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How to Market Your Photography Business for Free

Get clients without spending a dime with these easy marketing strategies.

If you want to run a successful photography business, it’s not enough to take great photos. You need marketing skills to attract new clients. The good news? The best marketing strategies won’t cost you a dime. You can easily boost your popularity without spending more money on your photography business.

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When you’re focused on creating great work, it can be difficult to remember that your photography business needs a marketing strategy. You can’t sit back and wait for clients. That’s not how you successfully grow a business. You have to put yourself out there and grab their attention.

At the same time, you don’t have to be aggressive or awkward to get results. Your photography business is a reflection of your personality and your marketing strategy should be similar.

Are you outgoing and social? Use your extroverted energy to network at events. Are you quiet and shy? Connect with fellow introverts on social media platforms.

“The average company uses 12 different marketing tactics”

The 2016 B2C Content Marketing Report revealed that the average company uses twelve different marketing tactics from social media (90%) to webinars (40%). Don’t worry if twelve tactics sounds like too much work. Start with 2 or 3 and once you start seeing results, you can build from there.

The first thing you need to do is create a custom marketing plan by picking and choosing the strategies that you’re excited to try. The best plan won’t feel like work. It will be a rewarding way to connect with clients, fans and colleagues.

The engagement can be addictive. You’ll get comments, views and shares right away. For many people, it will be important to dedicate time to marketing with a hard stop so that you remember to go back to work.

Without spending any cash, you can reach thousands of potential clients. It’s easier than ever to market your photography business for free. In fact, before you start adding a budget to your plan, use the free options to test how effective your choices are. Your marketing plan should be a living, breathing set of goals and tactics. If something isn’t working in thirty days, change it up.

“The best marketing plan won’t feel like work”

The last step before choosing free marketing tactics for your photography business is a simple exploration of Who, What, Where, Why.

Think carefully about your answers to these questions: Who are you marketing to? What do they need to know about your business and what do they like to see? Where can you find these people online and offline? Why are you different? Why should they care about your business?

Now you’re ready to make a plan. Here are the best free marketing tactics to grow your photography business:

Build Your Online Portfolio


First thing’s first, you need a portfolio website. This is where potential clients can see your work and find your contact information.

You need a portfolio that you can update yourself. One of the biggest mistakes photographers make is putting another person in charge of their website. If you do that, you have to pay someone and wait every time you want to update your portfolio.

Format.com is the quickest, easiest way to build a professionally-designed portfolio that can be customized to suit your work. Read our 10 Steps to building the perfect portfolio for tips and tricks.

Social Media


Social media is the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to share your work with millions of people. That’s probably why 90% of companies use social media in their marketing plan. As a photographer, you should focus on posting your images rather than lengthy sales pitches or explanations. Keep text to a short sentence and let your photo do the talking. Did you know that the brain finds visuals 4x more memorable than text? Stay top of mind by updating new images to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Family, friends and fans will instantly think of you the next time they need a photographer.

“Tip: Make sure your social media accounts are available on your portfolio’s homepage.”

Networking


Networking is the best kept secret of successful marketing plans. Nothing beats a face-to-face positive interaction when it comes to business.

Have you heard the expression, “People do business with people”? That means that you’re more important than your skills and services. Your clients want to work with you and not a photo-taking robot. Especially early in your photography career, you should make an effort to meet clients, colleagues and partners. Those relationships will become key players in the success of your business.

Imagine you’re completely booked up and another client wants to book you for a job. You need to refer that client to someone you can trust. Who jumped into your mind? It’s likely a photographer that you’ve met in-person.

Now it’s your turn to be the trusted photographer by shaking hands at industry events (wedding shows, baby shows), corporate events (everyone needs a headshot), store openings (product shots) and photography meet-ups.

“Tip: Make sure your portfolio URL is on your business card for future browsing. Format portfolios look great on any device so potential clients will get the full effect even on their phones.”

Email Signature


We lied, this is the easiest marketing strategy. It’s even easier than posting to social media. Simply go into your email settings and update your email signature to include your portfolio URL and social media links. Every time you send an email, you’re marketing your photography business.

If you’re using a Gmail, go to the settings gear at the top right and click “Settings.” In the “General” tab you’ll see “Signature.” Add all your information in there and it will automatically show up on all your emails.

“Tip: Keep it simple. If you’re using big images or fonts, your signature runs the risk of slow load times and general annoyance.”

Blogging


A blog is a great to connect with your audience in a friendly, conversational way. Make sure your voice is professional but casual. This shouldn’t be a long, complicated article. It should be light and fun. Depending on your photography business, there are a few angles you can take with your blog posts.

A wedding photographer will want to position themselves as an expert. You want to establish that you’re the right person to hire and no one knows more than you.

Brainstorm topics that people are likely to type into Google like: “How to find the right wedding photographer” or “What should I ask my wedding photographer” and then write a blog post to answer that question.

If you’re looking for editorial clients, you can share behind-the-scenes stories and images to give insight to your creative process. It will help them understand your unique vision and dedication.

Your blog is also the place where you can post photos that don’t quite make it into your portfolio. It could be a new project that you’re still not finished with or one that’s still great but didn’t make the cut.

“Tip: Share your blog posts on social media so that they get the attention you deserve.”

Tanja Lippert’s Portfolio Blog

Online Listings


Add your name to the mix by posting your photography business to free online business listings. It will help make your portfolio more searchable and will introduce you to new clients.

Make sure the business profile image you’re using is attractive and speaks to the type of clients you want. Should you post something moody and dark or bright and light? That’s for you to decide. When in doubt, a photo of a smiling person is always great.

Look up local listings websites and start posting. Google Business is a great free option no matter where you live.

Run a Contest or Promotion


Get creative with a contest or promotion that will get more eyeballs on your photography business. This can be great for social media if your followers share your work with their friends. Ask them to tag a friend on social media or re-post one of your photos with a caption that includes your name.

Try working with a seasonal or timely theme for maximum engagement. For example, if it’s National Best Friend’s Day, have people tag their best friends and you can pick a winner for a duo photoshoot.

There are risks to giving things away, however. Make sure that you won’t be out money or time that you can’t afford. Yes it’s “free” to do a photoshoot but your time (and the transit money) is still worth something.

Plan your contest effectively so that you’ll get the exposure you want for what you’re giving away. Warning: Beware of people only looking for free things with no interest in you or your photography business.

Get Featured


You can tell people about your photography business all day long, but it can be 10x more effective if a reputable publication tells your story or posts your images. You’ll instantly see a spike in the traffic to your portfolio website because people will want to see even more of your work.

Make a list of your target online publications and start a spreadsheet to keep track of editor contacts. Your pitch email will be more effective if it suits your work. Read through the website so that you get a feel for their aesthetic and editorial direction. Then, write your pitch email to the editor. Keep it short and stick to the points. Who are you and what do you do? Attach 3-4 samples of your best work with a link to your portfolio so they can see more.

When is the best time to pitch? When you have something new. Do you have a new series or a notable photo shoot? That’s what editors want: new work that their readers really want to see.

Parikshit Rao’s Portfolio featured by The Phoblographer

“Tip: You might not hear back for months but don’t get discouraged. Editors are extremely busy and they might not respond right away. When you do hear back, make sure you promptly send them anything they need. If you keep them waiting, you might miss the boat!”

Client Referrals


Use your existing clients to get more clients. Offer your favourite clients a future discount or deal if they refer you to someone that ends up being a paying customer.

While this technique isn’t completely free, you’re not paying for advertising. Instead, you’re absorbing a portion of the cost for a brand new high caliber client. It’s a client that has received a positive recommendation from your previous client and will likely be of the same quality.

This can be an extremely effective way to organically grow your business without taking risks on advertising to people who might not be interested.

Cross-Promotion


Everyone is looking to boost their marketing. Why not team up with another business owner and combine your forces? Find a local store owner and offer to shoot a party in their store. Upload the images to your social media and you’ll quickly find that the store’s customers will become yours.

A restaurant might need new images for their social media and you can shoot them for free, with the condition that you’re tagged and credited for every photo. The possibilities are endless. Just think, where are your potential clients and how can you get in front of them?

Headshots are a great offer for cross-promotions. Go on location at local businesses or organization and take portraits for free. All you need is lighting gear, your camera and a backdrop to create a studio on-the-go.

Collect email address so that you can send the headshots and now you have a high-quality addition to your email marketing list. Take that list and send them updates about any specials or seasonal reminders.

Get started on your marketing plan and show the world your talent. Make sure you tag us on social media so that we can see your work.

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