Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Photography is a great business to get into if you have a keen eye, but skill is just part of the equation. To have a successful photography business, you need to know how to market your business — that is, attract clients and learn how to sell photography.
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Whether you are selling prints of your work or your services as a photographer, the first step is to create awareness of your business (people can’t buy what they don’t know about). Then you need to make it easy for people to buy your goods and services, whether that’s online or in person.
Here are key tactics to investigate as you put together a plan to market your photography business — starting with those that build awareness and ending with those that help facilitate sales.
1. Create a website
People discover new business and compare products and services online these days, so you need to create a photography website to compete. Your website should display your work and give prospective clients the information they need to hire you.
When creating your website, make sure the layout is easy to navigate and the design communicates your key messages. Include a portfolio that showcases a swath of your best work.
Also include a bio page on your website, with specific details about you and your pricing, as well as your contact information, so prospective clients can learn about you as an artist and have an easy way to reach out to set up a consultation.
If you have prints to sell, build out a store on your site. This gives prospects a way to quickly access and select your work.
By selling photos online versus in a brick-and-mortar gallery, you can cut operational costs associated with a physical location and invest those funds into photography equipment and other parts of your photography business.
2. Start a blog
Blogging is a great way to establish your brand and build a following among interested clients as well as loyal customers.
You might use a blog to showcase your recent photo shoots. You can also build your reputation as an industry leader by writing blog posts on recent trends or developing ideas in the industry. Becoming a subject matter expert and thought leader in your field creates awareness for your work and buzz for your business.
3. Engage in social media
Social media can expand your portfolio’s reach to prospective clients and help you sell your work. Many professional photographers create business accounts to share their work and showcase their latest photo shoots.
In addition to promoting your images on social media, make sure that you share any blog posts you write and add a link to your website. People won’t visit your site and blog unless you promote them, and social media is a great distribution channel.
4. Invest in paid advertising
You should always promote your work to your circle of family, friends, and customers; they can recommend your goods and services to their friends and acquaintances. But you also need to reach new customers. Paid advertising can be a powerful tool for finding new prospects.
Social media platforms like Facebook make it very easy to target customer groups in your area that might be interested in your services (and at a reasonable price). You might also look into paid search platforms like Adwords.
5. Try email marketing
It’s important to build an email list as soon as you start your business. People who sign up for email listings are already interested in your work and want to hear about offerings - it’s a great CRM tactic. Email marketing campaigns are a great way to incentivise this target market with discounts and giveaways.
You can also create a custom email newsletter that discusses current photography trends (you can send subscribers to your blog) and presents your latest work.
6. Offer your services pro bono
Collaborating with local schools or nonprofits is a great way to get involved in the community while promoting your work. When you donate a session, you receive exposure and the chance to network. These types of events usually give recognition for their partners so it is also a great way to get good publicity.
7. Partner with businesses and organisations in your community
There are a few ways to think about partnerships, depending on whether you’re looking to sell prints or your services as a photographer.
Many neighbourhood coffee shops and other pop-up shops feature local artwork from professionals in the area. So if you have prints, introduce yourself to small business owners in your area and see if they are open to a similar arrangement. For them it’s an easy way to decorate their space (you may also offer a commission based on sales), and it’s a great opportunity for you to get more eyes on your work.
If you’re looking to promote your services as a photographer, think about partnering with local organisations or businesses related to the type of photography you specialise in. If you’re a wedding or event photographer, for example, introduce yourself to local event planners who can recommend your services to their clients.
8. Sell your photography online
There are many sites that let you sell photography online. Stock photography agencies like Alamy, Shutterstock, and iStock promote and sell your work to a much broader audience than you might otherwise have available to you. You can also look into selling your photography on e-commerce websites like Amazon or Etsy.
Do your research and then establish accounts on the site where you can reach your target audience and be paid well for your work. Once you’ve joined, put thought into how you title your images. Since most people on these sites are searching for particular images, you want your photos to be labeled in a way that makes them easy to find.
9. Work with art galleries
While some photographers work solo, other professionals create and maintain relationships with local art galleries in their community. When you first start a photography business, reach out to and visit all the local art galleries in the area. Not only can you spark a business relationship and potentially be featured in art galleries around the community, but you can also get a sense of your competition.
10. Sell photography at local events
Attend farmers’ markets, art fairs, craft fairs and other local events to learn how you can sell your photos there. This is a great way to put your work in front of a large audience, especially when you are first starting your photography business.
Getting paid for your photography work
Once you’ve attracted clients, it might be beneficial to create a contract so you both have mutual expectations of the scope of work. Contracts will also ensure that you get paid on time, making them crucial for your business. Once you’ve prepared a template, you can attach it to an invoice and send it to your client. This makes the selling process easy and efficient.