As photographers many of us lack the skills and knowledge to successfully market our photography businesses. We have chosen to study light and shutter speeds rather than marketing. However, marketing your photography business does not have to be stressful or cost a fortune.
Donate Your Talents
My most successful marketing for my photography business has been through giving. I have donated my time and services to many non-profit organizations at large fundraisers and events. During these events many individuals ask me how they can get a copy of their photo. That is when I had them my business card and let them know that all photos will be uploaded into an online gallery where they can be purchased and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the organization. Most organizations will also list your business on their website and in flyers promoting the event. During a charity event at a local Harley dealership my business was mentioned in a radio spot that ran on three different stations for seven days prior to the event!
My web site gets a boatload of hits in the days and weeks proceeding one of these events and not just in the gallery for the charity. Through their surfing customers see my other work and due to my giving I am already considered a trusted business. After a charity event I usually see a booking increase of 20%-30% for the first two weeks which then falls to about 5%-10% for the next two to four weeks.
Run a Contest
Marketing your photography business by hosting a contest is always fun. The best way to promote a contest is to target the individuals that your contest applies to. For instance when I run a baby contest I post notices on local Mom forums, place flyers at local shops, and buy an ad in a local free magazine that is geared towards young moms. My most recent ad cost $129.00 for a small blurb in three issues and I printed 1,000 postcards for $49.
For less than two hundred dollars my contest was marketed to thousands of Moms throughout my local area. At first the response was slow, but as the deadline drew closer the phones started ringing of the hook. Since, the sessions for the contest were short quick sessions offered for free (They did pay an entry fee, that was used as prize money.) I just fit them into my day in between regular shoots. In sixty days I did 123 contest shoots. One hundred and three of those shoots ordered prints. Since the sessions were offered free the parents were not given any print package discounts, so I made 20% more on each order.
When marketing your photography business with a contest be sure to send press releases to all your local TV and radio stations. You never know what the producers are looking for and you may just find yourself promoting your business for free on a local radio or TV show!
Rent A Booth
We have a local fair every summer called Kidsfest. My son begs to go every year because he gets lots of free goodies and there are fun activities, so I decided to rent a booth and setup my studio right at Kidsfest. We took a few shoots of each kid for a small donation to MADD and printed one 4″x6″ per family at the event. One Mom commented that the photo looked so professional even though it was done in about 2 minutes and in between her crying. So I replied, “Imagine what I can do with a proper setup and more time.” That mom has become one of my best customers; she refers so many customers to me that I no longer charge her for her yearly session.
I wasn’t sure how marketing my photography business at the fair would do, but the response throughout the day was much like the mom mentioned above. My ability to capture cute and quick photos in the bad lighting and chaos of the fair impressed many parents. I booked ten sessions at the fair and another twenty-two in the six months that followed!
This booth has been my most expensive marketing for my photography business. However, due to the success of the on the spot photos I have booked Kidsfest every year since and I am branching out to a dog show this fall.
Hopefully, these ideas have shown you that you can successfully market your photography business without a large budget. It just takes a bit of time and ingenuity.