specific blogs for when people are looking for a special place for their photoshoot (weddings, engagements, pregnancy, new baby, family shoots, etc, all want the perfect location)
- Give your audience an idea of how their photoshoot might go, including some different options based on seasons/weather
- Discuss items that need to be taken into consideration when attending a photoshoot (Which poses, positions, props, clothing, locations? Will weather be an issue? Why it is important to have a plan B?)
- If you are photographing people, discuss clothing ideas, colours that will work well against different backgrounds, props that may be required, etc
- Offer tips and tricks to create relationships with people who want to learn from your expert knowledge (i.e. advice on what gear to use, photography principles like lighting and angles, etc.)
- Deliver content that your readers are interested in – write for the customer, not for the sale
- Use your well-researched SEO keywords throughout blog posts to improve your organic Google search result rankings (as discussed in tip #1)
6. Business cards are powerful
Don’t underestimate the power of a business card or brochure. Hand out as many as you can. When you finish a shoot with a client, make sure they have some of your business cards in their photographic package to hand out to family and friends. A lot of future business will come from word of mouth, and it is a lot easier when all of your information can be handed to someone on a business card.
Your business card or brochure is the mini introduction of you and your business to potential clients. You’re a photographer, so use one of your best images as the background on the front, and use the reverse of the card for the rest of the information.
7. Create photo slideshows and professional videos
If the old saying is ‘a photo is worth a thousand words’, a video must be worth a million.
90% of customers say a video will help them make buying decisions, and 64% of customers say seeing a video will make them more likely to buy. [Forbes]
Slideshow videos are a great way to display the highlights of a recent photoshoot. Pick 10-15 images and create a 30 second slideshow video which loops. This video should be saved to your website, but should also be shared to your social media platforms. Make sure to add an engaging caption that tells a story about the slideshow. Some popular tools to create great images and slideshows are Lightroom, Adobe Spark and Animoto.
Video is another media form to utilise in marketing:
- Create a behind the scenes video by having someone take video footage of you working through a shoot
- Create an educational video sharing your expertise on how to photograph a specific theme (e.g. sunsets, birds)
- Create a video blog to give your viewers the chance to see and hear you, and connect with you
8. Create a YouTube channel
It’s definitely worth having a YouTube channel for your photography business. YouTube is the second most visited website in the world after Google [Alexa Internet rankings].
Make sure you link back to your website from your YouTube channel so people can easily find you and get in contact with you. Share links to your YouTube videos on social media, and embed them on your website. You can also break your videos into smaller snippets for your other social media channels, and even consider trialling newer mediums like TikTok and Instagram’s IGTV.
You can post the videos you have already created for your website, but try to make some content specifically for YouTube, like vlogs and tutorials.
9. Build your email list and send newsletters regularly
Part of your photography marketing strategy should be emailing past and potential clients regularly.
You put in a lot of effort to get contact information from potential clients, even if this is just a first name and email address. Don’t waste that information. When they first made contact with you they may not have quite been ready to make a booking for a photography shoot. Keep that connection with them by communicating via email, and when they’re ready, your business will be one of the first to come to mind.
When email marketing, services like Mailchimp make the process easy and save time. You can even schedule emails and set up automations based on different types of customers.
Remember to keep your mailing list happy so they don’t unsubscribe. So they don’t lose interest, you might include:
- Personalised anniversary emails – if you photograph weddings, engagements, anniversaries, pregnancies or babies, make a note of the important date for that client. Send an email wishing them “Happy Anniversary”, “Happy Birthday Charlie”, etc.
- Special Occasion emails – send an Easter and Christmas email to everyone on your email list, updating them of any office closure times over the holidays, and include a special holiday gift to them, such as “10% off your next photoshoot if booked before …”
- Monthly Wrap-up email – send to all past, present, future and potential clients. Include a summary of the month – the amazing people you met, the photoshoots you did, where you travelled to, and any important personal or professional updates.
10. Ask for referrals from your past clients
Marketing is continually evolving but one constant always remains – just how powerful word of mouth referrals are! The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. 83% of people say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. [Nielson]
Get your past clients to recruit for your photography business. You never know who may have a friend about to get married who needs a photographer. If you make sure your past clients had a great experience with you, and have stayed front-of-mind through marketing, they should recommend you.
You can reward your past client by giving them a referral bonus (free print, free digital image, or a discount for a future shoot) and offer the new client a similar offer if they let you know they were referred on by a past client. That’s a WIN-WIN-WIN situation. You have a new booking, the past client receives something for their effort, and the new client receives something for booking with you!
11. Keep your online portfolio updated
It’s important to keep your online portfolio up-to-date and current. You don’t want your photography business to appear stale or outdated.
Some ideas to keep your website and online portfolio interesting:
- Rotate photographs each month on your website pages, banners and page headers
- Add new content to your online gallery regularly (at least monthly)
- Create new slideshows of your latest photoshoots
- Have a dedicated “Shot of the week” page where you pick one favourite recent photograph to celebrate and highlight
12. Title all photographs with relevant file names
Why does it matter what the photograph is named?
Offline it may make sense to keep the digital image’s original file name, as this is easy to reference and shows the order of the shoot.
But online, photographs should be renamed to include subject, location and any other relevant information (e.g. Chicago Summer Wedding Bride and Groom, Brisbane Highschool Graduation Beach Swim, Nashville Country Baby Shower, real estate photography Sydney). The photograph names also appear in internet search results, so someone specifically looking to get married in New Hampshire might type New Hampshire wedding in Spring into Google.
It takes longer to rename photographs before uploading them to your website, but it is definitely worth that extra bit of effort!
13. Network with other professionals in your industry
Whatever niche your photography business is in, receiving recommendations from other professionals within that industry can give your business a constant source of leads.
- A wedding photographer may network with florists, hair and make-up artists, wedding venues, wedding planners, formal dress brands
- A food photographer may network with restaurants, chefs, farmers and growers, critique writers, newspapers
- A pregnancy or newborn photographer may network with hospitals, midwives, post-birth groups, baby shops, clothing shops
- A real estate photographer may network with builders, real estate agents, local councils
Join social media groups relevant to your industry (search for groups and pages to join on Facebook). Recommend businesses within your network and they will recommend your business in return. Also, create a LinkedIn account to connect and network with other businesses.
14. Enter photography contests
Winning awards and being featured are great publicity methods that can increase discoverability and lend credibility to your business.
While awards and features alone won’t lead directly to bookings, they increase the trust a potential client has in your abilities as a photographer. They can also help your SEO backlinks if the award is shared online.
Look into awards and competitions on both large and small scales that may be relevant to you. Whether that’s the stamp of approval by a local magazine, or a prestigious global award.
15. List in photographer directories and/or directories relevant to your industry
Online directories are designed to connect your business with clients looking for your services. There are thousands of business directories, so it’s important to find the right match for your business and niche.
With a photography business, you should feature your best imagery on all free website directories related to your niche market. You can also ask your clients to review your business on the directories, which will help build your online reputation and marketing efforts.
These directories will be different in every area, so do your research to find as many as you can to get your name in. Once you’re signed up, you need to fill out the information properly:
- Your address
- All contact details (make it easy for people to contact you, with many options)
- Your website (to create a backlink)
- Your social media platforms
- A short bio with a hook and call to action
16. Define your niche
Most photographers specialise in a certain area, whether that’s photographing events, fashion and brands, selling landscape prints, or stock photos. Within these niches, your target audience and skillset can be defined even further.
- What is my greatest skill as a photographer?
- What do I enjoy photographing the most?
- Who do I want to work with?
- What work hours am I comfortable with?
- What are my resources?
- What sets me apart from competitors?
- What offerings will be most profitable?
From here, define your business and ideal client as specifically as possible. This will greatly help with your marketing, as you’ll always be clear on who you are, what you want, what your target wants, and how to communicate with them.
17. Community involvement – how can you give back?
Any business that’s involved in its local community will win loyal customers, because you’re showing that you’re loyal, too.
Giving back can come in many forms. Here are some ideas:
- Donate to silent auctions (prints or sessions)
- Offer to photograph small community events discounted or for free
- Offer discounts to those in need
- Be responsible environmentally and ethically
- Help new businesses or charities by taking photos for their websites
- Teach free smartphone photography classes to disadvantaged people
Also think of causes you’re passionate about in your area that you would like to become involved with personally. Even if you’re not volunteering as a photographer, it’s still a great way to meet like-minded people who could become clients.
18. Invest in Facebook Ads
Although it’s great if you can get your social media working for you organically, sometimes you need that extra push.
It’s widely accepted now that most social media platforms won’t show your posts unless you put money behind them (especially if you’re a business page). This means you may have to spend some money to bring in the audience you’re looking for.
Facebook ads can take quite some time to test before you start seeing many conversions, but it’s worthwhile if you have the budget. The great thing about Facebook ads is they can be targeted so specifically that you can reach the exact customer you want, just at the right time.
Here are some tips for giving your ads the best chance:
- Use enticing, relevant images that capture the audience’s attention
- Select a specific target audience for each ad, and cater the ad directly to them
- When creating an ad, Facebook will give you options for the outcome you want (leads, clicks, engagement, etc) – choose carefully based on what your goal is for the campaign, and curate the ad with the goal in mind
- Focus on the client – what do they want, and what can you offer them so they can get it?
- Finish with a call to action that leads them to do what you want them to (i.e. book now!)
- You can even choose to target ads to people who have already visited your website, as a reminder
19. Attend Photography conferences
Particularly if you work alone, conferences and events for your industry are a great way to meet people and network – you never know who knows who!
Here are some benefits of photography conferences:
- Being an attendee shows people you’re serious about your job
- You’ll meet people with new opportunities
- You’ll learn more about your industry and see how others are running their businesses
- You’ll be able to upskill by attending training sessions and talks
Research conferences in your area, but don’t be afraid to travel to some if you have the means. Hopefully, you’ll leave feeling inspired and invigorated after immersing yourself in your industry! There are also conferences for different photography niches, so pick the ones that are relevant to you. To learn more, however, you may choose to attend a conference outside your niche so you can meet people who might need your skills, or learn something different to apply to your own work.
20. Go above and beyond to get positive feedback and referrals
For many businesses, reviews are everything. This is especially true for photographers.
Here are some ways to ensure your clients will not only leave reviews of you online, but tell everyone about you:
- Make a personal connection with them – don’t just be someone behind the camera, talk to and get to know every client
- Surprise them by throwing in bonuses and freebies
- Send a follow-up or reminder message to leave a review
- Listen to your client’s needs and communicate effectively
- Keep the turnaround time short so they get their photos quickly (and can review you faster)
21. Offer photo albums
In our world of instant gratification, customers expect to be offered many options for their photos. They want everything in the easiest, cheapest way possible.
But this doesn’t have to mean you need to struggle to stay current. In fact, it gives you an opportunity to create more income by increasing your offerings. Photo albums in digital or print format are a great place to start, but you could also talk to a local printing company about getting more creative offerings like calendars, mugs, t-shirts, etc. featuring your client’s photos.
22. Use user-generated content with Instagram
By building your Instagram community, you’re creating an exciting way for your customers to share. User-generated content is a fantastic tap of community content to use – and it’s free! Your clients are already likely to post the photos you create for them, so make sure they follow you and tag you when they do.
First, you have to make sure your work is ‘insta-worthy’ and aesthetic. Use hashtags like #picoftheday #photogram and #photographyeveryday to get your posts more exposure in the right markets, then create a hashtag of your own (usually #’yourbrandname’) for people to use when posting photos of yours. After a while searching through the generic hashtags, you should find ones more specific to your niche. Specific hashtags are often better to use, since there’s less competition and the viewers will be more targeted.
Fans also love when you re-share their posts to your page. You should aim to like and comment on as many posts as possible that mention you (either with a tag or your hashtag) and share a few of the best each week. This encourages people to share more from you, in the hopes of a reward!
And, have an Instagram widget on your website, so people can see your feed in real-time and be encouraged to interact with you.
23. Work with the press
Make it not only easy, but valuable, for press to share news about your photography business. As a photographer, you’re likely to be shooting some exciting events and have very interesting stories to tell, so leverage these in your marketing strategy.
Use these tips to start connecting with press:
- Post regular press releases on your website
- Connect with local journalists
- Re-share any news stories about you to your website and social media (rewarding the media site with a backlink/share)
- Create news by doing interesting things in your community and business
24. Google Ads
Google is the first search engine most people will use to find anything. So when they’re looking for the perfect photographer to meet their needs, you need to make sure you show up. Organic SEO can work really well for this, but Google Ads give you an extra push to make sure you show up for the right keywords in customer searches.
Here are some tips to get your Google ads performing at their best:
- Evaluate your website: is it easy to navigate and does it load quickly? If not, you’ll be wasting money sending traffic to a website that doesn’t convert
- Use Google Keyword Planner to select the best keywords for your ads and get in front of the right audience
- Place different keywords under different ad groups, for ads that cover two offerings
- Consider the value you offer to potential customers and use this to motivate them to take action (click). What do they need that you can give them?
- Use Google Analytics to see how your audience interacts with your ads and use this information to improve future campaigns
25. Showcase photos on photo sharing sites
Sharing your photos online is a great way to gain exposure. Although there’s some controversy around whether or not sharing photos for free is a good business idea, you should try it out and see for yourself. It works great for some, but is a waste of time for others. It’s up to you to research and test.
Try these websites:
There is always a risk of your work being stolen when it’s posted online, but the benefits in this case often outweigh it. You’ll be creating backlinks for yourself and increasing the chances of someone loving your work and asking to purchase something of yours.
There it is!
We hope you found our 25 tips for photographer marketing helpful.
For a detailed plan on using SEO to drive traffic to your website, don’t miss our new book SEO for Photographers, available on Amazon.