With barriers to entry being so low for photography, it can be difficult for newcomers to get noticed, and consequently get much business in the early stages. This difficulty can be overcome by advertising your photos and services, however advertising can be extremely expensive and for those without much business knowledge can be incredibly difficult to do well. In this article we are going to lead you through three incredibly simple steps you can follow to increase your photography business all without spending a dime. The first technique is to gain a presence on social media sites, from there you will want to exploit these sites to gain as many views as you can, finally you will want to set a referral program in place to ensure a continuous stream of customers.
The first step in this process is to set up and optimize your presence on social media websites. While it can be tempting to reach out across many platforms, it is often a pitfall taken by many bands, record labels and even photographers to reach out to too many sites. While being on multiple sites can increase your online presence, the reality is that it will also dramatically cut into your time as you spend hours each week upgrading and maintaining a presence on these sites. You are far better off selecting two or three sites that you enjoy and really pushing your presence on these sites. The three I recommend for every photographer are (in order): A facebook fan page, a flickr account and finally a twitter account.
With these accounts you will want to completely fill out the bios, include information such as your location, and a little bit about you. Be sure to steer clear of cliches like “Photography is my passion”. If you have to tell people how passionate you are, than you obviously haven’t shown them. Let your work speak for itself and use the bios to create some more meaningful information. Next, be sure to get on these sites for at least a few minutes each day and post something meaningful. You can comment on other people’s statuses and photos as well as post status updates and photos of your own. Try to keep the focus off continually “pushing your business”, instead offer advice, and positive messages. No one wants to be sold to all the time, let your personality come through these sites and talk WITH your customers rather than at them.
Next you will want to learn to exploit these social media sites to get the best exposure possible. With sites like facebook , you will want to focus on two things: proper tagging of photos and the time of day you post. By tagging people in pictures it will ensure that they are seen on their friends news feeds getting your name directly in front of dozens or more people. Be sure though to post at peak times, generally in the evening after dinner and early in the morning as people are waking up. Flickr is a bit different, to do well here you will want to share your photos in “groups” and be sure to only post the top 5 pictures from each shoot. With flickr a more organic traditionally networking approach is the only way to gain any traction. Finally on twitter you will want to reply to tweets, even if they don’t pertain to you. Start conversations and follow people you find interesting and you will soon find a new stream of fans and potential customers for your work.
Once you have your social media presence set up your next and final step is to create a referral program to ensure that you have a steady stream of business for many years to come. There are a few ways to do this, you can offer discounts on prints, discounts on shoot fees or even a straight up cash bonus for anyone referring you a new client. The hard truth is that word of mouth will always be your most powerful form of advertising, people trust their friends a lot more than they trust any advertisement. By treating your customers right you can ensure that they will refer friends to you, however by offering an incentive you can get your happy customers to refer even acquaintances and strangers to your great work.
By following these three simple steps you can get a new business of the ground, or take an existing business to the next one. While spending money on advertising can increase your potential, it is not necessary. With the power of the internet and social media, all you need to do is set up a few simple profiles and spend a few minutes each day to maintain them. Once you’ve done that you can push things to another level with a referral program that will keep you working for many years to come.