So, you finally took the leap and turned your passion into a business. Congratulations! I truly think starting is the hardest part, and you’ve already done that. Now, it’s time to grow your family photography business into a profitable, flourishing operation! From building trust with your clients to finding your editing style, there are lots of ways to set your biz up for success. (If you’re just starting out, here are 5 of my best tips!) But no matter how incredible you are at photography, people aren’t going to book you unless they know about you. Enter: marketing.
Marketing a photography business can seem like a daunting puzzle at first glance. Who should you be marketing to? And how? But when you boil it down to the basics, you’re left with two simple ways to reach your dream clients: in person and on the internet. Today, I’m here to unpack both, giving you a simple but effective marketing plan to try as you grow. Before you know it, you’ll have figured out how to market your brand new photography business!
All too often, I’ll hear new photographers fall into the trap of spending a ton of money on advertising efforts. When you’re just starting your business, that’s not necessary — or even the best use of your money! Chances are, some of your future favorite clients are waiting just around the corner. No, literally! I’m talking about people in the grocery store, at your kid’s soccer practice, or running on the treadmill next to you at the gym. And while I wouldn’t recommend tapping anyone on the shoulder mid-workout, there are plenty of great ways to get the word out without even deviating from your regular routine.
- Tell local family members and friends.
The people who love you want your business to succeed almost as much as you do. Make sure they know you’ve launched this career! They’ll definitely pass the word along whenever they can to their coworkers and friends — and just like that, your network expands exponentially.
An important bonus: many of them will probably want you to take their family photos! There’s nothing sweeter than building a portfolio of families you already know and love spending time with, so don’t be shy about sharing the good news with your inner circle! It’s the easiest marketing tool that we often forget to use.
- Network with other local businesses.
Does your city have meetups for local business owners? Go to those networking events and introduce yourself. Again, people can’t book you unless they know what you offer! So put yourself out there with confidence and watch the leads roll in.
If you’re not feeling up for “group networking” just yet, strike up a conversation next time you’re in your favorite local shop! From boutiques to antiques, most local business owners love to support others in their community. They may end up booking you for themselves, telling other customers about you, or both! They may even have a spot for you to leave a business card or flier in their store.
Even if you don’t seem to get direct business from these exchanges at first, it’s a valuable way to get your name out there, and a great way to make friends with other businesspeople in your area.
- Try model calls.
If you’re new to the photography business, you’re probably hoping to grow your portfolio. If you’re struggling to build a client base as you start out, incorporate model calls into your marketing! This is a great way to offer free or discounted sessions for families in your city, and it’s also the perfect opportunity to select a location and vibe that fits the portfolio of your dreams.
Not sure who to ask? Try:
- Your friends and family. They would probably be thrilled to jump in front of the lens for you!
- Your social circle. Your kids’ friends have parents who probably want photos. Ask them!
- Giving back to your community. Make your model calls an outreach opportunity by offering free photos for military families, teachers, or other families who might need the boost of a free family session.
If model calls feel overwhelming, I’ve got you covered — I just wrote a blog post on model calls that will walk you through every detail to make these sessions a success!
As you’re building your in-person network, you should also create an online presence. But this doesn’t have to be totally draining (or take up all of your free time)! To market well online, consider your target audience. Where are the families that you’d like to shoot spending their time? Let’s be honest – moms are most likely to be booking family photographers, so meet them where they are online: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or even TikTok.
When it comes to social media marketing, consistency is key. You don’t have to make these apps a second full-time job, but you should create a schedule that works for you and stick to it. For example, maybe you can come up with 3 posts per week — one that introduces people to you as a person and two that highlight your recent work. If that’s all you have in the tank, that’s fine! Just show up, and keep showing up.
Don’t forget to engage with your audience online, too! It’ll help you feel connected to your social media followers and it’ll make that crazy algorithm happier.
How to Create a Marketing Plan
I get it: “marketing plan” sounds like a whole thing. But it’s really as simple as this: you’re more likely to post consistent content if you know what you want to say. All you really need to set yourself up for success is a place to write down and execute your ideas.
For me, this is the Notes app on my phone. Yep, it’s really that easy! Here’s how it works: I use my Notes app as a spot to jot down content ideas whenever they come to mind, from fun ways to reintroduce myself online to educational content about choosing outfits for a session to a fun way to caption my next gallery when I share it. Then, when I’m ready to share my next post, I can hop over to that note and find all of my ideas in one place. No more staring at that blinking cursor and wondering what to tell my followers!
As you’re prepping your online ideas, keep your ideal client in mind! What kinds of questions do they have about you and your business? What topics are they interested in? Use your social media platforms to speak to those things, and your online marketing will be in great shape before you ever spend a dollar on ads.
Want more tips and tricks for growing your family photography business? I have a collection of FREE resources you should check out, from must-have gear to prompts you can try during your next session.