This guide will give you 20 proven tips on how to get photography clients in 2023.
As you read through the marketing strategies below, pay attention to which ones sound fun or easy as those might end up being the ones that are most successful to you.
Finding new clients for your photography business might sound daunting but if you build a strategy with both long-term and short-term goals you can thrive.
In fact, my challenge for you is to not only find new photography clients but learn how to attract ideal clients in your target market.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to make more money as a photographer this year, read on for my tried and tested tips.
Table of Contents
How to Get More Photography Clients: 20 Tips from a Professional Photographer
1. Client Referrals
My favorite way to get photography clients is through word-of-mouth referrals because if someone loves working with me then they’ll send me other like-minded people.
Your next ideal client will come from past ideal clients.
Some photographers have a referral program where they provide existing clients with an incentive to refer someone else, which is worth exploring.
I’ve always said that serving clients well will serve us well thus my referral program is unofficial.
Regardless, it can help to stay top of mind by being active on social or sending a newsletter so that your client has you on the tip of their tongue if anyone asks.
This is a long-term strategy and works best if you already have some clients but it’s the best strategy, in my opinion, for building a sustainable photography business.
We do ask directly for reviews which brings me to the next tip.
2. Testimonials and Reviews
Another way to get more clients for your photography business is to focus on attracting testimonials and reviews.
It really helps if when someone looks at your business online they see a ton of 5-star reviews.
They may love your work but having other people affirm how great you are to work with can help people go from interested to new clients more quickly.
Just think about how you rely on reviews before ordering a new product or booking an Airbnb.
It’s as simple as making it a practice to send past clients a quick e-mail with an easy link to write you a review.
The more clients you have the more reviews you’ll acquire so the effectiveness grows as you do.
3. Building a Strong Portfolio
One of the best ways to attract more clients is to start attracting the right clients and the best way to do that is to have a strong photography portfolio that sets you apart.
You want to show your strengths and specialty but also your versatility through a professional portfolio.
The best clients are the ones who value our work and what we do, having a strong portfolio will help attract those clients.
It’s worth spending some time creating portfolio work that will attract your dream clients. Show your best work but also the work you want to do.
4. Website and SEO
Like it or loathe it, SEO and website presence are essential marketing strategies to find more clients in your target market.
Once you have a strong portfolio, you need to have a professional website where it lives so that clients can find you.
Your photography website should have cohesive and consistent branding that amplifies your work and implementing photography SEO strategies can help you be found locally.
There’s a ton you can do to improve your photography SEO, but it all boils down to content and links.
Content is relatively simple – research photography keywords related to your business and target clients, then write informative and useful articles that cater to those topics on your website.
Link-building is harder to accomplish, but you can start by asking your existing network to include a credit to your website for any photos you supply to them.
For local SEO, Google My Business is a gold-mine of potential leads, but you need to work on keeping it updated and getting past clients to leave reviews.
As for your website presence, you can consider hiring a professional graphic designer but there are also a lot of great photography website themes and templates that you can use.
Your website is the destination where you want to point potential customers so that they can join your newsletter, inquire about a photoshoot, or order something from your online store.
5. Learning the Market and Building a Brand
It’s important to learn about your potential clients and what their needs, wants, and demands are.
When you define your target audience it will help you identify how to market to your target clients thus helping you define your overall marketing strategy.
Remember that photographer branding isn’t just about a nice logo or catchy photography slogan or tagline – it’s one of the many all-encompassing tools for marketing your business and finding your ideal clients.
Researching trends in your photography genre will help you know what people are looking for and evaluating the competition will help you figure out how to set yourself apart.
You’ll also be able to make sure you set competitive and sustainable pricing in your target market.
6. Go Where the Clients Are
Especially when you’re just starting out, if you don’t already have referrals or reviews or even an SEO presence then you might need to go to where the clients are.
This might be an industry event, networking opportunity, or even just a public place in your local community where your ideal client hangs out.
Depending on your niche you can think about where to find the clients and then go there.
A Real Estate photographer might go to a Real Estate event whereas a family portrait photographer might put up a flyer at the local rec center and a wedding photographer might go to a bridal show.
This might mean physical marketing materials that you leave behind at a business or being involved in activities where your target audience hangs out.
7. Networking and Collaboration
Building relationships with other professionals can help you grow your referral network beyond just client referrals.
Even someone you might consider a competitor might send work your way if they’re already booked.
For wedding photographers connecting with wedding planners and wedding venues can be very beneficial.
A branding photographer might connect with a branding or business consultant, which in turn can help introduce them to more clients.
8. Newsletter and Email Marketing
I’ve mentioned referrals twice now and in order for people to remember you and refer you it helps to stay top of mind.
One great way to do that is to build an e-mail list and send newsletters showcasing current work or any exciting things that are happening inside your photography business.
Luckily professional photographers often have something to share – photos!
While various platforms come and go, maintaining a newsletter is a great way to keep connected with past and future clients as well as professional relationships.
If your newsletter is good enough for a recipient to forward on to a friend, that’s free marketing right there and can lead to more clients seeing your work.
9. Content Marketing
If you love to write or have some opinions to share, you might consider expanding your online footprint through online content marketing.
Content marketing can increase your SEO effectiveness if you post blogs, tutorials, or behind-the-scenes across a variety of platforms but ideally directing traffic to your website and maybe even your newsletter.
Content marketing can be a lot of work and it can be tricky to be heard in a noisy environment but providing useful content can also be a great way to stand out and actually add value.
Instead of asking “How do I get more photography clients?”, try asking “How do I attract more photography clients?”
10. Social Media Presence
Talking about content marketing and creating things to share leads us to social media accounts and using your online presence to share your work.
Social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow you to share your content where people are watching.
This is a modern version of Tip 6 to go where the clients are.
Each platform is different so it’s probably useful to decide what you think is the best fit for your photography as well as your personality.
The goal of social media might be to share your work, stay top of mind, be searchable as in through hashtags, or communicate with potential clients.
Have a goal for social media just like you do for other marketing endeavors otherwise the time you spend on social media will be a distraction rather than help you gain traction.
11. Photography Platforms
In addition to social media platforms, there are photography-specific platforms that are designed for showcasing photography.
The thing I like about photography websites and platforms like 500px, Flickr, and Behance is that they might provide a better chance of giving you access to people who are actually looking for photography specifically.
One of the things to think about in your photography marketing is how to find people who are actually looking and ready to hire you.
12. Online Marketplaces
Another way to go where the clients are is to utilize online marketplaces like Shutterstock or Etsy to sell your work and gain exposure.
Depending on the type of work you do you might be able to serve clients who are already looking for what you create.
Now that’s effective photography marketing.
If you already have a strong online presence through SEO or content marketing you can also host a store on your own website or social platforms.
13. Targeted Outreach
When all else fails there’s always cold calling, but you don’t just call anyone or everyone.
You can make a list of potential clients that you would like to work with and then work at finding the e-mails of the correct person to contact.
For commercial photographers, this might mean finding creative directors at companies or ad agencies.
Event photographers might reach out to event planners.
You can call, send e-mails, or send messages on LinkedIn depending on what marketing efforts fit best with your industry.
14. Following Up with Potential Clients
Once you’ve done all the work of networking or emailing, it’s important to follow up.
Sometimes someone isn’t looking for anyone the first time you reach out but the second time they actually are in need of a photographer.
Following up with leads can be discouraging but it can also show your attentiveness and customer service which might lead to work when the time is right.
15. Professionalism, Customer Service, Being a Good Person
Maybe it goes without saying that sometimes people hire you because of who you are and not your work specifically.
If you conduct yourself in a professional manner through effective communication, meeting deadlines, and exceeding expectations then people will want to hire you.
If they like working with you they’ll want to work with you again.
This points back again to my first and most important tip about referrals, serving people well will serve you well.
16. Offering Free or Discounted Shoots
I don’t love encouraging anyone to work for free but if you’re just starting out and don’t have a portfolio then you probably need to prove that you can do the job.
The main thing to be cautious of is that if you work for free for someone once they might start to expect it and never become a paying client.
Working for free doesn’t help you find more paying clients. However, it can help you build a portfolio and prove your worth.
You will likely have to find new clients as you grow since discounted shoots might not actually get you more work with that particular client.
16. Assistant Shooting
If you don’t have any clients you can always work for someone else temporarily while you build your portfolio.
Some photographers will pay assistants to help them and also provide valuable feedback or tips.
This is another one that doesn’t necessarily get your more paying clients but it can help you build your technical skills or practice client relations for future sessions.
If you have a new business you might have to implement more desperate strategies than someone with more experience will.
17. Join Freelancing Websites
The good news is that we’re already on number 17 and we haven’t even spent very many marketing dollars yet.
Sure you have to pay for your website hosting but so far this is a budget-friendly list.
There are freelancing websites where clients post jobs that they need a freelance photographer for.
A site like Upwork, for example, charges a freelancer service fee on the projects you work on.
18. Paid Advertising
Now that we’re talking about spending money, you can run ads on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram.
The good news is that there is a lot of data you can use to target your ads to ideal clients and track what is working for you.
You’ll be able to calculate your ROI (return on investment) and make sure that your paid advertising is paying off.
18. Photography Workshops and Classes
If you’re an experienced photographer with a lot of knowledge to you you can offer workshops or classes to help increase visibility, establish your expertise, and even attract new clients.
Conversely, if you’re fairly new to the photography business you could attend photography workshops and classes both as networking opportunities and as a way to increase your skills for a stronger portfolio.
19. Local Business Partnerships
Another creative way to attract more photography clients is to consider partnering with local businesses for mutual benefits.
If there’s another business that shares the same clientele you can come up with creative ways to work together such as a kids’ portrait photographer advertising at the kids’ dentist.
20. Photography Contests
Many photography industries have contests that allow you to enter for a small fee and potentially gain exposure and credibility.
You may not directly find a client through entering a photography contest but you can share about your awards on your social channels or through your newsletter and increase perception of your work.
A past client might share an award-winning photo and increase referrals too.
How To Find Your First Photography Client
Now that we’ve talked through 20 different ways to find photography clients, let’s talk about how to get that first one.
If you choose a couple of the tips above that appeal to you the result should be that your first client finds you.
Once everyone around you knows that you’re starting a photography business there’s bound to be someone that needs your photography services.
Building a consistent client base takes time but finding that first client is all about putting yourself out there and making sure people know you’re available for hire.
I hope the tips above explain how to get photography clients and that you’re excited to head out there to find your first one.
How To Get Your Photography Noticed
Many of the tips above talk about sharing your work, but how do you stand out in a noisy world?
Consistency, quality, and authenticity are key factors in getting noticed.
If you are continually improving your skills, and finding ways to connect with your audience, eventually you will be hard to ignore.
FAQs about photography business / how to get photography clients
- Is there still a demand for photographers?
The photography industry has become more competitive due to changing technology but there is definitely still a demand for photographers.
It might become even more important for your photography business to offer exceptional skills and a diverse skillset that is adaptable to an evolving photography landscape.
- How do you market a photoshoot?
Define your target audience, create compelling content, build an online presence, and share your work on online platforms and through your newsletter.
From there you can consider paid advertisements, collaborations, and offering promotions.
People love behind-the-scenes too.
- What type of photography is most in demand?
The demand for photography can shift over time so it’s important to research current trends but also to think about the long term.
For example, family and wedding photography are fairly timeless whereas food photography is growing along with social media.
- Which type of photography pays best?
Which type of photography pays best will vary slightly depending on the market but commercial, fashion, and weddings are among the highest-paying photography jobs.
However, your success in any type of photography will depend on how many shoots you can do and what you’re able to charge.
- What are some pain points for photography clients?
Photography clients are often confused about pricing because so many photographers price things so differently, it’s important to set clear expectations and communicate effectively.
Photography clients don’t want to have to wait for their photos so prompt delivery is a must.
We are our own worst critics. Clients want to look good and will be disappointed if the results are unflattering as a result of awkward posing, harsh light, or poor post-processing.