So you want to be a professional photographer. You’ve got some great images in your portfolio. You’ve shot a few weddings. Maybe even been published once or twice or sold a few images through stock libraries. Fantastic 🙂 That’s where to start and indeed how a lot of people enter the industry.
But it isn’t enough.
It’s OK to earn a bit of pin money from time to time but that’s not enough to sustain a healthy business. For that you need clients. To get clients you need to be a marketer, not a photographer.
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!!!
Get noticed – It’s all about marketing!!
Over the last few months I’d estimate that I’ve spent between 60% and 80% of my time on marketing. When I’m not working on a shoot my time is spent developing and marketing the business. It’s the only way it can be. Clients don’t just magic themselves up out of thin air very often. Sometimes they do or I should say appear to do and that’s a very welcome surprise. It’s not really magic though they’ve obviously heard about me/found me somewhere it’s just that I can’t track it back to a particular source And that’s a big failing.
Whether you like it or not, it doesn’t matter how good a photographer you are, you won’t get any bookings without being good at marketing your business.
When I took my first steps on this journey back in 2008 I was under the very naive impression that all I needed was one wedding. Just one wedding and everyone would see how great my images were, I’d make a ton of money selling them to the guests and pick up lots of referrals.
Oh dear! It’s quite amusing think back to how delusional I was and also extremely embarrassing too.
Reality is a very different scenario. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wedding photographer, fashion photographer or baby photographer. To succeed in business you need to let people know you’re there.
So how do you go about it?
That’s one of the questions you’ll find literally peppering all the photography forums. Where do you advertise? How do you market your business? It’s hardly surprising you’ll very rarely see an answer. I’m certainly not going to divulge what works and what doesn’t for me. After all, I’m spending a huge amount of time and money on marketing my own business to bring clients in so I’m hardly going to give away all the secrets and lessons I’ve learned over the last few years.
What I will say though is that I’ve had significantly more failures than I have successes. Some of them very, very costly too. Hard and very, very valuable lessons to learn. Nowadays every time I put together a piece of marketing I also put in place measures to track how effective it is. Had I not I’d have probably continued to throw good money after bad time and time again.
Tracking – You need to know what works for you…
If you’re not tracking your marketing activities you’ll be wasting a lot of money and not realising it.
Tracking give you visibility of what’s working and what isn’t. Once you know what isn’t working you have two options: fix it or drop it. It really is that simple. Don’t be too quick to jump though. There is little point in placing a single ad and dropping it the next week or month because it’s not generated any business. You have to give it a fair chance to generate a return.