Starting a photography business can be an exciting first step in your career as a professional photographer. However, in order to make sure that you’re consistently growing your business and turning a profit, you have to learn the ins and outs of getting photography clients in the first place. The problem? Figuring out how to get photography clients or how to get commercial photography clients (depending on your portfolio and expertise) can be a challenge for many new freelance photographers.
Fortunately, so many photographers have walked this same path, offering a wealth of information and advice that you can draw on to make sure that you hit the ground running once you start looking for work. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at a host of strategies that you can employ to get more clients for your photography business. In this guide, we’ll cover the following strategies.
- Conduct deep competitor research to learn how they’re finding clients
- Network. network. network.
- Develop a solid concept of your style, who you wish to work with, and how to reach them
- Place a major emphasis on client service and experience
- Incentivize clients to both book you and refer you
- Look for beneficial partnerships early on
- Make sure that you’re visible online
- Just starting out? Consider friends and family as a stepping stone
- Advertise on freelancer websites (It won’t be forever)
- Volunteer to get exposure in your community
If you’re ready to start making money and a name for yourself, let’s begin!
1. Conduct deep competitor research to learn how they’re finding clients
It’s important to remember that a photography business is still a business. Putting in the work and planning to make sure that your business is both healthy and sustainable means the difference between having to be a part-time photographer and watching your new business endeavour thrive. One of the best ways to learn how to get photography clients is to research your competition and figure out how they’re onboarding new clients regularly.
What type of marketing channels are they using to reach clients? What does their messaging look like? How have they built their reputation over the course of their business being open? What do customers have to say about them and how they found them? Taking the time to thoroughly research the competitors offering the same types of services you want to not only helps you better understand their success in getting photography clients but what their weaknesses are and how you can offer something more to drive clients to you.
Of course, it’s crucial to the health of your business that you don’t copy their messaging or branding. You’re looking at their strategies and for inspiration only when you’re conducting competitor research!
2. Network. network. network.
Whether you’re looking to learn how to get commercial photography clients or another type of photography client, one of the most important lessons to learn early on is that networking is everything. Networking is a great way to help you get in touch with prospective clients who are interested in your work. However, it also allows you to connect with photographers who can direct you to these clients, partner with you, and otherwise enhance your business.
But where are you supposed to meet other photographers and prospective clients? One of the best methods is through social media. Whether you use a professional networking platform or simply follow and engage some of your favourite photographers, it’s relatively easy to reach out to and build a community of fellow photographers. However, you can also look for live events in your area. This might include group shoots, local breakfast networking groups, or even general business groups.
If you want to get your work out there, it’s critical that you take advantage of every opportunity both online and in person.
3. Develop a solid concept of your style, who you want to work with, and how to reach them
Marketing is heavily reliant upon taking all the right steps prior to worrying about how to get photography clients. While we could easily get into an entire guide here about how to properly reach the right audience and create a plan of action that will work, we’ll instead break this section down into the three main focuses that you should have once you start your photography business.
- What Type of Photographer Are You?: As a photographer with a freelance business you want to take to the next level, you might be willing to do anything and everything to land clients. However, that doesn’t help your business grow. The reality is that clients looking for photography services are looking for specialists. What services do you offer? What sets you apart from other photographers? Why you and not another photographer in your area? Get clear on what you offer, what it has to offer clients, and how you can distinguish yourself from the competition.
- What Type of Clients Are You Looking to Work With?: Understanding what type of clients you want to work with is equally as important as determining what type of photographer you are. Who is your ideal client? What type of support do they need? How can you best translate your value as a photographer to encourage them to work with you? All of these are essential questions to ask before you start marketing your business.
- How Will You Reach These Clients?: Finally and most importantly, how are you going to reach these clients? Once you have a better idea of who your target audience is, figure out which marketing channels will be most successful in helping you get your services in front of them. Are they most active on Facebook? Instagram? Do they use certain photography sites? Know where your clients are so that you don’t waste time or money on advertising that doesn’t reach them.
This can be an extensive process, but making sure that you take the time to do all this before advertising can save you a great deal of trouble. You may even wish to work with a professional marketing agency that can effectively reach your client base for you!
4. Place a major emphasis on client service and experience
Client service and experience are the heart and soul of your photography business. Why? When you provide your clients with the best possible service and experience, they might very well come back, especially if it’s a client that you can continue doing periodic work for. Additionally, those who are focused on getting photography clients will benefit from knowing that clients will want to refer them because of the excellent experience that they had with them.
Put simply, always aim to ensure that your clients receive the best possible experience so that you can benefit from those positive relationships now and in the future.
5. Incentivize clients to both book you and refer you
Incentivization goes a long way in getting clients who are on the fence to take action. If you’re looking for support from these clients, even more so. Let’s imagine that you have an email list or a social media following filled with prospective clients. If they’re not currently reaching out for your services, you can always offer a discount to pique their interest and drive them to take action.
Once you’ve worked with them, it’s also essential that they help to spread the word. You can incentivize them at this stage as well. You might wish to offer them another discount they can take advantage of later if they post a review online. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you may even want to establish some form of a referral program that rewards those driving traffic and clients to your website. No matter what it is that seems to bring more clients to your business and help you spread word of mouth, look for incentives that get the job done.
6. Look for beneficial partnerships early on
Partnerships are one of the best sources of clients that any business has. This is due to the fact that the right partnership will allow you to tap into that business’s client base, giving you access to individuals who trust the business they’re hearing about you from. You might also partner with an organization that hires you or gives you regular work. Generally speaking, this isn’t going to be another photographer. So, which businesses should you reach out to in order to grow your own?
Some excellent ideas to help you with your outreach include wedding venues that are in constant need of photographers, various schools in your area that might need photographers to take school pictures every once in a while, or even local businesses that require commercial photographers who can snap stunning pictures of their products to post on social media or local advertisements. When you’re looking into how to get photography clients, it’s important to remember that some of the best clients are actually local businesses that will partner with you to provide you with steady work as you grow your own photography business.
7. Make sure that you’re visible online
Today, everyone looks for everything they need online. Even local businesses have websites and rely on local search engine optimization in order to help customers find what they need. As a photographer, you have a wide range of options to get set up online. Let’s take a closer look at them.
- Social Media: Every photographer should be on social media, especially on social media platforms where imagery is the highlight of said platform (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). Take the time to create some compelling bios, find the right picture or logo for your business, and start showcasing your work to others online. The best part of social media is that it’s free marketing right at your fingertips!
- Website: If you’re a healthy business and you have some money to spend, it’s definitely time to consider investing in your own website. A stunning website makes it easy for prospective clients to learn more about who you are, where you’re located, what your photography looks like, and how to get in touch with you. Given that these websites are relatively easy to set up, you won’t experience too many issues along the way. However, you should reach out for professional help with local SEO so you’re getting the traffic you need to sustain your business.
- Online Portfolio: Are you a little bootstrapped at the moment? Don’t worry. One solution that new photographers can use are online portfolio sites. With an online portfolio site, all you have to do is upload your photos to it and make sure that you’re linking out to it on social media and via every other opportunity available. Otherwise, it’s going to be very difficult to find you unless someone already knows your name and knows that you don’t have your own dedicated website. Once you have more cash, you can create a portfolio website for your work.
You need to have exposure if you’re focused on getting photography clients. Make sure your work is visible online with the tips above
8. Just starting out? Consider friends and family as a stepping stone
If you’re new to freelance photography, there’s no shame in turning to your most immediate circles to drum up business. Friends and family are often excellent sources to turn to for your first clients, especially because they’re going to be your biggest supporters as they spread the news of your business and your results to their friends.
It’s as simple as sending a text, posting to social media, and seeing if anyone is in need of your talents. Perhaps you have a cousin that needs their senior pictures taken. Maybe you have some friends looking for a wedding photographer that they trust so they get the best possible outcome. Start here so that you have some income as you work with the other suggestions offered throughout this guide.
9. Advertise on freelancer websites (it won’t be forever)
As someone with a new business, marketing on all fronts is what’s going to generate the most results. What other guides may not bring to your attention are freelancer websites that are designed to help small business owners and freelancers find work. Some of these might be familiar to you, while others might be quite new. Just a few suggestions include Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr.
There are some upsides to using these kinds of platforms. For example, it makes it easy to show your portfolio right on the platform and seek out clients in need of your services. However, there are some downsides as well. Most platforms often take a fee from your earnings in order to support the platform. Others might require you to pay a fee in order to use their services and to apply to multiple jobs within any given month.
Simply put, it’s essential to do your due diligence and weigh the pros and cons of using any platform before you sign up so that you are getting the most out of them. That being said, these can be excellent resources for those who are just starting out.
10. Volunteer to get exposure in your community
Volunteering won’t pay you, but it can give you the exposure you need to bolster your business and get you in contact with clients who are interested in your photography services. No matter where you live, chances are that there are events going on in and around your community. For example, if you have a local run for (insert cause here), volunteering to take pictures for the event will allow you to get credits for your photography that those in your area will see when they visit the website, read the paper, or jump on social media.
Volunteering opportunities are a great way to get new photography clients if you’re someone who has some extra time to spare and has an interest in some of the events going on in your area.
Ready to shoot? Start with Tutti!
Finding new clients can seem like a challenging feat, but it doesn’t have to be. If you just started your own photography business or you’re going through a dry spell, the guide above will give you some more insight into what you can do to drive new clients to your photography business. But what do you do when you’re ready to shoot and you need some photoshoot locations? Start here with Tutti!
Tutti connects you with local spaces and space owners so that you can book your favourite locations, shoot when it works for you, and then leave once the booking has run out. Better yet, our platform is hassle-free, allowing you to work directly with the space owner so that you work on your own terms. Ready to get started? Discover photo studios today or contact us if you have any questions you need support with!