You’ve started your business, now how do you find clients to hire you?
Traditional advertising, such as an ad in a magazine or newspaper, is mostly worthless. Don’t waste your money. I’ve tried it. They don’t work. Especially when there are so many free photography marketing tips you can implement.
Instead, imagine having people love your photography business so much that they send all their friends your way. Think about what it would be like to show up #1 in Google for your desired keyword, and to have enough people finding you to meet your profit goals without stress and without spending thousands of dollars on advertising.
It can happen.
It may take some time, but here are 10 free photography marketing ideas that work like crazy.
1. Google Business Pages
When you search on Google and include a location in your keyword, such as “Madison Wedding Photographer,” Google is now putting their Google Business listings BEFORE the organic listings in their rankings. These listings are free, so go and get one now! You can find them here.
It’s important to fully fill out your profile and start getting reviews if you want to show up in the local listings. Make sure to upload some photos as well, as they sometimes show up there in the search results. It’s a great way to improve your chances of being found on Google when people are searching for a photographer.
2. Automate your Social Media posts
Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and others can be super useful ways to promote your business.
That being said, you have to be super careful not to waste a bunch of time on these platforms as they can be really distracting. I mean, I can go on Facebook to put a post on my business page, and an hour later I’m viewing cat videos and forgot to post altogether.
The struggle is real, friends.
So, in order to keep from wasting too much time, use a free service like IFTTT to automate your posts. This allows you to post in one place and then have it automatically post that same content on other platforms. This is how to get the best response with the least amount of time wasted.
3. Blog as often as you can
Having fresh content on your site is one of the best ways to let Google know that your is site active (which gives you better rankings) and shows your customers that you are busy. When I visit a site that hasn’t been updated in a few months, I often wonder if they are still in business. If you don’t have many shoots, spread out your posts (do a few images one at a time instead of all in one big post) or show some personal work.
It’s also extremely valuable to blog about things that your clients want to know. For example, wedding photographers may want to put out a series on their blog with tips for brides for having better wedding photography (such as hiring a professional lighting company or not getting ready in a church kitchen) whereas portrait photographers may post about what to wear to a session. Providing information to your clients helps them to value you and see you as an authority about the subject.
You’ll also want to make sure that your site is optimized for search engines so that you can attract clients who are looking for a photographer like you by searching the internet.
4. Start building an email list right away
The more I learn about email marketing, the more I realize that I should have started an email list right away from the very beginning. I’m not talking about buying some random list that people are trying to sell you. I’m talking about people who are interested in your work and opt-in to receive emails from you.
The beauty of the email list is that these clients already like your work enough to give you their email address. They want to hear about your business and about the products you are offering. They may even love your work enough that they want to receive an email every time you update your blog with new photos. These people are priceless.
Want to do a day of mini-sessions? Tell your email list and give them the opportunity to sign up a day before you open it to the public. Have a new product you are offering? Tell your list about it and entice them to buy it.
In fact, one of the photographers who is in my Marketog course said that with her list of less than 150 people, she’s able to book a full day of mini-sessions simply by sending out a single email. It’s so incredibly powerful for getting more clients.
You can use MailChimp for free if you just send out a basic newsletter from time to time, which is the absolute minimum you should be doing.
However, I highly recommend using ConvertKit. They do have a small monthly fee to use their service, but the automation they provide will easily pay for the cost, and it’ll cost you less than your monthly Starbucks budget which is well worth it. As an FYI, if you purchase using that link, it pays me a small commission at no extra cost to you, so it’s a great way to say “thanks” for the tips I share with you. So thanks in advance for using it!
5. Offer referral bonuses
Word of mouth advertising is one of the most powerful things you can have for propelling your business forward. One way to help encourage that is to reward people for telling their friends about your business and how awesome you are. I like to offer either a free print or a certain amount of print credit to my clients for each friend they refer to us that books a session or wedding. This isn’t free to deliver, but I am putting it in my “free” list because you can pay for it out of the profits from their friend who may not have booked with you otherwise. It’s free to get started and promote.
6. Network with other professionals
Get involved with other professionals in your local area. It’s amazing how loyal business owners can be towards each other when you really hit if off. Make sure you’re promoting their businesses to your clients, and they’ll be sure to reciprocate.
If you shoot weddings, it’s especially powerful to network with other wedding professionals since you share clients but don’t have to compete for them.
7. Run a contest or a promotion
I debated putting this one on here at all because some photographers give away their work for free for too long, but a contest or giveaway here and there can really help boost visibility to your business.
My friend Andy and I gave away free wedding photography to one couple each year for the first 3 years of our business as a way to give back to people, and while it has been an incredibly rewarding thing to do on a personal level, it isn’t something that brings in a lot of extra business. Yes, you get some, but generally it’s more about spreading the word about giving back. This is because we’re not offering it to our target market. Our target market can afford higher-end photography, whereas people who enter a contest for something free often do so because they can’t afford the luxury item. It was shocking to me how many people still met with us and booked us while the contest was still open, but our target market would rather book us than wait for the results of a contest but possibly lose their date.
To do this to get more clients, you have to make sure that you’re reaching your target market.
8. Have clients recruit their friends
Offering a free gift or a small discount to people who find two or three friends to all schedule photo sessions on the same day can be a huge motivator for people to find others to hire you as well. Again, we’re harnessing the power of word of mouth advertising, but it’s so powerful that it can’t be ignored.
9. Get featured on photo blogs
There’s a ton of wedding and portrait blogs out there that feature photography, and there are some portrait blogs that feature portrait photographers as well. Get featured if you can, then promote it where your clients can see it. There’s nothing wrong with reminding them how awesome you are. It’s simply good business.
10. Give back to the community
This not only gets your name out there, but it helps you build relationships with other professionals who may want your services or refer you to people they know. There are very few organizations who would turn down free photography coverage for their event. Consider donating a session to a cause that is important to you. Or offer up a free session as part of a silent auction. The possibilities here are endless.
Get more Free Marketing tips
Sign up for my free email marketing course, which will give you several different ways to get more clients for your photography business. Click here to learn more and sign up now!