Marketing is a scary thing for photographers. I get asked many times how someone just entering the business of photography can market with a low to no budget available. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to attract your target market without an advertising budget, but it is possible!
First and foremost, when you start to think about advertising your business for the first time you should already have a few bases covered. For example at a minimum you are going to need a good logo and some ideas on what to say about your business. It is a lot easier to advertise if you have a great logo that represents what your photography business is about. Graphic design can run in the $1,000’s of dollars range. I know I was lucky enough to be engaged to a graphic designer, but most are not that lucky. Fortunately for me, mine created my entire brand identity and persona. There are ways you can get a great logo though without paying lots out of pocket at first though.
One great place to look at getting a new logo for your business at a cheaper cost is to use 99 Designs. There many student graphic designers and professional companies compete for your business. You set up a bid of how much you are wanting to pay and it becomes a competition of sorts to create you a new logo. You put in your creative brief what you are looking for, what you want to stay away from, the colors you would like, and some information about your business. Don’t skip on information here, the more you add the better logo the graphic designers can come up with for you.
Another couple of places I would recommend are Design a Glow and Ashe Designs. Both create wonderful marketing collections complete with logo’s for you to use. Keep in mind though, your designs will not be unique and other’s may be using the exact same design as you. I highly recommend you invest in your businesses brand identity instead of paying for a mass produced marketing collection. However, many can’t afford to do that when starting out and this is another option for you.
Once you have created your brand, then you need to find places to advertise. This got me at first in my business. I didn’t know where to do it! I tried Craigslist and Facebook, but soon I found out I was targeting the wrong markets. I was attracting the deal seekers and not someone looking for quality over price. I know only use Facebook for uploading my client’s photo’s to share with their friends and families, and to get ideas for new shoots. Every once in a while I might advertise a mini session on Facebook because I do know that many of my clients follow me on their and they will tell their friends and family about it. Mini sessions are a great way to upgrade to a full session. You just need to tell them the benefits of upgrading. This isn’t uncommon, almost all businesses do upgrades as is.
I tried Thumbtack but quickly found I was spending up to $80 or more a month on leads and still was not getting the results I wanted. It was too hard to cold sale and it was all based off of price only. I wanted to get a way from that approach. When I first started out though, Thumbtack was great for getting portfolio work and may be something you want to consider.
One great thing that did work well for me was networking and doing charity work. I donated my time to The Tallgrass Film Festival this year as well as The Forum Theater. This has helped to get the word of mouth advertising started. Nothing is better than word of mouth advertising! I didn’t ask for anything in return for volunteering my time. I offered to help promote the vendors on my website and by the second time I went back to shoot, The Forum offered to put my business in their brochure as a thank you. The Tallgrass Film Festival uploaded all the images I took to their website and gave me credit (And I got to go to all the gala’s and the parties after the films…super cool! I have also volunteered for The ColorVibe 5K, Ronald McDonald House Charities for The Jingle yearly fundraiser, and The Chelsea Fundation.
Finally I have worked with some pro photographer’s in the industry which I could also benefit from learning from as well. I looked for older photographer’s who have been doing photography for a long time and as a result had a lot of wisdom to share about the industry. This has now set me up for a network of main photographer’s I can count on to help me out in a bind and if I need some extra money I can second shoot for them too.
So those are some ideas to help you with places to advertise and where not to bother. Do you have any great places you advertise at? If so, how much and where? I would love to hear of some great new places to check out!