It is a no-brainer, but it can’t be emphasized enough: a client base is the heart of every business. It is through clients that businesses survive, gain reputation, learn their market behavior, and most importantly, gain income.
How do you get more clients to book you for photography shoots? How do you find the people who need your services? Here are 8 simple and surefire ways to build a name for yourself and increase your number of clients.
1. Build your online portfolio.
Your online portfolio is your most powerful tool that showcases your skills and capabilities to your prospects. In today’s day and age, people begin searching for most any product or service online. Photography is no exception.
Keep digital copies of all projects that you were commissioned to do, and include your best work in your portfolio. If your work is featured in magazines, journals, books, and other publications make sure to add copies of those publications as well. Your portfolio improves your credibility and reputation as a professional photographer.
2. Establish a referral program.
Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising! Having raving fans and core advocates promoting your business for you can have a tremendous positive impact on your bottom line. It should always be common practice to politely ask your clients to refer you to possible prospects.
In order to take this to the next level, create a referral program where referrers get freebies, discounts, or commissions. If you have done exceptional work for them in the past and the reward is great enough, your clients will be more than happy to refer to you in their networks.
3. Network with people related to the industry.
Establish and maintain connections with professionals who are in the photography industry such as real estate agents, event planners, fashion designers, writers, and more. They are excellent sources of leads, so ask them to refer prospects to you, and make sure you send them prospects in return. Shake hands, meet and mingle, and make sure to bring plenty of business cards! Networking events may not yield results immediately, but by planting seeds early, you will begin to see the return on your investment down the road.
4. Join photography communities/events.
Exhibits, photo walks, seminars, and workshops are excellent opportunities for you to meet potential clients, journalists, and other photographers. Socialize with them, compliment their work, and ask for advice. Make sure your website is up to date, and have business cards ready so you can give them out once people show interest in your work.
Many photographers assist one another on shoots and refer work to one another when they are already booked. Use these communities and events to get out there and get to know other active photographers in your area. It can be fun, and educational and can even lead to more work for you down the road.
5. Update your website.
Your website is a massively powerful tool when it comes to marketing your business. As a small business owner who may work from home, think of your website as your storefront. Keep in mind that as a business, you want people to pay for your services. As such, your website should convince people why they should hire you over anyone else. The best way to do this is:
- Show off your best, most compelling photos.
- Tell your story, and post photos of yourself to build trust.
- Include a “Call to Action”. Whether you put your pricing online or not is up to you, but what all photographers should do is make a compelling case to contact you for more information. So give them some details, but leave room for them to want and need to contact you.
- Make it easy to get in touch. List your contact information and social media channels you are active on and respond quickly when people reach out.
6. Use social media to your advantage.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are effective tools for reaching your target market. But, before diving into every form of social media, figure out what social media platform your clients are using most. Maybe your clients are most active on Instagram or Pinterest and engage more when being able to like or pin some of your photos. Or, maybe you find it more beneficial to get a large following on Snapchat because your audience is interested in seeing what new projects you’re working on throughout the week.
Social media can be an amazing tool to help you improve and grow your business. But, be careful. Spending too much time on social media or trying to manage too many accounts can become cumbersome and take away from time from your normal day-to-day operations. Use social media wisely, and make sure that you are utilizing social media in a way that makes it a benefit for your business, not a burden.
7. Publish a blog.
Being positioned in the first part of a search engine results page can give you a better chance of getting more prospects. One effective way of doing that is to publish a blog. Write about your business, new service package, and stories that go along with your photos. It is also a good idea to include photography tips and advice. If your blog posts and photos are well done and provide real value, readers will tend to look up to you as a thought leader in your industry and therefore give you more credibility than your competition.
People like it when service providers personally reply to their inquiries and calls. Interaction makes them feel secure, knowing that there is a person or a human team behind the brand. Prospects will more likely close the deal with you if you are able to reply to their initial inquiry within the first few hours. This being the case, always take time during your day to answer emails, messages, phone calls, and blog and social media comments in order to follow up with potential leads and current clients. Make sure to always follow up and give feedback after you have completed a project. A wise woman once said to me, “Your fortune is in your follow-up.”
What is the common denominator of all these 8 tips? Yes, you guessed it. It’s all about connecting with people and building relationships. Business, in general, is all about relationships and how you manage them. Find ways to provide true value to your clients and treat them with respect and honesty and the rest will take care of itself.