When it comes to the photography profession, possessing a good technical understanding of photography alone is not enough. Along with technical skills, a creative eye, great communication skills, interpersonal skills, business skills, and offering top customer service will take you a long way.
However, even when you possess many of the skills, finding photography clients is still not that easy today. As in every other industry, the competition is tough.
But why are some photographers always high in demand while some hardly find any clients? What are the secrets of charming clients?
What mistakes should you avoid while hunting for photography clients? Read on to discover the secrets of picking up photography clients in 2021 and the mistakes you need to be avoiding if you want to succeed in this profession.
If you are a beginner, there are plenty of photography niches you can explore, including food photography, product photography, portrait photography, wildlife photography, landscape photography, and more. You can experiment before you choose one. Once you select a niche, you can follow these tips to pick up your clients.
Secrets to Finding Photography Clients in 2021 Revealed
Figure out your client
Creating a profile and figuring out your client will let you know your target market. The niche you pick will largely determine your client.
Do you want to photograph products, families, professionals, landscapes, weddings, or others? If you are going to photograph people, you will want to know how old or young are your ideal clients? Are your clients' established professionals or up-and-coming entrepreneurs? This will determine how you will market to these demographics. Also, knowing their average income will help when setting your prices.
Create a photography portfolio website and social media pages
A great way to acquire more clients is by being present online. For many clients, your website is going to be their first point of contact. And of course, people want to see your work before they hire you along with your website works and your portfolio. So design a website that is simple and functional yet has the best features. Also, don’t forget to build a contact page where people can reach you.
Choose the Right Platform to Showcase Your Portfolio
Your portfolio website is your gateway to the world - so its time to think hard on how you showcase your work, the communication tone you use and the information you provide and several other factors that go into building a great portfolio website. Make sure that the portfolio website builder you choose offers the flexibility, features, and ease-of-use you need to put together a professional portfolio website without requiring any coding knowledge.
Pixpa offers an easy yet powerful drag-and-drop website builder and includes Client galleries, eCommerce, and blogging tools to enable you to manage your complete online presence through one seamless platform. Explore all features that make Pixpa the perfect choice for creative professionals such as photographers, artists, designers, and others.
Create your professional portfolio website easily on Pixpa in minutes without any coding knowledge. Start your free trial now.
In a survey conducted by PhotoShelter, where photo buyers were asked about the most important elements of a photographer’s website, easy navigation emerged at the top.
When it comes to blogging, it has SEO benefits, and it allows you to connect with your audience on a more personal level. Here is a complete Guide to SEO for photographers and small business owners, that will help you build your brand and reach new clients.
Coming to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it is quite difficult to choose one to use for your business. But if you know their pros and cons, it will be easier for you to determine the right platform. For instance, Pinterest may not be a great place to find corporate photography clients, but it can be a goldmine for wedding photographers. Experiment with different social media sites and settle for the best.
Creating and maintaining a website or social media pages isn’t easy, but it’s worth the extra time and moments of frustration!
Get referrals from friends and family
Many photographers say they acquired their first client through referrals from friends and family. However, people are likely to trust word of mouth marketing more.
In fact, according to reports, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family compared to other types of advertising. Unless you get employed in a company or open your own photography studio, your first clients are going to come from your contacts.
Start a referral program
When you offer clients a discount for referring friends and family, it not only encourages clients to return, especially if you choose to offer a discount on their next session, but it brings in new clients.
There are several ways to set up your referral program. You can choose to offer a discount on future sessions, or you can offer a discount on prints. Whatever you decide to do, ensure to provide this only once the friend or family member that your client has referred actually books your services.
Network! Network! Network!
Get involved with other professionals in your local area and your industry. If you can hit it off, you will find business owners can be really loyal toward each other. Ensure to promote their businesses to your clients as well, and they’ll reciprocate.
For instance, if you are a wedding photographer, it’s especially ideal for networking with other wedding professionals since you share clients but don’t have to compete for them.
When you maintain relationships, you will get a lot of repeat business from clients from other areas and cities. Your clients are one of your greatest assets and making them happy is a photographer’s priority. Having a client leave satisfied and ready to be willing to recommend you is great for generating new income, but have you ever thought of the income you could gain from repeat clients? Customer retention can be the strategy that ensures the future of your business. Here are a few tips on improving Customer Retention and building a relationship with your clients.
Traveling for shoots can be one of the most lucrative things you will do. Moreover, you can host boudoir marathons in cities that have a substantial group of clients. It is a great way to capitalize on all the work you have done and maintain these people as your lifelong clients.
That said, don’t expect all of your clients to wait for you, but if they like your work, some of them won’t mind waiting for you. Thus, keeping those relationships positive is vital. It is a small world, and your past clients can be your biggest cheerleaders.
Attend trade shows
Being an extrovert and having good communication skills are a bonus. Participating in trade shows will require you to engage with people. This avenue isn’t recommended for introverts.
But if you’re paying to advertise in a magazine that will be distributed at a trade show, you can focus your marketing efforts somewhere else as your brand will already have a presence at the show. It will be even better if the magazine gathers names and emails at the tradeshow that are then distributed to advertisers. It will save you plenty of time, and it is like having your own marketing assistant.
Ask for feedback
Ask for feedback, often. The first time you ask might feel weird. As a beginner, you need to be willing to hear the truth. The truth may be bitter, but it will help you improve. Feedbacks will also help you get more clients because you can use them as testimonials on your website or social media page. As long as you go out of your way to make the client feel special and do your best, you can expect them to give you great feedback. You can also ask them to tell their friends or share their pictures on social media.
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Looking for Clients
When it comes to marketing, avoiding mistakes is equally important as doing the right thing. Below are some common mistakes photographers make, which you can avoid in order to find photography clients.
Don’t offer discounts
In certain situations, sales and discounting may make sense, but don’t make them a marketing way of life. It will not find you the photography clients you want. When you offer cheap services, you typically attract cheap customers. They will care more about low prices than high quality.
Cheap pricing can devalue your brand. Clients will never pay full price as they know you’ll eventually run a sale tomorrow. Moreover, someone will always be willing to go cheaper than what you are offering, and it is difficult to sustain a business in the photography industry, or any industry for that matter if you follow this strategy.
Don’t think marketing is optional
Even the best photographer needs to build connections and market his photography work. Not every client will tell their friends how great you are, so you need to market your skills and experience. Maybe you can invest an hour or two per week to find new clients, but you have to be consistent.You can try out content marketing, which is one of the easiest, not to say the least expensive forms of digital marketing. For instance, using blog posts, you can reel in your target audience by writing something that is relevant to your niche.
Don’t sit in front of your computer all day long
Of course, managing your website and social media is essential, but you need to get out of the house and into the community. When you get out, volunteer, and connect with folks in your community and build your personal brand.
And keep in mind that customers do business with people they like and know. If they never get a chance to meet you, they will not get a chance to like or understand you.
Don’t make your own marketing materials
Just like a good camera doesn’t make someone a great photographer, experience with Photoshop doesn’t make you a master designer. When it comes to creating your logo and other marketing materials, hire a professional graphic designer who creates designs for the photography industry or invest in professionally designed templates.
A good design will lift up your brand and indicate you’re worth every penny. When you show signs that you are willing to invest in yourself, your clients will be willing to invest in you.
Don’t gamble on mass advertising
Sure, mass advertising can effectively build businesses for the right business model. But most photographers don’t desire or need 1000 clients a year. Only if you think you do, go for mass advertising like Facebook and Instagram ads, local magazines and television. However, if you are aiming to make $100,000 yearly, you only need 50 clients who spend an average of $2,000 each.
Don’t forget to keep a client database
When business is slow, you can refer to your client database. If you are doing a great job, many clients will be willing to come back for another session. Sometimes your clients call you out of the blue, but you can also specifically market to them to come and schedule a session.
Don't forget to protect your Digital Copyright
If you are searching for photography clients online you may get to work for people you have never met in person or someone who lives 100s of miles away. It's obvious that you have to send a sample of your work to them, that's where Digital Copyright laws come handy and you have to make sure your content is protected. Read more about this here - a helpful guide by Mark Theoharis of MoneyCrashers.
As you can see, finding photography clients isn’t impossible. Just follow the right tips, as mentioned in this article, like figuring out your client, building an online presence, networking, getting referrals, starting a referral program, and attending trade shows. Also, avoid the common blunders many photographers make.
Are you struggling to build your photography business in 2021? Ask yourself: how much is my work worth? A photographer has the option to shoot for free, but that doesn’t mean you should. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Know your real worth and charge accordingly. The right clients who respect and appreciate your art will be more than happy to pay you for it.
Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, and Entrepreneurship. Pratik has spoken at the 80th Annual Conference of the Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting and Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee, and other major events. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few. He can be found at Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.