What’s the key to getting photography clients? Read on for our comprehensive guide!
So you look on Facebook and Instagram and see all of these fantastic photographs that just seem…annoyingly PERFECT. The moms have the dreamy flowy dress and coordinating jewelry and magazine hair, the dads are impeccably dressed, and the kids just walked off the cover of a JCrew magazine, and it just seems unattainable. Your first thought is one of two things. One, you just don’t live in an area that people dress that way or the light just isn’t that dreamy. Or two, you ask yourself, what the heck am I missing? We’ve all been there; we just need to be more intentional about getting photography clients we want.
How do we find the people we want? And how the heck do I get more of them?
Here are a few of our most significant secrets that will improve your photography game and start attracting more business.
Figure out WHO your ideal client is so that you can market to them!
You first need to create a profile to narrow down your ideal client. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- Do I want to photograph couples, families, professionals, weddings, etc.?
- How old are my ideal clients? Young families, established professionals or up-and-coming entrepreneurs? Maybe you like working with mature couples, or the elderly! This determines how you will market to these demographics. My 94-year old grandma may be on Facebook (she IS actually), but most in that age group probably aren’t.
- What is their average income? This helps when setting your prices and also how you may market in-person.
- Where do they shop or where do they hang out? For example, mothers may spend their days/evenings at the park with their kids, or shop at children’s stores. Young professionals may gather at trendy cafes or networking events. It may be worth it to leave some fliers/business cards at these establishments or even collaborate with the shop owners who will then tell people about you! For example, offer a new business some headshots for their website if they agree to refer others to you! Heck, you may get some free coffee out of the deal as well!
Create a photography website and Facebook page.
One of the best ways of getting more clients is by being online. People want to see your work!! There are some really simple sites if you’re just getting started, so don’t be intimidated. The fact is, a website is the FIRST place someone is going to go to check you out, so really try and put your best foot forward. It’s worth the extra time and moments of frustration! I PROMISE. You can start your own blog in about 5 minutes!
Don’t undercut your prices, but offer individual sessions.
Your ideal client probably isn’t paying you $25 a session, for hours worth of work, am I right? After reading countless articles and blogs, the one common theme I’ve found is that you undervalue yourself, people will reflect that to you. Someone paying $25 for a session is looking for a deal, and will often ask for more! They probably aren’t going to go the extra mile to tell people how amazing you were, and if they do, they are telling them how low your prices are! Don’t get in that rut, because let me tell you; it’s hard to dig yourself out. Set a reasonable price and go from there! You can do free and discounted work (we’ve all been there starting), but make sure to tell them that it’s a deal and that you usually charge XYZ.
Have a contract, be professional, and PLAY THE PART. Have the confidence in your ability to take amazing photographs, and people will believe you! Heck, you’re here reading this tutorial in Cole’s Classroom, which already proves you take pride in improving your work! I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, but you ARE WORTH IT. Give off what want to get…you know, that whole “law of attraction” thing! IT WORKS.
Some ideas for getting more clients with specials…
- Offer LIMITED mini sessions, with X number of images included, with the option to buy more.
- Offer a free session, but ask that the client share the photos online, write a review on your Facebook page or one for your website, and tell their friends about your work (without mentioning their session was free preferably). This could EASILY lead to more clients, and it also gives you more photos for your portfolio! It’s a win all around!
Find more information on how to price your photography packages here.
I know…all of you introverts are already saying, “nope, not doing it.” I get it. I get it 100% because I’m the most awkward social being on the planet. BUT, it does pay to chat a little. The thing is, you can sell yourself AND be genuine. I promise this will help you get more photography clients. This doesn’t mean you have to go to every networking event in town, in fact, I haven’t been to any! What this means is TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU DO. It comes naturally in conversation most of the time anyway!
For example, I went to buy some shorts at a local boutique (about six months ago) and struck up a conversation with the lady at the front desk. I told her I was a photographer and we had a friendly discussion and connected on Instagram. A few days ago, that same lady wrote asking if I could photograph her fashion event! You NEVER know what will come of random interactions, so take the step of putting yourself out there (even just a little more than before)! It’s worth it!
- Tell everyone in your family and all of your friends that you’re a photographer! Sounds simple enough, but sometimes asking them to spread the word could help!
- Post on local Facebook groups!
- Offer referral discounts! So $25 off your photo session if you refer a friend!
- Drop some pamphlets at a local kids boutique.
- Offer to take photos for a new business in town!
Cole did a great video on networking; you should check it out!
Be of service.
Cheesy, maybe? NOT AT ALL. Hear me out. The biggest reward in life is giving. The goal is to channel that love and service in your photography and with ALL of your clients. So wait, how exactly does this get me more photography clients? It’s about putting 100% of yourself into your work. Go above and beyond (maybe send a little thank you note, or surprise them with a small print of one of their photos), be available, be professional, and rock your session by not sweating the small stuff (or giving the stink eye if the three-year-old make a face every time you snap a photo).
People will like their photos more if it was a fun experience! We are innately wired that way! SO, maybe it doesn’t turn out to be your best work, but it was FUN, and you KNOW you gave your heart to your client for that hour or that day. Word of mouth is the biggest marketing asset! So when you find your ideal client and make it a great experience, they will probably refer you to their friends and family, who will most likely be your ideal client as well!
I have a little story for you! When I first arrived in my new town and did my first paid session, the mom hated the pictures. She was nice about it, but I immediately thought it was the end of my prospects. I was crushed. But you know what, I did everything I could to be professional, took FULL responsibility and explained where I had made some mistakes, apologized, and offered a free reshoot. And you know what happened? She referred at least ten more ideal PAYING clients! We did a free reshoot nine months later, and she loved the photos.
Moral of the story; give 100% of your heart, and maybe something unexpected will happen.
Ask for feedback.
This is hard. We want feedback, but sometimes it feels weird asking for it. When you’re starting, you need to be willing to hear the truth. It may hurt, but it WILL help you improve. It will also be useful in getting more clients because you can use that feedback as “testimonials” on your website or Facebook page. If you go out of your way to make the client feel special and do your best, chances are they will give you great feedback! You can also ASK that they tell their friends or share their pictures on social media.
Share what you want to attract!
Cole touched on this in a previous article, and I can’t stress how important this is!
We all are aware that social media is HUGE. People scroll through THOUSANDS of images, sometimes daily! (This is me admitting I have a social media addiction.) If you consistently post images that reflect your ideal client, that’s what you will attract. Let’s make it simple; if I see a photographer’s Instagram and it ONLY has photos of high-end weddings, I probably won’t contact them about taking pictures of my bird.
If you are showing bright and airy images, people will know your style, which is why they may look elsewhere for a dark/subdued look. Finding your style (which takes time, trust me), will help to attract more clients that fit that style.
ABSOLUTELY SEND A STYLE GUIDE.
Seriously, do it.
Let’s be real, guys…photos look better when people dress nicely. Take the time to put together a style guide, and email it before a session. I PROMISE it makes a HUGE difference. People are not fashion gurus; they need direction! When people start showing up in well coordinated, wrinkle-free clothes, you’ll secretly give yourself a high five and get excited about sharing the photos on social media and your blog! When you get more of those “stylish” images, people will automatically up their game (although I’d always still send the style guide)! You guide your clients into the look you’re going after. It helps solidify your brand, and your clients will appreciate the guidance. You can always make tweaks along the way to get closer to the ideal look you’re going for.
Some basic wardrobe tips…
- Wear solids, or non-distracting clothing (i.e., no logos, or holes).
- Don’t be too matchy-matchy.
- Maybe focus on a color scheme…like soft pastels, neutrals (like grey, cream, olive).
- Coordinate with the background. At the beach, maybe wear soft greys/blues/tan, or in an urban environment, suggest they wear bolder colors.
- Tell them what to avoid! For example, you know bright orange doesn’t photograph well, or neon green. You’d be surprised what people will show up in because THEY DON’T KNOW!
Cole’s Classroom has created a style guide as a part of the Family Portraits Toolkit!
BLOG, BLOG, BLOG.
You’ve probably read this a million times. Blogging (and learning more about search engine optimization) will get you more photography clients. When you start blogging enough, people will begin to follow, and more people will notice. Link your blog to your Instagram or Facebook for more visibility. This is where you can showcase your best work AND let your clients get to know you a little. When people find a human connection with someone, they are FAR more likely to feel comfortable working with you…SO GET OUT THERE.
You can read more about blogging!
The moral of the story is one thing, it’s crucial to be strategic and intentional about getting photography clients.
If you’re unclear about your style, brand, type of photography or who your ideal clients are, you’re going to have a hard time nailing down how to get more of them. You can apply that same concept to life, right? If you don’t know what you want, how the heck are you going to get there?
One thing to keep in mind is this; it’s a process! No photographer woke up one morning knowing exactly how to run their photography business, and for many, it can take years of refining and figuring out what works.
But it doesn’t have to take you years to get a steady flow of photography clients. A great way to cut down on that learning curve is to find a mentor or learn from those who have already built successful photography businesses. My favorite resource for mentorship and training is Cole’s Classroom Pro; It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. If you decide to become a Cole’s Classroom Pro member, make sure to say hello so I can welcome you to the family!