6 Do’s and Don’ts of Branding for Photographers

Self-promotion can be one of the more frustrating parts of starting a photography business. How a photographer decides to approach marketing can be the difference between success and defeat. As a photographer, it may feel safe to assume that your primary job is taking pictures, but once you’re trying to make money, it easily becomes all about the marketing.

The ability to take great photos doesn’t automatically come with paying jobs. No one is going to know you’re there without putting a name out into the world.

Camera and Desktop

Marketing is 50% self-confidence and 50% salesperson. There is a fine line between positive self-promotion and annoying salesperson. Part of becoming a successful photographer is knowing how to walk that line. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while entering the world of photography branding.

Do Create An Amazing Online Portfolio

Traditionally, a photographer could get by with a folder full of their best work that could be mailed out upon request. This whole process could take weeks to reach the client and receive a reply. Today’s market has moved to an online process. Most interested parties will request a URL to your portfolio or a PDF file that contains some of your best work.

A portfolio doesn’t necessary have to contain only your best work. The ideal portfolio will be designed with the current client in mind. An example would be a macro stock photographer applying for a job as a food photographer. The client is obviously going to be interested in looking at food photography shots. A portfolio full of outdoor macro shots is not going to appeal to this client as much as a portfolio of food related photographs. It is perfectly acceptable to include some of your more popular shots, but the majority should be shots that this client would prefer to see.

Don’t Spend Too Much Money

The old saying; “you have to spend money, to make money”, is not always the best course of action for a photographer breaking into the business. You would be surprised how often you can trade services for things like a logo design, web coding, and advertising. It never hurts to ask for local companies to trade goods in exchange for professional photos.

It’s a good idea to make out a budget for marketing and save a percent of each sale towards that budget. It is far too easy to overspend on branding, with the thought that it will make more money in the end. Keep records of every dime spent towards branding, a lot of this can be wrote off during tax time.

Do Utilize Social Media

Social media is the best thing since sliced bread to a photographer breaking out into the world. There are so many ways to advertise to the public for free using sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, etc.

The most difficult part of using social media is attracting an audience and keeping their attention.

There are essentially two steps to building up a steady stream of followers. The first is by posting something every day. A steady stream of content will get followers interested in what you do. Next is finding pages with similar work that have a large following. Send a polite message and see if they are interested in sharing some of your posts. It never hurts to ask.

Blogging is also a wonderful tool for photographers. Blogging a great way to tell the story behind some of the pictures. Pick a photograph and write up a few paragraphs about the journey and people met along the way. They will become more invested in what you do and look forward to what you’re doing next.

Don’t Underestimate Local Connections

Check out local events and gatherings where the potential to pick up new clients looks promising. If something new and exciting is happening in the area, grab the camera and head out to see what’s worth capturing. Simply being at the right place, at the right time can lead to potential business partners.

Don’t forget to bring business cards or even a brochure to hand out along the way.

Do Research

Who is buying or hiring in your genre of photography? Spend a little time everyday digging around online for new possible clients and send out inquiring emails. A short email explaining who you are, and what you do, can be all it takes to land another job. Remember, this is technically a job application, so treat this email like a cover letter.

Create a record of every email sent out for job inquiries. If you are sending out 2 or 3 emails every day, it’s easy to forget who you sent what. It can sometimes be weeks before receiving a reply. A few notes about who the person or company is will help gather your thoughts on why you sent them an email to begin with.

Don’t Forget To Ask Clients How They Found You!

Asking new clients how they heard about you is an essential part of branding. Keep a record to analyze what methods brought in the most clients. Take these records into consideration when working on a new marketing budget.

Investing more money into the best method of advertising will only help draw in more clients and make more money.

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