23 Marketing ideas for photographers to try in 2023
Let’s talk about the in’s and out’s of running a photography business solo. Oftentimes, you’re the jack-of-all-trades. You are the person who captures all the genuine shots, the creative mastermind, and also the one doing all the backstage work. Such as being active on social media, editing images like a pro, dealing with admin and accounting work, or coming up with creative ways to promote your brand. The list is extremely long and overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone!
In today’s article, we compiled some of the best marketing ideas for you to try in 2023. These tips will help your photography work get seen, will increase your brand exposure and ultimately grow your business.
1. Get a Website
In 2023, a website is not up for debate. Customers simply expect to be able to find you online. If you don’t have your own website yet, try to tackle it before venturing into any other marketing activities. Start out with a simple portfolio site, and build on top of it. Be clear on what you’re offering and kindly guide your visitors across pages, through intuitive sections and straightforward call-to-actions.
When you own a website, you control how people interact with the content, where they click, and how they perceive your brand. Social media just doesn’t offer that privilege. Ultimately, all your marketing efforts should lead to your website. Bring those visitors in, then walk them through the process to book your services. Here is a useful article on how to build your first photography website in 6 steps.
If you have a site, keep it fresh and review it every 2-3 months, to make sure all the information is still on point. Your site must reflect the business you run today, not what it looked like years ago.
2. Build a strong network locally
To this day, word-of-mouth is a super powerful marketing tool. Besides clients, your industry peers are the ones who are actually most likely to recommend you and bring you more customers. Cultivate relationships with other creatives in your area, reach out to your local photographers community, look for networking gigs that can get you more exposure. Create a profile on communities like meetup.com, as you can find various events based on locations and interests.
Another way to get involved in your local community is by partnering with local events and non-profit organizations to cover their photography needs. Pick events and causes that are dear to your heart, take the photos, then share the gallery with the organizers so they can post them online and on their website, along with proper credits. Partnering with these events allows you to support something you believe in, meet like-minded people, and get noticed by prospective clients.
3. Plan styled shoots
Styled shoots are a great way to diversify your portfolio, meet new vendors who can send clients your way, and stir up those creative juices. Such events are a gold mine for wedding, editorial and fashion photographers, as well as lifestyle and family photographers. Got a unique location in mind or an idea you’ve always wanted to try? Connect with other folks in the area and get to work!
4. Offer photography mini sessions
Mini sessions can be a great way to get on the radar of new, prospective clients who haven’t considered your photography service before. Since mini sessions come at a smaller cost and a shorter time commitment, compared to your regular sessions, it’s easier to get more people on board. You can plan mini sessions around specific themes or holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and more.
Consider using mini sessions as a way to build a network of connections and leads. Because once clients get to experience your service and photography skills, they’re more likely to come back and pay for a full session, or recommend you to their friends.
Haven’t organized mini sessions before? Discover more tips on how to plan successful mini sessions.
5. Join industry relevant Facebook groups
You don’t have to limit yourself to a specific physical region when building connections. Go into your Facebook dashboard, click on "Groups" in the left side bar, and search for keywords like "photography", “photography equipment/gear” or "family photographers". You can also be more specific and add a location, to see what options pop up. Connect with other talented photographers worldwide, share your work, get inspiration and practical tips, ask questions and build partnerships.
6. Create a list with recommended vendors
Are there any vendors you love working with? Stylists, florists, make-up artists, event planners, photo studios. Create a list of recommended vendors and add it to your client guide, or build a partners page on your website. Ask them to return the favor. By mutually referring clients, you support each other AND you get to work with a team that you genuinely like.
Bonus: when you get listed on your partners’ websites, you get backlinks from their site to yours - a great tactic that helps you improve your discoverability in search results.
7. Collect client testimonials
You’ve got to give credit to the power of client reviews. Nothing works better at convincing a prospective client to become a paying customer than real stories from people who hired you and loved the experience. Share client testimonials on your website. Create a dedicated page or sprinkle them across multiple layouts. Also share testimonials via social media, so your clients’ friends can discover you.
To ensure that each customer shares a testimonial, prepare an email template that you send after delivering their gallery. Ask them to share a review on your Google Business profile (see #20), your Facebook page, or any other public platform that is relevant to your brand. Alternatively, send a questionnaire to learn more about their experience. Once you’ve collected the reviews, select the most compelling parts and use them as statements and headlines across your pages.
Bonus idea: If you use Bio Links to guide social media followers to some of your most important resources and pages, add a link to your Testimonials page so anyone can read about other people’s experience with you. You can also link to your Google Business profile, making it easily accessible for past clients to share a review.
8. Invest in personal branding photos
When people are searching for photography services, they are looking to hire a REAL person they like and connect with. Putting your face out there is one step closer to building a trustworthy relationship with potential clients. Invest in getting a few professional images of yourself, to use on your website and social media.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Ask another photographer friend to take some genuine photos of you alone, with your partner, with your kids and pets, or while you’re shooting a couple. Suggest to return the favor to your friend - that way, you both get beautiful branding photos.
9. Streamline your visual presence
Want to have a memorable brand that is easily recognized by customers? Keep a cohesive aesthetic across all your communication touchpoints. On your website, social media channels, in your email signature, while delivering galleries, on your contracts and invoices. No worries if you don’t have a professional brand identity. Choose 1-2 of your favorite fonts, a color palette that you relate with, and combine them with your branding photos. To help you out, we compiled 10 elegant font and color combinations you can use on your website and across other channels.
10. Offer a freebie to grow your email list
Emails are the most certain way to reach your clients. You don’t depend on algorithms, and you control when and what you communicate to your audience, straight to their inbox. Grow an email list of loyal customers who genuinely care about your brand and are interested in what you have to share.
Build your list by offering a useful freebie on your website, that people can download in exchange for their email. Once they sign up, follow up with an email sequence to introduce yourself, present your work and get subscribers familiar with your services.
Here are a few freebie ideas to try out:
- “The ultimate stress-free wedding checklist”
- “10 tips to prepare for a boudoir photoshoot”
- “20 epic elopement locations in X location”
- “10 brilliant floral artists you can hire in X location”
- “In-home family photoshoot checklist”.
11. Host a partner giveaway
Reach out to your partners or industry vendors (floral designers, photo studios, makeup artists, stylists, etc.) and run a giveaway with amazing prizes from both parties involved, for both of your communities. Giveaways let you tap into your partners’ community and introduce your services to them. Run it on Instagram if you’re looking to increase your following, or have people sign up to your newsletter, in order to grow your email list.
12. Get on Pinterest
Whether it’s planning for a home renovation, a dinner recipe or an important life event, Pinterest is the place where people go for inspiration. Once you start pinning photo examples from your portfolio and blog, you make yourself available to thousands of users that actually want to find you. Make sure to include a link into each of your pins, to direct traffic from Pinterest to your website. Use relevant keywords when adding titles and descriptions to your pins, to increase the likelihood of them being found.
Hone in your audience based on type of interests, whether that’s clients who are looking for a photographer, location or outfit ideas for a family photoshoot, or industry peers who need inspiration and guidance. Take them to your homepage, portfolio page, or create targeted landing pages based on the topic you’re pinning about.
13. Create [more] video content
Before the introvert in you scrolls past this, listen out: the best way to get more exposure online is through video content. It can be YouTube, TikTok or Instagram Reels. We hear you - getting in front of the camera can be intimidating, and it’s normal to avoid it. But no need to worry about the dancing and pointing, or keeping up with trends. In fact, you don’t even have to show your face. Compile useful tips or advice for your couples, share your process, post behind-the-scenes moments, outfit ideas for different occasions or inspiring locations for a session. You can also record the process of booking you, receiving a photo gallery, and any information that will help your potential clients feel more confident to hire you.
14. Start a Podcast
Too shy to get in front of the camera? Try the audio format - it became extremely popular in the past years. Because people are busy, they usually listen to podcasts or audiobooks while doing other things.
A podcast is also a great way to nurture partnerships with your industry peers, tap more into education, and build a loyal community around your brand. Nonetheless, a podcast does take time, and if you’re not ready to commit to a big project, yet - start by getting some exposure as a guest on other podcasts in the photography industry.
15. Recycle and repurpose content
Being active on social media can be exhausting. The good news is that you don’t have to come up with new content every day. Just recycle and reuse older posts. A blogpost, video or podcast episode can be turned into 5 instagram posts, 20 pins, and about 3-4 reels/TikToks. Present the same content again and again, only in different ways. Work in batches, create content for weeks ahead and schedule it via apps like Later, Planoly or Facebook Creator Studio.
16. Offer prints
Prints will be relevant years and years from now. Not only do you offer your couples priceless memories from their special day, you also empower them to share those precious moments with their loved ones. Prints are a powerful, and most importantly free, marketing tool for your brand. When your clients’ friends and family receive your stunning printed work, chances are - you are the photographer they’ll book for their next important life event.
A Client Guide is a useful resource that you offer to your customers to prepare for their photo session. It will help you reduce the back-and-forths in your communication, since it answers the most frequently asked questions that you get from clients. You can also offer it as a freebie in exchange for an email (see #10) to grow your subscribers list with leads that can potentially become paying customers.
Compile the Client Guide as a pdf file with useful information, vendor recommendations, outfit inspirations, shooting locations, event timeline, or any other insights that can help your clients feel at ease and know what to expect.
18. Master the art of blogging
Take a look at your recent blog posts. Are most of them a collection of images from your favorite shoots? While this is a great way to showcase your photos, the truth is - you don’t blog for your website visitors, you blog for Google.
When you upload images to your site, you want them to show up in search results for people who look for a photographer online. Blog posts are a great way to help Google “read” the content on your site, boost your SEO and ranking in search results. Include a few paragraphs of text with relevant keywords inside your blog posts, mention other vendors and link them through, optimize all your images and name them with descriptive titles.
Find more tips on blogging for photographers and how to improve your discoverability online.
19. Build on your local SEO
Local SEO helps you increase the website traffic that comes from local online searches. If you photograph in a certain location, you want to be found online when someone searches for that location, ie. “Wedding Photographer in Utah”. Try Google Trends to find the right keywords for your business and location. Use them across pages on your website, in your headlines, in blogposts and in image titles. Here are more great tips on local SEO.
20. Create a Google Business profile
What is the first thing you do before visiting a new restaurant, or when booking an unknown vendor? You search them up on Google. You look at reviews. Setting up a Google Business profile will help list your business in the search results with a location, opening/closing times, website URL, photos and reviews. It will also help your SEO, since your page gets bumped up in search results. Therefore, when someone searches for your business in Google, your profile will show at the top. Once you set it up, kindly ask your clients and vendors to leave you a review on the page.
21. Automate your processes
While this is not directly related to marketing, automating other aspects of your business gives you mental space to be more creative. You can’t be a visionary when you’re overwhelmed with constant admin work. Think what daily to-do’s you can get off your plate. It can be anything from scheduling social media posts, setting up email sequences, sending contracts or reminding clients to pay their deposit/invoice. It may take time to set up the automations initially, but your future self will thank you later. The fewer operational activities to deal with, the more time you can allocate to your creative endeavors and marketing efforts.
22. Offer impeccable customer experience
What makes a great client experience? Anticipating your customers’ needs and going above and beyond their expectations. If you do that, guess what - your clients will recommend your photography services to everyone they know. Send out questionnaires to ask what preferences they have when working with you, but also to collect feedback post factum. Questionnaires help you understand what aspects need to be improved for your future clients. You’re also guaranteed to pull great testimonial pieces that you can use on your website.
Check out this article with 40+ question ideas to include in your Questionnaires, sorted by type of photography and stages of client communication.
Bonus idea: Offer your clients a bespoke present or a thank-you card after their session with you. If you photograph weddings or maternity sessions, set a reminder in your calendar to email those clients on their anniversary, or after welcoming their baby. It’s a lovely gesture, that can also get them thinking about booking you again.
23. Show kindness across all your communication channels
Go that extra mile, show that you care. Engage with your audience online - comment on their social media posts, reply to their comments under your posts. Show genuine empathy when you answer DM’s. Ask your clients to tag you whenever they post a picture you’ve taken. Thank them for that. At the end of the day, being a nice human is all that matters in business.
So many exciting ideas to try in 2023! We’re convinced you have the skill and knowledge to tackle each of them. But, you don’t have to go all out, and most certainly - you don’t have to do it alone. Build a support system of caring people and efficient tools for your business, to leave space for rest, inspiration, friends and family.
Here at Pixieset, we equip you with tools like Client Gallery, Store, Website and Studio Manager - the backbone of what it means to run a photography business online. These will help you simplify your workflow, build meaningful client relationships and hopefully make all these marketing efforts seem like a piece of cake!