Professional photography is a competitive industry. At Bench we chat with clients about their businesses every day, and photographers repeatedly tell us that finding clients is one of the most challenging aspects of their job.
To help out, we did some research on the topic and below we’ve listed some traditional and some not so traditional techniques photographers are using to find more clients and keep their business growing.
If you have any additional tips to add to the list, share them in the comments section below.
Recommend Other Pros
Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful. To increase the number of times people recommend your services, we strongly advise you to recommend other people’s services to your clients. For example, if a client needs makeup or video editing services, connect them with other professionals in your network who offer these services.
The act of sending your clients elsewhere for services that you don’t provide may sound counterintuitive at first, but there’s a trick to having it work to your advantage. Every time you recommend someone else’s services, email your contact to let them know you’ve sent a new client their way. If people are aware of your willingness and generosity in recommending their services, they’ll be more likely to return the favor and advocate your services to their clients.
Target Your Ideal Client
Business coach Marie Forleo is famous for saying: If you’re talkin’ to everybody, you’re talkin’ to nobody.
A critical step in finding more clients is defining your ideal client and then tailoring your marketing to their specific needs. Having a clear understanding of who you’d like to work with will give you insights into where you can find these clients and what level of budget they’ll have to spend on your services.
For instance, corporate clients will tend to have bigger budgets than, say, smaller boutiques or solopreneurs. Whichever type of business you choose as your ideal client, tailor your marketing to appeal to that specific group and don’t deviate. It’ll save you time (because you won’t be trying to reach out to everybody), you’ll become an expert at communicating to new clients within your chosen niche, and gradually you will build a reputation as the go-to photographer for your ideal client.
Host an Event
Photography is a personal business and giving potential clients the opportunity to meet you and chat in-person can be very valuable. One great way to create this opportunity is by hosting an event with other like minded industry pros that caters to your ideal clients. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, host an event with a wedding planner, a makeup artist, and a dress boutique, and hold it at a potential wedding venue. This could function as a mutually beneficial open house that gives couples a unique look at some of their options. The event might require a minor investment on your behalf, but you and the other business owners could split the costs (and the rewards).
Teach a Class
As a photographer, you have a skill set that many people would love to have. Take that knowledge and offer a class for photography beginners. You could host an in-person workshop, or you could create an online class for a site like Skillshare. In addition to being an extra source of income, running a class is a great opportunity to meet potential new clients who appreciate strong photography. Provided that your class adds value to people’s lives, each of your new students will be likely to recommend your services to their friends.
Leverage Social Media the Right Way
For photographers, Instagram and Pinterest are the most powerful social media platforms to showcase and share your work. These platforms are highly visual and it’s important to approach them with a strategy in mind.
Instagram: Decide what sort of personal/business split your account will have. While it’s important to share your work, it’s also key to give followers a peek behind the scenes of your business. This will help them get to know you as a person, and see that your photography skills stretch to capturing simple moments as well as big-budget, staged images. Instagram has also proven to be an amazing source of revenue for certain entrepreneurs. After building a sizeable following, one photographer sold prints of his popular Instagram photos and made $15,000 in one day.
Pinterest: Try sharing a combination of your own work along with images that fit your aesthetic and overall brand. When pinning your own work, select a few of the best images from a shoot and add those to your boards. This will encourage users to click through to your website to see the rest of the collection. A must for getting your work shared on this platform is to install a ‘Pin-it’ button on your website. Depending on how you created your site, you might be able to do this yourself, or you can hire a developer to add this feature. Create boards that are filled with inspiration and resources for clients. For example, a lifestyle photographer could create style boards that feature easy to source, photogenic outfits, while a wedding photographer could pin unique locations for destination weddings. Collecting these resources into one convenient, visual space will help you become a go-to information source for current and potential clients.
Another way to take advantage of Pinterest and Instagram is to host a contest. Have people share a specific image on Instagram (and tag your account), or have them create a pin board out of your photos to win. You could give a print of your work, or a mini photo session to the winner.
With both platforms, being featured or mentioned by popular personalities will help your following grow more quickly. Interact with these influencers and, with some luck, they’ll notice you and give your work a helpful boost by re-pinning or re-gramming your work.
Give Clients Low-Res Images to Share: Robby Followell from Followell Photography says that embracing social media is undoubtedly the best way to reach new clients.
“With every session we shoot, we provide (clients with) low-resolution, watermarked image files made available through a simple download. Undoubtedly, this encourages the clients to post their images far and wide which directs every viewer of those images back to our studio.”
Have an AMAZING Website
Your business is visual. If people land on a less-than-spectacular website they’ll get the impression that you’ll deliver a less-than-spectacular job. Your first impression is everything, so stop putting off your website upgrade. Here are some tools you can use to upgrade your website:
Squarespace: If you need a portfolio site that is affordable, easy to update, and beautiful, then a Squarespace site will be perfect for you. The account will cost you between $8 and $24 per month and there are some stunning templates that will let your photos take center stage.
Wordpress: If you’re already on Wordpress, or you’re thinking of using it for your site, these themes will make for beautiful portfolios.
Hire a Designer: If you already have a site but know it could use some upgrades, or you want to switch to a custom built site, hiring a freelance graphic designer could be the way to go. They’ll design an online space that best suits your work and your brand.
Set up a Referral Program
Word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool. A referral program lets you leverage word of mouth marketing and find a great source of new clients without investing too much time or money into finding them.
Test this method informally by setting up a referral discount program that encourages existing clients to recommend your services to their friends. For example, you could email your clients and tell them that they will receive 10% off your services when they recommend a friend to your business.
If it goes well, or if you’ve already built a sizeable database of existing clients, software such as Referral Candy can help you integrate and run a more sophisticated referral program via your website and social media channels.
Finding new clients for your photography business requires consistent attention, but diversifying your marketing efforts will help. Rather than sticking with the same old methods you’ve always used, try something different. Take advantage of lessons learned by other business owners and you just might find the catalyst for a landslide of new clients.
Do you have any additional tips to help photographers find new clients? Share them in the comments section below.
This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.