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How To Get Photography Clients

How To Get Photography Clients

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How To Get Photography Clients

Each frame tells a story, and every click of the camera freezes a moment in time. However, it is the bridge between the artistry of your endeavor and the entrepreneurship of it all, where things may become a bit pixelated. 

When getting photography clients, it really is all about your passion meeting practicality. You need to learn how to navigate a labyrinth of strategies to attract and enchant potential clients. So, sit back, focus your lens, and learn how I cultivated a flourishing photography business. 

Starting out as a new photographer, there’s one thing you shouldn’t underestimate—the importance of a fresh influx of clients. The photography industry has declined in the United States, but despite that, it still brings in around $13.2 billion annually as of 2023. 

If you want your piece of the pie in an already saturated and declining market, you’ll need to stay active and market yourself consistently. There’s still room for you to thrive, but you have to keep an eye on your customer base, repeat business, and openings for new clients.

How do you get these clients? There are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you get started. 

Related: Guide to starting a photography business

Understanding the Market

The first step of running any new business is performing your market analysis. You should look at what other photographers are doing. Where are they finding their business? Are they partnering with sports teams, working with school districts, or sending out local fliers for specific event-based photography opportunities? 

Once you see what the competition is doing, think about the target audience you want to reach and which of those techniques could help you swoop in to grab some much-needed business.

While you do that, don’t forget to figure out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). If you have something that helps you stand out, you’re more likely to get customers. So, whether you have a studio with hundreds of props or you are offering a type of photography work that hasn’t been available locally, make sure you stand out in your marketing materials. 

Building a Strong Brand Presence

The next step to help you make the most of your new role is establishing your online presence. If people can’t find you online, you’re bound to miss a large number of potential clients. 

I learned this firsthand with my company. I started with a Groupon sale to get attention, but I only had a Facebook page. People without Facebook couldn’t see much about me, and there was no real way to have a professional portfolio there. Frankly, it wasn’t professional to go without a website, so don’t make the same mistake I did.

Related: Common mistakes made by new photographers

Then, once you decide on a website, choose a couple of social media platforms that have the audience you want. For example, TikTok skews toward younger audiences, while Facebook tends to skew older

Across all these brand pages, ensure your image is consistent. Get a good logo, use the same colors, and create a set of branding guidelines with your marketing strategy to keep yourself consistent as your company grows. 

Developing a Compelling Portfolio

Your portfolio is a look into what you’ll produce for your clients. Without one, no one knows what they’ll get. With one, they have expectations based on the quality and consistency of your images. 

It’s a good idea to show diverse work within your niche. If you take portraits, for example, don’t be afraid to show photos of people from different cultures or in varied lighting. You want to show that you are capable regardless of the differences between subjects. 

At the bottom of your portfolio page on your website, consider adding special testimonials and highlights. Or, add personalized stories to each section of your portfolio to showcase your clients’ reactions to the results. 

Whatever you choose to do, the key is consistency. So, create a beautiful portfolio that is easy to review and that showcases the best work you’ve done.

Effective Marketing Strategies

I’ve been working as a photographer for a long time, but what has made the biggest impact on me has been working in social media marketing. Knowing how to reach an audience has made all the difference.

I believe the power of content marketing cannot be overstated. In your local area, you might have access to thousands of potential clients, but online? There are millions. 

It’s smart to keep a blog and to write content about photography regularly. Video content is great if you have the time (and if you want to offer videography as an additional service, it’s a great way to highlight this skill).

Once you have this content, you can turn to social media to share it. I suggest looking at a few different platforms to see which ones you prefer, but some key options include Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Show behind-the-scenes footage (with client permission), your camera set-up, how you work in post-production, and other interesting details about your work to be more transparent and open with your audience.

And, speaking of your audience, don’t forget to use hashtags to reach them. Try Hashtagify or other hashtag research tools to make the most of each post.

On top of these marketing strategies, you can also start an email list. Even if you only send out a monthly newsletter, doing so will help you retain customers. You can set up a newsletter subscription sign-up form on your website. 

Networking and Collaboration

Personally, I attended only a few photography events when I started my business. I didn’t need the connections because I happened to stumble into my role during a particularly busy time of the year. 

That being said, I did work with other industry professionals from time to time. I often worked with models and exchanged my services for theirs, gaining vital work for my portfolio at little to no cost to myself. 

I also did free photography for a business or two in my local area. Combined with a background in graphic design, it was easy to create simple ads or help with banners. And, as a trade, I had customers sent my way via referrals. 

Offering Irresistible Packages and Promotions

Having competitive pricing is a strong method of getting customers. However, you don’t necessarily want to make your prices lower than the competition to become competitive in your market. 

New photographers might opt to give a slight discount below local rates at first, but competitive pricing can also come in the form of limited-time offers and promotions. By setting up your business this way, you’ll have higher rates for those who don’t qualify or want those promotions, giving you an opportunity for more revenue.

You should create customized packages, too. Some photographers feel that they don’t want to customize anything and only offer a few specific packages. That’s fine, but when you start to charge more, people want more. Allowing them to build customizable packages makes the customer feel like they’re in control, and it can also mean you get more money for your time.

For example, if your normal set package is an hour of photography, an 8×10, and two 5×7 prints for $150, you’re always limited to $150. However, if you offer $100-per-hour rates and then individual a-la-carte prints at $35 and $25 each, respectively, you may end up with a customer who purchases the same “package” for $185 or who adds on an additional hour of your time and the same prints for $285. Don’t ignore the potential of a-la-carte pricing and customization. 

Related: Guide to pricing your photography

Providing Exceptional Customer Service

You only get one opportunity to make a good impression on your customers. Yes, you do always need to be on your “A” game. 

Whether you’re thanking them for their interest in your products or you want to send a follow-up reminder of an upcoming session, it’s key to personalize those communications. You can automate this with their name using AI tools, for example, or you can handle these reminders by hand. 

Once a photo shoot is over, ensure your customers understand your turnaround times. How long will it take for you to complete the post-production process and get their prints back to them? Overestimate the time it will take. If you underestimate, you’ll end up with angry customers. 

Then, after they get the photos, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for feedback. Even a simple email with a feedback form will get you the feedback you need to know you’re on the right track with how you’re handling your business.

Utilizing Referral Programs

Another excellent way to get new customers is through referral programs. I worked primarily with portrait photography, and I niched down into senior portrait photography. 

In that niche, the common method of getting referrals was to work with one or two seniors (if not more) for free. Those seniors then became your “ambassadors.” 

Seniors in high school are usually anywhere from 16 to 18 years old. They’re fantastic as ambassadors because they let you know exactly how they feel about the photos they’ve done and the process required to get good images.

With senior ambassadors, the idea was that others would get a copy of their best photos and say, “Wow, this looks great! Where did you go?” 

Cue an influx of new clients. 

Of course, referral programs do cost something in the end: your time and effort. So, you may not want to take on too many brand ambassadors right away if you have customers who are willing to pay you. On the other hand, if you’re starting out and there’s no interest? Making a post offering five free sessions is sure to drum up customers like nothing else in this world can.

Beyond offering free services and hoping for word-of-mouth referrals, another option is to incentivize your clients with a referral program. In my niche, a good example of this is to offer a free photoshoot and prints (around a $250 to $700 value for my clients) when they refer a specific number of people to you by a specific date. When I ran these offers, I usually did so in tiers.

Referring one person would get you 25% off your order. Two would be 50%, and so on. Thanks to the date limitation, it was typical for people to get 25% off, but few got more than that. And, beneficially, I would go from having five or 10 shoots on the books to 20 or more, essentially doubling my business. 

If you choose to do a referral program like this, it’s helpful to require the referrals upfront before you give the original referrer their bonus. If you do it the other way around, it’s wise not to offer refunds on past services. Instead, welcome the senior (or whoever you’re taking photos of) for a second session at a later date at the new rate.

Leveraging Technology

Today’s photographers have it much easier than those of us who started in the early 2000s. Now, you have automated booking systems you can integrate with your website, customer relationship management tools, chatbots, and artificial intelligence technology to keep your business growing smoothly.

As a top tip, sign up for industry magazines to stay ahead of the curve. As artificial intelligence becomes more popular and cost-effective, you will notice an uptick in the number of photographers using it. 

Your Approach Makes a Difference

It’s not necessarily difficult to get photography clients, but your approach will make a difference in the number of clients (and types of clients) you get. It’s important to build a strong brand and to have a website that shows you’re an expert in your field. You will need to market yourself, but remember that you shouldn’t be marketing anything until you have your social media, website, packages, and customer service plans in order. 

Consistency wins the day. Leverage technology to help you stay consistent with booking reminders and answering customer inquiries. Know your timelines, and stick to them religiously. And always be on your “A” game, so you’re ready to work with a smile on your face when you meet with your clients. 

By putting your customers first and thinking about how good customer service will impact your business, you’ll be able to build a great brand while also keeping a steady influx of new business. 

Author

  • Cartina Cowart

    Catrina Cowart is a professional photographer and she provides the unique insights she learned as the owner of Catrina Daniels Photography.

How To Get Photography Clients

How To Get Photography Clients

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