The “secret” to great marketing in the photography industry is actually no secret at all.  Successful photography marketing today simply requires setting up sustainable systems, making sure your approach is multi-pronged and doesn’t rely solely on a single lead source or strategy. In a previous article, we discussed how to book more photography clients, and in this one, we’ll specifically discuss essential photography marketing strategies to help you grow your business today.

Note: The information from this article is derived from Course 3 of our Complete Photography Business Training System. a 30+ hour, 4 workshop program to help you build the business of your dreams.

1. Marketing to Past photo Clients for Referrals

referral marketing

Marketing continues to evolve but one constant is the power behind word-of-mouth referrals. According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services.

All photographers need to incorporate marketing to past clients as part of their workflow. It starts with a great overall client experience, timely delivery of images and making the client feel valued. Beyond that, consider campaigns like sending surprise prints and other gifts to turn clients into raving fans. Consider staying in touch with them via email, social media, and perhaps even in person. One approach is to consider anything you would do for a friend, from sending Christmas cards to staying up-to-date on their major life events.

2. Vendor and photography Network Referrals


Regardless of your photography genre, getting the recommendations of other professionals can benefit your business and serve as a consistent source of leads. While different for every genre, these professionals might include make-up artists, model agencies, wedding planners, wardrobe designers and more.

The best way to market to vendors and other professionals is to simply benefit their business in any way you can. This includes referring them business, giving them additional exposure and recognition on your social media, and getting their work published in related magazines.

3. Photography Marketing with SEO and Content

seo for photographers

Online search is still one of the most frequent methods of finding services like photography. According to the Search Engine Journal, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine so incorporating SEO into your photography marketing is essential to long term growth.

SEO for photographers still starts with good content. Create information-rich, useful, shareable content on your website. Answer questions and become a trusted, reliable resource within your niche. Study keyword and link building strategies, understand local (maps) search results, learn about image search results, and more. It sounds daunting, but it’s not rocket science and it’s worth the investment of time and brainpower.

For more information, see our Photography SEO and Web Marketing Course.

4. Social Media Marketing for Photographers

social media marketing for photographers

One of the best rules of marketing is to always maintain a presence where your target market is. So depending on your niche, social media could be critical for your photography marketing.  Photographers should focus on the following platforms:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Tik Tok

The key is to be smart with your time and understand that sustainable marketing requires a multi-faceted approach. These days, too many photographers spend too much time on social media, stressing about Instagram likes, Facebook shares and other vanity metrics. The goal is to bring social media into your workflow and maintain a consistent schedule.

For more info and specific tips and strategies on growing your social media marketing, see Course 3 in the Photography Business Training System.

5. Video Marketing in Photography

According to Forbes, 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions and 64% of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy.

Creating videos has never been easier thanks to slideshow software like Adobe Spark, Animoto and even Lightroom. So no matter how busy you get, you should try to incorporate some video marketing into your plan this year.

Here are a few quick ideas on how to use video marketing:

  • Create a video on a specific subject and upload it to Youtube, making your work discoverable on the 2nd largest search engine.
  • Upload videos on Facebook, Facebook stories, Instagram, Instagram stories, Pinterest or even Twitter.
  • Use videos to supplement the content on your existing pages on your blog or website.

Here’s an example of a video our photography studio used to supplement an existing resource page.

6. Photography Marketing with Business Directories

Yelp, Weddingwire, Google Business, and Model Mayhem are all examples of online directories intended to connect you with those looking for your services. There are hundreds of business directories, so it’s important to be selective and find the right match for your niche.

Remember the old marketing rule of establishing a presence wherever your target clients are spending their time. If they are on Weddingwire, then you should be too. If they are on Yelp, you should invest some time on your profile over there as well.

marketing with directories

For most photographers, it’s worth completing robust, accurate profiles that feature your best imagery on each of the websites that offer free accounts and are related to your niche. When allowed, it may also be worth your time asking your clients for reviews to build up your online reputation.

7. Photoshoot Giveaway Marketing

sweepstakes marketing

Giving away your photography services as part of a promotional giveaway can be an effective way to generate leads and awareness of your photography business. Use a promotional giveaway app like Gleam to collect emails, incentivize actions that benefit your business, and drive viral sharing of the giveaway. When done well, these can generate thousands of leads and expand your reach beyond your current network.

Learn all about how to use this strategy in the bonus PDF of our marketing course.

8. Photography Email Marketing

email marketing funnels

After you’ve collected an email, whether you got it from a giveaway, a lead magnet, or other legal method, sending a carefully crafted series of emails containing valuable information is a great way to nurture the lead with more touchpoints. According to Marketing Week, 15 years ago, the average consumer typically used two touch-points when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today consumers use an average of almost six touch points, with 50% regularly using more than four.

To get started with email marketing, sign up for a newsletter service like Mailchimp. Or, if you’re a Squarespace user, utilize their email service. Set up a series of valuable emails to be delivered over time. Set up a form of lead generation (i.e. email collection). And tweak your funnel as necessary over time. For more info on email marketing, see the bonus PDF in our marketing course.

9. Photography Marketing with Awards and Features

Winning awards, getting featured, and gaining other publicity can increase the discoverability and lend credibility to your business.

While awards and features alone won’t likely lead directly to bookings, they can decrease the friction and increase the trust a potential client would have in your abilities as a photographer.

awards and recognition for marketing and branding

Image by Ciprian Biclineru, SLR Lounge Award Winner

10. Paid Ads – Social Media and Adwords marketing

Facebook ads and Google ads are still viable marketing strategies.  However, they are only recommended if you have the time, experience and knowledge to manage them properly.  These fees can quickly add up and incorrect audience or keyword targeting is the same as throwing your money away.

In addition, with so many other marketing methods that don’t require a financial outlay, spending money for ads should be done sparingly, if at all.  Other methods of lead generation, like SEO and social media, continue to drive leads over time.  The content and the accounts are like assets you own that continue to provide benefits for your business.  On the other hand, if you rely primarily on paid ads, the minute you stop spending is the minute your leads dry up.

Conclusion – How to market a photography business

Like marketing any other small business, there are no shortcuts with photography marketing.  The good news is that we have a surplus of beautiful visual assets that make our product shareable and appealing.  With the right guidance and allocation of time, there’s a great opportunity for success.

Here’s a quick summary of the 11 ways to market your photography business:

  • Photography Client Referrals
  • Vendor/Network Referrals
  • SEO and Content Marketing for Photographers
  • Social Media for Photographers
  • Video Marketing
  • Directories and Online Listings
  • Awards, Features and Publicity
  • Email Marketing
  • Giveaway and Charity Marketing
  • In Person Networking Events and Tradeshows
  • Paid Ads – Social Media, Adwords and More

We would love to hear from you.  What works?  What doesn’t?  Share your knowledge with the community!