Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole of the internet and felt insanely jealous of those photographers whose blogs seem to be FILLED with post after post of their many clients?
You know that your photography is just as good (let’s be brutally honest here – maybe even better) but you’re still hustling hard every single day, desperately struggling to get that next booking.
It’s like every other photographer out there knows some magic secret about booking clients, and somehow you got left out of the loop.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you: there is no “magic secret” to booking photography clients. Those fully-booked photographers?
Well, they have a little something in place known as a marketing plan.
Now, maybe you’ve heard of this term, maybe you haven’t. I’m here to tell you that I spent the first few months of my career as a photographer not knowing anything about “marketing”, just knowing I ought to be doing SOMETHING to get clients, but unsure exactly WHAT.
Amazingly, somehow I managed to get a handful of bookings and I excitedly prepared for my first paid shoots and day-dreamed about doing photography for a living. But honestly, I wasn’t really happy. Because I recognised that there was no consistency to those bookings. And that worried me.
I was booking clients so randomly, that some days would be awesome (£2,000 booking – Yippie! I can hand my notice in!) while other times weeks would go by between enquiries (Groan – I’m going to be stuck in this miserable day job forever.)
I knew that to really be able to quit my job and do photography full time I needed to be able to create an income stream that I could rely on, and that would be enough to fully support me without feeling scared I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage at the end of the month.
So what changed?
After those first few months I found and hired a business and marketing mentor for photographers. And one of the first things I was introduced to was the concept of having a marketing plan.
I was blown away by the results I was able to achieve after implementing a marketing plan in my business.
By the end of my first year as a photographer I had exceeded my client booking targets and generated over £60,000 in sales revenue.
The consistency I had created in gave me the confidence I needed to know I’d be able to make a living from photography and, just 9 months after starting my business, I handed in my notice and became a full time photographer.
So yes, marketing absolutely matters if you want to turn your photography hobby into a business you can be proud of.
If you’re convinced that you need to implement marketing in your photography business, but you’re just not sure HOW to get started, don’t worry. In this blog post I’m sharing exactly what you need to do.
What exactly is marketing, and why is it so important to get it right?
Marketing is simply the way people find out about you and your photography service.
If no-one knows how to find you and why you’re best placed to help them, how are they going to know you exist and why would they choose to book you?
Marketing is critical to the success of your photography business and is something you need master as soon as possible once you decide to make photography more than just a hobby.
When your marketing works it should tick along nicely, mostly taking care of itself.
You’ll still need to check in on it a few times a year to see how things are going and perhaps make a couple of changes, but then you’re good to go – with your marketing generating a steady flow of leads and potential clients for you.
5 mistakes to avoid when it comes to marketing your photography business
There are several common mistakes I see photographers making when it comes to marketing their business:
1. Not having clear a marketing objective.
2. Having NO marketing strategy: aka “cross-your-fingers-marketing”.
3. Relying on just one marketing method: for example where your entire marketing strategy consists of just word-of-mouth.
4. Trying to do ALL THE THINGS on social media to promote yourself.
5. Jumping in without a plan.
What is a marketing plan and why do you need one for your photography business?
If you’re not getting enough clients or making enough income or profit from your business, then it’s probably because you don’t have a good marketing strategy.
But a strategy without a plan doesn’t bring you the success you want. So that’s why you also need a good marketing plan.
Everything you want to do or accomplish requires some type of planning activity. You’ve heard the saying “Failure to plan is planning to fail”, right?
Your marketing plan is the outcome of a planning activity where you map out everything you need to do to achieve everything you want to achieve in your business.
Marketing is one of the most important functions of your business and is vital to your success as a photographer.
Without marketing your business will have a very low number of people finding you. Without enough people finding you you’ll get a low number of enquiries. Without enough enquiries you’ll book a low number of clients.
Without enough clients you can’t generate the sales revenue you need to deliver the profits to pay yourself and make a sustainable living.
Marketing is a continuous process that EVERY business owner must perform right from the beginning. A marketing plan is the tool for implementing that process.
Writing a marketing plan takes some time and thought, but once you have one, it will help you to know what action steps you need to take in order to attract enough clients for your business to be successful.
In the simplest way a marketing plan is a blueprint for the activities related to communication of the messages about your photography business to your potential clients.
In other words, it is a detailed roadmap that outlines all your marketing strategies, methods, activities, costs and target results over a period of time.
It is the detailed written document setting out the necessary marketing actions that your business needs to take to achieve your marketing objectives for business growth and profit targets.
Your marketing plan outlines the specific actions you’ll take in order to attract the interest of potential clients for your photography services, and then persuade them to choose you, rather than one of your competitors.
As I mentioned above, one of the biggest mistakes I see photographers making is neglecting to develop a solid marketing plan. With a good marketing plan you can:
- Review your marketing activities to see what worked and what didn’t.
- Analyse your target market so you have a thorough understanding of your ideal clients, what they want and need, and how you are best placed to serve them over the competition.
- Adapt your marketing strategies and methods to stay on track to achieving your desired objectives for your marketing and goals for you business.
- Know how you’re spending your marketing budget and the real return on investment from your time, money and efforts.
Implementation is the key to success when it comes to marketing.
Implementation is an essential part of the marketing plan. Your marketing plan will only be effective if you have the capacity and ability to execute it. It only works if you do. And, really, there’s not much point making a plan if you’re not going to implement it.
So you must implement the activities you’ve set out in your marketing plan if you want your marketing to to be effective.
The added benefit is that if you successfully create and implement your marketing plan you’ll know what to include in next year’s plan, what to exclude, as well as what new activities to add.
The 5 steps to successfully marketing your photography business are:
- Gain clarity and understanding of your target market.
- Choose the best marketing strategies and methods for your target market
- Write an effective marketing plan.
- Implement the activities from your marketing plan.
- Review your results and improve your marketing plan for the next planning period.