Let me guess.
You’ve built your site. You’ve posted it on social, and you’ve tried a few different ways to advertise.
But your traffic and the number of bookings don’t seem to budge.
Sure, you’ve read articles and books on how to build your business and book more clients.
But there seems to be an infinite number of ways to do it, and you’re stuck.
So, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Over the past few months we’ve taken a look at a ton of strategies to drive convertible traffic to your site and put them together in a slide deck that lays out 31 Ways to Increase Traffic and Book More Clients
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We also know you like options.
So, we reached out to 17 incredible photographers who’ve succeeded in building their businesses to find out how they would go about doing it if they were starting from scratch and what they’d do to grow after 3+ years.
These methods work. They have worked for them, and they’ll work for you too. Here’s what our photo pros said when they were asked:
#1. How would you grow a photography business you’re just starting? How would you find those first crucial customers?
#2. How would you grow a business that’s been around for 3+ years?
#1. Act like you’re booking and busy even if you aren’t! When I first started out, I was begging people to let me photograph them for free and my only request was that I could share the images online. When I shared the images I put in the caption something like this: “I had so much fun at Kacey’s senior session today! She is absolutely stunning!!” Even though she wasn’t a paying client, the people that followed me on Instagram or Facebook didn’t know that! They saw her images and some even reached out to me to photograph their senior session. They saw that I was “busy” with sessions and booking clients even if I wasn’t at all during the time. This helped to grow my business a ton and find those first crucial customers who would then spread the word about me as well as share their images online for their friends to see as well as get my name out there!
#2. I would grow a business by introducing a new program, such as a senior spokesmodel team. Spokesmodel teams are great to reach other schools and spread the word about your business and work. You can also offer education to other photographer offering free webinars, mentoring, or workshops.
#1. I’ve had to start my photography business three times because my husbands job moves me all over the country. The first time, I barely got any work, the second, I did alright for myself, and the third time, I’m finally getting the hang of it and finding much more success. If I had to start a photography business from scratch… again…. I think that I would start face to face networking with people in my industry right away. Getting in front of people so you can talk about your business and your value is the best way to get your name out there. Being a bit of an introvert, I was always afraid of face to face networking in the past, but it works. I’m apart of two separate networking groups and they both bring value and my ideal client to my doorstep.
#2. This is a great question because essentially, this is the stage that I am at right now. I’m trying to grow my business by hiring other companies and individuals that can do my weekly and monthly tasks better than I can. For example, I am not a web designer, but I designed my website and it took me almost a year! I want to update it… again… so I’m going to hire a designer to do it this time. My time is valuable and I would much rather pay someone to do it right and quickly, rather than frustrate myself doing something I’m “ kind of good at”. I also despise blogging and I’m terrible at keeping up with it, so I’m hiring a ghost writer to help get my content out there. Delegate, delegate, delegate The busier I get, the more my time is stretched thin. Add in children, marriage, and every day life, and I end up working through dinner, special events and even through the night sometimes! Time management is such a valuable thing to grasp and I’m working on fine tuning that aspect of my business. I guess to answer your question simply, I would figure out the things that are essential for you to do and then figure out the tasks that you can delegate and afford to pass on to assistants or the real professionals, that way you can really focus on what makes your company unique and special and you won’t be stretched too thin. I can focus on editing my weddings and sessions in a timely fashion, answer emails, meet with clients, and still have time to spend with my family. If you have a happy personal life, your business will benefit!
#1. Firstly, it is imperative to understand who you are as an artist. What makes your soul sing? Once you figure that out, knowing who your target audience is really helps you fine tune your art and puts all of your energy and focus into what area of photography you are passionate about. The second piece would be knowing how to successfully market yourself to those people. In the era of social media – I found my customers there. Using Facebook and their target audience builder helped send me to the right people when marketing myself on that particular platform.
#2. My main focus is on two things. First – fostering strong relationships with the clients I have by turning them into family rather than just a customer. This is done by creating a great experience from start to finish. And second would be never stop learning. This industry is constantly evolving and changing so staying current and continually learning allows you to continue growing as an artist.
#1. Network, Network, Network! This the mistake I made the first few years starting out, I wasn’t trying to get involved or seek out other Photographers, entrepreneurs, creatives. Sometimes it takes putting yourself out there, reaching out to potential clients, they don’t all come knocking at your door. Shoot a lot! Contact your friends and family, style them and get them in front of your camera. Word of mouth is your strongest connection, so give each and every client a wonderful, one of a kind experience that they want to share with their friends and family. Go the extra mile for them, I’ve started this year, following up with each of my clients after the session/event and send a thank you card with a 4x6 print.
#2. How would you grow a business that’s been around for 3+ years? Hi! I’m Christy and I’ve been in business for 6+ years and FINALLY feel like I’ve got it downish. It takes so much time, effort and money to invest in you and your business. Once you decide you want to turn your passion/hobby into making money, don’t look back. There are so many days I want to throw in the towel and give up but when I push through and eventually see results, goals reached, it was all worth it.
When I was first starting I had a lot of people want me as their photographer when I had really no experience, it was back in 2010. It made it hard to find other clients or even fight for my business after the lull of friend’s weddings and families died away. I honestly had nothing to stake my business in and no idea what I wanted. So i literally took 4 years off, I’d shoot a family here and there but it wasn’t until I had no job and had finished my college degree that I wanted to try again.
Those first couple months were a lot of low self esteem, I realized how much the world of photography had changed and become so incredible but I was committed to not become a bargain photographer. So I started with a lot of Model calls (i made sure not to call them free sessions though they pretty much were) I even still do them on occasion. I think the biggest difference was being in control of curating the style and look of all of those photos, instead of allowing a client who’s style did not align where I wanted to go(just to build my portfolio) Because seriously a portfolio is nothing if its not going in a clear direction. I created images that may have been shot for free but they were directed to my ideal customer (this is very important)
I began to reach clients. Their style was still not exactly mine but my goal was to make them life long clients with my personality, turn around and adaptability. I definitely priced myself low during those first months but I continued to raise it with every couple sessions booked.(never be afraid to raise your prices) They are all still great clients to this day thankfully. I also stopped relying on friends and family almost completely, the customers who responded to my work were strangers who saw me as a professional photographer. I think how people see you is very essential.
Also where you invest your money (as little as it is) is also super important in those early months and throughout your whole business. Thankfully I had been paying for a website subscription for that last 6 years so I invested most of my time re creating a website I would be drawn to and trying to put as much new content as possible up there as consistently as I could. I did not invest in ads or marketing at that time at all, my work was still (in my opinion) growing and word of mouth is just far better when you are starting out. you need people saying “she is just starting but her work surprises you” or “You should see her work, I had no idea she was so gifted.” that hype carried me through my first 9 months. I invested in making the quality of my work better, editing, camera equipment. This is where overhead money is essential. You cannot create a sustainable business without some initial money, a cheap camera produces cheap clients, cheap editing produces cheap clients and I know I wanted to settle myself in the creative photographer zone. Where you are so trusted you can relax and get creative while getting paid enough to live on.
The community of photographers around me were a huge help to continue growing this way. While it was challenging to see their work so much better than mine, it pushed me to be better and value myself more. They helped me stay present as well with what people wanted and what was also missing in my market. So I’m not saying I have it all figured out but I am definitely finally at a place where I would consider my business sustainable and honestly that’s far better than where I have been in the past. I value my work and I try to only deal with clients who also value it and that makes a huge difference. I know I have a lot of time and growth ahead of me but I love this business and what it’s shaping me into.
#1. When I first started out I was second shooting for another photography studio while working full time in corporate America. Doing this allowed me to do two things. Not worry about my bills getting paid, and be as creative as I wanted to be, while finding my own style. I found my first customers in my friends and family, and as word got out, and people love their photos more and more customers came my way. It was a slow and steady growth.
#2. Making your client experience amazing is paramount! Also don’t forget to stay in touch with your existing clients. It’s the clients that already love you that need to be treasured. You don’t need a lot of clients, only a few good ones. People think this does not apply to wedding photography but it does. Friends of the bride, all the people at the wedding those are potential clients. Never forget that.
#1. First be present with a clear brand. When I first started out I made a facebook page and waited for inquiries and that flopped. I took a step back and really thought out my brand and mission as a wedding photographer. If you present yourself as an efficient running business, NOT as a newbie looking for her big break, you will be perceived as a business worth considering. Secondly invest in educating yourself, there are SO many photographers/educators out there that have courses online for free! (Katelyn James and Zach and Jody Gray are a few of my faves) Thirdly I used my newly learned techniques and asked some friends to pose for me as a bridal couple, this gave me images to advertise with and bring in NEW solid inquiries!
#2. Like emerald says kick it up a notch! Look into adding something more to your client experience, I started gifting my clients with goodies upon delivery of their wedding images and the response was huge! They LOVED that I took the time out to personalize something for them. (Hobby Lobby sells great little ring holders for like 5 bucks) my brides felt valued and they hit social media to say so which in turn gained me referrals! Invest in bridal shows or wedding vendor sites like The Knot or Wedding Wire, you will never be able to be in front of so many potential clients as you will with these outlets so use them to your advantage!
#1. When you’re just starting your photography business the best advice i could give would be to value yourself! starting out is scary, but remember that you are worth your time! booking those first clients is mostly going to come from word of mouth, but an amazing way to get your name out there is to do styled shoots. that allows you to have content that fits your brand exactly, attracting your ideal clients.
#2. Growing your business is much like starting it, word of mouth is really big, so focus on your client experience. Give them an experience that they want to recommend to others. my only other advice would be to continuously evaluate what your time is worth, the more in demand you are the more you can raise your costs to alleviate some of that busyness.
#1. I started college as a photography major in 2004. So, some of my first clients were other students and friends, just to get the experience that I needed. Today, I feel that social media is such an important key in finding new clients. Especially if you were just starting to grow your photography business, shoot for a local business, who you know will have followers on social media to give you more exposure. I also find that high school photo sessions are essential. Most high school students are living and breathing social media and will help share and promote your name!
#2. Changing with the times and trends is really key. When I first started shooting, it was in film and the trends of composition and mood of the images were much different than people are interested in today. Find your niche, but don’t be afraid to change with the times and what your clients want.
#1. The first thing we would do is to define our “Why” we started our business & what is the driving force? Without your “Why” you are just another company seeking to take photos. The second thing we would do is identify our ideal client that way we could “talk” directly to them. List all the attributes, characteristics, & hobbies that your ideal client enjoys on a sheet of to remind yourself who you are advertising to. Lastly, we would start an email list. There are so many reasons why an email list is important & we are just now able to do this ourselves. We wish that this had been among the first few steps when we started our business.
#2. Well, we will be here soon. We are 2 years in & just now scratching the surface! Gather community around you that not only cheers you on, but lifts you up on the hard days – that’s essential! Never be afraid to go back to the drawing board & ask yourself: what is going well, what should we keep, & what should we change? Continue to invest in education for yourself so you don’t burn out or grow bored with your craft. And lastly, continue to take risks & enjoy every step of the way!
#1. I would start by networking with everyone, I mean literally everyone I know. Tell them you’re starting this photography business and you’d love the opportunity to photograph their child, sister, son, cousin, hairdresser, and anyone else they can think of. This will not only give you the opportunity to learn your camera, your lights, your workflow etc, but it will give you practice interacting with people when they are in front of your camera. When photographing such a large variety of subjects it also gives you an idea of what area of photography you’ll eventually want to specialize in.
#2. I think personal projects can be a great way to market your established business. Find something that speaks to you, something that you love and go photograph it. Whether it’s the details of a styled shoot, nature, or street photography like Zach Arias. Make it a weekly blog topic so people can see what you’re latest work (other than what you get paid to shoot) is.
#1. The best advice I can give to new photographers trying to grow their business is to get out of your shell and meet people. Offer your services to cute couples you run into at the grocery store, take photos of your friends and ask them to tag you on social media, network with other professionals in the industry and set up a styled session…building these connections will make people want to work with YOU. There are a million photographers that take amazing photos all over the world. You can stand out from the crowd by building a brand that people feel like they trust because you took the time to help your future clients and peers get to know you.
#2. I am entering my fifth year of being a photography business owner, and I have seen the most growth come from investing in myself. It’s all too easy to fall into a creative rut and get bored with your work, so I learned to pull myself out of that rut after I starting doing more personal projects and after I hired a mentor. I think complacent business owners can easily become lazy business owners so it’s important for me to keep the creative fire burning. If I’m not excited about the fun stuff (taking photos, learning new techniques, etc) then how can I be motivated to keep up with the boring stuff (bookkeeping, taxes, SEO)?
#1. As much as we all love photography, it’s crucial that you understand how to run a business. So, take a business course, or google your heart out and learn how to set up properly (all of those unsexy things like: registration, licenses, insurance etc.) After that is done, if I was to start again, I would invest in a business mentor who has a specialization in marketing. It can make all the difference in getting your work in front of your first ideal client – the people who will become the foundation of your business.
#2. At this point it is all about networking and making real relationships with people. Forge partnerships with businesses who have the same ethos as you and where it will truly be an equal relationship. Treat your clients like gold and ask for referrals. Take a hard look at what tasks are profitable within your business and that you need to do. Outsource the parts that you are not good at in favour of tasks that are a better use of your time.
#1. A strong portfolio is absolutely essential in the photography world, but when you’re just starting out, building one can be a challenge. Photograph everything and anyone you can, friends and family can be a great place to start. Post model calls in local social media groups or ask around in any local groups you may already be a apart of (churches, sports, etc.). If you are professional from the very beginning and provide a valuable service to everyone you encounter, they will talk! People love to talk about themselves and their experiences. Be one of those experiences. Word of mouth is a great way to build a client base, especially when starting from the ground up.
#2. I think that word of mouth and client referrals are absolute gold for any business, new or old, but when trying to grow a business that’s been around for a few years I think there is another tool we often overlook. Email! Many professionals focus on growing an audience on social media platforms, and this can be great, however, you do not control that audience. You don’t own it, you don’t control who sees your material and how often, and most importantly, it can be taken from you at any moment. I think every professional photographer should make an email list a priority, it is such a powerful tool. Sending out targeted emails reminds people about you and your service. Potential clients and new leads can subscribe through your website or blog, and of course most of your current and former clients will opt in! If you provide this audience with material that they find interesting and useful (not too often, no one likes spam of someone trying to sell themselves every other day), you’ll stay present in their minds, and you are sure to get repeat clients, referrals and even new inquiries.
#1. Don’t always rely on Social Media. The hardest thing to overcome is to actually TALK to people – people like face-to-face. You have to get over that fear, know that you have self-value and trust that you can be confident when you talk to people. Don’t just start a page on Facebook, sponsor a few ads, and wait. That won’t work! Try using a gift voucher that you hand out to potential customers, even if you’re just walking around the mall or at the park. If you see someone that would be a great client, approach them!
#2. To continue growing a business that’s been around, you need to continue to connect with your repeat customers and even new customers. You need to write thank-you notes, reach out every once in a while to see how they’ve been. Strike up a friendship. The more you connect, the more people remember you…which will turn into referrals. Always, always treats people with respect and they will absolutely keep coming back!
#1. As a photographer just starting out full time, I would grow my business through personal connections and online presence. I love meeting new people and attending fun and different events where I can meet like minded people, professionals and potential clients. I like to build honest and real relationships and from there it is much easier and truer to my goals to find clients, who usually become lasting clients and sometimes great friends! Connecting through media is what most people turn to nowadays and I think it’s a great start, but don’t forget to make the those connections more real by meeting in person and building the relationship!
#2. A business that’s been around for over three years is surely developed in some way already, but it can still grow much much more (really I don’t see any time that a business should stop ‘growing’) in many different aspects. With this experience, growing more can mean growing your own knowledge as a professional and ensuring that your clients understand the importance of a professional and someone with a passion for photography. Growing your own knowledge will allow you to grow the knowledge of your clients and potentials, and that increases your credibility as well as likability – I always trust a professional more when they can explain, in detail and without confusion, what I’m investing in and what it will provide for me now and in the long run. At this point in your business, client relationships should be a priority and with strong relationships your audience will grow and more opportunities will arise (some you may be interested in and some not, but at this point you have your goals in line well enough to make the right choices for your business and the direction of its growth). I consider my photography business to be new but also experienced because of the journey I’ve been on and in every way I look at it I take into account most what my goals are and what clients match my goals, then I make those clients priorities and I continue to thrive through them and even their connections. The network will grow forever, choose your path and grow with it!
#1. My photography business has been around since 2010. From 2010 until 2016 I have always had another job as well as my photography. 2017 I have made my photography business my first and only job so in a way I feel as if I am starting my business from the start. I have found that has a new business you have to do many things to find those first crucial customers. First off, branding is a HUGE part of starting a business. Finding your brand and what your ideal client would be is the first and most crucial step for starting a business. Secondly, I find that it is also helpful to post on social media daily work that is beautiful to draw customers to your page, which will lead to them hiring you! I also find that finding those first crucial customers is easy through referrals/ word of mouth. That’s how I got a lot of my first couple jobs. Friends spread the word and it draws people to my page and website, and they hire me! Thirdly, making sure you have the right key words so people can find you on Google and Facebook. That’s where people go when they are looking to hire services. With the right keywords and wording, you will pop up higher up on the list and have a higher chance of finding customers and clients.
#2. Once a business has been around for a couple years, it’s hard to “grow” the business. But there are ways. You can offer a new and exciting product or service, you can have promotions to celebrate the amount of years it has been open, or you could change up your brand and revamp your website to draw in more of your target audience. A blog is always a nice as well to take your clients along on the photography journey with you. With being around for a couple years, you will have generated a following and starting a blog would be something new and exciting to help grow the business.
So, what do you think of our list?
How would you grow your own company and answer our two questions. Let us know in the comments below!
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