After a fun, but generally unproductive, detour through the world of wedding planning, I decided to focus (hehe) on wedding photography. Eventually, I shifted a bit to concentrate on family and individual portraits. While I had my photography business, I had to come up with all my own marketing ideas for photography. There were (and still are) a lot of people selling systems of marketing ideas for photographers, but most of them seemed better suited for full-timers. So I borrowed from my background in education and content marketing to create my own inexpensive marketing system.
You need specific marketing ideas for photographers depending on what kind of photos you take.
Most photographers, at least when they’re starting out, will have a smorgasbord of galleries on their websites. Weddings, Portraits, Maternity, Newborn, Commercial, we do it all! But I discovered that photographing a wedding is VERY different from photographing a baby. The pace of the day, the equipment you need, your mannerisms as a photographer…all depend specifically on what kind of photos you’re taking. Similarly, your marketing needs to be tailored for the kind of work you do or want to do. In this post, I’m going to concentrate on portrait photographers: people who photograph other people. That would be your newborn, kid, high school senior, family, or maternity photographers. Corporate/business headshot and boudoir photographers would probably overlap into this category as well. (But probably not with each other, but I’m not judging.)
Think about your target market and her needs.
Most of the people who purchase portrait photography services are going to be moms or expectant moms. Family Archivist just seems to fall into Mom’s job description, along with chauffeur, diplomat, short order chef, and general cray-at-home mom. So when you are writing copy or creating marketing images for your portrait photography business, picture the mom who’s trying to get nice photos of her family (and HERSELF) before she blinks and the kids have graduated college. Create content that is going to appeal to her.
Make her life easier.
What appeals to moms? Just about anything that makes her life a little easier. So make it easy to book you by providing useful information from the get-go. Help her prepare for her photo session or decide what to wear. Extend that helpfulness throughout your booking, service, and follow-up process. Depending on the needs of your market, this doesn’t have to take an enormous amount of your time either. (Especially important if you’re a mom yourself!) Provide instant digital downloads straight to her inbox or on a flash drive. Or go the full-service route and take care of print ordering and framing for her. You can (and should) choose whatever service delivery process works best for you. Just be sure to explain it in terms of how your process helps her.
Roll out the welcome mat.
Presentation matters, as you know. Make yours count by sending a personalized, targeted welcome sequence when people sign up for your mailing list. Not only does a welcome sequence train new readers to open your e-mails, it’s also a great opportunity to gently prepare them to hire you. Use your welcome sequence to deliver helpful information that your potential clients can use right away. (Yes, even if they don’t hire you this time. Trust me, it makes a great impression!)
Teach something useful.
In your opt-ins, welcome emails, or blog content, teach those moms how to get the best results from their photo session. That information can range from photo session prep work to how to display the beautiful photos afterward or create her own holiday card design. Doing this will accomplish a few things. First, it will bring people to your content and website. Second, it will show that you are knowledgeable and helpful. But, wait! you protest. If I tell them how to make their own cards or all my best locations, they won’t need me anymore!
Not necessarily. Just because someone knows how to design a custom greeting card or where to go to get cute family photos, that doesn’t mean she will have the time, energy, or sanity to actually do it herself. Share the information, and then gently remind her that you’re here to help whenever she needs you.
Share your process, not just the product.
Most photographers I know tend to only blog their finished sessions. But those posts tend to be for the satisfaction of past clients rather than for piquing the interest of future clients. Sure, finished session images provide inspiration and might generate some photo envy among your client’s friends. They show your skill as a photographer, no doubt.
But those shiny images don’t necessarily answer the other questions that may be keeping people from booking. “How long do I have to set aside for this photographic torture session?” “Can you convince my grumpy pre-schooler/teenager/husband to smile?” “I’m pregnant and don’t feel attractive…why should I get my picture taken?” “We don’t have fashionable outfits like that family and my toddler insists on wearing his fireman jacket EVERYWHERE. Can you still make us look cute???”
Tell stories that answer these questions in your blog and social media posts. Show how you got to the final result, or maybe even some of the funny outtakes along the way. (With permission, of course.)
If you want more specific marketing ideas for photography, you can purchase the complete Content Marketing Map for Photographers below. In it I provide sample welcome e-mail sequences, a sample follow-up sequence, and 10 broad topics for social media, blog posts, e-mail newsletters, or postcards.
If you have ideas but need help creating the content, you can borrow my brain and time here. As always, if you have any questions, let me know!