By Rachel Brill
Achieving professional success in the increasingly competitive photography industry takes more than talent. It also requires a good dose of marketing savvy. We asked the Zenfolio Ambassadors to share their tips for marketing themselves and staying ahead of the competition. Having an amazing website, using social media effectively, and making your clients feel special top the list.
Get a Professional Website
Fashion and glamour photographer Lou Freeman says presenting her work in an impressive way on her website gives her a professional edge. “My website allows me to show the complexities of the style of work we create quickly and easily. It has become my storefront, my office and my assistant all rolled up into a nice tight package,” she said.
Having a mobile-optimized website that is accessible from multiple device types is also important. “It doesn’t matter if I am at a meeting, at dinner, or in an editorial office, I can easily access my site to deliver images, order prints or create a sale. I have streamlined my workflow process, which means I am more profitable and have the opportunity to meet more clients and gain new sales,” Lou said.
A professional website is also essential for sports and nature photographer David Liam Kyle. “Credibility, marketing and confidence are a few of the most important secrets to selling yourself to a potential client. A client must trust that you can handle the assignment before they will risk their reputation and money to hire you. A professional website that represents your talents and abilities is the first step to establishing that trust,” he said.
Use Social Media the Right Way
Being mindful of the tone, frequency, and length of social media communications is also important, according to wedding photographer Kevin Mullins. “I get a lot of my business through Instagram and other social channels, but I want each of my social media activities to be personal and speak directly as I would. To that end, I don’t use hundreds of hashtags (just three or four), and I get the impression my potential clients like that. I think in this day and age where everybody uses social media to market, it’s too easy to ‘spam’ your audience,” he said.
Documentary photographer and photojournalist Ginny Dixon schedules time for her social media posts. “Facebook has some interesting new knowledge in their blueprint series for being successful on their platform. It’s a must to put some time into social media every week. I find blocking off time in my calendar works as a structure to make sure I post a few times a week,” she said.
Ginny also recommends being mindful of how you communicate with your existing clients. “Social media certainly helps, but I find that most of my business comes from the fact that I have been at this for quite a while now so I have a solid base of clients. Since I shoot for magazines often, I try to keep my mailing list clean. Editors for magazines seem to change positions every four or five years, so keeping up with where they go is a must. Every six months I give them all a call to check in. I think this is important for keeping your name fresh in their heads and making sure all your info is right,” she said.
Show Off Your Unique Photography
Wedding photographer Steve Bridgwood says honing in on what sets your work apart from other pros is key. “I think the most important thing for a wedding photographer is identifying where you stand out in your work and keep pushing the boundaries.”
Educate Clients on What Makes You a Pro
Senior portrait photographer Erica Peerenboom tries to educate clients about what is involved in professional portrait photography. “It’s not just about taking a picture. It’s professional equipment, posing and lighting. It’s also post production mixed with experience of how to compose a shot and handle any lighting challenge.” she said.
Stand Out and Overdeliver
Sports and event photographer Jeff Cable stays ahead of the competition by overdelivering to his clients. “I want to wow them every step of the way. Not only do I want to take great photos for them, but I also do the following to stand out: Build a same-day slideshow; print, matte and frame an image for them on their event day (if possible); post their gallery of images the next day before 3 p.m.; and send them retouched images to share on social media (same day or next day). I also make sure to have fun when I am shooting. I want people to see that I love what I do. This helps me to get referrals,” he said.
For more advice on how to market yourself effectively, download the free Zenfolio guide A Photographer’s Guide to Creating a Marketing Plan.
Rachel Brill is a marketing editor at Zenfolio. She has been editing for 13 years and writing for six years. She has a BA in journalism and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.