We’re talking marketing for photographers, with three simple, actionable steps designed to help you boost your brand, promote your portfolio, and get more clients! (Photos & quotes by: NICOLE JANSMA)
You have the gear, the portfolio, and the passion. Now you just need the work! Here are three things you can do TODAY to get more clients fast.
#1: Curate Your Portfolio – Especially On Instagram!
We talk to successful, experienced photographers every single day, and they all tell us the same thing: they’re booking tons of work through Instagram!
How, you ask?
They’re Showing the Right Photos
Your Instagram feed should be thoughtfully curated. The ratio of casual shots to professional imagery should be approximately 1 : 7.
To get more clients, DO post these photos on Instagram:
- photos you’ve made for clients
- professional-quality photos you’ve made of your own family or friends
- no more than ONE behind-the-scenes photo per week!
If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy professional/personal balance, maybe it’s time to create a separate Instagram account for your personal photos – one your clients won’t see or associate with your brand.
Social media is an ongoing experiment. Try something for a couple of weeks, then (if it’s not working for you) change it! Everything from posting times to the types of photos you post will garner different attention depending on your unique audience and personality. Don’t be afraid to try new things!
They’re Using the Right Hashtags – In the Right Place!
Your hashtags shouldn’t go in the caption field below your photo. They should go in the first comment after you post your image! Share at least 11 hashtags for the best results.
While hashtags like #ILoveMyClients may be cute and fun, they won’t get you anywhere if you’re looking for new business. To get more clients, focus on location- and genre-specific hashtags like:
If a couple is using Instagram to look for a photographer in the Paris area, they’re much more likely to search one of the above hashtags than they are to search #BeautifulCouple or #GreenDress.
“One of my most random bookings came from an Instagram interaction. I was scrolling through a hashtag and saw someone’s post about Auburn (my alma mater). Being a good Auburn gal, I commented ‘War Eagle!’ (Don’t ask..it’s an Auburn thing!) Someone saw that comment, saw that I was in Chicago, and booked me for a shoot! There really is no such thing as an ‘insignificant’ interaction on social media!” – Nicole Jansma
They’re Posting (Almost) Every Day
Get more clients by posting a fresh image on Instagram every weekday – and on the weekends, too, if you’re ambitious! Choose a day each week to pre-select your upcoming week’s Instagram images, and schedule them to post automatically using Schedugram. (For a small monthly fee, actual humans post to Instagram for you – no bots!)
Don’t worry if some of the photos you share are old. As long as they’re high-quality and representative of your ongoing work, they’ll resonate with your audience!
As you get to know which images your viewers love most, post more of THAT.
Check your Instagram Direct Messages DAILY. Instagram ONLY notifies you of DMs from people you’re already following, so you’ll need to manually check for DMs from new prospective clients!
#2: Get More Clients Simply By Asking
You know people. You have friends and family, and they have friends and family, and they have friends and family… and so on! You’re connected to these people through social media, your church, your day job, your kids’ school… And you have the ability to reach out to them directly and ask them to book you.
Sound scary? Maybe a little. But it’s not as scary as not having any clients!
Here’s how it works:
Offer A Promotion
Reach out to past clients, potential clients, and your friends and family and tell them:
“It’s portfolio-building season, and I’m looking to book five fun portrait sessions for the month of October! In exchange for allowing me to select an incredible new location, I’m offering each couple or family 20% off their session! If you (or someone you know) is interested, email me directly to reserve your spot. I’m can’t wait to create beautiful new photographs with you!”
(Direct communication is key when motivating people to buy!)
Of course, you can tweak this offer any way that will help you get more clients!
- free 8×10 matted print
- bring a friend
- save $500 off any winter wedding package
- free Mobile App
- book a wedding, and get a FREE engagement mini session
These offers and discounts will not hurt your bottom line if you’ve priced your services appropriately. Deals such as these are considered part of your Marketing budget, and are a normal cost of doing business. Don’t be afraid to provide special promotions in order to obtain new clients! Just make sure you know your numbers, and aren’t losing money on the offers you make!
“Word-of-mouth referrals are absolutely my biggest source of acquiring clients. This past year, for example, seven of my booked weddings came from just ONE client. And last fall, one birthday party event resulted in eight different portrait shoots. There are a lot of ways I do that, including referral perks; but the most important thing I make sure to do is to give my clients an unforgettable experience. Then they actually WANT to tell other people about me!” – Nicole Jansma
Word-of-mouth marketing is the best form of marketing when you’re looking to get more clients! Reward your legacy clients (repeat customers) with a referral program that gives back! Some examples are:
A Points System
Earn 1 point every time a brand new client books me based on your referral! 5 points = 50% off your next session. 10 points = a FREE portrait session!
A Credit System
Earn a $25 photography credit for every new client you refer to me! Use your credits toward your next session, or toward prints or albums!
A Prints System
Earn FREE PRINTS when you refer new clients to me! For every brand new client who books me on your referral earn your choice of one 8×12, two 5x7s, or four 4x6s!
Podcaster Cathy Heller of Don’t Keep Your Day Job recently doubled her subscriber count by making one simple request of her followers:
“For my birthday,” she asked, “share this podcast with one other person.” People did, and Cathy was rewarded with a blossoming listenership and even more loyal fans! The takeaway? It never hurts to ask!
#3: Pursue A Passion Project
Sometimes, we aren’t booking the clients we want because we aren’t showing the work those clients want to see!
But how do you show that work if you haven’t shot it yet?
It may be time to craft a styled shoot – a session you control 100%, with a hand-picked location, carefully-selected subjects, and whatever wardrobe, props, or styling you deem best.
Styled Shoot Reps
Senior Photographers have long-known the value of selecting a Senior Representative – a handpicked high school senior who receives their session for free, then markets the photographer to their entire class!
You can use any styled shoot to get more clients:
- One well-connected engaged couple who models for your wedding styled shoot can send you dozens of prospective clients!
- One community-involved family who participates in a portrait styled shoot can connect you to an entire network of photo-loving families!
- One gregarious business owner who sits for a portrait styled shoot can attract a thriving group of successful headshot clients!
People Love Passion
People are attracted to passion. When you’re photographing scenes and subjects that light a fire in your soul, that excitement spills over into your portfolio, your social media, your website, and your communications with potential clients.
As you grow your portfolio and your business into something that excites you, share that joy with your followers and fans!
We don’t get more clients by anxiously, aggressively insisting that the universe send work our way. We build our businesses by creating with intention and connecting with purpose.
Watch your wallet, invest in your craft, and #FocusOnWhatMattersMost. We believe in you!
What’s the craziest way you’ve ever booked a photography client? Tell us in the comments!