Six Tips to Build Your Photography Business:

by Gavin Seim (Updated 01/10) — With winter on and economic downturn in many parts of the world, you may find yourself looking at the numbers in horror. OK maybe I’m going too far, but many photographers are concerned about the amount of work on their schedule. I’m a blessed man. And while things are moving along, I too am looking at ways to put more on the calender.

Now I’m not the worlds chief authority on marketing. What I do know is that amazing service is a never fail approach. Beyond that there’s is no instant solution, but hard work pays off and these tips will get you thinking. I’m going to assume you already have great service (you do right?), then keep it short with six tips that can help you get noticed in this competitive market. I also found another cool article by Sean Clayton about getting your phone to ring that you might want to check out.

  • #1. Give Some Classy Freebies:
    Sometimes the best way to make profit is by giving something away. You don’t have to devalue your work by shouting FREE prints to the world.  Try sending  gifts to past clients for anniversaries or graduations. They don’t need to be photos. In fact something else might make a HUGE impression. Chocolates, a gift card for dinner. Maybe coffee or a bottle of wine. They may have loved your photos, but clients need a reminder to talk about you. I know it sounds expensive, but it will WOW past clients and usually pays. There’s various ways to give gifts and perks. Just be creative and see what matches your style.
  • #2. Send Images to Venue’s:
    Sending out promo images from a venue is a great way to make yourself memorable and build venue relationships.  A pile of 8×10’s for their book or some web files for their site is fine, but lately I’ve been taking it to the next level by giving notable things like larger canvas images and albums. Venues nearly always need great images to show off to potential customers and what can be better than them showing off yours. Make sure you put your name on them in a classy fashion and send some business cards along. The venue will appreciate the images, and you can get free advertising, which is always the best kind.

  • #3. Freshen up your site:
    Have you made sure your web space is clean and pretty. Add fresh images, and clean out so so ones. I see so many photographer portfolios that could be twice as good is they just cut them if half, getting rid of the lesser quality pieces. A gallery of ten great images blows away a gallery of fifty everyday images. Also spend some time optimizing for the search engines (Google search for SEO tips). Running a blog on your site will help keep your content fresh and relevant to clients and search engines. Having your blog as part of your site, is better when it comes to getting traffic then having a separate blog (like blogger) I use WordPress for my website and blog all in one and search engines love it. Read more about using WP in my article here.
  • #4. Send a newsletter:
    I collect email addresses of clients. Then I send an occasional newsletter. You can just mail is you have a small list, but the most professional approach is a newsletter service like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Sending a e-newsletter can be a great way to put your business in front people for a low cost. It does take time to build your list, but it’s worth it. Just don’t email too often and remember to make your mailings interesting. Also don’t buy lists of emails or you’ll be marked a spammer for sure. You could also look at the same idea but by sending a physical newsletter. More expensive, but in the email inundated world you’re likely to get notices more with physical mail.
  • #5. Attend a show:
    Attending a show can be a good way to get your name and images in front of the right eyes. Don’t expect instant results but it can help build your brand. For example, I attend a wedding show each January.  It can be spendy, so don’t try to hit every show in the State. Just pick a nice one and make up a nice presentation (also a healthy marketing exercise). I talked more about wedding shows in PPS podcast #40 if you want to learn more. You do you could also consider home shows, women s shows etc.
  • #6. On Print Advertising:
    Personally I do lousy with most traditional print advertising, but different markets and approaches work differently so consider all aspects. When I do something with print I like to think creatively. I get more from direct mail than in magazines or newspapers for example, but that can be spendy. Another approach is to place inserts in local school papers or chamber mailings. You can sometimes get lots of local eyes for not much money compared to running print elsewhere. Remember building relationships is better than running ads. Don’t blow the fortune on print. Just consider how it might help you and how you can be creative with them.

Hopefully this got you thinking. What are you doing in your market to drum up business? Share your tips. Business is hard work and there’s rarely a magic bullet, but every little bit helps. Share your ideas in the comments.