How To Make Money With Photography
Marketing is all about communicating and connecting with your ideal prospects and clients in ways that inspire them to take the action needed to work with you.
Write that down and put it where you can see it every day because it’s that important!
In the days before social media lowered the barriers between business and consumer, marketing had more in common with broadcasting—a one-to-many style of communication that flowed only in one direction.
Businesses used marketing to get their corporate messages out, and consumers were forced to simply watch or listen.
Of course, that’s all changed.
Communication is now a two-way conversation where consumers can talk directly to businesses and each other in a one-to-one fashion though social media and blogs.
It’s been nothing short of revolutionary.
Now, more than ever, consumers can directly influence what companies offer, at least they can if businesses are smart enough to listen and pay attention to the conversations happening out there.
The old game is truly dead, and you run the risk of getting left behind if you don’t start playing the new game of photography marketing.
For example, the traditional static photography website as an image showcase, combined with the usual array of “me-too” pages and thin content is no longer enough.
Effective marketing strategies for today’s professional photographer involve opening up the channels of communication, acknowledging and listening to your target market, creating real relationships, and connecting with people in genuine and sincere ways.
The following 8 marketing tips should at least get you started on the right path…
#1: Show Only Your Best Photographs
It doesn’t matter where people see your work—in the studio or on your website—they should only ever see your very best photographs.
And, when it comes to marketing, less can indeed be more.
For example, a few very carefully chosen images can have a much greater impact on a prospect than a page full of images that are more “average” than amazing.
In fact, too many photos in the same place can create more confusion than impact because they all start to blend into one big blur.
This is why I feel it’s better to showcase only 3 or 5 images in a single blog post, with one photograph being emphasized more than the others. Too often, I encounter blog posts with 20, 30, or more photographs presented one after another that makes the whole post more forgettable than memorable.
I know it might be hard at first, but I believe it’s worth striving to become a better and more objective self-editor of your own work.
#2: Testimonials Highlight Your Unique Selling Points
Talking of presenting your photographs brings to mind the use of testimonials from your happy clients.
It’s hard to overstate the power that testimonials have to improve your credibility in your marketing materials, whether online or in print, and I can’t imagine a single example where using a testimonial would make your marketing worse.
The great thing about testimonials is your clients can obviously say things about you and your photography business that you can’t say yourself and still remain credible.
However, the real magic of testimonials happens when they talk about your unique selling points or the factors that make you stand out from the competition.
In other words, they help the prospect answer the question in their mind of, “if I am your ideal photography client, why should I hire you instead of the photographer down the street?”
To that end, there’s no reason why you can’t write testimonials yourself that talk about these things, as long as you write them in such a way that feels natural to the client, and are actually true.
However, it’s absolutely imperative that you get the approval of the client before publishing such a testimonial!
Further Reading: How To Get Testimonials From Your Photography Clients
#3: Be Everywhere In Your Community
No one will notice you if you remain at your desk, hidden behind your computer.
Yes, search engine optimization (SEO) is important, social media is vital, and there’s a lot to be done for effective online marketing.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The real world is where your potential clients live, work, and play, and one of the best ways to connect with them is to get out there and meet them.
This is where knowing your ideal clients in detail is invaluable, because you’ll be more easily able to find them and then make genuine connections with them that feel more sincere and far less business-motivated.
Besides, it’s nice to get out from behind that desk every now and again, right?
#4: Use A Website Built For Lead-Generation
Too many website templates seem to be stuck in the 90’s and, since most photographers are using similar-looking sites, it’s only natural to think that’s the right way to go because everyone else does it.
We’re playing the new game of photography marketing now, and a website has only one purpose—to generate leads you can personally follow-up with.
The traditional website, the one everyone seems to be using, takes a terribly inefficient and passive role.
In short, people come, they look around for a bit, and they might get in touch with you if they feel like it.
More often, they won’t do anything except get distracted and leave.
Is that any way to run a business?
It’s like having a physical shop with only a phone on the counter instead of real salespeople.
Instead, we need a website that clearly communicates who we are, what we offer, why we do what we do, the values that are important to us, and how the people we think of as our ideal target client share those same viewpoints.
Then, having made a genuine connection, we need some way to convert the visitor into an actual lead, either through an email sign-up form or by giving them a compelling reason to pick up the phone and talk to us.
It’s time to think very carefully about how your website works for you, and whether or not it’s asleep on the job!
#5: Show Off Your Business Personality With Your Blog
Do you have a blog for your photography business?
If not, you’re probably missing out on one of the best ways to show your prospects and clients who you are as a photographer, and at the same time display the appealing personal side of your business.
You can’t do that as effectively with a basic website.
Now, if you think you don’t have time to blog, or that you’re not a writer, think again.
All it takes is one post a week to start making an impact, and you don’t need to write in any formal way to blog successfully.
In fact, the more you write in a relaxed way (pretty much as you might talk in a conversation with a close friend), the better.
Further Reading: How To Write A Good Blog Post
#6: Get Social With Your Clients
Social media is the greatest worst thing to happen to marketing!
Being able to connect and converse with our target market is really amazing, and was unimaginable in the early days of the Internet.
But, at the same time, social media has caused massive confusion for photographers, especially those who make the mistake of viewing social networks as nothing more than marketing platforms in the traditional sense.
Social networks are not just another way to broadcast our self-promotional messages!
They’re places to meet and converse with prospects and clients without going all “corporate” on them.
Facebook, the largest of these networks, has muddied the waters with business pages, advertising, and other stuff that looks like marketing in the old sense, but really isn’t if it’s used properly.
Many inexperienced marketers have mistaken this as just another vehicle for self-promotion when it is, in fact, better used in the social sense that Facebook intended from the beginning.
For example, we can advertise almost anything we want to on Facebook, but ads work more effectively when they’re aimed at informative or entertaining content rather than direct promotions or sales.
But what about business pages and “fans”?
Again, we can get much more out of these in the long run if we focus on the social aspects first, and relegate our business or marketing agendas to a very distant second.
Social is ALL about getting people to know, like, and trust you.
Only then, will you be able to capitalize on your fans and followers to create clients who rave about you to their friends and family.
We’ve got more on this coming up in a later chapter.
#7: Kick The “Emergency Marketing” Habit
If you’ve ever created a promotion out of thin air as a knee-jerk response to the thought, “I need to get some money coming in fast”, then welcome to the dark world of emergency marketing.
Such campaigns are okay once in awhile, but it can become a dangerous habit that could threaten the future of your business.
Because you force yourself to become a reactionary marketer running on business adrenalin, instead of a strategic marketer who plans campaigns well in advance with a clear idea of goals and the expected results.
Escaping the “emergency marketing” trap is actually easier than you might think.
When you catch yourself about to embark on a hurried marketing campaign on the spur of the moment, stop to take a deep breath.
Instead of falling into the “I have to get this out YESTERDAY” mindset, give yourself some space to create a timeline and a plan you can use to launch the campaign in a deliberate and strategic way.
Consider all the different marketing channels you have available and how they can work together to amplify and solidify your campaign and increase the chances of success.
- Sign-up pages on your website…
- Your blog…
- Email marketing…
- Social media…
- Video marketing…
- Strategic partnerships with other businesses and organizations…
Once you leave the world of emergency marketing far behind, you won’t look back, and you’ll wonder why you ever got caught up in it to begin with.
#8: Embrace “Content Marketing”
Promotional marketing is associated with the old game—usually business-centered and 100% self-promotional, hence the name. For example, blog posts or site pages that talk only about a new sale you’re having or that latest special promotion.
Now, I’m not suggesting these are all bad.
Obviously, we do need to let people know about occasional sales and promotions etc. but we should also work to reduce the abundance of these pieces in proportion to the overall content of the site.
This is where content marketing helps.
Content marketing commonly consists of articles your specific target market will find helpful, entertaining or informative, yet they don’t directly try to sell your photography.
In a way, content marketing creates a bridge between you and your target audience where you can come together through common interests. This helps your prospects get to know you better, like you more, and grow to trust you.
We’ll be talking a lot more about this in a later chapter, but some examples of content marketing could include:
- Articles on makeup, or hair styling tips for brides…
- Guides on “how to propose” for people preparing to pop the question…
- The many ways people relate to and dote on their pets…
- Useful parenting articles for moms thinking about kids portraits…
- Essays on the role of photography in advertising for commercial clients…
- Local-interest stories…
Clearly, this is a HUGE topic, and we will be revisiting it, but you should now be able to see the massive potential that content marketing offers.