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When working professionally as a photographer, taking the photos can seem like the easiest part of the process. It’s the business side of things that photographers often find difficult. Being able to market your services to attract customers is an absolutely key part part of any business. the process is no different from professional and freelance photographers, so here are a few key ways in which to reach out to the vast number of potential clients.
When most people think about marketing, taking out ads would be one of their first considerations. However, most photographers I know seem reluctant to take out ads, as its hard to justify the cost, even though it’s a very good way of getting your name out there.
If you’ve already got a Facebook page up and running, you could try experimenting with the small costs of sponsored updates for which you can see stats and will be able to quantify whether you get any new enquiries.
You could also take out ads in print in local arts publications or newspapers, and it’s worth thinking about Google ads in order to ensure that when people are searching for you, they can find you on Google.
One of the key parts of marketing is reaching out to people on a level that they use, know and feel comfortable with and at the moment. The most vastly used examples of this would be Facebook and Twitter. I'll concentrate on Facebook, but the ideas generally apply to both.
I would recommend building a profile specifically for your photography work. This allows you to have a presence that keeps people informed about your work without the interruption of personal updates. Be sure to include examples of your work in the image galleries and to regularly post images of the jobs that you’ve been working on to give your followers an impression of the type of work you do and what your capabilities are.
Once you’ve built profiles on Facebook and Twitter, make sure you use them. Be sure to have updates and links regarding the work that you’re doing, but also interact with other photographers, photography blogs, magazines, galleries, and local businesses. Twitter is one of the best ways to reach out to people that you would have otherwise never come across, so don’t be shy. Get out there and use the tools available to you!
It’s essential that you have a website that showcases the best of your work. It doesn’t need to be an extensive catalogue of all your images over the years, if anything, it needs to be a simple site that shows a balanced selection of your imagery.
With the addition of your contact details and links to other sites such as social network profiles, you’ve got yourself a platform which can act as the first port of call for potential clients. They’ll be able to search for you themselves, without needing any initial interaction.
I find that keeping a blog works very well alongside my website, as it allows me to build a feed of the images and current projects that I’m working on. This works in contrast to the ‘best of’ selection in the portfolio sections of the site.
In a similar way to updating my social networks, blogging the latest photographs that I’ve taken will give a good impression to potential clients of the type of work that I can do. However on my blog, I’m able to present the images in a far more satisfying way!
Testimonials are a great way to hook new clients. For the most part, previous clients will make recommendations on their own terms, you can still take advantage of the power of personal recommendations by having a selection of testimonials on your website.
We are all now accustomed to looking for online reviews of products and services. So, once you’ve delivered work to a client, simply ask whether they can provide a few sentences regarding their experience or working with you.
Hopefully, some of them will be glowing reports from very satisfied customers that you can post on your site for potential future clients to read. This will reassure potential new customers that they're making a good decision.
You may also find that some of these offer constructive criticism and allow you to make positive changes for future clients.
Over the years, I have found that nothing makes a stronger impression than meeting someone in person. Attend exhibit launches, photography events and meet ups, as well as visiting new businesses. Take the time to introduce yourself.
Undoubtedly one of the first questions that you’ll be asked is, "what do you do?" This gives you a great opportunity to explain that you’re a photographer, hand over a business card and offer your services!
When out with other photographers, look to build up relationships, you may think at first that you’re all in competition with each other, and to a certain extent you are, but there’s a great value in the support network of other local photographers who may end up passing work to you if they're booked up!
Exhibit Your Work
This could turn out to be one of the more expensive marketing options, but from experience, I’ve found that exhibiting your work gives you a certain amount of status as a photographer that is otherwise hard to achieve.
Exhibitions build your name and profile and attract people towards your work, which will hopefully lead to future commissions. It doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re selling the prints. You just need to find the right space to exhibit. Ask local art centers or small galleries whether they would consider working with you.
You then need to curate a body of work that has a unified theme to display. It gives you the chance to invite friends, family, local photographers, magazines and blogs and gives you the best reason to publicly declare yourself a photographer!
Online Arts Profiles
As well as having a presence online through your own site and social networks, there are a number of other art profile sites such as Behance, 500px and Flickr. On these sites, you can host your work and interact with other artists.
These prove most useful when you spend time using them and interacting with other creatives. You'll not only make new friends, but also pick up advice, finding new work opportunities and get ideas for shoots.
I’ve written before about why its so useful to enter competitions and it may seem an odd marketing strategy, but marketing your work is about getting it seen and generating new opportunities. Entering competitions ticks those boxes.
Pick the contests that you enter wisely, ensuring that your style or subject matter is relevant to the theme, and don’t spend more than you’re comfortable with spending. Remember that more often than not, your work will be viewed by a panel of industry experts, and even if you don’t win the competition, making those connections can lead to future opportunities.
Putting All of It into Practice
Hopefully there are some marketing tips here that will prove useful at every stage of your photography career. For some, the business side of photography comes far easier than for others. If something doesn't feel completely natural, work to find a tool that you feel comfortable using and get started on building a name for yourself. Once you get to a certain point, you'll then feel ready to branch out and start building your profile in other areas and through other means.