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I hope you’ve got a full cup of coffee/tea/juice/beer! This might take a while.

First up, I’m not a professional photographer. And, by that I mean I don’t get paid to take cool photographs all day; although that would be pretty awesome.

But…

I am a marketer by profession! I earn a living from crafting compelling campaigns that entice every day consumers and businesses to, essentially, spend their money. I know how to make even the most boring of products and services look as enticing as a pack of sugar-filled, cream-topped, melt-in-your-mouth giant doughnuts.

You know, the kind of stuff that people just can’t say no to!

So, whether you’re already working for yourself as a photographer, or at the stage of getting your foot in the door, I wanted to share a list of actionable ideas that can help you to attract new business.

24 Actionable Marketing Ideas For Photographers

Just before we get down to the good stuff.

I know first hand just how expensive it can get when building up a solid set of gear, so the last thing you want to do is drop even more cash into marketing. So, with that in mind, most of the following ideas are either free or extremely cheap to action. Also, note that not all of these are designed to attract work directly. Instead, many act as additional avenues of increasing your audience size, offering longer-term benefits.

I’ve listed what form of photography each these are most relevant for, but all of them can be refined to suit any style.

1. Get Event Experience & Clients Through Meetup.com

Type: Event Photography
Ever looked through the events listed on Meetup.com?
There are literally thousands of them all around the world and some of them can be used to your advantage.

Meetup

The process here is pretty simple. Look out for events listed close to you and, in particular, look at those listed by businesses, such as public company announcements/office openings/product launches, end of year customer/client get-togethers, fundraisers and workshops.

If you’re just getting started and looking for the experience, you could reach out to the organizers and offer your services. The majority of the time they’d be more than happy to have you come along to document the event.

Alternatively, if you’re a seasoned event photographer, reach out to them with your rates and sell them on the benefits of having you document the event.

2. Wedding Expos

Type: Wedding & Event Photography
Good old wedding expos!

This isn’t the obvious suggestion of booking a promotional booth at your next local expo, although that would be a great way to build a great collection of potential clients.

Instead, I wanted to do something for those who are new to wedding photography and still trying to get experience and portfolio work. Simply visiting the next wedding expo should be all you need to do, making sure to take a few business cards with you, and your camera. Most of the expos have multiple small fashion shows throughout the day to present the current trends in wedding attire, for both brides and grooms. Ideally, you want to be photographing these shows, which normally isn’t a problem, although you can choose to seek permission from the event organizers beforehand. Also, many florists and other wedding services providers attend these to show their work, which can be a good photo opportunity. This is a good way to get a few shots that may be viable as portfolio pieces.

Additionally, and perhaps the more important part, is to network. A lot of wedding photographers often book booths at these expos, and you’d be surprised at how many enjoy having a chat with fellow photographers (while they’re not talking with clients). It’s worth having a walk around and introducing yourself and, at some point, mention your ability to work as a second shooter.

It is a little self-promotional, but you never know when they might need an additional shooter. I know of quite a few photographers who got their start in the industry by doing this.

3. Personal Blog

Type: All Photography
Publishing relevant content via your own blog is easily one of the best ways to get more eyeballs on you and your work. Your content doesn’t necessarily need to be sales orientated since, for the most part, it’s not intended to directly market your services. Instead, it serves the purpose of being shareable, generating organic traffic, and, most importantly, showing potential clients that you know exactly what you’re talking about.

4. Publish on Medium.com

Type: All Photography
Not much to say here, since it’s exactly the same as above. The only difference here is that Medium is a user-generated platform that can put a lot of people in front of your content. It should be used in parallel with your own blog, with the goal of showing yourself as an authority in your particular field.

5. Curate On Townske

Type: All Photography
Have you heard of Townske before?

TownskeIt’s a user-generated publishing platform designed to let users share curated lists about cities, locations and landmarks around the world. Although it’s not directly related to photography, and not exactly an avenue of attracting clients, it’s still a great way to get your name out there and build authority for yourself. The platform offers up a personal profile including a bio and a link back to your website or social media profiles.

For example, if you’re a portrait photographer, you could do something as simple as creating a “Top 10 portrait photography locations around “Your City Here”” curated post. Write a small intro, list out the locations and include some portraits that you’ve taken at each of them.

6. Become A Guest Author

Type: All Photography
There are a lot of large photography based publications online and many of them accept submissions from external photographers. Fstoppers and PetaPixel are two examples.

Blogs like these have a huge following, and their articles reach hundreds of thousands of readers on a monthly basis. So, naturally, having your content published on them can offer a great deal of exposure for both your name and work.

To get started, you’ll want to reach out to the editors and pitch your article idea. I’d highly suggest going in the direction of a tutorial since these often have a much wider reach than a standard article. So, for example, if you’re a landscape photographer, perhaps look at writing a tutorial that educates new photographers on how to best use drop-in filter systems. Or, if you delve in astrophotography, perhaps work on a tutorial that explains how to plan and setup to capture a celestial event.

7. Thank You Gifts / Overdeliver

Type: Wedding & Newborn Photography
I’ve limited this down to wedding and newborn photography because they have one of the best word of mouth audiences, but it could be used for other forms as well.

We all know that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool, and that goes for pretty much anything, not just photography. Weddings and newborns are both a huge moment in someone’s life, so naturally, people want the memories to be perfect. Due to this, you’ll find that most couples will feel more comfortable in trusting the recommendation of photographer given to them by family and friends, so it’s imperative for you to leave a lasting impression with all clients.

Aside from just doing an amazing job and delivering perfectly composed photographs, take it just that extra step further. Look at ways you can be creative in delivering your final product.

For example:
As a wedding photographer, if your client has ordered a printed photo album as part of the package, make it a big deal, in a good way. Have your own custom wooden boxes made to house the book (cheaper than you’d think), include a thank you note wishing the couple all the best for their future, and be sure you put a handful of individually wrapped chocolates (bonus points if they are heart shaped) in there, or even a couple of rose petals. Make it memorable. Make it special.

It’s small things like this that really make people feel special and, hopefully, keeps you at top of mind in the future. I mean, how often is it that you get given something as simple as a thank you note from someone you’re paying? Not much I bet! It’s normally the other way around.

8. Get Tagging

Type: Portrait, Wedding, Seniors, Newborn
Obvious, I know!

But, when posting images to social media always be sure to tag those who are in the photo. This may help to put the image in front of their friends and followers, and it also drops a notification, increasing the chance of having them share it with their audience.

You can also go a step further by tagging the location. For example, if it’s a Wedding shot, be sure to tag the reception or ceremony venue that it was taken at. If the subject was wearing a prominent clothing brand or a popular pair of sunglasses, go ahead and tag the applicable companies.

9. Stay Active On Social Media

Type: All Photography
Not much to say here, but make sure you stay active on social media. Keep your updates regular and be sure to have a presence in the community by joining discussions on other pages and groups.

10. You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours

Type: All Photography
I spoke earlier about how powerful word of mouth is but only mentioned it in the form of coming from previous clients. But, what about forming business relationships for the same benefit!

This is essentially just networking, in that you want to form and nurture professional relationships with other service providers who work with your target clients. The goal is to end up with a reciprocal agreement whereby the both of you can recommend each other to current, new and past clients.

For example:
Every wedding needs a photographer, right? At the same time, just about all weddings require a celebrant as well. This is a perfect combination for mutual recommendations. If you can form a strong relationship with celebrants who’ve officiated past weddings you’ve photographed, it shouldn’t be too hard to get to the point of leaving a bunch of business cards with them, and the same for you. It’s a win-win situation for both parties, and also for the bride and groom since they’ll have the knowledge of knowing you’ve worked together before.

This is actually how I found my wedding photographer.

11. Start A Video Series

Type: All Photography
It’s estimated that around 65% of the world’s population are visual learners, while the population as a whole generally retains about 60% more information from visual based content then they do text-based content. Add to this that much of our technology and social media is moving more and more towards visual content, it seems like a logical choice for you to go in the direction of video for promotional purposes.

Video SeriesWith those numbers in mind, have a look into working on a video series through platforms like Youtube. Whether you choose to make just a few short videos or something that’s more ongoing, it’s a great way to build a new audience. The aim isn’t to be overly promotional or to create videos that only exist to sell your services. Your primary objective should be working towards positioning yourself as an authority on your topic.

If you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few that might help to get you started

Behind The Scenes
Consider creating a BTS series that shows your audience the setup process for your work. So, if you’re a portrait photographer, look at showcasing your lighting setup or how you pose models. If you’re an astrophotographer, you could look at showing the planning and setup process for snapping our night sky.

Before & After
You could create a before and after video series, showcasing a range of your work and looking at the creative process of going from an OOC image to a post-processed image.

Tutorials & Walkthroughs
I know that some might not want to reveal how they achieve particular looks, whether it be at a pre or post level. But, if this doesn’t bother you, it could be worth creating a range of tutorials that educate others on how to achieve specific effects, compositional techniques, or even something as simple as using particular functions of a camera.

12. Join The Discussion

Type: All Photography
Don’t be afraid to get in and amongst the digital crowd!

There are facebook groups and online discussion forums for literally everything, including your target audience. Become a member of one, or some, and begin taking part in the discussions, presenting your knowledge and expertise on the topic.

Don’t forget, if it’s a discussion board, to leave a link to your website or social media accounts within the profile page and signature sections of the platform.

Feel free to drop a comment at the end of this article if you need a few specific examples of what forums or groups may be applicable to you.

13. Take Advantage Of Viral Topics

Type: All Photography
This one can be huge, and one of my favourites! But, it is something that can be quite time sensitive.

It’s always worth keeping an eye out on social media and pop culture news blogs (I’m looking at you BuzzFeed) for emerging viral bound topics. If you can get in on the hype early, there’s massive potential to take a slice of the enormous amounts of traffic, social media shares and real-world discussions that accompany it.

Now, I’m not talking about doing something as useless as hijacking a viral hashtag with your unrelated content, that’s just pointless. Instead, you want to create some new work that’s centred around the topic, and then push it out via the hashtags. Keep in mind that there are times where you might only have a 24-hour window while other times you may be lucky to have a week or two before the hype reaches its peak.

As an example, let’s take the recent film release “It”, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. Because it has been such an anticipated film, and thanks to the creative guerrilla marketing behind it, anything remotely relevant to the film has been shared on social media hundreds of thousands of time. This included articles, fan art and photographs!

As a photographer, you could have taken a slice of the action by creating a photograph, or photo series, that either depicts the movie or has a high relevance to it. For example, setting up a portrait shoot with costume and makeup to portray the model as Pennywise. And, that’s not limited to just portrait photographers. A landscape photographer, for example, could have captured a beautiful landscape that featured the dressed up model somewhere in the scene. With a little creative thinking, something like this could have been integrated into just about any form of photography.

So, next time you see something hitting that viral status, or something that’s just got a lot of hype around it, have a think about how you could incorporate it into your own work for that extra little bit of promotion. If you want a few more examples of this, feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article and I’ll offer up a few more.

14. Collaborate With Other Creatives

Type: All Photography
So, here’s something that can work well if you’re not yet at the stage of being paid, but want an additional avenue of getting your name out there. It does also involves doing a bit of fun work for free; if that’s not a complete turnoff for you!

The concept behind this is to use the audience of others to promote your own name. What you’ll want to do is make a list of people/creatives that have a decent audience/following but aren’t yet big enough to the point that working with you wouldn’t be worth it from their point of view. This could include local bands/musicians, singers, street artists etc.

The goal here isn’t to just approach them and offer to take a few shots of them. You want to work with them to create a visual story of what they do, and why they do it. Something that has more of an impact and something that they’re more likely to put effort into pushing out to their audience. Of course, where possible, you’ll want to find something that is somehow relatable to your style of work.

15. Instagram Product Tagging

Type: All Photography
I briefly touched on making sure you’re always tagging anyone featured in your photographs when posting to social media, and I just wanted to mention that you can take this a step further by also tagging any companies that are relevant to the photo as well.

By this, I’m talking about tagging those that make/manufacture/sell the gear that you’re using. So, if you’re shooting with a Canon DSLR, be sure to tag the relevant Canon page for your country. If you’re using a Tamron lens, consider tagging the relevant Tamron page.

You could do this for most of your gear, including lenses, filter systems, tripods, memory cards or even your camera bag. Obviously, there is only a very small chance that your work might get shared by them, but it does happen and, when it does, it can drive quite a lot of people to your profile.

This is applicable for all social platforms, but Instagram is the most relevant.

16. Enter Applicable Competitions

Type:
Entering a competition, whether you win, lose, or come in as a runner-up, isn’t exactly going to bring you any new clients. But, the recognition of having won an award can be a huge trust element for potential clients!

There are hundreds of various photography related competitions that run all throughout the year. From the big hitters like the Sony World Photography Awards, Canon Light Awards and the Nikon Photo Contest, right down to smaller local photography club awards, you should have an endless amount to enter. The best part is, most of these are free to participate in and have multiple categories, so there really isn’t any reason not to take part in them.

Winners for most of these awards are provided with a logo or competition seal that can be used on your websites, on social media profiles or even your physical documents. This can be a great way to promote yourself and offer extra discussion starters with potential clients.

17. Contribute To Unsplash

Unsplash

Type: All Photography
This one might be a little controversial since I know there is a pretty large divide in the photographic community about stock photography. However, if you’re just trying to get a start and want to push your name out there, this can offer just that.

Unsplash, if you’re not familiar, is a community generated stock photography site. It’s not a marketplace, and photos are not for sale, instead, any images uploaded there are made available to the public under a royalty-free attribution optional license. The site, which currently gets around 250k visitors a month, is used by bloggers, news outlets and companies looking to use high-quality photos and, more often than not, they do give credit to the photographer.

So, if you have a collection of decent quality photos that suit the site, it’s worth signing up for an account there and contributing them. If you’re not keen on the idea of providing your images for free, you could consider using some of your older random shots that aren’t otherwise used for anything.

18. Get Creative With A Quirky Photo Series

Type: All Photography
I already spoke about using the virality of something else for your own benefit, but what about getting your own work to go viral? It’s tough, but it can yield amazing results! You don’t have to be a seasoned viral marketer to get something to really kick off, a little bit of creativity, which, being a photographer, you already have, is more than enough.

One important thing though, is that there is no guarantee of something going viral. No matter how good you think something might be, or how well you think it will be received. There are, however, a lot of small things you can do to push it in the right direction and increase the chances, but that’s a whole discussion on its own. For the purpose of simplicity, the goal in this instance is to just let your work do the talking.

What you want to do is work on a specific photo, or series of photos, that offers a unique perspective of something, gives a visual that people wouldn’t often see, or tell a story that heavily piques the interest of people or pulls on an emotion. Now, I guess, part of everyday photography is trying to do this already, so you really need to dig outside of your comfort zone to find a way to go that extra mile.

Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

a) Ashley Brehm & Becca – T-Rex Series
Ashley took a couple of unique shots of Becca in a blow-up T-Rex costume and, pretty much right away, the images, 1 in particular, took off. I don’t think I’ve seen any photograph go as viral as this one did, at least not as fast anyway. Even now, a few months later, I still see it doing the rounds on social media!

Why did it work?
Mostly because it’s different, I mean, it’s not every day you scroll down your feed and see a T-Rex just chillin’ in the middle of the road, right? Things out of the normal often evoke a heightened reaction from viewers, be it in the form of a like, a share or a comment; and that’s exactly what happened here.

b) Andrew Whyte – Lego Around The World
UK based photographer Andrew Whyte created an epic 365-day story called “The Legography Series”, where he photographed a lego figure holding a camera, in place of himself, using only an iPhone. Now, I’m not the first to say that the whole lego thing in photography has been done to death, but this is still a great example of viral photography.

The series went nuts once it appeared online and did the rounds on social media along with hundreds of photography & travel-related publications. As with the previous example, this was so successful because it was unusual, it was funny, and it told a story.

So, what are you going to get working on?

19. Create A Digital Product

Type: All Photography
Another idea that, for the most part, won’t directly attract new clients, but it can, if done well, provide a steady stream of exposure from social media exposure photography related blog features.

Pixel Peeper

Think about your workflow, the finer details surrounding your style of photography, or discussions that tend to be recurrent within the community. Try to identify pain points or problems that people often have and work out if there’s the potential for a simple digital product to solve these.

Here are a couple of examples (that already exist):

a) Exposure Calculators
When taking a nightscape or milky way shot, care needs to be taken to avoid using too long of an long exposure time to avoid the appearance of star trails (unless that’s what you’re going for). So, there’s the 500 rule! This entails dividing your focal length by 500 on a full frame, or the inclusion of a 1.5 or 1.6 crop factor (depending on camera) for a cropped sensor, to determine the perfect exposure time.

But, that’s a pain to do!

So, many photographers have already solved this problem by creating simple calculators that allow users to enter their focal length and camera model to determine their max exposure time.

b) Post Processing Aid
There is a very common question asked by beginner photographers on platforms like Reddit, photography forums and social media, “How do I achieve X style of post processing?”.

So just recently, a freelance web developer/photographer named Piotr Chmolowski created a tool called Pixel Peeper, designed to answer this question. The tool allows users to upload any .JPG photo and, if EXIF and XMP data is still attached to it, it will output a replica Lightroom toolbar showing the exact adjustments made to it.

Of course, unless it’s an informational product, you will need some sort of coding or design knowledge, or have the ability to outsource, in order to create it. But if you’ve got an amazing idea that solves a common problem, it’s well worth the effort to spend the time doing so.

20. Get Listed On Wedding Directories

Type: Wedding Photography
Here’s another one for the wedding photographers out there.

I may very well be pointing out the obvious, but there are loads of reputable wedding directories around the web, and they can be a great way to attract warm leads. If you’re not already present on, at the least, those that serve your local area, it’s definitely worth looking into doing so.

You do need to keep in mind that these directories generally come in two different forms. You’ve got the traditional directories that offer submissions for free, or for a small fixed fee, while the modern form generally offer a free submission but charge a fixed cost for each click or confirmed lead sent your way. If you’ve got the cash to burn, the latter can be really effective, otherwise, the free directories are still a great avenue of exposure.

21. Host A Podcast

Type: All Photography
The popularity of Podcasts has grown exponentially over the past few years! The driver behind that growth is simple; they offer an easier and more convenient way for people to consume content. This can be a great way to draw in an audience that listens to your every word.

Similar to what I stated in the personal blog and publishing on medium sections, you’re goal should be to position yourself as an authority in your speciality.

22. Promotional Gifts

Type: All Photography
I spoke about the idea of giving thank you gifts after working with clients, but what about providing them with a little something beforehand as well! Promotional gifts are a great little way to help people remember your name; bonus points if they’re fun and usable.

If you do this, do it well! Having received a ton of promotional items in the past, and organizing them myself, I see a lot of terrible ideas… like, waste of money terrible. Avoid the generic stuff like branded USB’s, pens and stickers. These often get thrown in the back of a draw, never to be seen again, or end up in the trash. Instead, seriously sit down and analyse your target audience.

What do they do?
What do they like?
What inexpensive item could make their life easier?

Don’t leave anything off the table. If you’re struggling to find a company that can supply the products with your branding, consider doing it yourself with a sticker instead.

On the other hand, if you wanna leave a mark but don’t have a clue on what might be a good gift, consider having 400 action figures of yourself made. It worked for Swedish photographer Jens Lennartsson!

23. Comment On Instagram

Type: All Photography
How do you use Instagram?

Just to showcase your work?
Browse your feed for inspiration?
Stalk your ex…

What about leaving comments?

You know, most people using Instagram don’t join in on discussions or write comments all that often. Or, on the occasions that they do, it’s generally only with their direct connections. Now, that’s fair enough for the average person, but for a photographer, or any business that uses Instagram to promote their work, interacting with other users should be pretty high up on the priority list. Commenting, just like chatting in the real world, helps to build relationships and expand your reach, it puts your profile in front of more people and, as a long-tail effect, can help to increase the reach of your posts.

24. Get Clients Through Meetup.com – Part 2

Type: All Photography
Meetup.com, we meet again!

All the way back up the top there, I spoke about using the Meetup platform as a way of attaining clients and experience as an event photographer. But, I didn’t talk about how the platform can be useful for just about any other form of photography. There’s meetups for just about any topic under the sun, this means that there’s sure to be one for your target audience.

If there is, perfect! That means there’s a whole group of your target clients, all coming together in a single group. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Most of these meetups are public and free, or cheap, to attend, so there’s really no excuse not to attend yourself. You’re not there to directly market your services, instead you’re there to join the discussion, converse and get to know others. As with all conversations between strangers, the question of what you do is bound to come up, and this is where you can drop a bit of info about your photography.

Here are a few examples:

Head on over there and see if there is a Meetup that could be useful for you.

And That’s The Lot

That’s a total of 24 nifty marketing ideas for photographers!

Hopefully there were a couple of points in there that you can take on board and begin implementing for yourself. Or, if you already do some of these, jump down to the comments and let me know, I’d love to hear about your experiences with them.

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  • Reply
    Author
    Dax

    Thanks for sharing Jye, there are some great tips there, some that i think i will use. You make a valid point regarding instagram and engaging more in a networking style arrangement rather than just browsing.

    • Reply
      Author
      Jye

      Hey Dax,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      It’s great to hear that you might get some use out of these. Be sure to drop back and let me know how you go.

      Regarding the Instagram engagement. I guess the same goes for any form of social platform really! I’ve been guilty in the past of not engaging much, but you really do see a difference when you do.