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Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones and this is episode 123 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
I’ve been appraising lots of websites and portfolios this week and the first question is, “Is my work good enough to sell?”. Followed by, “How do I get paying customers?”
Okay, so this week I’m going to come up with 8 steps to get paying customers.
The first thing I’m going to address is …
Build a Portfolio
This is so important. Without a good portfolio to show people, you are hoping potential customers will have faith in you.
A basic website with a portfolio of your best work has to happen. All your marketing efforts need somewhere to send interested people. They need to be able to click a link and see what you have to offer.
You need to show the world that you can produce well-composed, sharp-focused, and fully edited photos.
By well-composed I mean they are balanced, and the subject stands out from the background. There are no distracting elements in the foreground or background. When you look at a photo your eye is drawn to the subject, not a parked car in the background.
Sharply focused photos are a must. You definitely won’t get any sales if your images are soft and out of focus. If you think that you can get professional quality photos using your 18-55mm kit lens, think again. You need to use professional lenses to get professional results.
Learn How to Edit
When I say your photos need to be fully edited, I mean a photo that isn’t too bright or too dark, the colors look natural, and the subject stands out. Over-editing is just as bad as no editing at all, so
So many new photographers think that by shooting in JPEG that the photos are ready to go, straight out of the camera. All the time I hear “ I need to learn how to edit” as if it’s an optional extra. Editing is half of what photographers do, so you need to learn how to do it.
You need to capture RAW images, edit them, and then save them as JPEGs.
If you don’t have one of those four things, a portfolio, well-composed, sharp-focused, and edited photos, you will struggle to get any customers.
The quality of your photos and having a website with a portfolio are the foundation of your business.
Next, let’s look at …
Today you have so many options for putting yourself out there on social media.
For photographers, I think Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), and LinkedIn are your best bets.
Of course, it depends on what you shoot and where your customers hang out. If your business is headshots, then LinkedIn and specific business-related Facebook groups might work for you.
Facebook groups work well for all photographers, you just need to find the correct groups to join.
Avoid selling directly to group members it won’t work. Plus you will more than likely upset the group admin and get banned. You need to help people and be of service. Get known in the group, and ask them for advice on your work every so often. I did an episode on 18 March 2023, called Build Trust and Get More Customers.
Instagram doesn’t seem to be as useful to photographers as it started out to be. Posting your photos together with millions of other photos isn’t the best way to get customers.
The thing I don’t like about Instagram is how hard it is for someone to click through to your website. Twitter is okay, but thanks to Mr. Musk that platform is fading rapidly. If you use Twitter, think about moving over to Threads. It’s an off-shoot of Instagram that is trying to fill the void left by Twitter. I like it, and it’s way more civilized than Twitter. More like Twitter in the early days.
But, whether you will attract new customers using Threads is still unknown. I guess you need to try it and see.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform to work on. It’s been around for 20 years and is social media for business people. You might not think that using LinkedIn to get family portrait bookings would work, but there are over 900 million members. Just because they have links to people in their industry, doesn’t mean they can’t link to a photographer.
In fact, if they use LinkedIn regularly they will use it as their search engine. So don’t rule out LinkedIn, I think you can use it to your advantage.
Another option is…
Free Classified Sites
Now I would only use these sites when you are trying to get a few customers at the the beginning. That is because you are probably going to be trying to get a booking based on a low price.
This might be the fastest way to get started. I used a free classified site when I started out and it worked well. Most people using these sites are looking for a deal so don’t base your whole marketing plan on them.
Posters, Business Cards, and Flyers
Next, we have posters, flyers, and business cards that you can post on community notice boards. If you shoot sports at a local arena, ask if you can put a poster up.
Try local stores, they might let you leave some flyers or brochures next to their cash register. Give a special offer to anyone who books you from those brochures.
Anywhere you can put your business name is going to help you grow.
Now paid ads work if done correctly, but if you are in the early stages of building your business I wouldn’t advise it.
Mailing List Offers
I’ve mentioned setting up a mailing list in the last few episodes. This is something you need to do right now if you haven’t already set one up.
Once your website is up and running you need to start a mailing list. Offer discounts to site visitors in return for their email address. I use ConvertKit and they offer a free plan for up to 1000 emails. I’ll put a link to ConvertKit on the episode page over at PhotographySideHustle.com/123. Plus I’ll put it in the show notes.
Being able to email people interested in your services is priceless. So when you want to get more bookings you email your list with an offer. You can email your list as often as you like with information and special offers.
Using social media platforms, classified ads, and anything else that directs people to your website is a marketing funnel. You bring people into the funnel with the aim of getting them to book you.
If they visit the website but don’t book you, your aim is to get them to sign up for the mailing list. Then you can continue to try and make them a customer using emails.
So the 8 steps are …
- Sharp Focus
- Social Media
- Free Classifieds
- Posters, Business Cards, and Flyers
- Mailing List
Just remember, you need to have a portfolio, of well-composed, sharp-focused, and edited photos.
Good presentation and image quality are crucial to getting bookings.
Okay, those are the 8 steps you need to complete to get a stream of paying customers.
If you would like me to take a look at your photos or website, you can find me in the Facebook group or you can message me on Messenger.
Right, I’ll be back next week with a large recycled Amazon box full of waffle.
Talk to you soon, bye.