When it comes to your freelance photography business, the expression “Good things come to those who wait” couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ve got to put in a bit of hustle and market your business. The sad truth is that great photography can suffer from bad marketing. Read that sentence again and let it sink in.

It’s likely that we all know someone who’s insanely talented but doesn’t get nearly enough recognition, and we all know someone who needs to spend less time on social media and more time working on their photography skills.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t fall victim to this marketing injustice?

Knowing how and where to market your portfolio is the key to driving people to your content, gaining recognition in your field and establishing connections to clients. A marketing strategy can help you determine which platforms make the most sense for your business and what methods will put you in touch with prospective customers, communities and contracts.

How can you start building a successful marketing strategy for your photography business?

The first step to every marketing strategy is a personal audit. Do you fully understand who you are and what you’re looking for? You might be surprised to discover that your mission is not entirely clear. Before you turn your gaze towards an audience, take a second to look inward. Find a piece of paper—or turn on your phone’s voice recorder—and answer the following questions.

Why do you want to improve your marketing?

Make sure you’re not marketing just for marketing’s sake. There should be a distinct goal or purpose to your marketing efforts. Do you want to get a larger social media following? Drive more traffic to your online portfolio? Connect with potential clients one-on-one?

This goal should be the end result and your marketing strategy will be the roads that lead to that destination.

If you are concerned with growing your social media following, your efforts should focus on increasing your social media posts, engaging with others in your industry on social, and understanding which social networks are best for your purpose and audience.

Alternatively, if you are looking to drive traffic to your website, you might consider getting your work featured on high profile sites, posting and sharing blog posts, and applying for photography awards and prizes.


What makes you and your work unique?

Everyone is looking for something different. With over 125,000 self-identified professional photographers in the United States alone (Bureau Of Labor Statistics), you need to leverage the elements of your work that make you stand out.

Because you’re a talented photographer, you have many skills that set you apart from the crowd—you just need to identify what they are. How would your friends and family describe your work? If your work was a movie, what would be on the poster? Do you fill a gap in the market? Is there a problem that you’re solving?

The answer to this question shouldn’t be pages and pages. It should be a few sentences or bullet points that anyone off the street can understand in a snapshot. Your answers should help you create marketing angles that allow you to frame your business in a way that is interesting and fresh for potential clients.

What is your voice?

Your voice is a natural part of your creativity. Sometimes it’s so natural that we forget to stop

and define it. There’s a big difference between a goofy, playful voice and a serious, reserved tone. Because you’ll communicate mostly in writing with your audience, the tone needs to be consistent. Readers will be thrown off if your social media is authoritative but then your website is self-deprecating.

In general, you want to keep your audience informed through friendly updates, but avoid oversharing irrelevant details. Keep it professional and consistent across all avenues of communication—from your website and social media channels, to your invoices and client emails.

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Who are your ideal clients?

Who are you hoping to reach with your marketing campaign? These people will identify with your brand and connect with your creativity. Think about your current clients. What do they have in common? Do they fit your ongoing direction or do you want to break free and find a new clientbase?

Creating a personality profile of your ideal clients will help you find them. For example, in general, Snapchat caters to a younger audience, while Facebook, in comparison, reaches an older, sometimes more established audience. If you’re ideal client could be described as high-income and middle-aged, putting all your energy into a Snapchat strategy might be a waste of your marketing efforts.

Is your website in the best condition possible?


[RELATED: The Best Portfolio Builders For Photographers According To Photographers]

A great online portfolio is the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. Without somewhere to send potential clients, your marketing efforts will be for nothing. Take the time to review your website and images to ensure they are on brand and up to your professional standards.

Your portfolio should be built in a way that best highlights your work—it should not be distracting or difficult to navigate. The images on your website should be the best examples of what you do, and they should be organized in a way that kieeps visitors scrolling for as long as possible. For more tips on how to optimize your portfolio, check out our tips to optimize your portfolio.


The preceding was a guest post by Marianne Litman, a marketing specialist with Format, and friend. Format is a leading and award-winning portfolio platform for creative professionals. Format portfolios give you the creative freedom to build an online presence using a professional, beautifully designed website, that you can create, edit, and update without touching code (unless you want to). They also offer a 14-day FREE trial to see how a professional portfolio is key to growing your creative business.