How to get your first paying clients as a Photographer
I know many of you reading my blog love taking photos just because you love taking photos. I also know that many of you love photography so much that you want to share that gift with the world and get financially rewarded for it too. If you have that desire then keep on reading. You’ll see more blog post from me over the coming months about this side of photography and how you can turn your passion into a full time income.
So where do you begin?
Start with your Circle
Sometimes a business can happen quite naturally. Chances are, if you love photography so much, you are THAT mom on the baseball field taking ALL the pictures ALL the time. At some point, the other parents realize their iPhone photos can’t compare with the beautifully captured images you are taking and they start asking you to shoot their kid’s photos. Or perhaps you’re so excited to use your new lenses you jump at the chance of photographing the preschool Santa photos and business grows naturally from there. If these types of situations have happened to you now is the time to leverage that. People already know that you are “snap happy” so make sure you tell them that you are open for business!
Its easier than ever to reach out to you friends and and your family. One click of a button and you can shoot an email to everyone in your address book. You’re only one status update from declaring your new venture to the world! Use the power of social media to tell your circle that you are doing some mini-shoots or send them a personalized message inviting them to a shoot. Telling your inner circle first will give you the confidence and practice you need to start pitching your services to strangers.
You actually have to ask people to share you are doing this new venture. Often times, friends might be hesitant to refer you if they are unclear that you are taking new clients on. Make sure your circle knows that you are open to shooting new people and actively ask them to refer you to their friends.
If you’ve already taken photos of them encourage them to share on social media and tag you or ideally your business’ social profiles.
Sweeten the pot even more by given them something in return for sending you a referral. This can be a formalized thing such as a free mini session for every three referrals given to you, or something a little more spontaneous by just rewarding those people in your network who you know are good for referrals. Perhaps a free 10 x 8 print or session every so often will help nurture that relationship and keep you top of mind when they are being asked to recommend a photographer. Personally I like a more formalized solution which is baked into your marketing plan. Having a system in place for this will ensure that this marketing strategy can essentially run itself and something I help my clients set up all the time.
As has been said a bajillion times before, there has never been a better time to get yourself and your business seen for FREE using the internet and social media. But because of this super low barrier to entry it is harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Its important that you fully utilize your social media profiles to represent your business. Make sure the basic information is filled out correctly and for a local business put all of your contact information on there.
Encourage clients to write a testimonial for you on your social sites – e.g. Facebook, as these will be some of the first places people will look when researching your business. A good testimonial is priceless and you should use them everywhere in your marketing.
And of course, it should go without saying, the photography you share should be your absolute best work and an example of the type of photography you love to shoot. If you want to be a wedding photographer, tone down the baby shoots and most definitely those sweeping landscape shots. Post lots of beautiful brides to solidify your position in the market. If you are not getting the type of work that you truly want to shoot then take a good look at what your social media photos are saying about you. If you’re lacking the shots you desire set a plan in motion to go out and shoot them!
Local Joint Ventures
Being a photographer you have the luxury of constantly creating content that should sell your services for you. Every photo you take can be a piece of marketing material – its just up to you to put it in front of the right eyeballs. The next time your in your local Dentist Office, check out their wall decor. Does it need updating? Could you provide them with some pretty pictures in exchange for a utilizing their wall space? Think about the amount of people that are going to see your work on a daily basis. Even better if you can negotiate a deal with a very aligned vendor such as a Pediatric’s Office if you are a Newborn Photographer or a florist if you specialize in Weddings.
Also consider joining up with aligned vendors who operate in your industry vertical for cross referrals. Start to build this network of people who you like to work with and nurture them the way you would your clients. Word of Mouth Marketing has been around a long time and is flourishing now more than ever thanks to our super connectedness on Social Media.
These best thing about all these marketing strategies is that none of them need to cost you any money – which in any business is a good thing!