Finding clients is something that seems to come easily once your business is up and running, but when you are first starting out, I know it is the one thing that stresses new photographers out the most.
It is tricky to promote that you are a photographer when you don’t have any real work to show potential clients.
So how the heck do you get clients when you have ZERO?
If I had to start my business all over again (and this includes switching to a new market or a new area of photography) this is what I would do.
Here are eight ways to market your photography business even if you have ZERO clients.
1. Get clear on who your ideal client is
Do you want to photograph weddings or newborns or headshots? Do you want to work with brides who love classic, timeless wedding design or brides who are trendy and free-spirited? If you can get super clear on who your dream clients and what they are looking for, you will be able to curate your work, messaging and marketing to talk right to them …. making it that much easier for them to hire you.
Not sure who you want to work with? Think of a friend or past client you worked with and list out everything you like about them.
Think about where they love to shop. What TV shows they are watching on Netflix. Where do they live? What do they do on the weekends? Write down everything you know about that person. Once you know this, you can get super specific on what you say / share to have that dreamboat client find you.
Still stuck? Check out this post that breaks down exactly what to do to determine your ideal client (and no, this does not mean any person who wants to pay you).
2. Offer a limited number of complimentary sessions
In order to show potential clients what your work looks like, you kinda need to show them what they can expect.
I would aim to photograph 3 – 5 different clients to get some sample work to start promoting your business. If you don’t know anyone who would be your ideal client, ask everyone you know if they know the perfect person for you.
You can give them a complimentary (aka free) session. Let them know that you are building your portfolio and that their images will be used for your marketing. You will want to style their wardrobe and location, so that you can create work that will attract your ideal client.
Be very careful here….because people love free. So you need to be very clear that you are building your portfolio and that your rates will be (insert price here) outside of this session.
In exchange for modeling, I would ask these clients to write you a review/testimonial that you can use on social media. Ask them to share their favorite photos with a photo credit on social media to help generate buzz and show off your work.
Once they start sharing your beautiful photos, their friends and family will see your work, and they will soon be emailing you.
I still do this in my business when I am trying to show new work or start in a new category of photography. For example, when I launched Brittany Bekas boudoir, I hired models to photograph in the studio so that I had images of boudoir sessions that I could show potential clients. This allowed new clients to see what my current boudoir work looked like in my new studio space so they knew what their photos would look like.
3. Curate your BEST work on Instagram and use geotags to promote it
Instagram was made for photographers to show off their best work because the platform is so freakin’ visual.
Use this amazing FREE social media marketing as a way to highlight only your best images on social media. Be sure to include a geotag on every image you post.
For example, if you are are going after the Austin, TX market, add the location to your photos. Mix it up and use the specific location you photographed at. This will help people in your area find you. In addition to this, I would add location-specific hashtags to all of your posts. Look up the hashtags that are most popular and start using those.
I have had a ton of clients find me on Instagram this way, so use this as a way to attract new clients in your market too.
4. Blog + create content to start serving your clients
Think like a client, and start writing content for your blog and social media that solves your clients’ problems.
Think about the questions you get asked over and over again or what would you ask if you were in your client’s shoes?
Need some ideas?
+ What to wear for their engagement session.
+ Where to take their family photos?
+ Tips for having their furbaby in their session.
Brainstorm anything that comes to mind, and start getting content for them. Use SEO to help them find you when they search on Google, and start sharing your content on social media. You never know who is following you and who they might share your helpful advice + tips with.
5. Tell everyone you know you are a photographer
It totally feels weird to tell people you are something that you might not feel like you are (yet), but you need to do this to get the word out, dream chaser.
Fake it ’til you make it, right?
Start by telling your friends and family that you are a photographer and encourage them to follow you on your business social media accounts.
The more people that know about you — the more people you can reach and possibly connect with.
6. Think of about what makes a great client experience and start serving everyone you meet / work with this experience
Word-of-mouth is one of the best (and easiest) ways you can market and grow your business.
Every time you work with someone, make sure you are creating the best possible experience for them, and that you are surprising and delighting them.
It isn’t enough to simply deliver beautiful photos to them, so think of how you can create an amazing experience so that the clients / models you work with rave about you to their friends / family
7. Talk about YOU … and things that you love
By doing this, potential clients will see you as someone they like as a person, so when it comes time to think of someone to hire or recommend to a friend, they will think of you. There are A LOT of photographers out there. Heck, it seems like almost everyone with a phone thinks they are a photographer, so share more about you and your life and potential clients will connect with you.
I have booked clients because they loved that Phil and I travel to exotic locations during the winter and other clients who have furbabies have hired me because I have a goldendoodle.
Yes, these little things that I share about are the reason a client wanted to work with me over another. It made them feel connected, and it allowed them to relate to me about something outside of what I did. Use this strategy to your advantage!
8. Network + support other people in the industry
Real talk. I hate the word networking, but it is something you need to do when you are growing a business.
Join any social media groups that are for photographers in your area. Start following and engaging with photographers on social media. Connect with other businesses and people that might be friends with and know your ideal clients. For example, if you are wanting to photograph boudoir, maybe network with a local lingerie shop or a yoga / barre studio. Looking to photograph families, build a relationship with a kids boutique or a mommy-and-me group.
As you truly build a relationship with these people, they will send referrals and clients your way.
>>> Are you a photographer who looking to take your photography business to the next level? Check out other blog posts about how to grow your business here.