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13 Marketing tips for photographers


Written by Becky T

Published Feb 09, 2023

As a photographer, you must do more than take great photos; you must also learn to market yourself in order to get your name out there and attract photography clients for your business.

Marketing is a powerful tool that pays off in the long run, and the best marketing strategies can run constantly in the background with only a small amount of regular input from you.

This can be difficult, however, especially in a profession so used to being behind the camera. But the rewards of nurturing a brand identity are tenfold, so we've collated a list of 13 marketing tips for photographers to help you out:

  1. Identify your niche
  2. Promote on socials
  3. Maintain a quality website
  4. Add a blog and a newsletter
  5. Use Google Business pages
  6. Create a portfolio
  7. Invest in physical marketing materials
  8. Build a network
  9. Cross-promotion
  10. Launch a referral programme
  11. Collect client testimonials
  12. Create a customer database
  13. Pitch to brands you want to work with
image showing a group of people looking at their cameras together
Photo by stux

1. Identify your niche

First and foremost, you need to establish what it is that sets you apart from other photographers. Whether it's your grungy style, your creative couple shoot ideas, or your ability to capture candid emotion in your portraiture, try to identify your unique selling point and lead with it when utilising these marketing tips for photographers. Homing in on the defining characteristics of your work will help to build a stronger brand identity and help you to stand out amongst the crowd.

image showing a bride and groom leaning against a car
Photo by Jessica Rockwitz

Often, when people are searching for photographers, they are looking for a specific requirement or style, whether it's e-commerce photography or lifestyle photography, people tend to seek out specialists. Try to profile your ideal client and establish what it is that they are looking for. This will help you to define your value proposition i.e. the benefits you deliver, as well as help you identify attractive promotions. However, this doesn't mean that you have to box yourself into one specific genre - just make sure that you keep your work neatly categorised if you want to cast a wider net.

If you're struggling to find your niche, try looking at what sort of photography you personally gravitate towards. Use photography forums and sites like Flickr and Pinterest to identify the keywords that people use to describe different aesthetics, and take a mental checklist of those that you like. You can also check out our article on how to create photoshoot concepts to learn more about different styles and themes.

2. Promote on socials

Establishing a presence on social media is an easy way to get your name out there when marketing as a photographer. By using location-based tags on your posts you can draw in a local audience, and added hashtags will help to drive your content to your ideal clientele. Try adding things such as your speciality (e.g. portraiture, wedding photography, landscapes), as well as your specific style or niche (e.g. urban, gothic, classic).

Not every social media platform will be the best for your business. Think about where your ideal clients will be engaging and target your efforts there.

Instagram is popular with photographers thanks to its focus on visuals and can be used as a second online portfolio. Facebook is another go-to social media platform for generating leads and you can combine your social media marketing by connecting your business profile to your Instagram account. Both are useful for tagging clients in your images, giving them the opportunity to easily re-share your images to their feed. This is great for getting more eyeballs on your work, so make sure to ask for your clients’ Instagram handle if they are happy to be tagged. 

image showing a man on social media on his laptop and phone, utilising marketing tips for photographers
Photo by Austin Distel

If you’re looking to branch out from Instagram and Facebook, here are a few other digital marketing alternatives for photographers:

  • Stellar Stories is great for travel photography and allows you to share albums of images and create a story around them, like a mini magazine spread.  The best part is the app features popular stories, so you have the opportunity to gain a lot of reach without much self-promotion. 
  • Behance was created by Adobe for photographers to connect and share their portfolios and has become like LinkedIn for creatives. It focuses on image sharing and allows users to comment on and like your photos. 
  • YouPic is a photo-sharing platform for high-quality images, aimed at seasoned professional photographers. They offer a paid pro subscription which includes a website builder, a custom domain and an online store to sell your images.
  • Pinterest content is evergreen and frees you from being buried in a social media feed. Plus pins are designed to be linked to external sites, making it easy for viewers to find your website in one click. You can also use tools like Tailwind to schedule your pins in advance.

If you need help planning content across multiple networks, tools like Hootsuite offer planners and publishing calendars to help you stick to a consistent schedule.

You can also use social media to run special promotions and giveaways, which will encourage your audience to engage with your content and share it amongst their own networks.

3. Maintain a quality website

Building an online presence is about more than just engaging on socials (as important as this is). Investing in a professional website is one of many great marketing tips for photographers, as it gives your business credibility and offers your clients a chance to learn a bit more about you and your work. This helps to establish familiarity and trust with your audience. If you want more detailed advice on how to build a photography website, we've got you covered.

In fact, 68% of user experiences online begin with a search engine (BrightEdge, 2019). So if you don’t have an online presence, you’re creating a barrier between yourself and potential clients. Even if your clients hear about you elsewhere, they will most likely look you up online at some point. 

image showing a man holding a camera, in front of a laptop with a photography portfolio on screen
Photo by Cottonbro Studio

Ensure your website reassures potential clients that you: offer the services they need, you are experienced and reliable, and you are a good fit. You can cover all these points by including:

  • A portfolio page highlighting your best photos
  • A services page with a list of your starting prices
  • A client testimonials page
  • A way to contact you
  • And finally an ‘about me’ page

When writing about yourself, remember to focus on the reasons why a potential client should hire you - what is it about your qualifications or experience that make your services unique to any other photographer? You can also add one or two sentences about your personal life to allow people to get to know you more, but add those at the end. A picture of yourself also helps to build that necessary trust.

These days there is no need to build a website from scratch either. Companies like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly offer user-friendly templates, some specifically designed for photographers. You have control over the colours, fonts, and layout of images to personalise your website, you just need to upload your content, fill in the text, and simply select the design options you prefer.

4. Add a blog and newsletter

Once you have a website set up, you can start writing articles or e-mail newsletters about your business, or more generally about photography as a discipline. This will help to display your expertise and accomplishments, as well as broaden your reach online.

A blog will also help more people to find your website through search engine results. This is known as content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates 3x as many leads as outbound marketing, but costs 62% less (CMA, 2016).

image showing the mail app logo on a phone screen
Photo by Brett Jordan

One factor that Google and other search engines look for when ranking websites in search results is how frequently the site is updated. You probably won’t be updating the main pages on your site regularly, so blogging allows you to keep your website fresh and relevant for search engines.

Email marketing as a photographer is a much more personal way to stay in touch with your clients, and is available whenever you have time-sensitive news or offers to share with them. Keep your business front of mind by sending updates on what you’re working on, your latest blog posts, service promotions and giveaways.

Email marketing services like Mailchimp and ConvertKit make it simple to add signup forms to your website to capture your visitors’ emails. Consider offering an incentive to sign up, such as a downloadable PDF guide or a discount code for their first booking.

The key here is to bring value to your audience, so think about what you can share online that will help them, and what kind of questions they might type into Google. People that come across your articles or newsletter whilst searching for how to fake natural lighting or for product photography ideas (for example) will then be driven to check out your work. Not to mention that you will have already established yourself as a voice of authority in their minds, so they'll be more likely to trust you as a business.

5. Use Google Business pages

Creating a Google Business Profile is an essential amongst marketing tips for photographers, as it improves the chances that people will find you on Google when searching for a photographer.

When people search on Google, they might include a location as one of the keywords, for example, ‘London Wedding Photographer’. Google will put the business profile listings first and the organic listings will follow, meaning there is a high chance of your Google Business page being seen. 

image showing someone typing on a laptop with the Google homepage on screen
Photo by Benjamin Dada

These business listings are free, but you need to have a physical location for your business. You might prefer to work on location and have a ‘home office’ rather than a studio. Then you need to be comfortable with listing your home address.

Another thing that Google Business listings are great for is reviews, which make it easy for people to see what others are saying about their experience with you, adding more trust and legitimacy to your business. 

Hire locations for your next photoshoot with Tutti

Choose from 1000+ spaces and locations on Tutti and deal directly with space hosts for a quick, hassle-free booking process.

6. Create a portfolio

Starting a photography portfolio can be a daunting task. But when you're following marketing tips for photographers, your portfolio is your most important asset.

Lead with your best work and if your styles or aesthetics tend to be diverse, consider creating personalised portfolios according to these specific markers. Look to your favourite photographer's portfolios as inspiration for how to organise your own, and try out different photo editing software to refine your work.

image showing a photo album containing black and white landscape photographs
Photo by Tuva Mathilde Løland

If you're a commercial photographer, it's important to have a print portfolio as well as a digital one. Customers will want to gauge the quality of your photos once they're in a physical format, as this is likely how they'll use them should they choose to hire you.

It's never a bad idea to get external feedback on your marketing efforts, and this is particularly true for your portfolio. Sometimes we can be too close to our work to judge it fairly, so having a fresh pair of eyes to assess whether your portfolio best reflects your talent can go a long way. There are a number of photography forums that you can utilise for this if you don't want to ask someone you know personally.

If you're looking for help with portfolio printing, our partner MPrint can help

7. Invest in physical marketing materials

It might seem a bit old school in the technological age we live in, but investing in physical marketing materials is still a beneficial way to invest in marketing tips for photographers. From business cards to brochures and pricing menus, offering potential clients physical materials that they can hold onto helps them to remember you for longer.

image showing someone passing a business card to another person
Photo by Van Tay Media

This isn't to say that connecting online is any worse or better, but the digital world is vast and oversaturated, and your Instagram profile may face stark competition when trying to avoid getting lost in the scroll. We're more likely to remember people that we have met in real life, and even more so if they've given us a business card or pamphlet that we can read on our way home.

Have a look online for templates and inspiration, but if you have the resources, it's a good idea to invest in a professional graphic designer to best capture your brand aesthetic. Make sure that you provide clear contact details and link to your online portfolio.

8. Build a network

One of the most important marketing tips for photographers is to build a network. Amongst other things, this will allow you to learn from those within the photography industry and will provide an opportunity for you to bounce ideas off of people who have genuine expertise.

There are plenty of opportunities to meet photographers online if you don't have any connections in your current personal network. You can join photography groups on Meetup that hold events and search Facebook for local photography or entrepreneur groups. You can also search online for upcoming photography conferences and conventions and workshops being held in your area. 

image showing two women smiling and networking, showcasing marketing tips for photographers
Photo by WOCinTech

This may come in useful should you need a second opinion regarding concerns about your business. Your contacts can also give you advice and pointers based on their own experience, such as recommending certain photography studios, or warning you against a mistake they made early on in their career.

You may even be able to refer clients to one another and generate new leads. When other photographers get inquiries for dates they’re not available for or about work that is not the right fit for them, you can be the one who gets the call. Having a reliable network of photographers will also give you a backup plan if you ever have to cancel a photo session last minute, ensuring that you preserve your relationships for future work. 

9. Cross-promotion

Cross-promotion is a means of collaborating with other organisations to help you both promote to a wider audience. It's a mutually beneficial relationship, where you can use each other's networks to pull in new leads.

image showing tables at a wedding venue, with flowers on the table
Photo by Thomas William

The ideal businesses to partner with are those that share your audience but are not in direct competition with you. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer you can build relationships with florists and dressmakers, or if you're an architectural photographer, create relationships with real estate agents.

To find these partnerships, consider the networks you already have on LinkedIn and Facebook and reach out to relevant local businesses. Pitch an idea or two explaining how you can support each other. Your initial approach should focus on what you can do for them, for example, a mention in your email marketing campaign or exchanging discounts for referral customers. Your end goal is to develop a relationship that earns both of you new clients.

You can also cross-promote by linking to other organisations on your website or tagging them on social media, encouraging them to do the same in return. Just make sure that you do your research on the company beforehand, so you know that they are reliable and that their brand voice and principles are in alignment with your own.

10. Launch a referral programme

Particularly if you work in portrait photography, word of mouth is everything. Referral programmes are a useful marketing tip for photographers to bear in mind because they encourage previous clients to pass along the good word and generate future leads. In fact, studies show people are 4x more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend (Nielsen, 2016).

image showing a photographer showing his clients a photograph
Photo by Antony Trivet

The foundation of any good referral programme is, of course, happy customers. As in any industry, offering a good service isn't just about sticking to a brief and producing quality products, it is also about providing excellent customer service. We're social creatures, and if people like you as a person, they're more likely to go out of their way to see you succeed.

Examples of referral initiatives include giving clients future discounts or gift cards when you successfully gain a new client from their recommendation. A good place to start is having a conversation with a trusted client and ask for their input on what type of incentive would be valuable to them. Then you can trial your program with a few clients and go from there.

11. Collect client testimonials

If launching a referral programme isn't your thing, it's still important to gather client testimonials for your website. According to a study by BigCommerce, 88% of consumers trust online testimonials and reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family (BigCommerce, 2017), which increases your chances of converting visitors into clients

image showing woman smiling at her laptop
Photo by Brooke Cagle

To ensure you receive first-rate testimonials, listen carefully to the feedback that your clients give you while you interact both during and after the shoot. Notice in particular when they mention a worry they had prior to the shoot that you eliminated for them, and ask the client if they would mind writing that down in a sentence or two and send it to you as a testimonial. 

You can even go one step further and offer to write it down for them. Then when you email it to them, ask if they would like to amend the testimonial in any way and confirm whether they are happy for you to share it online. This takes all the burden off your client to write the testimonial themselves. 

12. Create a customer database

A customer database is crucial when considering marketing tips for photographers, as it helps you to keep track of all your past and current clients, as well as prospective clients you would like to work with in the future. 

You can pay for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Nutshell or Insightly, which come with lots of handy tools like automated reminders, calendar synching and email marketing templates. Or you can keep it simple and use a spreadsheet. 

In addition to names and contact information, this database can hold all your client notes and prospect research, plus ideas for jobs you would like to pitch, building a pipeline of future work. You’ll also want to keep track of when you last contacted the person. When business is slow, you can contact past clients to let them know about a promotion or send them a personalised follow-up to encourage them to work with you again.

13. Pitch brands you want to work with 

Pitching clients can sound like a daunting process, but not if you put in a little groundwork first. When you come across a new business online or you have a spare 10 minutes to research, you can add potential clients to your customer database. Search the company’s LinkedIn profile for the best contact in the company, like someone in the marketing or photography team. Now you have a contact name, find the business email address (you can usually do this via Google search or the company’s website). 

A successful email pitch shows the person the value you can provide them. Always link to your digital portfolio and make sure it’s up to date with your best work. It should include images that your target clients and brands will like, for example, don’t pitch a fashion magazine with a portfolio full of food photography.

You can use a template, but make sure you still personalise every email you send, i.e. address the person by name and mention a recent project you liked in the first paragraph. Respect the person’s time by keeping your pitch short and to the point. 

Wrapping up

Self-promotion is a skill within its own right and not an easy one at that! You might not get it right the first time but try to have confidence in your vision and your work, and allow yourself to adapt and evolve according to what you learn along the way.

image showing a group of people networking, demonstrating marketing tips for photographers
Photo by Brooke Cagle

Whether you're at the very beginning of starting a photography business, or you're a seasoned professional looking for ways to upgrade your professional arsenal, take some time to invest in these marketing tips for photographers to push your work into the rights circles. If you also have a hand in the music industry, why not check out our guide to music marketing strategies.

Hire locations for your next photoshoot with Tutti

Choose from 1000+ spaces and locations on Tutti and deal directly with space hosts for a quick, hassle-free booking process.

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