16 Ideas for Effective Photography Marketing, Advertising & Promotion
If you’ve ever asked yourself: How do I market my photography business? …this is the guide for you!
Effective marketing for photographers is essential for success in 2021 – unfortunately, taking amazing images isn’t enough to succeed.
If you’re stepping into the world of professional photography or starting a photography business, how do you find your first client? What do photography clients want?
… and when you have your ideal client, how can you increase your photography sales?
Photography marketing, advertising and promotion are your keys to success, so let’s dive in and create a marketing plan to build your photography business.
Table of Contents
16 Photography Marketing Ideas to Grow your Business in 2021
1. Define your target audience
You can be the best photographer in the world – but if you don’t have clients, you won’t be able to run a successful photography business.
The best way to get new clients is to understand who might be interested in your photography services and how you can reach them.
Let’s say you have a portrait photography business and you want to advertise on social media platforms. You need to know who your target audience is to define if you should be spending your budget on Facebook ads or a video marketing campaign for TikTok.
TikTok’s users are mostly under the age of 34, with the majority of them ranging between 16 and 24 years old. Facebook’s largest demographic ranges between 25 and 34 years old.
So, if you focus on senior portraits, your ideal clients are more likely to use TikTok. If you do engagement sessions, you’ll probably be better off advertising on Facebook.
That’s just one quick example to show you how important it is to understand your target market. The better you define your audience, the more clients you’ll get.
2. Invest in photography marketing materials
While creating a digital marketing strategy is undoubtedly important to market your photography business in 2021, having an offline strategy is still something to consider.
Most photographers’ target markets are online – social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, etc. However, it’s still worth the effort to invest in certain physical photography marketing materials.
You’ll have to decide which is most appropriate for your photography business, but in general, here are some of the items you might need:
- Business cards
- Greetings cards
- Price menus (see below)
- Client welcome packs (see below)
When starting your own photography business, it’s tempting to try and design your own photography marketing materials – after all, how hard could making a DIY business card be, right?!
In fact, investing some of your money into a graphic designer is usually a better idea – they’ll do it much better than you, and you’ll save lots of time and frustration.
If you don’t have the budget for it, another great option is to use templates – everything has been laid out by a designer, and all you have to do is replace the various elements with your own text and photos.
You can download some good Instagram Story templates here or see below for our selection of the best photography marketing templates.
3. Build a network
This is one of the best ways to get the right clients at your door, and it will help you grow as you can start to do cross-selling and upselling.
When you build a network with other professionals, you can create collaborations and partnerships.
For example, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Every bride-to-be looking for a wedding photographer will also be looking for someone to do her hair and makeup.
If you team up, they can recommend you to their clients – and you can recommend them to yours. Maybe you can offer a discount if they hire both of you.
In every photography sector, there’s a professional that you can connect with. Suppose you do interior photography – partner up with home stagers and interior designers. If you do food photography, try to connect with chefs and food stylists.
Look for local businesses to become co-marketing partners with, and you’ll see how your clientele will grow organically.
4. Start a blog
Many photographers think of blogging as a profession on its own and don’t consider writing a blog as part of being a photographer.
Yes, some people make a living out of writing blogs that have nothing to do with photography. However, blogging can be an excellent marketing tool for photographers.
First of all, you can drive people to your website. Some of them will be colleagues that won’t become your clients, but some of them will be potential clients that were googling information on the type of services you offer.
You’ll build a reputation for being an expert in the subject that you’re specialized in. This happens only if you offer quality content, so keep the standards high, of course.
If these reasons weren’t enough to get you started on a blog, what about this: You can, in fact, make money out of your blog and build another source of income that’s completely independent of your photo sessions or artwork sales – and that’s always a good thing.
5. Build a social media presence
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that you need to have at least one social media profile to grow your business and create credibility.
Each social media channel has a different purpose and vibe. While Instagram serves as a portfolio, LinkedIn is more adequate to share business news and insights – then there’s Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, and so on.
Choose the ones that are more suitable for your type of business, build a profile and keep it updated.
This can be very time-consuming and also distracting if you end up scrolling your feed every time you go in to post something. So, it’s better if you organize a calendar on what to post and when.
Then, you can take advantage of all the apps, websites and tools available to manage your social media most efficiently.
6. Get featured
If you think getting featured in magazines, blogs, or Instagram accounts happens when the editor discovers your talent and calls to invite you… you’re missing out on great opportunities.
Of course, that can happen – but most of the time, the photographer is the one proposing to be featured. The important thing is that you need to target the right places.
A sports magazine won’t feature a wedding photographer, for example – you need to fit their audience.
So, do some research and start knocking on doors – figuratively. Some publications have open calls where you send your material to apply. If not, you should get in touch with the editor or the decision-maker.
It probably won’t yield results overnight, but neither does any other technique – growing a business takes time and effort.
7. Use Google My Business
Most people Google the solution for their needs. If someone wants to open a restaurant in New York and they need pictures for the menu, they’ll probably start by going online and googling “food photographers in New York”.
A Google My Business account is a free tool that allows you to show up in people’s searches and Google Maps. In your profile, you can add photos, describe your services, and add all your contact information. People can also see other customers’ reviews.
Also, you can keep track of how many people have searched, viewed, or interacted with your profile. You can even create a free website that automatically updates if you change the information on your profile – or you can connect it with the website you already have.
Just keep in mind that you can’t use Google My Business if you run your business completely online – you need to have a physical location.
8. Build an e-mail list
An e-mail list is useful to attract clients because they already know you and are interested in your services.
On the list, you can have past clients that you’re looking to turn into recurring ones. Also include current clients to keep them updated and potential clients who might need a little push to decide.
That’s why an email list can include news and updates about your business, discounts or a free gift, a referral program, or even season’s greetings during the holidays. Segmenting your emails is more effective – this one of the keys to effective online marketing.
To encourage people to subscribe, you can have a landing page, a pop-up on your website, posts and advertisements on social media, or you can offer a freebie.
Make sure you’re clear about your privacy policies and try to offer quality content instead of spamming people – otherwise, they’ll unsubscribe right away.
9. Encourage word of mouth with referral discounts
Word of mouth is way more effective than any type of advertising. Think about it, would you rather go to someone your friends recommended or someone whose ad showed up in a Google search?
Of course, Google ads are a great marketing idea – I’ve already talked about using Google business pages. However, a referral has an added value because people trust a good experience from someone they know.
So, the first thing you need is to have satisfied customers – otherwise, they won’t recommend you regardless of the benefits you might offer them.
Then, encourage them to tell all their friends by offering a discount or a free gift every time they send a client your way.
10. Organize a webinar
Organizing a webinar is a great way to grow your e-mail list, engage with your target audience and establish yourself in your niche.
You’ve probably signed up or attended webinars yourself, so you pretty much know how it works.
You shouldn’t offer something that you’re not going to deliver, and you shouldn’t spend too much time just selling yourself without offering quality content – otherwise, people will leave and unsubscribe.
Just think about who you want to connect with and think about what type of information is interesting for them.
If you make fine art photography, for example, offer a webinar about starting an art collection. If you’re a wedding photographer, offer a webinar on how to pose for your wedding photos.
If you don’t like the webinar format, you can offer other types of content – a behind-the-scenes look, for example.
11. Keep your website updated
Whether you have an elaborate photography website or a simple online portfolio, you should regularly update the content to keep popping up in search engines.
Also, because both photography and website designs are subject to trends, if your style of photography or the overall look of your website becomes outdated, you’ll be less appealing than other photographers.
Even a small change can make a huge difference. If you add a blog section, you can post regularly to refresh your website and encourage visitors to come back often.
If it’s completely image-based, then you can add a new gallery or change the main image on the landing page to change looks.
Bonus tip: Include a ‘News’ section and add social media integration to offer new content every time you post on your social accounts. That way, your website stays fresh without you having to dedicate much time to updating it.
12. Organize and update your database
We’ve discussed email lists as one of our photography marketing ideas, but you can also set up a database or CRM.
A database goes beyond an email list because it includes more than clients, and it can be used for more than marketing.
Your database can include clients, suppliers, marketing partners, etc., and you can use it to keep track of their situation and what stage you’re at in the relationship.
For example, you can keep track of which clients need after-sale assistance, which ones you’re waiting to receive feedback from, which contacts you need to follow up with, and so on.
You can include contacts from across your network – that means colleagues and other professionals from your sector you want to reach out to in order to find co-marketing partners.
Another part of your database can be dedicated to social media accounts that you can contact for possible features, business opportunities, etc.
Most photography studio management software offers a database feature.
13. Participate in charity events
I love this lead generation strategy because it’s not only effective, it’s incredibly rewarding.
There are lots of ways in which you can give back to the community and get your name out there at the same time.
Pet photographers are incredibly organized in this sector – Focus on Rescue and HeARTs Speak are great examples of how much impact photography can have in helping others.
By volunteering their time and talent to photograph homeless cats and dogs, they build adopting campaigns with much success.
If your photography isn’t suitable for this type of thing, try donating artwork for a silent auction or donate part of your profits to the charity of your choice.
14. Develop short and long term marketing strategies
When you pass from enthusiast to professional photographer, you should build your marketing strategy in two stages.
One that will help you take off and help you pay the bills you’ll start getting from day one of your professional activities. And a second phase aimed to make your business grow – for example, creating brand awareness.
Short term photography marketing ideas:
- Limited time promos and discounts – this will encourage people to hire you right away before the promotion ends.
- Sell your images or services at a local event.
Long term photography marketing ideas:
- Optimize your website’s SEO to gain online visibility.
- Organize an online contest to gain more social media followers.
- Write guest posts to get featured.
15. Participate in targeted events
A great way to network with other professionals and get new clients is to attend fairs, conventions and other targeted events.
For example, fine art photographers can participate in art fairs; wedding photographers can visit bridal fairs, and so on. This is a great way to connect with potential clients that are actively looking for what you offer.
Also, regardless of your field, you should attend photography conventions. This will keep you updated on new trends and the latest technologies.
It’s also a way to expand your network of other professionals, which is enriching and helpful.
16. Consider hiring a professional
At this point, you’re probably exhausted and wondering how are you going to even take any photos if you have to do all this marketing stuff.
Well, that’s part of being a freelancer or small business owner. However, if you do this part right, you’ll grow big enough to be able to delegate these tasks to other professionals.
If you feel your business can benefit from it and you can afford it – why not hire someone who knows how to keep your business growing? That will help to free up your time so you can dedicate it to your photography.
This person can be a community manager, a marketing specialist or a PR representative – whatever it is that you need. It’s not an expense – it’s an investment.
3 Best Photography Marketing Templates & Materials
Need a hand finding potential clients or planning a successful photography marketing strategy in 2021?
These photography marketing templates from Design Aglow will save you a ton of time, help define your brand and establish yourself as a sought-after photographer.
‘Lookbooks’ are editorial-style templates that help showcase your best work and any photography products you sell (albums, prints, etc.).
Each Lookbook photography marketing template includes product mockups, placeholder text for you to edit with your own words, and an image for you to swap out with your best photography.
You can print them out to give your clients a magazine-style experience, or share them digitally so they can learn more about your photography business on their phone or tablet.
Each template includes:
- 16 customizable page layouts, sized 8.5×11″
- layered Photoshop PSD files for easy customizing
- professionally crafted and customizable content
2. Price Menus
Every photography marketing template needs a price menu to provide a way for prospective clients to see what it costs to hire your services or purchase your products.
Photography business owners typically share their pricing via websites or over email, but having a beautifully designed printed price menu will set you apart from competitors, and add considerable value to your offerings.
Marketing photography over social media and digital mediums is too common – stand out from the crowd with printed media to help attract your ideal client.
3. Client Welcome Packs
Whether you’re a wedding photographer or shooting freelance, having a well-designed client welcome pack is a great step to marketing your photography business.
Without knowing it, potential clients want to invest in an experience – not just a set of beautiful photos! Using a client welcome pack can really help with this.
As mentioned before, the fact that these photography marketing templates can be printed out and physically given to your ideal client will help you stand out from your competition – most marketing efforts these days are 100% digital.
Every Client Welcome Packet includes:
- Welcome Cards
- Camera Ready Guide
- Product Guide
- Session Experience Card
- Session Reminder/Business Care
These are some of the best photography marketing ideas to grow your business which professional photographers are using here in 2021.
If you have any questions or you want to suggest any other strategies, leave a comment below – we’ll be happy to hear from you.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.