If you are a photographer, you know how hard you have to work to promote your business. Handing out business cards, maintaining websites, blogs, YouTube channels, the millions of social media sites, all this while trying to balance check books, schedules, family life, shoots and for some of us, other jobs, but there comes a point where you have to ask yourself, where are my customers coming from? are they from social media? word of mouth? that email list that we all send out?
Social media has become a huge part of our marketing strategies, be honest, how many of you tag your clients in your posts? This leads to their friends seeing your work, sharing and possible clients from a simple tag on Facebook or Instagram, but what content are you sharing? I've learned a few things from some of my mentors and I'm going to share them with you.
1. Content, Content, Content!!!
One thing that our clients and future clients love is content, behind the scenes photos, videos, candid shots, interviews and so much more. There is a lot that potential clients can gain from little things like a short video behind the scenes showing you interacting with your model or client, the most important is, they see how you work and what your personality is like when it comes down to doing your job. Always remember this content can be used for other things, like vlogging or b-roll for interviews, you never know when this footage will come in handy. Plus if you post a behind the scenes image of what you are working on, people are more than likely to come back and check out the finished product.
This is one of the most important things I will talk about, what looks better to a client, sending them to a Facebook page or sending them to a professional dot com website? The website of course!! With all the web hosting sites available now, if you call yourself a professional photographer, you should have a website, no excuses, everything else is just a marketing tool. When it comes to your portfolio, you only want to post your strongest work, the wow factor, not the mediocre photographs. The best of the best, not the eh it was pretty good. If you go through and edit 15 images and only 5 are great, use only those 5. Multiple edits of the same photo can kill you in the eyes of a client, because it means you doubt your eye, it also shows that you are unsure of your work. Out of focus shots too, I don't care if the lighting was perfect and everything came together to make a magical photo, if it isn't tack sharp, DO NOT POST IT! It only shows inexperience and will make a client have doubts about your work. Remember this, only the best of the best in your portfolio! If you are looking for ways to give your clients full res images without posting all of them in view of future clients, google has drive for free, Dropbox is free, there shouldn't be the excuse, "I post all my images here because this is where my clients can get them", if your clients are getting their images off Facebook once you are finished, you need to reevaluate your business practices.
3. Social Media
I'll admit it, we are all guilty of this, I'm not perfect but its something I can be better at, some days I'm so wore out that I don't feel like logging into 4 different sites and posting different images, its easier to go to Instagram, post your image and share it on twitter, Facebook, flicker etc, but we have to remember this, yes we have different people that follow us on social media links, but many of our followers, follow us across the board. Instead of posting the same image on multiple outlets, post a different image on each, tell people to follow this or that for exclusive content that is specific to that social media link. This will make people curious to see other work and check out your pages. Ride that Hashtag train!! If its in your photo hashtag it, what gear are you using? what lens did you use? what brand of camera are you using? Natural light? Reflector? Flash? put it all in there, people will follow you if they use the same gear to see what you produce with it. Always put your website in any post you make! I'm going to touch on social media in a future post so we will just leave it at that.
4. Business Cards
This is the most important thing that ANY small business owner can have with them at all times, NO EXCUSES. Make it a habit to put some cards in every one of your bags, in your pockets, in your car, keep backups in your wallet just in case you run out. I personally think it's important to have 2 types of cards, the generic and the client. The generic is just that, generic, this is the card that you give to anyone that might be interested in what you do, if you are into street photography (which you should be, you never know who you will meet) and you snap a photo of someone, doing something, hand them one of these. They should be simple, your logo, website, social media links and email, I wouldn't recommend putting your phone number on these because you never know who you are giving your card to, they will get curious and check you out, you never know, this could lead to them being a client. The client card is the most important, this is the one you pay a little more for and put much more effort into. This is the card that you take with you to consultations or business meetings. This one is the card that sells your professionalism, next to your website and actions. It needs to feel good in the clients hand, it should be nicely designed with all of your information on it. Make it a card that they want to keep, not just toss in the trash, so when their friend needs someone to cover their wedding, or birthday they have your card with them.
I am the absolute worst at this, I never have time to sit down and type out a blog and post it, but believe it or not blogging is VERY important to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Shooting at a new location? Blog it. Working in a new wedding venue? Blog it! going out of town for a shoot? BLOG IT! If you type out a blog about anything, even new gear you get and review it, it will help bump you up the list when people search for that product, venue or tip. If you attract people to your website with a blog, they will more than likely stick around to check out your portfolio, maybe even contact information and send you an email. You never know what could happen!
Branding yourself is as important as any of these other things, it's your business isn't it? Take pride in what you have built and what you have accomplished. T-shirts, hats, you should be a walking advertisement for your company! If you get shirts made, for example, I had my logo on the front and www.entensefocus.com on the back, don't you think someone will be curious enough to check it out? Even the little bar code things, get one made that links to your website and put it on your car, people will scan it to go to your site. Clients are every where, you just have to find them.
No one is going to market you, no one is to blame if your business fails, its all on you and what you put into it, you can't be lazy and expect things to come to you, you have to fall a few times to build your foundation up stronger to support a taller skyscraper. There's no crying in this business, NO EXCUSES, just go out there and do it.