We previously discussed the first part of building a photography business, which was planning your business to the last detail.
In this installment of the series, we move on to discuss the all-important topic of how to build your brand and get clients. It’s definitely a process, and one that is more complex than a lot of new business owners realize. However, with these tips, you have a solid foundation from which to start getting the clients that will hopefully keep your doors open for the long-term.
Build Your Brand
Building your brand is a lot more involved than having business cards printed and having a website. In reality, the process of building your brand and developing a strong marketing strategy is as important to the success of your photography business as your ability to take a good photo.
Branding is all-encompassing. It’s your business name and logo. It’s the look and feel of your website and the content of your blog. On a more intangible level, your brand is about your values as a person and a business owner, as well as the policies and procedures you outline to ensure your customer gets the products, services, and customer service they deserve.
It’s that last part - your personal and business values - that will help you build a unique brand more than any other strategy. Why? Anyone can have a blog. Anyone can advertise their photography services. But the message that you send about how you treat your customers, your approach to your work, and the unique products and services you provide is what will catch people’s eye and get them to give you a call to book you. After all, that’s what being in business is all about - convincing potential customers that you are the best at what you do and getting them to buy your products and services.
Use Social Media
The beauty of social media as a tool to get more clients is that it has a far reach and it’s more or less a free platform. What other way gives you the power to communicate with people far and wide while showing off examples of your work and touting your experience as a photographer?
The key to building your social media channels as a business platform is to post often, likely every couple of days a the very least. Social media channels can go cold in a hurry, so by having fresh content on your Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and other channels, you’ll keep your followers engaged and interested while also increasing your exposure to new potential clients.
But beware! Social media can quickly become a job in and of itself. To make it easier on yourself, work out a schedule so you can hammer out a week’s worth of posts in advance, then use in-platform schedulers or a master scheduling app to get everything lined out for the week. Then, all you have to do is check to see how your posts are doing, interact with your followers, and watch your clientele grow.
Networking might sound old fashioned, like you need to pound the pavement, go door to door introducing yourself as a new business owner in the area, and handing out business cards. And while those approaches can certainly be effective, networking is much more than just approaching random people.
When you think about it, you have a strong network already built in. Whether it’s your friends and family, your dentist, your favorite professor from art school, or your kid’s kindergarten teacher, there are plenty of people in your life that you can network with. A great photographer is someone that just about everyone is looking for, so using the relationships you already have to get the word out that you’re a great photographer is a quick, easy, and effective way to build up your clientele. Plus, word-of-mouth advertising is often the most effective because people trust the judgment of their friends, family, and colleagues. Networking is also free. It’s hard to beat that!
Take Any Job!
When you’re just starting out as a photographer, no job is too small, nor is any budget. In fact, many photographers that have come before you have gotten their big break while working for little, if any, money! Whether it’s photographing your sister’s graduation, your friend’s wedding, or volunteering to take photos at a community event, any experience that you can get will benefit you in the long run.
And, even though gigs like these might not pay well (or at all), the value of the exposure you’ll get cannot be understated. Beyond that, these types of jobs get you on-the-job experience, help you hone your photography skills, and give you images that you can use in your portfolio. The experience you gain from these early jobs will only help you become a better photographer and a better businessperson.
Get the Tools You Need for Success
You will face many challenges along the way as you build your business. To make success a reality, you’ll need to invest in the right tools to help you overcome the obstacles you encounter. The most obvious tools you need are photography related - a camera, lenses, and so forth. Insurance for your gear and your studio space comes to mind as a needed tool. So too does the need to protect your images from theft while also expanding your ability to grow your business.
To address those last points - protecting your work and growing your business - it’s hard to find a tool better than Copypants. Essentially, Copypants acts like a personal shield for your work. All you do is give them access to your online images, and, armed with that access, Copypants searches the internet for copies of your photos. When one of your images is found, Copypants gives you all sorts of options for recourse, like issuing a takedown notice to the publisher.
But Copypants does much more than patrol the internet for unauthorized use of your images. They give you options for easily growing your business by offering a host of ways to respond to the illegal use of your photos. You can ask that the publisher pay your license fee, thereby improving your bottom line. You can also ask the publisher to give you credit for the image, which gives you greater exposure for your work.
What’s great about Copypants is that all of this is done right within their platform and literally takes just a few moments and a few clicks of the mouse to complete. All the searching for your images is done on your behalf behind the scenes as well. That means you can spend less time trying to track down your images and more time on building your brand and getting more clients.
With so much to do to build your clientele, you can’t afford to get bogged down in the minutiae of copyright infringement. Set yourself up for success by partnering with Copypants, and spend all that extra time you’ll have engaging with your clients on social media, networking, and finding the jobs you need to build your business.