When it comes to finding customers, new photographers might feel like they’re coming up against a lot of obstacles. For example, you’re probably competing against other photographers in your area.
You might not have the biggest marketing budget, so it feels like a challenge getting your name out there.
And you might feel pressured to start being profitable right away — how else are you going to pay your bills?
Take a deep breath! These challenges are easy to overcome. All you need is a little imagination, some elbow grease, and the tips you’ll find in this section.
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Know your customer.
You know you need to get customers, but have you taken the time to understand who exactly is your customer? Identifying your customer can be helpful for your marketing efforts, because then you can tweak your messaging to really hit their emotions.
For example, let’s say you’re a photographer in a suburb where houses are selling like hotcakes. With a little research, you may discover that your average customer is a growing family with young children. With this information, you can start tailoring your marketing message to their situation. Instead of just listing yourself as a local photographer, you can talk more about your family portraits and the importance of capturing these precious years.
Finding out who your customer is and what they respond to can be a huge win for your photography business. When researching, look for the basic information about your average customer, including:
You can get more specific with your customer research, but the above characteristics will tell you a lot about how you should approach your marketing, as well as the places where you’re more likely to find your customers.
Build out your portfolio.
You don’t need to wait to be an established photographer with tons of customers to start building a great online portfolio. Gather the photos that best represent your talent, as well as photos that apply to the niche you want to specialize in.
Your goal is to showcase your talent and your eye for detail, which can happen regardless of whether you got paid,or not, to take those photos.
Develop a memorable logo.
Every business should have a logo, which will add some personality to your marketing materials and branding. If you have a knack for graphic design, try designing your own logo; otherwise, it’s best to hire an expert who can quickly capture the essence of your business.
In general, your business’s logo should:
Your logo should be a seamless part of your business. That’s why it’s important to avoid large, messy, or complicated logos that need more than a second to interpret. If you’re looking for inspiration, try checking out the logos that your competitors are using, or search for images online. Remember, don’t use a logo without permission or payment; instead, have a professional designer create one for you.
Once you have your logo, add it to everything with your business’s name on it, including:
Network, network, network.
Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. If you want to get business out there, go to local events, fairs, and any other place where you can reach out to potential customers. Be sure to have professional business cards with your contact information that you can hand out to prospective customers. Pretty soon, your networking efforts will build up the momentum you need to start bringing in customers.
Of course, word-of-mouth marketing techniques can be difficult to capture in just a single paragraph: that’s why I encourage you to check out our FREE guide on word-of-mouth marketing.
It’s especially helpful for photographers, as it will show you how to use your first few customers to build a stream of new customers — all without lifting a finger.
Offer discounts and free trials.
Even as a photographer, free trials and discounts can do a lot to help you attract new customers to your business. For example, you could offer 25% off family portraits for first-time customers, or a $500 off deal for customers who book off-season weddings with you.
In order to make discounts and free trials work for you, ensure that the photography service you’re offering is so indispensable that your customer can’t live without it. If you’re offering a “meh” service, you’ll lose a lot of potential business after your free trial or discount period ends.
Use social media — wisely.
Your potential customers are probably spending a lot of time on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, so if you want to reach out to them, consider investing in paid social campaigns. Each platform is different, but in general, paid social campaigns place your ads in front of customers while they’re scrolling through their feed.
Social campaigns provide great opportunities to offer free trials and first-time customer discounts, but be warned — it can be easy to overspend on social campaigns. Make sure you have enough money to engage in a campaign, plus be aware of when you should stop.
Want help running your first few social campaigns? Check out our article on how to master Facebook advertising.
This photographer also has a great tip for photographers who may not have a lot of money to market but are happy to hop on social media:
“Do your best to stand out and develop your own style in photography. Try to keep away from the trends or what’s getting likes. If you don’t have any money to market, Instagram is your best friend.” — Roxy Moure
Get noticed on Google.
Google listings are often a trusted source for customers, especially if they’re checking out a company that they’re interested in doing business with. Think about the last time you looked up a restaurant or a local store — chances are Google listings (including website information, phone number, and reviews) helped you make your final purchasing decision.
To get noticed on Google, make sure you have a website (you can set one up inexpensively on Wix.com.
From there, create a free Google Account for your business, then search for your business name on Google. When it appears, you should see a “More Info” option that appears in the top-right corner of the map listing. Click on that link, which will take you to a page where you can manage your business listing, as well as add your website address, request reviews, and more.
Try out Google AdWords.
Google AdWords — those ads featured at the top of every Google results page — is a great way to let the world know you’re open for business…
But only if you know what you’re doing!
AdWords involves some monetary savvy, as it can be easy to spend too much money on online traffic without actually gaining any customers. If you’re interested in trying it out, check out our fun infographic on how to use Google AdWords for the first time.
Sometimes it can feel like it’s taking forever to find your first customer, but keep your head up! The work you’re putting in now is creating momentum for your business for years to come.
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
Mariah writes on a number of topics such as small business planning, contractor insurance, and business licenses.
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