Inventive ways you can promote your photography business

First published:
April 6, 2023
January 31, 2024

Inventive ways you can promote your photography business

First published:
April 6, 2023
January 31, 2024

Skydiving for charity by Peter Brocklehurst

Want to make a splash with your photography? Give these marketing techniques a try to give your work a boost

A huge proportion of any photography business is effective marketing and sales techniques. After all, you could be the best photographer in the world, but if nobody knows about it - you won’t have a successful business.

It can be quite a bewildering task knowing where to begin to get those sales numbers up, but luckily, there’s plenty you can do to help boost your profile, and many of them are either free, low cost or relatively straightforward.

Read on to find out more…

1 Update your online portfolio 

Before you do anything, getting your online presence in order is of utmost importance. Making sure your PicFair portfolio contains your most recent - and best - work should be a priority. Indeed, making sure it is frequently updated is so important that it’s a good idea to set aside a couple of dedicated hours a month to make sure your latest work is displayed. This means that whenever potential clients do land on your page they’ll always be looking at your most recent work, and it also shows that you’re consistently working and in demand - both positive things for any photographer. 

2 Clean, clear and vibrant branding

Think carefully about your branding, and how it works across various locations. Photo by Steve Meddle - f/16 | ISO 100 | 1/5s

It’s a good idea to have a good think about how your photography business is branded. There’s nothing wrong with a simple name such as “Your Name Photography”, but creating a clear and unified brand which you can use throughout your online channels, social media, on email signatures, and any physical branding (such as leaflets, business cards, or even branded clothing) will help you to stand out.

If you’re not seeing good results from your existing branding, rather than spending a fortune on paid-for advertising, stop and think first about whether tweaking your appearance can be beneficial - at least before you spend any additional money on promotion.

For those who aren’t strong on design and branding - and be honest with yourself about that  - hiring a designer can be a fantastic investment that will reap plenty of rewards in the long run and is worth seriously considering. 

3 Make better use of social media

These days, social media is an obvious win for promoting your photography business. But think about what you can be doing better. Mastering hashtags is something most of us know about by now - but making sure you’re regularly using the right ones, and finding new ones, is a straightforward way to potentially improve your reach.

Beyond that, are you using all the different facets of social media? If Instagram is your thing - are you making full use of Stories, and Reels?

Think also about what else you can offer your followers in terms of value-added content. People these days don't just want to see finished results, they want to see “behind the scenes”, which could include things like pictures of your kit bag, pictures of your studio, your editing process, or all manner of things. This way you’re making one single piece of content (the finished picture) stretch out across several posts, without having to put too much extra work in.

4 Online giveaways

A great way to generate interest in your business to offer something for free to your followers.

This could be something like a posing guide, which is ideal for customers looking for portrait or wedding photographers. Create a simple PDF that you can offer as a download if the customer signs up for your email mailing list or follows you on social media.

Make sure to include your branding, as well as a link back to your online portfolio and price lists etc on any downloads you give away. That way, if they are shared around, people should always be able to find their way back to you.

5 Enter competitions - or run your own 

Running or entering competitions can be a great way to get yours or your business name out there. Photo by Jaromir Chalabala - f/2.8 | ISO 320 | 1/2000s

There are thousands of photography competitions running at any given time. Some are open to amateurs only, but lots are available for professionals, either as dedicated competitions, specific categories or a mixed “Open” type competition.

Entering these isn’t always free, but if you do well in them, you get lots of publicity and can also reference them in your online portfolios, something which many customers will look at when deciding who to hire.

Look for competitions which are relevant to the genre you shoot, whether that be portraits, landscapes, weddings or something else entirely and pay close attention to the rules. If you have something from your existing portfolio which can enter - do so - as you’ll be making use of something that is otherwise just gathering digital dust, you could find you have nothing to lose.

Another way to generate buzz is to run your own competitions. That could be something like a raffle-like contest to win money off your services, a free print, or even a free photo shoot. Run this on all of your social media channels, and perhaps offer extra entries for those who share it on their own social channels.

6 Promotion in relevant publications

Paying for advertising in print publications can be expensive. But if you want to get your name in there without necessarily paying the high price tag, you can search for opportunities to promote your work for free.

For example, lots of magazines are looking for relevant case studies, or examples of types of things that they want to show to readers. This is particularly prevalent in things like the wedding industry, for example, where wedding magazines show off “real weddings”. Make sure you ask for your name / business name to be prominently displayed.

Look for publications which are particularly relevant to your genre(s), your area, or perhaps a bit of both. Follow the publication on social media as is this is where they’ll often put a call out for relevant content. Sometimes you’ll even be paid too, which is an excellent boost for your bank balance - just make sure you know upfront whether you should expect payment so as to avoid disappointment.

Remember to ask your clients if they mind you using their images - it’s not a legal requirement, but if you want to be known for good moral practices, it’s a sound idea.

7 Volunteer for charity and non-profit organisations

Instead of doing a charity skydive or marathon, you could donate your photography services. Photo by Peter Brocklehurst - f/8 | ISO 180 | 1/500s

Many of us donate money to charities, whether through a one-off donation, regular standing order or sponsoring others to carry out some kind of challenge.

One way to give back, while also getting something back yourself, is to offer your photography services to local charity and non-profit organisations. In return, ask them to make sure you’re credited in any press and publicity materials they put out using your photographs.

8 Networking and referrals 

We’ve discussed before the importance of using the best networking tips to drive business. But to go a step further, you could try referrals.

This works by getting your existing customers to recommend your services to others. You could offer an incentive to do this, including money off prints and services, or entry into a prize draw, for example.

You could also tie this up with some of the other points mentioned in this piece - for example, you could offer a discount to anyone who mentions the charity you’ve associated yourself with, or, offer to donate a percentage of your fee to that same charity.

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