By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
As a freelance photographer you have more freedom to pick and choose the projects you work on. However you’re also responsible for your finding your own work. That means building networks, getting referrals and always putting your best foot forward. In this article we look at the top marketing strategies for freelance photographers. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, there’s something here for everyone.
If you don’t have an online portfolio then building a freelance photography career is going to be an uphill battle. Here’s just a few reasons why you need a portfolio website:
This last point is essential, yet many freelancers neglect to include strong calls to action. Make sure to encourage visitors to your site to contact you or make an enquiry. Otherwise they might just leave your site without engaging.
In marketing, content is king. Blogging helps you connect with potential clients while improving your reach and positioning you as an authority in the industry. As a photographer, you already know plenty about the art and technique of taking great photos. As a freelancer, your experiences are interesting not just to other photographers, but also freelancers of all stripes.
Blog about what you know. Consider topics like:
Search engine optimisation isn’t magic. It’s a practice of making your online content easily discoverable by search engines so that it’s easier for people to find you online. You can do this with written content, images, videos and more.
There’s so much to learn when it comes to SEO, but a good place to start is giving your gallery images keyword filenames. Instead of keeping the random DSC0047xxx names your camera SD card gives them, rename your photos to search friendly terms that describe the content of the images.
If it’s within your budget, it might be worth outsourcing someone to manage the optimisation of your website. If you can’t afford to outsource, there are plenty of online resources that can provide advice on the basics of SEO.
For most photographers, you’re only really looking for clients within your local geographic area. Sure, you might occasionally travel, but your town, city and state are where you’ll find most of your clients.
Make your business more discoverable by listing on local sites. You could even try something like Moz Local, to streamline your listing process.
SEO can also be localised. Use keywords that describe your city and state to help search engines know where you are.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are all platforms that are great for connecting with clients, fans and peers. There’s so much activity on these networks that it can be a little overwhelming at first, but sustained effort will reap rewards over time.
As a freelance photographer it is better to build your own branded and professional profiles, rather than using your personal profile. Also, only commit to networks if you’re going to be responsive on them. It’s better to have one active network than three or four networks where you won’t be regularly contributing.
If you’re going to prioritise one social channel to market your photography, Instagram should be it. Instagram offers the perfect platform to showcase your online portfolio, engage followers, build brand awareness, and network with others in the industry. Here are few pointers for getting started with Instagram marketing:
A post shared by Canon Photography (@canon_photos) on Nov 29, 2017 at 8:56pm PST
Despite the rise of various social media platforms, email remains a key communication method for doing business. Many clients will still want to contact you via email. You can leverage this to make more of every message with apps like Wisestamp, which help you increase leads and social reach by embedding social profiles, messaging and logos into your email signature.
Previous clients are one of your best sources of revenue. Don’t be afraid to offer them special gifts, discounts or freebies if they refer new clients. A couple of pointers:
Incentives could include discounts for future purchases, group discounts, gifts with purchases or free bonuses on photography packages.
Testimonials are written statements that provide social proof and credibility to support your level of expertise and business offering. Testimonials work to strengthen your brand by showcasing the trust that others have in you and your service. They can attract interest from prospective clients and if used effectively, can help to grow your business.
To avoid receiving generic testimonials such as “amazing work!”, provide a simple questionnaire to clients after they work with you in order to gather the unique information you need to infuse into your marketing efforts with effectiveness. Publish them wherever possible – your website, blog, social channels, direct marketing, email marketing, brochures etc.
For just about any creative industry getting published is key. Sure, your own SEO driven websites will give you a certain degree of authority with prospective clients, but you’ll also get a lot of value from publishing in magazines, on other websites, billboards etc.
At first, you might have to change your expectations pay wise, so make use of these opportunities in other ways. Be sure to publish your work on your own website and social accounts, and continue to build your brand and portfolio from this early work.
Business cards and other collateral can be a chance to showcase your work. Put those Photoshop skills to good use and showcase what you can do. Shoot wedding photos? Use one as the background for your business card. As a freelancer always embrace the DIY experience and make the most of the skills (and materials) you have on hand.
Photography courses are about more than just the art and techniques of taking great photos. A good photography courses should cover aspects of photojournalism and assist students in creating a visual language through which to promote and market themselves. Photography courses also provide a great opportunity to network and meet like-minded peers.
At ICI UK, we offer a quality photography course that has been developed in consultation with industry professionals. Not only will you learn advanced techniques on composition, lighting and photographic style, you’ll also get hands on experience in personal marketing and promotion. Find out more here.