How to promote your photography business WITHOUT a social media following

First published:
March 19, 2024
March 21, 2024

How to promote your photography business WITHOUT a social media following

First published:
March 19, 2024
March 21, 2024

Images from various sources as detailed the article

It's easy to believe that if you're not active on social media as a photographer, it means you won't have a chance at getting any sales. That's not the case, here are 8 alternative ways to promote your work...

8 ways to promote your photography business when you don't have a social media following

It can be an easy trap to fall into, to believe that everything you do regarding marketing and promoting your photography business needs to involve being heavily active on social media. It’s simply not true. Remember, not everyone is on social media, so it’s certainly not where all your customers will have to come from.

It can also be easy to believe that you must be active on social media and have thousands of followers to get recognition for your work, or that you need to constantly promote your work across social media in an attempt to  get sales, but that’s not the case.

While having a social media presence is undoubtedly beneficial for any photography business (and we would always recommend promoting your work on social media in one way or another), it’s not the be-all and end-all for whether interested parties will see and buy your work.

Below you'll see our top tips on promoting your photography and getting achievable results in ways other than social media follows and likes…

Top tip:

However you're promoting your work, you should always provide people with a quick and easy way for them to see your pictures in their own time, that generally means giving the your website and/or Picfair Store address so they can take a look at your work. Show them firsthand, write it down, or get it printed up on business cards or postcards to give to people.

1 Talk to people, lots of people

Two Men Sitting by a Food Stall and Talking. Photo by ahmet öktem

Simply put, word of mouth and talking to people in person will be your most powerful tool for letting people know about your photography if you don’t have a significant social media presence.

First, make sure that all those close to you know that you’ve started selling your photography - tell your friends and family about it, and say the same to your colleagues and acquaintances, too. You’ll find that they’ll be very supportive of your venture and do a lot of the hard lifting for you by telling their friends and acquaintances and spreading the word about your photography by recommending you.

You’ll be amazed at how many enquiries and referrals you can get from word of mouth. One of the reasons is that buyers of artwork and photography like to know who they are buying from, but also, there’s an element of trust from a referral - if you come recommended as a photographer, you’ll more likely see sales quicker compared to someone finding out about you where there’s not a connection.

So don’t wait to start; tell everyone about your photography venture, and tell them face-to-face. Don’t forget to show them your website and/or Picfair Store, too; as much as it’s important to say to people that you’re selling your images, it’s also equally important to show them where they can buy your pics.

2 Approach local businesses about displaying your work

Photo by Binil Babu

In your local area, you’ll undoubtedly find plenty of places to potentially display your images (and could even sell your work, too). Approach cafes, libraries, community centres and similar spaces that are popular in the area, and take some samples of your photography. Ask them if they would be interested in displaying some of your photos. You’ll be surprised at how many places will show interest, but don’t be afraid of rejection either - you may find a venue interested, but you may need to wait until they can display your work.

Either way, getting out there and getting yourself known in the local community will always be valuable. If you’re afraid of approaching places cold, email them first with an introduction to you and your work, along with some examples of your images attached. If you directly enquire and they show interest but don’t hear anything back, send a polite follow-up email.

3 Participate in photography exhibitions

Photo by Brett Sayles

Exhibiting your work is possibly one of the most rewarding things you can do with your photography - there’s nothing like seeing your work on display! It’s also a fantastic way to get the word out about your photography.

It may seem daunting to exhibit your work, but it shouldn’t be; seeing your work on a gallery or event space wall is hugely exciting, and you’ll feel pride like no other.

Keep an eye out for exhibitions in your local area or any galleries with a ‘call for submissions’ - normally open exhibitions where you’re free to submit work; again, don’t be afraid to leap, and also don’t be scared of rejection, you never quite know what opportunities these things can lead to!

4 Submit your work to online galleries and communities

Photo by Mathias Reding

There’s a considerable amount of places online where you can submit your work to online galleries or communities, and you’re no doubt going to find somewhere specific to your own type of work, too. Do a little research, and you’ll find loads of online communities and galleries (a simple Google search will do) where you can submit your photos for online viewing. Many places will also allow you to add a link to your website and/or Picfair Store, and you soon find that you’ll be developing an audience.

5 Get in touch with your local press

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

Like the above tip, the local press in your area may also run online galleries or features that invite creatives to submit photos (or any other type of work). It’s a great way to get yourself known as a photographer in your local area - just make sure you’re always credited and can link to your website and/or Picfair Store when submitting your work.

Local publications may run a gallery showcasing images from your area, and you could find that local buyers have the potential to be particularly lucrative customers. So it’s worth getting in touch with your photos from the local area.

6 Make sure your photos are SEO-friendly

Photo by Jessica Lewis 🦋 thepaintedsquare

If you don’t want a significant social media presence, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t mean your images can’t be optimised for online viewing via search engines.

People ‘Googling’ images is one of the quickest and most effective ways for your work to be seen by potential customers, particularly those you don’t know or would never naturally come across. So you should always try to include as much information with your images that’ll be picked up by search engines, such as titles, captions, descriptions and tags to your images wherever possible.

When you upload images to your Picfair Store, you can include titles, captions, and titles along with your photos, specifically for this reason, and we highly recommend you do so, too. We have dedicated guides on titles, captions, and tags to help you provide the most relevant information to be picked up in search engines.

7 Volunteer your photography services

Man with a Camera in a Dark, Sapphire Blue Room. Photo by FURKAN

Volunteering your photography services in person offers many benefits. By extending a helping hand at events or fulfilling small favours for individuals needing photography assistance, you're showcasing your skills and building connections. These interactions can serve as stepping stones to future opportunities, as the people you assist may remember your generosity and professionalism when they or someone they know require photography services.

This act of giving back not only establishes you as a reliable and trusted photographer but also increases your visibility, positioning you as a go-to person when it comes to photography.

Whether through word-of-mouth recommendations, referrals, or unexpected opportunities, the relationships you cultivate through volunteering can ultimately translate into actual sales and long-term success for your photography business.

8 Start a photography blog

Example from my own blog - Philip Mowbray Photographer

Writing in-depth about your photography can be a profound and meaningful way to build up a following for your work, and you’ll likely find that your followers won’t be as fleeting compared to social media connections.

Plus, when you have a blog, you can link to your website and/or Picfair Store, which is very effective in directing visitors to where they can buy your work too! See TechRadar’s best blogging sites of 2024 to get started.

Top tip:

If you have a blog, make sure you link it to the custom menu on your Picfair Store too - see our guide on adding links to your custom menu for more information.

Final thoughts

Me at work, photo by Lee Scott

In a world where social media seems to dominate the landscape of photography promotion, it's crucial to remember that it's not the only avenue for success.

While having a social media presence undoubtedly has its advantages, there are numerous other effective strategies for getting your work noticed and generating sales. The most powerful method is arguably the age-old practice of word-of-mouth marketing - you can tap into a huge source of referrals and recommendations by talking to people in person and letting them know about your photography business. Whether it's friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances, spreading the word face-to-face can lead to valuable connections and potential clients.

Additionally, approaching local businesses for display opportunities, participating in regional and online photography exhibitions, or tapping into the power of local press and sector-specific publications can lead to valuable features and exposure.

Also, while social media may not be your primary focus, ensuring that your photos are SEO-friendly can help potential customers discover them through online searches, and for those who prefer a more long-form approach, starting a photography blog provides a platform to share your thoughts, insights, and, most importantly, your work with a dedicated audience.

So, while social media certainly has its place, there are numerous alternative methods for promoting your photography business and achieving tangible results - and I hope this inspires you to give them a try too!

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