How to get your photography noticed
Today the photography market is at the most competitive it has been in the history of the industry, so it can be hard to get yourself noticed in a sea of other photographers.
The big problem is that most photographers start out wanting to promote their photography services to anyone and everyone who’ll have them, unfortunately, every other photographer is taking this approach in a bid to try and get noticed.
So what can you do to get noticed and stand out?
There’s an old saying “if you try to appeal to everyone you become special to no one”. This is very true in the photography industry right now. Thousands of photographers trying to get noticed by potential clients through websites, social media and their photography blogs, but the only clients they seem to get any attention or work from, are those only interested in getting a cheap deal.
As a photographers’ mentor working with 100’s of photographers around the world, I see this scenario time and time again. Most photographers begin their photography journey at the very bottom end of the market, unfortunately, this is where every other photographer starts too, creating an oversaturated pool of competition.
By comparison at the upper end of the market, there is far less competition. This section of the industry isn’t populated by people classing themselves as general or freelance photographers, the premium end of the market is made up of specialists, each working in a niche corner of the industry.
You’ll find hotel photographers, headshot photographers, people specialising in architectural photography, food photography and personal branding photography. I even have a specialist ice hockey photographer I work with who’s extremely successful and known in his country as the Go-To Photographer in the ice hockey world.
Getting Noticed in the Photography Industry
In order to get noticed in the photography industry, you need to move away from the crowd and specialise. Now I’m not saying you only have to stick to one form of photography, I had five different photography businesses myself, but each business was separate, with different branding, different websites, social media pages and their own photography blog targetted to solving my ideal client’s problems.
No amount of advertising or photography promotion is going to get you noticed if your brand doesn’t connect with your clients. If you’re a photographer who has headshots, commercial photography, pet portraiture and wedding photography all on one website and social media page then you are going to really struggle to get noticed by anyone.
A bride-to-be doesn’t want to see photographs of headshots or people in offices. Likewise, a manager of a recruitment agency needing headshots isn’t going to be bowled over by a website that is trying to appeal to couples getting married, you’ll be sending out very mixed messages.
Stop being a “Jack of All Trade Photographer”
Now’s the time to start taking action and stop being a Jack of All Trades and Master of None Photographer. You’ll never attract your ideal clients if all you can do to stand out is discount your prices.
You MUST SPECIALISE and find your NICHE.
So let’s say that currently 65 -70% of your website and Facebook enquiries are for wedding photography, then ditch everything else off your website and Facebook page and rebrand yourself as a premium wedding photographer. You can easily create a separate Facebook page for your headshots or commercial photography and build your LinkedIn profile around headshots too, this is the perfect platform for business-to-business photography.
If you’re going to have a website and Facebook page that appeals to brides then it needs to have a feel and branding that is attractive to your potential clients. Look at some of the top wedding photographers in your country, don’t look at other general photographers in your town, you’re not interested in them and what they are doing. If you want to get to the top you need to look at what people at the top are already doing.
Too many photographers worry about what other photographers are charging. This is no way to build a premium brand and will only lead to price battles, lower profits and doing work for people who don’t really value your services, they just want the cheapest price.
How to Get Your Photography Noticed with Your Branding
The brand is everything your clients, think, feel and believe about your business, if you want them to believe you are premium you have to look and feel it.
Your brand needs to appeal to your ideal clients, for example, wedding photography is an emotional sale, it’s all based on the emotion and excitement of the big day.
You’ll notice that high-end venues, bridal shops, and other premium wedding vendors all use similar styles of fonts, colours and wording on their websites, often opting for slightly scripted fonts in their headlines, soft emotionally worded text and pastel colours in the design and feel.
Whereas in the commercial world the colours, wording and branding are often much bolder, the wording more direct and the text a lot stronger. So this is where your brand needs to be if you are directing your services to the commercial market. Design your brand around your client first and foremost.
How to promote your photography business
Once you’ve decided on your niche and built your brand with your clients in mind, the next step is how to promote your photography to potential customers in a way that doesn’t come across as salesy or desperate.
There’s a great saying that really relates to social media and online marketing.
“People BUY from People they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.”
So a great way to get yourself known is by actually NOT selling, but by helping, inspiring and telling great stories in the content you create.
Nobody likes to be sold to online, it’s not what our newsfeeds are for. But we do love to find answers to our questions, read inspirational stories and connect with like-minded people.
Start selling online by getting noticed for being helpful
A huge percentage of my business comes from my online presence, but if you follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube you’ll hardly ever an advert or me trying to make a sales promotion.
I’ve built my business up by getting noticed for being helpful.
I solve potential customers’ problems, inspire my followers and share interesting stories that are motivational and inspirational. Photographers actually come to me and ask about joining my program, instead of me putting it out there trying to sell it.
Over the years I’ve grown my business by becoming.
- KNOWN, by posting regular content daily to my social platforms and websites
- LIKED, by adding personality to my content, just being myself and connecting with my followers
- TRUSTED, by not trying to sell, always being honest and always engaging with people’s comments
There’s a great book you may enjoy which totally sums up the way to becoming Known, Liked and Trusted online. I’ve read it myself and also listened to the audio version several times over the years.
Check it out on Amazon just click on the book image below and it will take you to the page.
How to Get Your Photography Noticed With Joint Ventures
A great way to put your name out there and start getting your photography noticed is to form Joint Venture Partnerships with people who already serve the type of customer you want to work with.
A lot of photographers waste their time and money on press or magazine advertising that often produces zero returns.
During my early days in photography, I literally wasted tens of thousands on advertising that didn’t work. Even spending over £4,000 on a radio ad campaign that produced just one single enquiry.
However, over the years I’ve used countless Joint Ventures Partnerships to make sure my photography services are constantly being recommended to the people I would like to work with.
For a Joint Venture to work well it has to be of benefit to both parties involved. Make sure that whoever you work with understands that they will be financially rewarded for promoting your service to their customers.
So what is a Joint Venture Partnership
A Joint Venture Partnership is where another business that already serves your ideal customer base, agrees to work alongside you promoting your services to their clients in exchange for a commission.
One of my most rewarding Joint Ventures was with a wedding dress shop. The shop in question was very high-end, her clients were my ideal customers, the ones I wanted to work with and could afford my prices.
Because a large proportion of brides choose their dress before choosing their photographer a wedding dress shop is a much better partner to work with than say a cake supplier. By the time a bride starts looking for cakes, make-up artists, wedding cars and DJs she’s usually already got her venue, dress and photographer sorted.
I offered to pay the wedding dress shop £100 commission for every confirmed wedding booking, which is a good enough amount to make it very attractive to the shop owner and her staff, but not greatly affecting my profits as my prices were aimed towards the higher end of the market.
I had some VIP vouchers printed with the shop’s name and logo on them. The voucher entitled any bride who booked their wedding day’s photography with me to a free engagement portrait shoot and canvas wall print worth £300 (the canvas costing less than £40 to purchase). Often I’d sell additional images from the engagement shoot to the couple, thus resulting in a profit that easily covered the commission payment and the canvas cost alone.
At the bottom of the voucher was a space for the member of staff who handed over the voucher to write their name. Each month I’d go down to the shop and pay out the hundred-pound commissions in cash to each member of staff. You can imagine how effective this was for spurring the staff to push me over any other photographer.
In just 12 months this one venture secured over 30 weddings.
No expensive advertising and I only had to pay commission out after I’d received the bride’s deposit payment in full. I also ran a similar style Joint Venture for portraits, one with a few local dog groomers, and another with a high-end family restaurant and I even managed to secure one with my local BMW dealership, perfect for targetting families with larger disposable incomes.
Ideas for potential Joint Venture Partners
- Commercial Photography, approach web designers, and business groups
- Pet Portraiture, try dog groomers, dog walkers, pet shops and pet training schools
- Newborn Photography – try high-end baby clothing shops, 3D baby scans, pram suppliers and maternity groups.
I’m sure you can think of lots more for your own photography niche.
Get Your Photos And Your Work Seen
Another form of Joint Venture is to utilise the display space of other businesses that serve possible clients, this way you are getting your photos in front of the right people.
This can often be a great source of free advertising for your business, by simply using your images to brighten up and make a visual impact on visitors to a Joint Venture Partners’ business premises.
I know a good number of photographers who display framed landscapes of their local areas in trendy coffee shops and tearooms, often selling their images through the premises on a commission basis.
I have personally used a number of local businesses to display large framed prints in their shop windows and created highly effective voucher referral schemes with the store owners. I’ve displayed beautiful baby portraits in the city centre premises of a baby clothing shop and gorgeous pet portraits in several busy out-of-town dog groomers.
How to Get Your Photography Noticed with Facebook
Many photographers use Facebook purely to promote photography services and talk about their work. However, most photographers overlook the fact that Facebook is a great place to build relationships that lead to recommendations from businesses in your niche.
There are so many ways to get involved with other businesses who support your target customer base, just by reaching out and getting to know them through social media.
Try to think of your Facebook Page as a hub of information that will lead to better connections and a more engaging, loyal following. It’s ok to talk about yourself and post content in a bid to get your photos out there, but you DON’T need to do it every day.
Imagine you’re a pet photographer, yes its fantastic to see images of the beautiful pets that you’ve had in your studio, but as a follower of your page, I’ll eventually start to switch off and stop engaging if the content is just all about you.
The chances are that your followers are pet lovers and pet owners themselves.
Start including content that will be of interest to them as a pet owner. Also, try using your content to help build relationships with businesses in the pet industry. Remember their clients are yours too and vice versa.
Here are ideas of post topics to include in your Facebook Page monthly content schedule.
- Review of a local dog grooming services
- Review a local pet shop with a special promotion for your followers
- A series of posts detailing the best local dog walks in your town
- Pet care and training tips in collaboration with a local dog trainer
- Spotlight on local dog-friendly pubs in your area
- Run a beautiful puppy photo competition and encourage followers to send in their pictures and stories about their new addition to the family
Get creative with your content, it’s this sort of content that gets followers engaged and sharing your posts.
Start thinking of your Facebook Page as a community of people bound together by their love for their pets. Don’t just talk about yourself, make your followers and the businesses that serve your niche a huge part of your page.
Running a Facebook Business Page is just one of the many effective ways to get your services noticed and stand out as the Go-To Photographer in your niche.
Don’t rush into any form of business advertising until you’ve fully utilised social media and joint ventures. Most advertising does not work and is not cost-effective.
Thank you, Jeff