Mentioned in this episode
Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones, and this is episode 139 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
So, the New Year is well underway, and if you are just starting out, you are probably trying to figure out how to get bookings.
If you have already started your side hustle, hang around because I’m sure you will find the tips very useful. The last one is a major opportunity for all of us.
Okay, let’s start as if you don’t have a portfolio yet.
Free Shoots First
If that is you, then you need to start offering free sessions to friends, family, and neighbors. You have to get some photo shoots under your belt and hone your skills.
You will build your portfolio and put together an online gallery of your best work from these sessions. A website would be a good thing to have at this stage.
All photos in the portfolio have to be the same as your chosen genre. Don’t include pics of a car or any non-portrait work if you are trying to sell portraits.
One last thing about your portfolio. It is an ever-changing gallery, so for every session you do, consider adding to your portfolio.
Right, so once your portfolio is starting to grow, start charging for your work. When customers can see the quality of your work, they will be willing to pay you.
Your aim from this point is to continue to improve the quality of your photos. The better your photos are, the easier it is to get bookings, and you can charge more for them.
Where do you advertise?
So, where do you advertise to get paid bookings?
A lot of stores have a notice board where you can pin a flyer or business card. Or you could ask the store manager or owner if you can leave some flyers at the cash. Offer them a free family shoot or headshot as a thank you.
Local Big Businesses
If you are going to be offering portraits, headshots, or product photography, contact businesses in your area directly. Instead of putting an ad on a classified website, try dropping off flyers or sending all the manager’s emails, which will get you better results. Always send a follow-up email reminder 3 days later so that they don’t forget you.
The same goes for restaurants, grocery stores, florists, and, in fact, any business. Contact them directly and offer your services.
Sports Clubs & Leagues
If you are shooting sports, you need to contact the president of the league or club. Just make sure to send copies of the email to all the committee members.
When you write your emails, talk about what the club or league will get from hiring you. Don’t spout on about yourself. Concentrate on the money you can raise for them. Sports teams need all the money they can get.
If you want to sweeten the deal, offer the committee members free headshots.
Okay, so it’s time to get into social media. Let’s start with …
This platform has suffered in recent months due to the new owner. But, if you already have a good following, use it to your advantage: tweet once or twice a day. Show your photos and offer your services.
If you don’t have any followers, I wouldn’t bother. Spend your time on other platforms.
Now, LinkedIn is the business people’s platform. With over 875 million business users, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Even if you shoot weddings, don’t rule out LinkedIn. Business people get married too, and so do their kids.
Get yourself an account and start promoting your business.
Okay, so Facebook groups are probably going to be your best platform to get bookings. But they aren’t the opportunity I mentioned earlier.
If you intend to do portraits, you need to join as many local groups as possible that have potential customers. The trick is to chat and network in the groups, but don’t sell. Get known, help people, and after a week or so, ask the group for help.
Post 2 or 3 of your best photos and ask the group which they prefer. It could be a color and a B&W version of the same image. Tell them you are a photographer and can’t decide which one to use.
The one thing I know for sure is that everyone wants to give you their opinion. What this does is advertise that you are a photographer and take great photos.
If you jumped into the group and offered them a portrait session for $100, the admins might kick you out for posting SPAM. Then, your link to new customers is gone.
You can do the same by asking group members to review your website. Then they get the full tour and can see what you do.
If there just happens to be an email signup form offering future discounts, that would be even better.
It doesn’t matter what platform you are on. The aim is to get people to your website and either book you or sign on to your email list so you can send them offers.
There is a link in the show notes for ConvertKit. They have a free plan for up to 1000 emails.
Okay, next is …
Instagram was initially aimed at photographers and has since become an everything platform. It is really hard to get traction unless you already have a large following.
One thing Instagram does have is Reels. You can use reels to promote your business by using videos, stills, or animations. There is something about reels that pulls me in. I spend way too much time down that rabbit hole.
Right, I’m going to tell you about the biggest opportunity available to us all at the moment.
I was listening to Kevin Chemidlin’s podcast, Grow the Show. He helps podcasters like me get more listeners.
He has a podcasting course and uses social media platforms to sell it. When he looked at his latest sales figures, 87% of the sales came from one platform.
He uses LinkedIn, Instagram, Threads, and Twitter/X. You would think that Instagram would be the top dog, but it wasn’t. The 87% of sales came from …
Yes Threads! Now Threads is Instagram’s version of Twitter/X, and it’s only been running for 5 months.
So, to understand why, we have to travel back in time to 2010 when Instagram started. It was an independent company, and early adopter’s accounts grew crazy fast. Photographers could post an image, and it would go viral. The platform was a major success, so Facebook bought it.
Facebook bought it to make money, and to do that, they had to sell advertising. As soon as advertising happened, the chances of anything becoming viral disappeared. The same thing is happening to TikTok. Virality has started to disappear as the company’s emphasis is on advertising.
Thanks to Twitter’s demise, Threads is the new kid on the block with the owners Meta, who own Facebook and Instagram, allowing it to grow without the control of major advertising.
So this is our chance to make our Threads accounts as big as possible before the oppression of advertising puts a cap on it.
To expand your followers on Threads, do a search for anyone in your town. Follow as many as you can. When they post, leave a comment. People will start following you back.
The more posts and comments you make, the better chance you have of being posted in the “For You” tab. Threads will put your posts in front of people and give them a chance to follow you.
If you already have an Instagram account, all your followers will automatically follow you on Threads when they open an account.
Use your account to sell or promote your business, not 100% of the time, but say one in ten posts.
Put all of these methods of getting bookings together, and you should be able to get plenty of new customers.
Right, that’s enough waffling for this week.
If you need any help, you can find me on the Facebook group or Messenger.
You can learn the basics of Photoshop and make your own custom magazine covers and posters by taking my course over at Photographysidehustle.com.
If you would like to support the podcast, you can buy me a coffee. There is a link in the show notes and on the website.
Okay, I’ll be back next week, talk to you soon. Bye.