Updated: Jan 14
Did you know successful businesses are 90% effective marketing and 10% about the actual product? Think about how many crazy businesses have become globally famous in a short amount of time as a result of strategic and creative marketing; Loom Bands, Fidget Spinners, and so forth.
Everyone thinks they are a photographer these days - the amount of people I’ve heard say 'don't worry, we don't need a wedding photographer, my cousin has the new iPhone to take pictures on the day!'. No, no, no! This is NOT the clientele you want anyway, don't worry.
You are the only photographer with your chosen style, creativeness - use that to your benefit!
Marketing is a minefield if it’s not something you’ve dived into before - your photographs might be the best ones in the entire world - but its getting them past your friends on facebook that’s important. So where do you start?
Do you already have your foundations in photography laid out? Do you know your target market? Do you know your style of photography and what you wish to continue pursuing (even if its a few genres, you know what you love)? Do you have a professional and cohesive website ready to share with the world?
If not, your first step is definitely to produce a website and social media presence. This will be your entire digital storefront, which you need to successfully compete in today’s market. Clients will be able to build trust with you instantly just from what they can see online, and by seeing what other customers have to say, and getting to know more about you as an artist and a bit about you as a person.
I’m planning on writing an informative blog at some point, but to create a successful website, the key features you need to master are to:
- Choose a great selection of eye grabbing photos, which either differentiate you as a photographer, showcase your style of photography, or engage the viewer in some way (i.e; emotional, evocative images, or eye catching scenery).
- Have an ‘About You’ page - this is important for being able to show a little bit about you, really introduce the viewers to who you are as a person - are you shy? Funny? Outgoing? Clumsy (definitely me!) - let your audience relate to you as a person, they may book you based off this personal insight. Tell your audience why you love the job you do! Why have you chosen photography? What is it about photography that ignites your passion? The more you tell them about why you genuinely love your job, the more inclined they are likely to be to book with you.
- A simple, creative, and efficient working website. Make it all flow together page by page, but still let your images speak for themselves. Don’t go too crazy with buttons, or little sliding banners, these can slow your website down and there’s nothing worse than waiting for a page to load up, and quite often your potential clients will end up looking elsewhere after a couple of seconds of waiting.
- Make sure you have your number or contact details on the footer of your website, and also include a ‘Contact me’ or ‘Write an enquiry here’ button - there’s nothing quite as frustrating as those companies that you love the work of and can never get in contact with.
- A basic website to start with is better than none, however down the line when sales pick up, make sure you look into getting a custom made website by a professional web-designer - their professional expertise will build traffic to your site and increase your views and customers by writing up the perfect SEO for optimisation on Google, organically bringing you in customers regularly without you lifting a finger.
Social Media is your best friend in any business - especially in any creative Industry, your work needs to be seen. The two biggest bases for getting your photography seen are currently facebook and instagram, however the recent likes of Tiktok are coming to the surface with photographers going viral in singular posts overnight - it just takes that one video to be seen.
I'm soon going to be doing some full blog's particularly aimed just for how to manage your social media's, from how to creatively showing off your work, scheduling your time, and the best time to post for maximum engagement rates.
Get a nice base for your photography online through Facebook - start off by posting on your personal account, and once you’re getting a decent response rate on your own profile, switch over to a business account. Invite all your friends (who were interested in your personal one first) and start building an engaged, active and fun audience to keep an eye on your work. Once you’ve successfully held this for a few months, and you have a good few months’ of images on your account, look into doing your first competition! Of course they have to share, invite friends, and like - organically growing your audience and views.
However, bear in mind sometimes competitions aren’t the best way forward - everyone just loves freebies and sometimes it can attract the wrong kind of clients. It’s a great way of building engagement, views, and likes, but try to keep a competition to 3 times or so a year.
Instagram is turning into a minefield, the algorithm is constantly changing to be viewed by your audience, new features are being added as soon as you get used to the last (IGTV, Stories, Reels and many more plans for the future), similar to Facebook you really need to keep a presence up online. Instagram is all about how you look on ’the grid’ - you need to stand out and have a consistent online social media grid in order to show any potential clients that you have consistency, a style, genre, and creative flare for photography. I’m going to be touching on a blog soon completely aimed at social media on instagram, all the must have apps, and how to make yourself stand out from a crowd of overwhelming amounts of photographers on instagram.
Hashtags are also such an important aspect of instagram, as much as it's great googling 'top photography hashtags to use for likes', its more important to be using hashtags which carefully select your targeted audience that will search for your work down the line. If you're a wedding photographer in Birmingham, you need to be looking at hashtags such as '#WestMidlandsWeddingPhotographer #WeddingPhotographerBirmingham' by doing so, you will carefully select your audience of those who are on the look out for wedding photographers in your area. You can hashtag your style of images such as 'Boho, Natural Lighting, Dramatic', once again customers who are on the lookout for a particular style of imagery may just happen to stumble across your work by choosing wording specific to your target market.
When using Instagram it's also important to use engaging and fun descriptions, although your image is the first thing that captures the reader, 35% of viewers will go on to read captions. If you're sharing a newborn image, tell us how amazing that newborn was - did they give you a cheeky smile during the session? Throw up milk all down your top? Sleep all the way through? Have a gorgeous head of hair? Tell all your viewers why you loved doing this session so much.
Relationships With Other Professionals In Similar Fields
You can never have enough contacts!
So you've just photographed your first wedding? Make sure you get the Make-Up Artists, Videographers, Cake Makers, and of course Venues details, and tag them in every picture you can! This way you build a great community and they'll be able to recommend you to others, maybe share your work on their own socials for other people who have booked with that professional for their special day and are looking for a photographer still. There's many other professionals I've ended up getting along great with during weddings, who have later recommended me to their own clients too! Once you build upon relationships, you can even start up referrals with other's companies; such as venues recommending you for a 5% cut of your photography wedding fee - though it will cost a share of your own fee, it will have saved you on marketing and advertising and lead to booking couples who have been recommended to you!
Word Of Mouth
The best way forward!
Once you have a consistent flow of clients through such ways as above, there is no better feeling than taking a booking of a client through word of mouth - I mean what's better than doing such a great job for someone, that they recommend you to someone else? Many photographers will also have a 'refer a friend' scheme, in which both friends can receive 10% or so off a shoot for being recommended and taking a booking. I have personally booked such a large majority of orders through word of mouth, there's no better feeling than knowing someone was so happy with your work that they have decided to shout you out to a friend.
Model Call Outs & Portfolio Building
Don't be afraid of doing the odd bit of work for free.
College and University definitely helped me with building a successful and strong portfolio - however you can totally do this in your spare time while being in a full time job, it's never too late to build a strong and creative portfolio. Once I knew my photographic direction, I was able to expand my portfolio by either holding model call outs to obtain the shoots I had in mind - whether it was newborn call out's, sitter sessions, or doing documentary photography projects with Farmers, there is always a way to build a successful portfolio.
When studying documentary photography at University, I really had in my mind I wanted to document the life of firefighters - I wrote to every single local firefighter station in the hope they would help me photograph the day in a life of a firefighter. 7 out of 10 that I wrote to said they would be honoured to have me shadow them in return for seeing some images. Even if you're scared to send an email for fear of rejection, there is no harm in trying. You are competing with so many other photographers, you need to do everything you can to make your portfolio stand out that little bit more - easier said than done in current circumstances (but there's always an answer!)
So I hope my first ever blog has slightly helped at least one person interested in photography/marketing/any creative field. I'm definitely not perfect myself and there is so much I still need to work on - hence writing a blog 7 years after starting out. However if you want to stand out from the crowd - make yourself as marketable as possible. Be creative, have fun, enjoy what you do, create blogs, do an effective social media strategy - and never give up.