May 17, 2013

Marketing Your Photography Business

I couldn’t figure it out…   I really wanted to be a professional photographer, but how can you be a professional photographer if you have no clients? 

I couldn’t figure it out… I knew I had to raise my prices, but the clients I had weren’t willing to pay my new rates.

I couldn’t figure it out… I was tired of attracting the bargain shoppers, but somehow that’s who I always got. 

These were ALL very real frustrations and worries that I had in the beginning of my photography career.  I was a new photographer in a new town.  And I lost all my clients when I made the jump from $200 to $400.  It was like I was starting over…  And then imagine the jump from $400 to $2,000.00… Starting over again!

There is one very obvious answer to all of these concerns.  It’s Marketing.

I understand personally exactly why you might be shrinking from it.  Marketing can be insanely intimidating…  But the true reality is that for every week that you sit without taking action, you’re letting the dream of being a thriving professional photographer slip further away.  

I remember feeling those same fears!! But one day I woke up and threw away all my excuses… and I just did it!  I took all of the ideas I had, and I started trying them one by one.  Some were flops and some produced huge successes. The key all along had been action

Love the BACKDROP? We do to! It’s Spangled from Drop it Modern!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION… WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MARKETING APPROACH?  OR IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT TRYING, TELL ME ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENTS,  AND I’LL SHARE ANY INSIGHTS I MIGHT HAVE! (I’ve tried almost everything by now.) 

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  1. tiffany says:

    I love your videos!!! super cute outfit today!!

    • Oooh! Thank you Tiffany! I’ve been really working at this whole VLOG thing… It’s definitely a work in progress! Some days I’m feeling it and other days… I’m more embarrassed by myself than anything else. But today, I do LOVE the blouse! LOL

  2. Kelly says:

    Hey Leah~

    Thanks for the great videos~love them!

    I have a marketing idea that I am in the midst of…

    Short Version: Did a senior model ‘shoot out’ with 12 local girls. We went all out~and it’s going to be pretty awesome. I have a videographer putting together the video with stills and motion…and we plan on showing everything for the first time next week at our big REVEAL party. Last year was the first time we did it, and we didn’t get the best turn out (nobody knew what we were doing). This year’s venue only allows for 125 people, so I am having the girls sell tickets ($3 for charity)…but like most high school girls, they are freakin lazy. Do I start pimping it on my blog/facebook? The girls are the ones that can get to the juniors faster than I can…
    Ack, just needed to vent…it’s always stressful putting on something this big!!

    Thanks!

    • I think this sounds like a really fun idea Kelly! I've recently been hearing so many cool and creative model rep ideas. I definitely think you should promote it through your social outlets, not only are you spreading the word for your event but you're also showing community involvement and adding credibility to your brand! You may also want to add some incentives for the girls. For example, the one who sells the most tickets get's $100 gift certificate to MAC or a 6 person movie pack. Anyone who sells 20 tickets get's ____________________. Maybe see if there is a local shop that will donate something (like tanning, pedicure or entertainment). Keep us posted and let us know how it goes!! Wishing you a big turnout!

  3. I keep thinking “I just need to get the ball rolling”. “the ball” being a few clients, getting word of mouth moving. But without giving away my work I’m not sure how to make that happen. And I suppose the other issue is I’m afraid of looking desperate, which I sort of am. Haha! I tried mini-sessions this month (tomorrow in fact) and they have bombed. I might have one client…. she still hasn’t decided.=P I keep faking with her like I only have a few slots left, so she doesn’t know they bombed! Oy. I keep moving and keep sticking my neck out but I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere.

    • There is definitely power in getting momentum! One idea I’d love to suggest is in offering photography 101 classes. This is a GREAT way to introduce yourself while offering great value to prospects. You might enjoy this video I made that goes along with Snap Happy, http://www.go4prophotos.com/tools-to-thrive/photography-101-course-material/. Really listen for the ideas on how to use Photography 101 Classes as a marketing tool.

      And just one more thought for you… Mini Session success really comes down to numbers and stats. It’s all about how many eye balls are seeing your offering and if that particular type of mini hits home for them. Your audience may just not be quite big enough yet and hit at the right time. Personally, I find that my Christmas mini sessions do amazing but my halloween ones were not! But other people have found it reversed. So each market has it’s own quirks. I also know that the first times I tried mini, my newsletter list and blog following were pretty small still and the results were pretty low… I waited a year and tried again and after some growth, I had great success!

  4. Erin says:

    I was asked to participate in a Bark in the Park Event (Like Relay for Life with Dogs). The initial idea was to do a mini-mini shoot of the dogs, profits from print sales will be a donation. But I wanted to one-up the marketing op. So I created a team to walk and we’ll all be wearing matching T’s. I’m also planning on a ‘cutest hero’ contest from the resulting photos where donations count as a vote and the winner receives a session. That session will then be blogged later on. And I want to add a bounce back offer in as well in the folder when the clients pick up their prints. This is where I’m a little unsure. I’m thinking a mini-session in June (the next month)?

  5. Thanks, Leah! I’m going to give thought to the 101 class. It might be a great summer break idea.

    I did wonder if just talking about these mini-sessions would set the stage for fall minis. Thanks for sharing your experience with them!

  6. Paige says:

    Senior photography is completely unknown in the area I’m in and I’d like to tap into that market. I’ve partnered with a salon, created a video fusion piece promoting beauty sessions with teens which both the salon and I have sent to our respective lists. Posted images to social media… the video got a great response but not one person has inquired about a session. The girls in the shoot have done nothing to promote it ( which we requested several times both prior and post shoot). I’m a little lost about how to proceed.

    • I took a peak at your site and you’re photography is beautiful so we know it’s not that! 😉 The first think I noticed is that when I came to your site, it doesn’t actually say Seniors. People like to get that reassurance that there in the right place, that you are in fact the senior place to go but if they come to your site and don’t see anything about seniors they may just decide to move on.

      I also couldn’t find your blog or your video you made. If I came to your site today, I wouldn’t realize that you photograph seniors and it sounds like you’ve put some serious work into building a senior brand… Show it off sister! 🙂

      My last thought is again… Incentive plan for your seniors! Think about what THEY would want. Just like our kids, I’ve noticed they work very well with bribery! LOL

  7. Paige says:

    Thank you for taking the time to both look at my site and replying. I definitely agree with you but honestly if I call this senior marketing people around here think I’m talking about people 65yrs and older:) no kidding! Thank you again for your time and thoughts.

  8. Hey Leah!

    I love the idea of working with other vendors and I know a number of photographers who have said that it works great for them. So I teamed up with some Mary Kay reps and some Pure Romance reps and I also tried working with a local lingerie shop (I do boudoir phtoography) who wouldn’t take my calls so I just dropped off a letter. To all those people I gave vouchers for them to give out to their clients as sales incentives. If the client spends a certain amount with them, they get $100 off a shoot with me. I also gave some to a jewelry shop. I’ve given out about 200 vouchers to all these vendors over the past year or so. And I’ve never seen even one voucher come back to me. I also mailed out 600 vouchers to all the brides from a bridal show I was a vendor at. 2 months later, I haven’t booked shoots for any of them. What am I doing wrong?

    • It sounds like you’re on the right track, but now you need to look for ways to really make your offerings and how you’re presenting them remarkable. I would suggest really taking a deep look at what you’ve put out there, does it demand a second look or could it be tossed aside? We are so bombarded with things trying to grab our attention that we’ve gotten very good and tuning it out. Ask yourself this, “What can I do to make them WANT to tune in!?”

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