4 Marketing Mistakes – How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

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You can market your photography business in hundreds of different ways — some incredible effective, and some a total waste of your time. Here are four marketing mistakes or wrong ways to promote your photography business and what you should be doing instead.

How To Market Your Photography Business1

Mistake #1 – You’re Too “Professional”

By no means does this mean you should act or present yourself unprofessionally in your photography business — but often we hide behind a front of professionalism. If being a professional means a headshot on your website holding your camera (or no headshot at all) and a story about how you love love, and love photographing weddings, it’s unremarkable. Every other photographer does and believes those things.

Through trying to be perceived as a professional, you’ve becoming boring! Yes, you need to conduct your business professionally – but add some zest to your brand. What makes you unique as a human, and therefore, a photographer?

What 5-10 things could you talk about all day? Which things make you excited? What 5-10 things do you dislike? What are 5-10 ways you could describe your personality and your images?

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Brainstorm the list of you! Get clear on your interests, personality, photography style, brand, and voice and consistently communicate this uniqueness to your clients.

It’s simple to do a brand audit of your website, blog, and social media accounts. Within 30 seconds, would a new client know what makes you different? What facts will they remember? This is the key to non-boring, but still professional marketing.

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Mistake #2 – You’re Advertising Without Intention

In the name of honesty, I have never paid to advertise my photography business. But I’m not against advertising in magazines, wedding shows, or placing Facebook ads. However, advertising without intention is a big marketing mistake many photographers make.

Before you pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for an ad, ask yourself this question, “Is my ideal client hanging out here?”

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

If you’re not clear on who your ideal client is, that will be the first step! Think back to some of your favorite clients and scribble a list of describing words about their personalities, wedding day, and photos. After you’ve reviewed at least 10 of your past couples, circle any common themes that occur.

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Testimonials are a gold mine for sketching out your ideal client. If you don’t have one already, start a document with feedback from your clients and look for themes. What are clients most excited about after working with you? A few more details to include in your client profile include their age, location, career, income bracket, and hobbies.

Once you get clear on who your ideal client is, then you can filter every advertising opportunity through your client profile. Would your ideal client be looking for a wedding photographer in that magazine, at the bridal show, through Facebook ads? If so, wonderful but if not, perhaps your marketing efforts and dollars are best spent elsewhere.

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Mistake #3 – You’re EVERYWHERE on Social Media

You have a limited amount of time to market your photography business, and you have to make your moments count. Before you get involved on Google Plus, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. – pause.

Is your ideal client finding their wedding photographer on that platform? If you’re not sure — a good place to start would be surveying your past clients and asking “Where did you find me?”

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Chances are that a few social media platforms (2-3 maximum) are bringing in most of your inquiries. The other platforms are a waste of your time. For photographers, I have found Instagram and Facebook to be front-runners, perhaps with Pinterest as a third. But you’ll have to investigate the stats for your business.

Once you’ve narrowed down the platforms you want to pursue, let go of the ones that aren’t working! On your chosen platforms, engage consistently with a mix of personal and business posts – sharing your face regularly, sharing work you love and calling prospective clients to action.

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Mistake #4 – You’re Sending Cold Emails

One of the best ways to market your photography business is building a strong network within your own industry. By this, I mean connecting with other photographers as well as wedding vendors and venues. However, sending cold impersonal emails is the wrong way to market your business.

If you want to send emails that not only get read but receive a reply back, make sure you do your research. Before you send an email, follow their accounts on social media, leave comments on their blog — so do that at least a week in advance of emailing. When you email, keep it short and to the point. Genuinely compliment their work. Share who you are, what you want and how you can help that person achieve their business goals.

4 Marketing Mistakes - How NOT to Promote Your Photography Business

Practically, this may mean helping a vendor by providing free headshots of their staff, photos of their storefront, or offering to help them improve their website or blog one afternoon. Most industry leaders want to help, they were new once as well – but not at a disadvantage to their own time.

If you want to connect with a fellow photographer, asking them for coffee for “tips” is a terrible way to get an email response. Instead, focus on relationship building, helping them in their business, sending a gift in the mail and asking to take them out to their favorite lunch spot. I guarantee your “cold emailing” success rate will increase if you follow these tips

Conclusion

What other mistakes have you make marketing your photography business, or seen others make? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

All the best to you as you work to market your photography business!

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Jamie Delaine Watson is a wedding photographer and educator based in Vancouver, Canada. With over 200 weddings photographed, she’s built a thriving photography business through creative marketing strategies - download her list of 50+ marketing ideas for your photography business here.

  • Kerry Sidwell Wilson

    Thank you for a great article. I am not in buisness yet but I am considering it. And i recently read a post where photographers commented on thier biggest newbie mistakes and marketing came up. Along with purchasing too many props 🙂 This is a nice intro wich made me think how I could get my non marketing brain around the concept.

  • You’re so welcome, Kerry! Awesome, glad this was helpful, it was fun to write it!

  • I just found this site and I’m already loving it. DO you have any marketing tips for someone who is not doing portrait work, mainly nature stuff, and wants to market a website that sells prints and gift items? Social media the best route for that? I’m at the “hobby money” stage.

  • I think the part about being on too many social platforms and spreading your marketing thinly applies to SO many industries. But especially for photography, we have found that the image-heavy platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are the real focus areas.

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