Ask the nearest person what they think of sales people and I’ll bet they respond with comments akin to “slimy” or “con-men”. Sales has a bad rep, but a business without sales ceases to be a business.
So how does this relate to photography? Well, unless you’re a high-flying photographer to the rich and famous, you’re probably like the rest of us: a local photographer with local clients.
Sharp photography skills are essential to running a photography business, but focusing on skills alone and leaving business skills to blur is a recipe for disaster.
In this article we’re going to look at seven easy tactics you can put in place today that’ll get your services seen by more local clients. None of these tactics are hard, all are effective. So unless you want to continue down the familiar path of a starving artist, buckle up and take note.
1. Your Website
In today’s day and age there are zero reasons for you to not have a website. From children who can only just read to grandparents with failing eyesight, everyone uses the internet.
Better yet, websites have never been easier or cheaper to setup and run. Even the most non-technical of people can setup a website in just a few clicks with today’s technology. So unless you’re shooting analogue, you probably know your way around a computer.
So why should you have a website?
- Having a website means you’ll show up in search results, especially if you’ve optimized your site for local search.
- A website enables you to show off your best pictures in all their glory.
- Your website is a part of your brand, a gorgeous website will install trust and confidence with potential customers.
- A website gives you the opportunity to present clients with detailed information about your services. Of course a Facebook page is great, but you’re limited to what Facebook allows your to show.
Are websites hard to setup?
Absolutely not. There are plenty of photography specific services that enable photographers to build their own websites. Check these out:
One common trend I see on Instagram is professional photographers have disproportionately larger followings than regular users. But as Instagram is a photo-sharing app, this should be no surprise.
If you’re not using Instagram for the love, you gotta be using it for the business.
Instagram now has the option to open a free dedicated business account which gives you in-depth statistics on your followers and who is viewing your pics.
With over 600 million active monthly users, you can be pretty confident that members of your local community are using Instagram, which is a huge opportunity for you to find new customers.
And you have a natural advantage. As a professional photographer your Instagram shots should stand out from those posted by regular users. This’ll help you get more eyeballs on your pictures and help you to quickly develop a following.
Take pictures of local attractions and geotag the location when posting. When other users check into the same location, they’ll also see your pictures.
If you take beautiful photos of your local area, local attractions and local businesses, you’ll no doubt build a following of local people.
So why’s this of benefit to you?
Firstly Instagram is a visual platform. It’s the perfect place for a photographer to show off their photography skills.
Secondly, the more frequently local people see your work, the more front of mind you’ll be. When those people need a photographer, you’ll be the one they remember.
…whilst we’re talking Instagram, don’t forget to follow @FilterGrade!
3. Watermarks on Your Photos
Don’t ever feel guilty about watermarking your images, especially if you’re distributing them without payment. I’ve spoken with photographers in the past who feel that a watermark ruins the image and some who plain can’t be bothered.
Every time you post a picture to your website, social networks or anywhere else on the web, you’re no doubt going to receive a lot of free attention.
In fact, the more attention you receive, the more likely it is that some unscrupulous netizens will try and use your images for their own gain.
Without starting a debate on copyright, watermarking your pictures can be a quick and easy way to protect your content and get you the credit you deserve.
Should one of your pictures go viral in the local community, having your name, logo and/or contact details in the corner could end up driving a stream of new customers.
4. Use Offline Promotion
One of the simplest ways to advertise your business to local people is with printed advertisements. Does that sound old school? Well it shouldn’t. According to a study by GFK, print advertising provided the highest ROI for every euro spent when compared to TV, radio and online.
Using Facebook ads is a great option, but online advertising can be technical to setup and an expensive waste if you get it wrong.
As a photographer you should be pretty well versed with Creative Cloud and apps like Photoshop. So knocking up a quick flyer or poster for your business shouldn’t be a challenge.
5. Make Friends & Strategic Partnerships
Being paid with exposure can be a hot topic in the creative community and for good reason too. But when done right, giving some of your time and skills can pay off in dividends.
Creating strategic partnerships with local businesses can get your name in front of your target market at little to no cost.
Consider this: You’re a portrait photographer and your target market is young families in the local area.
To get your name in front of this market, you could offer some of your photos – perhaps a photo of a laughing child or a young family – to be used free of charge in a local child-friendly restaurant.
Placing your name and/or url underneath the pictures is a fantastic way to drum up interest for your services.
This may seem like a far-fetched idea but this has been a long time practice in the hotel industry. Local artists frequently offer their works to be displayed for free in exchange for the opportunity to sell them to hotel guests.
6. Local Facebook Groups
One of my hobbies is road tripping around Europe and I recently launched a website about camper vans. The auto market is huge and getting traffic from search engines alone is damn near impossible.
So instead of focussing on search traffic I opted for social media, specifically using Facebook Groups to launch my website. With only a handful of posts on my site, Facebook groups launched my site from zero to 1,000 visitors per day in less than a month.
How was this possible?
Well, the best thing about Facebook groups is that they hold a captive audience of people who have said “Yes! I am interested in this subject!”, whether it’s camper vans or your local town. When you make a post with something specific to the group subject, interaction is naturally very high.
There are Facebook groups for almost every type of niche, interest and location, and I’m sure there are groups for your location too.
Pretty much every city, town and village has its own local community groups on Facebook. These range from buy, sell and swap type groups, to seasonal events and niche interests.
Some examples of Facebook groups in my home town, Leyland:
- Leyland Memories – a group where people share old photos of the town.
- Leyland Events – a group for people sharing upcoming event details
- The Leyland Hub – a group for sharing ideas and comments about the town
- 20+ Leyland Buy Sell Swap groups – there are dozens of groups for selling items and services
So what’s the point of this? Well these are merely examples of what local groups look like. Take a look on Facebook and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of your own.
For someone who is trying to sell a product or service to local people, these groups provide a perfect captive audience. So how do you go about taking advantage of them?
Important! When marketing on Facebook you need to follow one rule: social media is about being social.
The moment you go for the hard sell or blatantly post an advertisement, people’s eyes will glaze over and you’ll likely be kicked from the group.
To fully capitalize on the power of Facebook groups, try to offer something of valuable discussion or something that’ll interest people.
As a photographer, this could be sharing a picture you’ve taken in the local area or a picture of local people.
Invite people to give you their feedback and discuss the photo. Don’t make the post directly about your photography service. Instead simply watermark the image with your details as mentioned earlier.
You’ll be surprised how effective this can be. Before you know it people will be commenting “How much do you charge for a family portrait?”
7. Be Better Than the Competition
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
If the new year isn’t the ideal time to set yourself some goals then I don’t know when is. Make 2017 your year of learning, improving, and being better than you were the day before.
Whilst “be better” may be an annoyingly passive “tip”, it is nonetheless true and waiting to be seized upon. It is easy to get stuck in your ways and become accustomed to what you have and what you do. New is much harder, and scarier.
Whether you follow one of these tips or all of these tips, I hope they help you improve your business in 2017.
Good luck, and all the best for the new year!