One of the most common questions I get from photographers in business is “How to promote photography business” and it’s absolutely understandable. We all need clients to make this business thing work.
I’ve seen so many photographers leave their 9-5 and immediately start stressing about paying bills, which leads to a 24-7 hustle, trying to find as many clients as possible.
That was me for a while, but now time off is one of the core values in my life and in my business. I’ve went so far as to literally write it out in the core values of my business plan as “Work to live(comfortably), not live to work… Take the trip.”
We live by that over here at Tracy Lynn Coaching as well as in my other business Boudoir by Tracy Lynn. If I want time off, I take it. If my team wants time off, they take it. We are not here to dedicate our life to the 24-7 hustle lifestyle.
I booked 7 boudoir photography sessions while on vacation.
Because of the core values of working to live, not living to work, I’ve created a marketing strategy that allows for this to happen.
One year over Valentine’s Day, Tome and I took a quick 3 day trip to the San Antonio Riverwalk. Normally, we take our vacations between Christmas and New Years, but this year was a busy year for his career, which meant we had to postpone our trip until Valentine’s Day. We laughed, we ate great food, and we drank way too many margaritas. It was a GREAT trip and even better, I never touched anything work related, expect maybe posting on my Instagram Story.
When I got back to my desk and checked my email, I had booked SEVEN boudoir sessions while on vacation. While that alone is really cool, what I really loved was that they came from all the different strategies I have in place, which is what I want to talk about today.
But before we dive into the different ways to advertise photography business, let’s talk about what not to do.
I coach a lot of photographers every day with marketing strategies for photography business. One common mistake I see is photographers thinking short term rather than long term. They’re always thinking about how to get clients right now, which IS understandable, but at the same time, with this type of thinking you will ALWAYS be in the 24/7 hustle and feel desperate all the time.
A few common strategies that these photographers tend to use are:
- Building a business that relies on Facebook Ads.
- Using model calls to book up their schedule
- Running flash sales when they feel their business is too slow
Obviously, Facebook ads drain a bank account. That’s a no brainer. With all three strategies, a photographer builds up a client list of clients who are looking for a deal, which are not clients that we want.
Instead, we want to spend our time building up our long term strategy with marketing ideas for a photography business, which will bring in new leads and clients all the time. Build a strategy that keeps on giving and can work in the background while we take time to travel or spend time with loved ones — the real reason we went into business, right?
6 Best Ways to Advertise Photography Business
Below, I break down the 6 best ways to promote photography business. I break it into 2 sections. The first is short term strategy because we DO have to have clients coming in when we start our business. The second section is long term strategy... or exactly how to book seven photography clients while we’re on vacation.
Advertising your photography business for short term success
The “Let’s hustle and get paid” mentality is actually really important in the beginning of business, but it scares photographers to death! It requires them to get out from behind the computer screen to put themselves in front of new businesses. Let’s admit it. That’s something a lot of us don’t want to do, but it’s the quickest way to get paid. It’s a necessary evil as we start our business.
Inside my courses and through out my coaching programs, I break down the strategy for booking photography sessions ASAP. Below, I’ll take you through a crash course though.
1. Bridal fairs and other trade shows
If a photographer’s ideal client is a bride, wedding shows and bridal fairs are such a great way to book several sessions. One time, I was able to book 17 sessions during a two day bridal fair. The thing is, though, not all of these shows are created equal. It’s important to research a show before signing up. If they aren’t well planned fairs, it shows in the type of brides they bring in.
In The Boudoir Photographer’s Mastermind, I break down exactly how to rock a bridal fair, step-by-step — and in an automated way to cut down on the amount of time you put in to the show AFTER it’s over.
2. Client Referrals
Client referrals are a great way to bring in clients that are already pre-qualified. If they were referred by a past client, then those clients are already informed on pricing and the experience offered, which makes things so much easier.
Set up an easy referral program to incentivize clients into telling their friends and family all about a photography business.
3. Business Referrals
As much as I love client referrals, and take it as a compliment to the experience and aritstry I provide, I would much rather have referrals from businesses that I’ve strategically chosen. I hand pick these businesses I want to refer clients to and receive referrals from because those are my IDEAL clients. Ideal clients spend money on what I offer without a lot of work on my end.
Offer something in exchange for the referral that also makes the referring business look good. Things like gift cards, session fee discounts, and print credits are all things that photographers don’t have any expenses in, but also are great ways for other businesses to promote your photography business.
Best ways to advertise a photography business for long term success
A mistake a lot of photographers make is building a photography business that relies on short term marketing. They ignore the long term funnel which allows for sustainability. The ultimate goal for a photographer, or any business person in general, is to have a business where clients book photography sessions on autopilot — while at the gym, on vacation, or even asleep. That money should come in without any extra work at all.
It’s very possible for this to happen, even as a photographer.
4. SEO friendly website created to convert
A great website converts viewers into paid clients. They are not meant to be business cards, but that’s what I see so often when critiquing websites for photography business coaching clients.
After a potential client lands on a photography website, the path to purchase should be obvious AND easy. For example, they go from the home page to the gallery. Then, they view the investment page. At that point, there would be two options, download the freebie to get on the email newsletter or book a session.
… but it doesn’t matter how high converting a website is if leads aren’t finding the site. That means the website should be optimized for search, more commonly known as search engine optimization. When a website is optimized for google, more leads come in, meaning more photography session bookings.
This is something photographers skip, using excuses like it’s expensive, which it is, but prioritizing an SEO optimized website that converts can take a photographer from part time side hustler to full time successful photographer faster than anything!
5. Email marketing
My all time favorite marketing tool is email marketing. Photographers don’t utilize this tool nearly enough, but it’s by far one of the most effective strategies. Because I’ve spent time building and nurturing my email list, when I run my Black Friday Sales each year, I’m able to book all of my sessions available without paid advertising or anything other than my email funnel.
Think about it, everyone has an email address, if not 2 or 3 addresses. It’s on their phone, computer, iPad, and most check it constantly. On top of that, email marketing earns an ROI of about $38 for every dollar spent, or 3800% compared to an ROI of $4 for Facebook ads. I think we can easily say email marketing is the best ROI in a marketing strategy.
Obviously, email lists are worth the effort even for photographers.
6. A great blog strategy
A lot of photographers actually blog, but they don’t do it very well. It’s understandable because when googling “why should photographers blog?” photography education blogs recommend showing images, giving reasons behind the why, and showcase creativity.
Please know… a blog is SO. MUCH. MORE than a bunch of pretty pictures. A blog shows the authority of the photographer faster than anything else, and that’s why we need to do it.
Use a blog to show expertise as a photographer, the only choice, and the only one who’s prepared to give clients the experience of a lifetime. Give tips and suggestions, and most importantly, blow their mind with tips and tricks to prepare them for a session.
At the same time, it’s important to use a blog for SEO purposes. Use keywords an ideal client is already searching in ways that give them reason to click the link.
Like I said, blogs are so much more than pretty photos if used well.
Advertising your photography business
When thinking of ways to promote a photography business, focus on long term goals. This helps build a strategy that keeps on giving long down the road. Long term marketing strategies work in the background aloowing time to travel, spend time with family, or honestly just watch Netflix.
Remember the ultimate goal is sustainable freedom. Trading your 9-5 for a 24-7 hustle sounds exhausting, and I truly don’t want you to fall victim to that trap.
Ready to book more photography clients with a strategy that’s sustainable?
If you’re ready to book out your photography schedule with an easy strategy that doesn’t require Facebook ads, model calls, or random flash sales, be sure to join The Photography Marketing Course!
The Photography Marketing Course is a self-paced course that’s designed to help you market your photography business in a way that’s PROFITABLE and SUSTAINABLE… and way less exhausting. I’d love to see you inside. 🙂
Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.