Photographers Corner: Marketing Strategies For Your Photo Business
Marketing Strategies for Your Photo Business
Whether you are an established professional photographer or are just getting started in the industry, creating and maintaining comprehensive marketing efforts is a very important part of keeping your business vital. Marketing yourself as a photographer can seem like a daunting task with so many things to consider. Here we break down the most important elements to keep in mind when developing marketing strategies for your business.
As a working photographer, it is paramount to have a professional, well put together website. However, it is just as important that people are able to find your website when searching for a photographer. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to make sure that your site is optimized for search engines.
Zenfolio has many built in features that will automatically optimize your website to be visible by search engines. In addition to this, there are quite a few manual things you can do to ensure search engine success.
The first thing to consider is whether you have relevant and clear text on your site. It cannot be stated enough how important text is to search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines require that your website contain useful, well formulated, and organized text in order to be indexed. You can create an amazing website filled with photos, slideshows, and useful interactivity, but without informative text, web crawlers may determine that your site is not worth indexing.
With this in mind, it is vital to label your images as much as possible with titles and keywords. It is also a good idea to create an informative About page. The Zenfolio help center is a great resource for info on how to use keywords for your galleries and photos. Additionally, within the Zenfolio interface, there are search engine tools available that allow you to keep a close eye on this area of your business.
Within these tools it is important to create a website description that will display on search engine results pages and let potential clients know what type of photography you do as well as where you are located or based out of. Also within these tools you can enable website tracking that will allow you to view page visits and let you know where your traffic is coming from. This can help you analyze the success of your marketing initiatives once they are underway. Check out this section of the Zenfolio Help Guide for more information on search engine tools you can utilize within your Zenfolio account and step-by-step instructions.
“Since moving my website to Zenfolio I’ve had more local enquiries and business through my website than ever before. Having a beautiful website is great, but it’s not a lot of good if potential customers can’t find you! By making use of the SEO and social media tools Zenfolio provides I have been able to attract more traffic to my website generally, but specifically more local customers searching for images of their county. By simply giving my collections, galleries and pages relevant titles, captions and search-engine friendly URLs, as well as appropriate ALT tags for my images, I have been able to reach a wider audience both locally and further afield.” – Adam Edwards, http://www.adamedwardsphotography.com/
Grow Your Following
Another way that you can drive traffic to your site is by taking advantage of social media networks. Sharing your latest news and images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, can be a great way to get word of mouth traction. As your followers share your content, you are able to get more and more eyes on your updates.
Zenfolio makes this easy with integrated sharing options built in. Every image and gallery you upload can be quickly shared or exported as needed to your favorite social media outlet. Social networking websites are so popular these days that it would be a mistake not to consider them as a way to get the word out.
Don’t discount allowing your visitors to market for you. Enabling the option for your clients to Pin, Tweet, +1, and Like directly from your site into their friends’ newsfeeds can be done in a few swift clicks. As a result, your clients’ favorite images are virally spreading throughout their social networks.
“One of my favorite marketing features on Zenfolio is the ability to share images on Facebook and Pinterest with just a click of the mouse. This helps my marketing efforts immensely!” - Erica Peerenboom, www.ericapeerenboom.com
These days no website is complete without a well put together blog. It has become an industry standard to have a blog as part of your website. The blog acts as a news page with updates on the latest projects and images you are working on. Also, your clients and followers can subscribe to your posts via an RSS feed to stay up to date on you and your business.
Zenfolio makes blogging very easy with professionally designed layouts and many options for customization. Your blog can be a great place to display an embedded slideshow, a promotional video, or photos. The sky is the limit! See step-by-step guide for more info on how to create a blog within your Zenfolio website.
“I use the built in Zenfolio blog to display my latest work, stay connected with old clients as well as introduce myself to new ones. It's a great way to keep my content engaging and prevent me from becoming stagnant.” – Sonny Cao, http://www.sonnycao.com/
Building Your Client Base
One way that you can ensure that you are actively growing your client base is to keep track of who is visiting your galleries and add the information to your contact list for future use. For example, you can enable the Zenfolio Visitor Sign In feature so that every potential client who visits your galleries is required to register with their contact info. This way when you are analyzing sales for a gallery you can review who has visited it and who has purchased from it. You can then use this information to contact those who have not yet made a purchase and offer them a special promotion or incentive to place an order. This approach has been successful for many photographers using Zenfolio, especially for events and weddings.
Another approach for a wedding or event is to create a gallery for your client ahead of time and assign a friendly URL so that the web address is easy for the guests to remember. You can then pass out the URL to the guests at the actual event. Within the gallery, turn on the Visitor SIgn In feature and ask for the visitor's contact info to let them know once the photos are ready to view and order. This way before your images are even posted online you'll already have a list of potential customers to market to. By considering every person who visits your galleries as a potential client you can grow your list of contacts and have a wider reach with your sales promotions.
"I especially appreciate the ability to create Friendly URLs and Client Access Codes with my Zenfolio account. I can setup a page for my clients with a link and access code they can easily remember. I have them create a User ID and password for themselves and apply it to the page I created for them if they want it private. Most of my family and model clients prefer that.
For weddings we leave it available to the public and they can share the address/access code with their family and friends and they are taken directly to their page. It's a simple and effective way for my clients to find and share their pictures, and keeping it simple to find translates to better sales...both selling my clients on my services, and selling prints and products after the final images are done.
I can also use the contact list created to send out emails to any or all clients of my choosing to notify them of special pricing or promotions that I will be running. It's really a win/win situation!" - Kevin Thompson, http://www.thompsondigitalimage.com/
Once you have a contact list ready you can send email blasts out to announce specials, travel dates, new products, etc. One feature you can utilize within Zenfolio to make email blasts easier is the gallery invitation. This beautiful invitation features images from your gallery with the cover image front and center. The easy to use system follows the look and feel of your site pages and looks very professional and clean.
Using this in combination with the contact list allows you to filter client lists by event as needed, so that you only reach the relevant contacts. Many photographers also use this feature to let clients know when their gallery of images is ready to be viewed.
“One of my favorite features of Zenfolio is the gallery invite. I love that I can send a beautifully formatted email to clients with their images featured right in the email. This is way better than a text based email with just a link to click. The stunning invitation email gives my clients that wow-factor that I want them to have when viewing their images for the first time.” – Laura Tillinghast, http://lauratillinghast.com/
We all know that sales are what matter the most to keep your business successful. There are a few ways that you can drive your sales efforts and encourage clients to get their orders in on time.
When your clients first see your images, this is when they are the most excited about them. If you can get your client to place an order before the excitement wanes, this can help your sales totals a lot. One way to give clients a sense of urgency is to make the gallery of images available for a specific time period only. Within Zenfolio you can set a gallery to “expire” after a certain period of time. Some photographers even choose to charge a fee if a client wants to order after this time period has passed.
Another great way to drive sales is to offer limited time promotions. For example, if you are hoping to get all your holiday orders in on time for delivery on Christmas morning, you can create a coupon within your Zenfolio account that expires before the lab cut-off dates. Many photographers choose to bring back their "expired galleries" for a short time to run pre-holiday promotions and encourage clients to order with some added time pressure with a well timed discount.
"I've had a lot of success running sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I'll email everyone who's logged into my Zenfolio site (because I collect emails of people who login) on Monday before Thanksgiving and let them know I'm running a 30% off sale on Black Friday. Throughout the week I'll use my Facebook Business page as well as my personal page to remind clients of the sale. I create a 30% off code and name it something like "turkey" and wait for the orders to come in. This has been great for us!" JP Elario, http://elariophotography.com/
When sales start to come in, it is important to get the most out of each client while they have their wallet in hand. One way you can do this is to create a perception that your clients will get more for their money by buying in combination. You can do this by selling prints and products in packages. Packages allow you to sell items together as a group, giving the perception of a quantity discount. One example of a package would be an 8x10, two 5x7’s, and eight wallet-sized prints. Whether there is a discount for this is up to you but many photographers find that even a small reduction in price for buying more items as a package works very well to up-sell each order.
Another way to maximize your sales is to pre-sell as much as you can before an order is actually placed. If you sell your services bundled together, for example a sitting fee with $100 print credit, then you can really use this to your advantage.
Many photographers find that when using a pre-sold print credit clients are more likely to spend higher amounts as the credit they have was paid for back when they booked the session. So if they have print credit up to $100 and they really want $175 in products, it is easier for them to spend the extra money as they feel like they are spending just $75. Within Zenfolio you can use the built-in gift certificates feature to allow your clients to cash in their pre-sold credit. Gift certificates act very much like a gift card, allowing clients to use them over and over until the balance is used up. The system keeps track of usage automatically and you can always track your gift certificates as needed.
You can also use the gift certificates feature as a way to drive sales by making them a product in themselves. By allowing sales of gift certificates you can encourage your existing clients to refer their friends to you, thus growing your business with each referral.
"I love that I have the ability to sell gift certificates through my site via the self-fulfilled option. It's really useful when using in combination with the visitor sign-in feature. I can search for who signed in to a particular gallery and then send a mass email letting my clients’ friends/family members know that I offer gift certificates for sale, and how these would make a great gift." – Sune Palladay, http://www.resplendentphotography.com/
The fundamental principle behind marketing is that, like most things in life, you get what you put into it. If you work hard at creating a strategy and follow it through, you will see results. We hope that the ideas we have gone over in this article inspire you to work hard at your marketing efforts and reap the rewards of a successful photography business.
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