Building a photography business is no easy feat. It takes time, patience, and some good old marketing tactics.
Figuring out where to get started can be challenging, so we talked to an expert on the matter, Ben MacAskill, COO of SmugMug.
Below, MacAskill shares a few great photography marketing tips to help photographers embark on their journey to build a successful business.
Use tools that already exist
Understand your audience
Create an engaging website and portfolio
There’s a lot that goes into building a business, but it’s important not to overload yourself with things that you don’t have to worry about — like email automation, file sharing, building online forms, the list goes on.
That said, MacAskill’s first tip is to “lean on the tools that already exist.” Instead of taking everything into your own hands, it’s much easier to use apps that are already built and easy to implement into your workflow. There are actually quite a few different types of apps on the market. (Pro tip: A few even have free plans!)
When getting started, it’s important to get the basics in place with an email marketing app, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact; a payment processor, like Square, PayPal, or Stripe; and an online form builder, such as JotForm.
Once you decide on the tools you’d like to use, check to see if it makes sense to link them together through a third-party automation app like Zapier. Linking your favorite apps will get your business to the next level by simplifying and streamlining your workflow.
After you set up your workflow, it’s important to take a deeper dive into who your audience is. So MacAskill’s second tip is “Understand your audience. The most important part of this journey is understanding who your customers are.”
It can be difficult to identify your audience at first, especially if you focus on many different types of photography. A good way to get started is to conduct market research in your area, or the area where you want to work, and figure out your fit. For example, if you live in a college town, it might be best to focus on photography for college graduations and college sporting events.
On the other hand, if you live in a metropolitan city, it might be a good option to target companies that need pictures of their office, events, or employees.
Knowing who your audience is will help you understand how you can solve their photography problems, which will make you a standout choice among competitors and help you get more repeat business.
Last but not least, MacAskill’s third tip is to create an engaging website and portfolio. He says, “A profitable website is one of the most important aspects of your photography business.”
But before you actually build your website and portfolio, make sure your personal brand is squared away. Think about what you want your photography business to be called. Many photographers go with their first and last name since it’s unique and easily identifiable. But there’s always an option for something out of the box too.
After you decide on the name of your business, purchase the custom domain for it, so your brand remains cohesive and is easy for potential clients to find online.
Once these two big branding items are finalized, it’s time to create a gorgeous website and portfolio and show off your work. Make sure that you have lots of work samples and that they’re accessible. “People will spend a lot of time evaluating your work before they decide to reach out,” says MacAskill.
Once you finish your website and portfolio, MacAskill advises that you heavily promote yourself: “Tell all of your friends, all of your family, and anyone who will listen until they’re sick of hearing it.”