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How to get photography clients! Marketing tips for Photographers.

You have decided you want to start a photography business! Congratulations to you, by the way! This is a very exciting time of life!

You have the camera, you have a solid idea on how to edit photos, you have the passion and dream to run a successful photography business but you are missing one tiny detail… clients!!

Trust me, every single new photographer in the world struggles with getting clients at one point or another, especially in the beginning. You started this whole thing because you love photography but now you are also a graphic designer, a marketing expert, a social media expert, an email expert, and the list goes on and on. It’s a lot of work!

I have mentored hundreds of photographers from all over the world and the following tips are essential to finding photography clients. But I want to also remind you, trust the process. It is normal for it to take a bit of time to gain traction in your area. And that is OKAY.

  1. You must have a professional portfolio. This is essential!

    If you are having trouble finding clients and you don’t have a professional online portfolio, start there now. Right now. I have reviewed so many photographer’s brands who are wondering why the heck they can’t find clients only to find that they don’t have a portfolio on their website (or they dont’ even have a website, so if you dont’ have a website you gotta start there first.) Your portfolio is the very first place a potential client goes in order to decide if they want to work with you or not.

    This is 2023 and folks find every service they are searching for online. From clothing to repair services to photography services, the first place they look is online (yes most times they look online before on social media.) So you NEED TO HAVE A WEBSITE and you NEED A PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO on said website.

    So what makes a portfolio professional?

    Your photography portfolio should be your best work and only your best work.

    Your portfolio should very clearly communicate what you do. By this I mean that if you are a family photographer that should be what your portfolio should show. But also, it should be consistent in artistic style. For example, if you are a traditional family photographer keep it consistent with traditional portraits. You can’t have documentary photos next to traditional in the same portfolio. That confuses potential clients and inspires them to look elsewhere. Be consistent.

    Your online portfolio should have at least 10-20 high quality images.

    If you photograph more than one genre (weddings, family, newborn, etc,) you should separate your portfolios by genre.

    If you don’t have enough experience to compile a professional portfolio of 10-20 images, you need to do some portfolio building photoshoots. Put out a model call on social media or ask friends if you can photograph them in exchange for being able to use the photos in your online portfolio.

    You can peek at my professional portfolio HERE. All my portfolios are public on my photography website.

  2. Let friends and family know what you are in business and looking for clients.

    Perhaps this tip sounds obvious, however I encounter photographers every day who are bummed about not having clients only to find that they aren’t spreading the word about their business. Hello imposter syndrome. It is your job to get the word out about your business. Share with your friends and family and ask them to help you spread the word. You can do this by posting about your business on social media but also by emailing family and friends directly. You can send a text message to family and friends letting them know you are booking clients and you can even tell them the old fashion way, by picking up the phone and calling them.

  3. Network and partner with local small businesses.

    When I first opened my doors to my business back in 2009 my prenatal yoga instructor and massage therapist was also opening up her own business. I saw the opportunity for partnership and that partnership grew the maternity photography and newborn photography segment of my business significantly. I took headshots of her staff, photographs of her new space and services for her to use for her website and marketing materials. I also offered her canvas prints of newborns and pregnant women to display in her studio as decorations. In exchange for those services she had my cards and postcards in her studio and links to my website on her website. And of course, my work being displayed on her walls was huge for marketing! When someone would see my work up in her studio they would ask her who took them and BAM, new client. I did this same exact partnership with a local birthing center as well as a local midwife.

    When selecting a business to partner with, make sure it is one that also attracts the same clientele you want to work with.

  4. Start an email list so you can email your clients.

    The advice that you will find online about growing an email list will be complicated. So allow me to make it more simple for you. When I make this suggestion all I am saying is that you need a way to email your clients or potential clients. That is it. In the beginning your email list can simply be family, friends, and those who you have photographed before. If it’s only 10 or 20 people that is okay. You just need a way to contact your clients directly. This is my most active and effective way of booking clients. I send an email reminding them that I have session openings and I give them a quick and easy way to book a session. Which leads to my next suggestion…

  5. Have a quick and easy way for your clients to book a session with you.

    Folks are busy. They need you to make it easy to work with you. Trust me, they don’t want to email back and forth about dates. Set up a booking calendar so that they can click a button that will allow them to pick a session date and pay a session deposit. I use Honeybook’s booking software but any calendar software will do. Studies show that clients often go with who responds first as well as who makes it easiest to work with them. The easier the better!

  6. Leverage social media.

    Notice how this is my very last suggestion. Social media is important, but is the least effective way to market your business. Why? Because you don’t own that space. You are subject to algorithms and other systems in place in order to make the platforms more money, not in order to make you more money. That being said, you do need to have some sort of social media presence. There are approximately 1 billion active daily users on Instagram and Facebook alone so no matter who your ideal clients are, chances are in your favor that they are on social media. No one platform is better than the other so just start where you enjoy spending time. And don’t ask me about tick tock. Haven’t even gone there.

    Social media algorithms like consistency and engagement. So pick a weekly post amount that you can stick to and create posts that inspire engagement. Engagement means that they stay and actually read them, that they like the post, and even better if you can inspire your audience to comment, share, or save your content.

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