Are you looking for the best marketing strategies for brand photographers to grow their business? Earlier this year I asked other brand photographers to share their biggest pain points with me when it came to running their business. The answers that I received the most were:
- They struggled to keep their sales pipeline full and were struggling with lead generation.
- They weren’t booking clients consistently, and it was hard to fill up their calendar with just brand photography clients.
- They were struggling to be found online and had an issue with their marketing.
In this episode I’m sharing the best marketing strategies I’ve used to generate brand photography leads and book more clients. Tune in to the 26 minute episode, or find the readable version below for all things client acquisition, generating leads and closing sales as a brand photographer!
Listen to the episode now
- (01:36) Two parts to client acquisition
- (05:24) SEO on your Website as a Photographer
- (09:08) Instagram Marketing for Brand Photographers
- (13:22) Pinterest Strategy for Brand Photographers
- (15:29) Email Marketing for Brand Photographers
- (17:06) Strategic Partnerships and Alliances for Brand Photography Referrals
- (19:11) Networking to generate Brand Photography Leads
- (20:15) Word of Mouth Brand Photography Clients
- (23:49) LinkedIn for Brand Photography Lead Generation
Marketing Strategies for Brand Photographers To Generate Leads and Book More Clients
Two Parts To Client Acquisition (Lead Generation and Lead Conversion)
The right marketing strategy will guarantee a return on your time investment. Oftentimes business owners are on the search for a quick fix or something that can get them instant marketing results. And usually organic marketing is a long game that includes strategy and building your personal brand and a loyal community. Marketing is a lot more than just a single social media post, finding the right hashtags or investing in ads to generate leads.
There are 2 parts to client acquisition, and knowing this can help you distinguish what your pain point is when it comes to booking clients. You’ve got lead generation and closing the sale (or actually converting the lead). It’s important to take note of whether you’re struggling to get leads in your sales pipeline or whether you’re struggling to get people to find you in the first place.
If you have people finding you and filling out your contact form but they’re not converting into clients, then your marketing is working. But you might not be qualifying those leads enough or you might not have enough information or messaging on your website to get the right leads.
If you close your sales easily whenever you get a lead, but you’re not getting any organic leads, then that means you have a marketing problem. If you’re able to close your sale, that means that you know how to convert your lead into a client, but you might be lacking the leads in the first place in order to really book out your calendar. This is an indicator that you’re not driving traffic to your website or attracting potential clients on social media.
(Quick Tip from Mandy: I would encourage you to take note every month of how many leads you get into your business, how many sales calls you have, and how many clients you book. Then you’ll be familiar with your data and your key performance indicators, and really have a good grasp on understanding if you have a lead generation problem or if you have a conversion problem.)
When you have a marketing plan that’s working for you, you know how much marketing you need to do in order to generate the amount of leads that you need to keep your sales pipeline full and have work on an ongoing basis. My goal for this post is that you’ll feel less intimidated and overwhelmed by marketing, and you can find a marketing strategy that actually works to generate leads with ease in your business. So you can have that feeling of knowing that your sales pipeline is always going to be full and that you’ll always have people that you can work on converting into clients.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Photographers
SEO is the way that I get the most clients right now in my brand photography business. As a brand photographer that still worked in other niches, the best thing I did for my SEO was to have a separate landing page dedicated just to my brand photography work.
What was the most impactful for me when I was still heavily doing weddings and family sessions, was to have brand photography be its own services page that I could optimize for SEO with brand photography keywords, page titles, and on-site messaging specifically targeting business owners.
I really believe that that was a catalyst to helping me rank on Google and helping me get the amount of leads that I do each month.
SEO Keyword Research- It’s important to know what your ideal client is searching for when it comes to looking for a brand photographer. Are they aware of the term “brand photography”? Do they know that’s a thing, or are they searching for “headshots”? Are they searching for “lifestyle imagery”? Do they look for “commercial photography”? It’s important to know who your ideal client is so you know what their needs are and how they are searching for solutions online. For SEO, do your keyword research and update your website page titles, headings and on-site keywords with the words you find.
The other best thing that you can do for your SEO as a brand photographer is to blog your photo shoots. It’s important to blog your photo sessions if you are struggling with lead generation. What blogging allows you to do is to continuously create content about the different sessions that you do and clients you work with.
For example, maybe you work with a realtor and a chiropractor. You’ll have images for these different industries and you’re able to create a blog that specifically touches on brand photography for those industries (chiropractor or realtor). You’re also able to get specific with your geographical location and get use geographically relevant keywords into your blog title to attract other businesses in your area.
By focusing on specific industries that you wanna work with, you can create content for them that showcases the work that you’ve done for someone else in their industry and then that will help them find you the next time that they’re searching for a brand photographer that can work with their specific industry.
Instagram Marketing Strategies for Brand Photographers
The second marketing strategy for brand photographers I want to share about is social media… and specifically Instagram. As a brand photographer, Instagram isn’t just a social platform, it’s a fantastic online portfolio for you to showcase your work. Obviously the algorithm is ever changing and reels are a new feature, but at the end of the day I do think that that first top nine grid is a great way to show off your work and attract clients.
As a brand photographer, Instagram is also a way for you to practice what you preach. You’re selling brand photography to a lot of clients that are using their images for social media. So I think it’s important to showcase that you yourself are also on social media and that you understand that world and that you understand the importance of building a personal brand and showing up on your feed.
Instagram is a fantastic way to share your work, but it’s also a way for you to connect with people and for you to share your own pictures of yourself or to share your own story and make those personal connections. Some easy strategies for Instagram that don’t take a lot of prep work or caption writing is to share the behind the scenes from your photo shoots, especially on your stories. Share behind the scenes from your photo shoots and tag your clients because they will then reshare that. I get lots of interest and engagement and leads from the stories that I share just because I will tag my clients on a photo shoot date, they reshare it and then their friends see it and reach out to me. Showing up on your stories every time you have a photo shoot also shows that you’re in demand.
Other strategies that work well on Instagram for photographer is to tag your city in the post and then also use local hashtags. Find the different hashtags for your city that you can use to show up in local searches, and then obviously use hashtags that pertain to brand photoshoots or headshots so that people can find you if they’re searching on that platform.
If Instagram hasn’t worked for you in the past, I would ask how often are you actually engaging on that platform? When I say engaging I mean being intentional about creating a plan to go in on the app on a weekly basis and engage with other local businesses by leaving comments on their posts or sending them DMs through the stories that you watched.
Instagram is such a great way to connect with other people and what I would encourage you to do is to make three different lists…
- One list of local businesses that you’d love to work with
- A second list for dream clients and business owners that would be such a stretch for you to work with but you want to work with them
- A third list of your past clients that have already worked with you
On a weekly basis work through your lists and leave comments on those accounts or engage with their stories to stay top of mind. It’s a really non-salesy way to build connections and to remind other business owners that you exist and that you’re there and waiting for them whenever they’re ready.
Pinterest Strategy for Brand Photographers
The third marketing strategy to try to grow your brand photography business is Pinterest. Pinterest is a search engine, so it’s similar to Google and SEO. A lot of people think that Pinterest is social media, but it’s not. Since it’s a search engine, Pinterest is a place that people go when they are looking for something… and what better place to look for brand photography examples and brand photographers than a visual platform like Pinterest?
I would encourage every brand photographer to be on the Pinterest platform. I have an in-depth post on my own Pinterest strategy here that you can read. But as a quick start guide for Pinterest, here is what what I would suggest.
First of all, if you are blogging, go ahead and kill two birds with one stone. Get that blog active and then share the blog posts on Pinterest so that you generate traffic back to your website that way. If you have a blog, then your strategy would be to share images from that blog onto Pinterest and use keywords for people to find you. But if you don’t have a blog and you’re not ready to blog yet, then it’s as simple as just uploading images from a photo shoot and linking them back to your website and specifically linking them back to the brand photography landing page of your website.
Best practices would be to upload at least six images from each brand photo shoot to Pinterest. Use brand photography related keywords as the image title and description, and make sure that the images are vertical. Your keywords and descriptions should give context to what the picture is about.
Pinterest content is searchable for years after you post it, so while it’s not a quick marketing fix, the results will last years compared to a social media post.
Email Marketing for Brand Photographers
The fourth tactic I want to talk about is email marketing. This can be as simple as sending out an email once a month, giving a recap of what sessions you’ve done, who you’ve been working with, or even a mass email that goes out to your list of past clients sharing your availability and letting them know what dates you have coming up.
Email marketing for photographers can be as simple as sharing what availability you have left and letting people know that you are in demand and that you are booking up… and if it’s been on their radar to contact you, this would be a good time to do it.
The last thing that you can do for email marketing if you don’t want to send a mass email to your list, is to send out one on one emails to past clients inviting them to work with you again. At the six month mark or the 12 month mark from their last photoshoot date, you can send them an email to check in with them and see if they need any new pictures.
Strategic Partnerships and Alliances for Brand Photography Referrals
Tactic number five for generating leads is a kind of network marketing… creating strategic partnerships and alliances for referrals. As a brand photographer, there are business owners that you can connect with that can send you leads consistently and that you can also send refer clients to.
Business owners like web and brand designers work with a branding client before they actually need brand photography, which makes them a great strategic partner. Creative agencies, PR and marketing agencies, social media managers… They all work with your ideal client and they typically work with them before the client hires a brand photographer.
I like to think of strategic partnerships in two ways. I have the people that work with the client before I would work with them and then there’s also the people that would work with the client after they find a brand photographer. These would be the people that I send my brand photography clients to (hair and makeup artists, stylists, videographers). Creating the right strategic partnerships allows you to have leads generating pretty effortlessly all through word of mouth and referrals from other businesses.
If you’re pivoting into brand photography from the wedding world, this is the same situation as a venue or event planner having a vendor list.
Finding Networking Events to generate Brand Photography Leads
I don’t do this now, but I did more networking at the beginning stages of looking for brand photography clients years ago. Networking is where you are marketing yourself in person through making connections. Networking events are fantastic for new brand photographers that need to meet business owners, hand out business cards, and share their elevator pitch.
Usually you have to pay a fee to enter a networking group or join a networking event, but the return on investment can be more instantaneous than SEO, Pinterest and social media.
Getting Word of Mouth Brand Photography Clients
Strategy number seven is word of mouth leads from referrals that you receive from past clients. I’m including this form of lead generation under the marketing category because there are things that you can do with your marketing in order to receive more of those word of mouth referrals.
First of all, I think the most important thing to note here is that your client experience matters.
It’s so important to make sure that your client leaves a raving fan and that they loved the experience that you provided and that they want to share about it. It’s easy to receive word of mouth referrals when your client loves the experience that you provided them.
You can seek out more word of mouth referrals by collecting client testimonials. These can be shared on your website and in your pricing guide or on Instagram. They’re a great way to have social proof of the work that you did.
If you are not currently requesting testimonials, I have a freebie at The Brand Photography Shop for you! We’re giving away our email that my assistant sends at the end of our client workflow to request a testimonial. Copy and paste this email and start sending that out to collect testimonials on the platform that you prefer.
Second, video testimonials have worked so well for us in the past, especially now in the age of reels. If you have a client that is a little bit more confident, energetic and extroverted, requesting a video testimonial from them would be perfect instead of a written one.
The third way to get more word of mouth referrals is to simply ask for the connection. Sometimes just sending that email or text that says, “Hey, I really loved working with you and I want to work with more businesses like yours. Do you happen to have anyone in your network that you could connect me with that might need brand photography?” Those small requests go a long way and a lot of times people are more than happy to make those connections and help you out in that way.
LinkedIn for Brand Photography Lead Generation
LinkedIn is another great marketing platform for brand photographers. If you specifically want to work with business owners that are in the coaching world, or if you offer corporate headshots then LinkedIn is where those clients spend their time.
Content on LinkedIn is different from other social platforms like Instagram and Facebook, but the algorithm will work more in your favor than more popular platforms. If you have clients that specifically work with corporate clients or that are in a more professional industry, then LinkedIn is a fantastic place to post and write articles. By writing blogs and articles directly on the platform, you’ll have content to share and be able to make connections on LinkedIn.
Ditch the Marketing Overwhelm and Find Marketing Strategies for Brand Photographers That Works For You
I’m not saying to do all eight of these marketing tactics to generate leads… pick the ones that resonate with you the most and the options that can fit into your schedule.
These are things that have worked for me specifically as a brand photographer and that I have seen the return on my time investment by doing these things.
Want more content and resources about pivoting into brand photography?
Check this out next!
- Visit The Brand Photography Shop and find templates and digital downloads to grow your brand photography business. You can even purchase The Brand Photography Starter Kit, which has all the resources and tools I use to run my own 6-figure brand photography business! If you need brand photography email templates, a brand photography client workflow or planning questionnaire, you’ll find all the downloads in the shop!
- Listen to the Become A Brand Photography podcast to learn how to pivot into brand photography. On the podcast I share everything I’ve learned the last 5+ years (and 200 brand photoshoots later) about running an in-demand brand photography business!