by Mary Fisk-Taylor, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, ABI, API I…
Intro by Skip Cohen
We shared Part 1 of Bryan Capporicci’s post previously. Well, now it’s time to be even more specific as he shares a very specific 5-step approach to developing a plan to market your business.
As you read each step, take the time to pause and look at your business now. Look at how you stack up against Bryan’s suggestions. As Bryan has stated in virtually every post on marketing he’s ever written, there are no shortcuts to marketing and building a stronger business.
by Bryan Capporicci
Remember when I said at the beginning that there’s no “shortcut” to market yourself as a photographer? Well, it’s true! Marketing yourself will be a lot of work, it will take time and you must be persistent in your efforts. There are many ways you can spend your money and efforts with regards to marketing, but I’m going to share with you a 5-step plan to market your photography business if you’re just getting started, or are going through a transition.
Step #1 – Website
Your website is your digital storefront. Most of your clients will be looking you up online at some point, even if they hear about you elsewhere. It’s where they’ll turn to check out your work, see if you’ll be a good fit and (hopefully) it’s where they’ll get in touch with you.
Here are 7 points that you’ll want to consider for your website:
- Show off large images in your galleries.
- Show a picture of yourself.
- Keep the design simple and clean.
- No background music.
- Make it easy for your visitors to get in touch with you.
- Display your “starting at” prices.
- Tell visitors why you do what you do, and don’t just talk about how much you love
If you’re just starting out, go with a WordPress-based website, and invest in a solid photography theme. For established photographers, my recommendation is to hire a web developer and have them build you a custom website built on WordPress. If you’re just getting going though, I wouldn’t suggest that yet; wait to build a reputation, develop a deeper understanding of your market and your brand and then invest in a custom website.
Step #2 – Facebook
You probably are thinking that I’m going to suggest starting a Facebook business page for your photography business, but I’m not. Don’t do it yet. Use your personal profile at first, instead. Having a Facebook business pages is an incredible marketing initiative and you can build a great audience and following there, but if you’re just getting started, then your Facebook business page will be up against two negative factors – lack of engagement and lack of an audience.
This means that it’ll be harder to bring people to your Facebook page, and once they’re there, it’ll be even harder still to get them to interact with you, and even if they do interact, it’ll be even harder again to get them to consistently see your updates in their newsfeed.
This advice is certainly against the grain, but after having done social media consulting and management for some of the greatest photographers in the industry, my suggestion stands. Use your personal profile to post images at first, build a reputation with your current friends list and then go from there. Once you have momentum, I’d suggest starting a business page and transitioning to that channel.
Step #3 – Photographer referrals
Get involved in the local photography community in your area. You should have already done this if you were “practicing” your skill set and 2nd shooting in our foundations discussion earlier. Establish solid relationships with other photographers in your area, because when they get inquiries for dates they’re not available for or for clients they’re not the right fit for, you can be the one who gets the overflow. Referrals from other photographers will be one of the best sources of leads.
Step #4 – Build relationships in your market
Once you know what kind of photography you want to be doing, it’s important to look for strategic alliances; other businesses you can build relationships with. Much like how a good deal of referrals will come from building relationships with other photographers, just the same can be said for building relationships with other businesses that also serve your target client.
For example, if you’re a newborn photographer, then meet with, network and build a relationship with the local 3D-Ultrasound clinic. If you’re a family portrait photographer, then meet with, network and build a relationship with a local children’s boutique. If you’re a wedding photographer, network with florists, decorators, cake artists, dress markers, and so on.
You get the point; be intentional about meeting like-minded business owners who also serve your target market. Offer your services to them at no cost. Build trust and rapport with them. Relationships will go a long way.
Step #5 – Networking
Networking in your local community is key to getting the word out about your business. Photographers seem to shy away from this form of marketing, but when done right, it can be very effective. Again, the underlying theme here is relationships; approach everything with the genuine intent of establishing rapport, building trust and creating an alliance.
Look for local networking events with the Chamber of Commerce, the downtown BIA, Rotary Club, or any other small business association. My favorite is BNI – a very structured, but highly effective form of network marketing.
There we have it – the 5-steps to market your photography business if you’re just getting going, or are in a transition. Remember that marketing is hard work and takes time; don’t expect results after the first week. You need to let relationships form, establish trust, create familiarity and prove yourself.
I’d say that a good estimation is that you can look at a 6-month to 1-year waiting period from the time you start this process until you can hope to have a steady flow of inquiries.
Use this waiting period as a time to continue to learn, grow and refine your skills as a photographer and a business owner. Study up and practice photographic techniques, but also focus on business foundations. Above all else, remember to enjoy the process!