Photographers, it’s vital to have a few things in place to grow your business, reduce stress, and make the most of each session. A number of photographers and videographers have hired me to help them with marketing. I’m so happy for them — 100% have seen exponential increases (some up to 10x) in their business by putting these essentials into play.
1. A regularly updated, SEO-friendly website.
Photography sessions are bound by physical proximity, so weave your location’s keywords into your site. If you use a WordPress blog, just download the SEO plugin by Yoast. I’m not an SEO diehard, but this small step can definitely help you in search engines.
Don’t go too crazy with the site design either … it just needs to be clean enough to showcase your photos. Squarespace is a popular choice, but you can go with a simple WordPress theme, too. If you need help with WordPress, just download my DIY Blog Guide for free on the header of this site.
2. Fresh, visually-driven blog content.
Fresh content implies that you’re busy. No one wants to hire the photographer who seems like she has nothing going on. Second, this is the place to showcase your work.
Third — and equally as important — is having a “manifesto” that showcases your views, beliefs, and work ethic. This piece of content is an evergreen post (meaning it is always relevant) that adds value to your potential client.
A great example of this is Need a Wedding Photographer? Five Questions You Must Ask First by one of my clients Nick Dantonio. This blog post does several important things (which is why Nick has seen his business skyrocket):
- It adds value before they purchase. Nick’s connection with them is now relational instead of transactional.
- It showcases values. You know what kind of guy Nick is, what he believes, and what he’ll strive to do if you hire him.
- It establishes authority. The reader feels Nick knows what he is talking about, but in a non-pushy way. He’s not saying, “I’m awesome — hire me!” He’s saying, “Even if you don’t hire me, look for these things in a photographer” and then subtly implying he is great.
This blog post is not really an ad, but it does what an ad is supposed to do. This piece, whether they realize it or not, has helped push some of Nick’s clients over the edge to hire him.
3. Higher prices.
Most photographers are like other freelancers: they undercharge and overdeliver. You’re probably worth more than you’re charging. The real question you’re probably asking is, “How do I get better paying clients?” I know, because every single one of my photographer clients has asked me the same thing.
Double the amount you’re currently charging. Then add 20% to boot. Then role play and ask a friend to ask you how much your services are. Respond with the number you calculate above … and try not to laugh at yourself. If you elect to create “packages” for your services, make sure your middle package is enough to attain your earnings goal.
It may take some time for you to feel you’re worth that much, and if you’ve booked your calendar full of clients at a lower rate you might need to wait to the next “season” to do so. It takes courage, but make the leap. All my clients have done so, and they are now making 2 to 3 times more than they used to — with half the amount of work.
4. A picture of your ideal client.
If you’re just starting out, it’s difficult to picture your “ideal” client. This is a tough exercise, but important. It must be more specific than “my ideal client is anyone with money that will pay my prices.”
There is a type of person out there that you want to be hired by. That person acts a certain way, pays on time, can afford your services, lives reasonably close, is a pleasure to work with, and so forth. This person will not only increase your business by hiring you, she will enhance your portfolio because of the venues she chooses for you to shoot in. This person is the perfect client.
Your website, pictures, blog posts, and marketing copy must magnetically draw this person to you. Let’s say you want to charge $7,000 for a wedding shoot. It’s probably not smart to have your call-to-action say, “Yea girl — I can’t wait to shoot your big day! I get soooooo excited for all my clients, so make sure you hit me up today! I’ll make you look hawwwwt!” You want to speak to that perfect client and draw them in. When I work with clients, we meticulously comb through website copy, language, and tone of voice.
Believe it or not, when someone comes to your site they are rooting for you to be the solution. They want to find and book the perfect photographer. There are clients out there saying, “Gosh, all I want is an amazing, professional, punctual photographer that knows what they’re doing … I’m ready to pay. Where are all the good photographers?”
Be that person.
5. At least three testimonials.
Sure, your photos and videos are awesome … but are you a jerk? Late? Flexible? Or are you professional, well-groomed, and punctual? These are the questions potential clients want to know the answers to. Sure, you can try to answer them yourself, but you’re better off letting your past clients speak for you.
This boils down to giving prospects the “gift of going second” … let them know they aren’t the first to work with you.
Many photography sites miss it on this one — even big-time photographers! It’s nice to say you’re featured on this-or-that magazine, but every client will want to know: “What is he / she really like to work with?”
Three testimonials are enough to give the impression that a decent number of people can vouch for you. If you have more, great. Sprinkle them through your site and along the footer on package pages. Make sure to use quotation marks … it’s subtle, but quotes catch the eye and give the effect that people are talking about you.
Don’t rely on social media.
Sometimes photographers post more on Facebook or Instagram than they do their own blog. Don’t make this mistake. The lifespan of a social media post is a few hours, maybe a few days if people comment and share it. People can’t find your Facebook photos on a Google search. People can’t find your rates on Instagram. Most importantly, it’s difficult to convert expensive purchases on social media.
Think about it: no one goes to Facebook with their wallet out, ready to buy something. You really should drive people to your site where they can contact, book, or even pay you directly.
These are simple but effective components to getting more business. Put in the time to get this stuff setup and you’ll be really glad you did.
Recently Nick did a photo shoot for my wife and I, and wrote a few kind comments about the work we did together.
“About a year ago I came across Mike’s blog and found a lot of things that could help my business. I gave him a call and I quickly realized that this was someone that could really help me to reach my business goals. I hired Mike as a consultant and we went to work. He helped me develop new ideas and then helped me implement them … if you have a small/medium sized business I strongly suggest you at least check out his website here: mikekim.tv. Mike was invaluable to me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help.”
Question: Have any other questions on growing your photography business? Leave a comment below.