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News & Insight

Top 10 Ways to Market Your Photography Studio Online

By Pye Jirsa on July 25th 2009

web-advertising

How many cold calls a week does your studio receive from SEO or marketing “specialists?  How many online magazines, blogs, and directories have tried to get you to pay thousands of dollars for banner ads or “premier listings?”

With thousands of ways to advertise online, it may be difficult to find legitimate, effective, and targeted forms of advertising. First and foremost, it should be mentioned that the most effective form of growing your business is still the old-fashioned method of word-of-mouth referrals. Whether you have wedding planners, past clients, or friends of friends raving about your studio, nothing is more effective than direct word-of-mouth testimonials. We will cover methods of maximizing these resources in another SLR Lounge wedding photography tutorial; however, this article will focus solely on online forms of advertising.

The rankings below are based on the highest total scores; and the scores are based on the following factors:

  • The ease of implementation – This rating has to do with the time and knowledge required to get the method up and running. (Hard=1, Average=2, Easy=3)
  • The time it takes to yield results – This rating has to do with the speed at which the results begin to materialize (Slow=1, Average=2, Fast/Immediate=3)
  • The cost – This rating is the monetary cost of the method (Expensive=1, Average=2, Free/inexpensive=3)
  • The quality of leads – This rating has to do with the quality of the leads generated based on a variety of factors, including budget, location, demographic, and other factors. (Poor=1, Average=2, Good=3)
  • Additional Factor – An additional -3 to +3 score is added or subtracted to and from the total score to account for additional factors associated with each specific method.
Top 10 ways to Market Your Photography Studio Online

1. Facebook – Facebook is number one on our list because it bridges the gap between the most effective way of growing your business, word-of- mouth referrals, and online social networks with one of the largest, most up-to-date online communities on the web. Essentially, everyone in your network needs to be current with your work. It’s not enough for your friends and family to simply know that you do photography. They need constant reminders; and they need to all become true fans in order for them to actively engage in promoting your business. Facebook is perfect for advertising within your network, with tools like status updates, fan pages, and a calendar of events. Update your status when you finish posting your images, start a fan page for your business, and invite everyone to any photography exhibitions or events you hold. Consider asking your friends to Ëœsuggest’ your fan page to their friends and add every person you come in contact with, expanding your reach.

  • The ease of implementation: Easy = 3
  • The time it takes to yield results: Fast=3Facebook gets you started immediately with the ability to import your contacts from other networks like Gmail and Twitter. Your friends list will grow quickly, and with it, awareness of your photography studio.
  • Cost: Free=3
  • The quality of leads generated: High=3People who find your work through Facebook will likely be a friend or a friend of a friend, high quality leads.
  • Additional Factors: none
  • Total Score: 12

2. Search Engine Local Listings & Maps – Google Maps and other local listings in search engines like Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo search are gaining importance in the world of search engines, as they appear before actual search results.

  • The ease of implementation: Average=2 Registration is simple, with basic online forms. However, confirmation can take a week or so, depending on how fast you receive the confirmation letter and input the confirmation code.
  • The time it takes to yield results: Average=2 Depending on where you live, your studio could come up on the first page or not at all. In Los Angeles, for example, your listing may not show up for a while, if at all, depending on the content of your listing and a variety of factors. This requires some level of Search Engine Optimization research and implementation. On the other hand, in Provo, UT, you’re likely to be on the first page with the right content. The variance puts this factor at a score of 2.
  • Cost: Free=3
  • The quality of leads generated: Good=3 People finding you through these listings are going to be local and targeted
  • Additional Factors: none
  • Total Score: 11

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – If this were an easier and/or shorter process, this would be number one on the list, as it leads to very high quality and relevant leads. However, the process is very cumbersome, as it involves optimizing your pages, link building, and a whole host of long-term processes. Despite all of the work, SEO should be a constant process that will eventually pay off.

  • The ease of implementation: Difficult=1
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1
  • Cost: Varies/Expensive=2It can cost you nothing if you do all of the research and implementation yourself. However, if you aren’t designing and programming your own website, you’ll have to pay your webmaster to implement changes, and you might hire an expensive SEO consultant.
  • The quality of leads generated: Good=3
  • Additional Factors: +3 An additional 3 points is added to this method because of the high amount of relevant traffic this method can deliver
  • Total Score: 10

4. Adwords and similar Paid Advertising Services– Google Adwords and other similar services are good ways to advertise online. You can target your customers with precision based on keywords searched, location, and other factors. However, effective implementation can be a lot of work and the costs can quickly exceed the benefits if your campaigns aren’t well planned and monitored.

  • The ease of implementation: Difficult=1 Setting up your Adwords account, creating your campaigns and managing your keywords is a long process that requires constant management and planning
  • The time it takes to yield results: Fast=3 Your advertisements should start appearing immediately
  • Cost: Average=2 Depending on your location and keywords, your cost varies widely.
  • The quality of leads generated: Good=3
  • Additional Factors: none
  • Total Score: 9

5. Image Searches, Flickr & Other Free Online Image Sharing – Believe it or not, some potential clients are actually using services like images.google.com and Flickr quite often to search for wedding ideas, venues, and photographers. They might find your work there and fall in love with your style. Make sure your images are optimized and linked directly to your blog or portfolio.

  • The ease of implementation: Average=2 While it’s easy to add images to your blog, your site needs to be optimized for search engines and you may need to do some research of image naming conventions. Furthermore, it may take some time to upload your images onto some of these sites.
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1 Google needs to crawl your site before your images will appear in their search results.
  • Cost: Free=3
  • The quality of leads generated: Average=2
  • Additional Factors: none
  • Total Score: 8

6. Twitter – This service is unlikely to lead directly to booking weddings, but it definitely spreads awareness of your work in the photography, wedding, and general online community. Use hash tags so that people can find your tweets when you post your blog entries; and others will likely “retweet” your “tweet” if they contain useful or interesting links. This resource has the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your site.

  • The ease of implementation: Easy=3 You can begin “tweeting” immediately.
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1 Although there is integration with Facebook, Gmail, and other services, it takes a little while to build a solid fan base on twitter.
  • Cost: Free=3
  • The quality of leads generated: Poor=1
  • Additional Factors: +1 The additional point is for Twitter’s extensive online reach and presence. While Brides might not be on Twitter looking for photographers, it is a great way to participate in the photography community, gain some credibility in the industry, and establish a following for your work.
  • Total Score: 8

7. Paid Banner Ads – Paid banner ads are costly; and their effectiveness varies from site to site. In general, the percentage chance of a potential client seeing your advertisement, clicking on the advertisement, and actually contacting you is low.

  • The ease of implementation: Average=2 You may have to design your own advertisement, which can be difficult depending on your design experience. In other circumstances, the website might design it for you.
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1 It takes a lot of impressions for this method to yield any results, and therefore it takes quite a bit of time.
  • Cost: Expensive=1. These ads can cost anything from $100 dollars to several thousand, depending on the site.
  • The quality of leads generated: Good=3
  • Additional Factors: +1 The additional point is for the notion that these sites are likely to choose their featured articles from their pool of paying advertisers.
  • Total Score: 8

8. Dedicated Wedding Websites – Weddingwire, PartyPop, The Knot, Wedding Channel, Mywedding.com and most dedicated wedding websites offer anything from free to paid listings on their sites. While it is easy to start free profiles on most of these sites, your profiles often get clumped in with the rest and standing out from the others is difficult. Furthermore, you’re likely to receive repeat cold calls from these sites trying to sell you Ëœpremium’ listings or memberships.

  • The ease of implementation: Easy=3
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1
  • Cost: Varies (Often expensive)=1
  • The quality of leads generated: Varies=2 If you do happen to receive a lead, you’re often competing with dozens of other photographers for the job, driving prices down and products delivered up.
  • Additional Factors: +1 and -2 A point is added to this method for its assistance in providing external links to your website (helping with your page rank and your SEO). However, two points are taken away from this method for the cold calls and their lack of reach.
  • Total Score: 6

9. Photography Directories – Listing on Photography directories is a great way of getting some external links to your websites, but they serve little purpose beyond that. Brides are unlikely to stumble upon these websites, and if they do, you’re competing with the hundreds of other photographers listed on the same site without a good way to stand out from the crowd.

  • The ease of implementation: Average=2 These are usually simple registration forms, but they may require an exchange of links.
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1
  • Cost: Free=3
  • The quality of leads generated: Poor=1
  • Additional Factors: +1 and -2 A point is added to this method for its assistance in providing external links to your website (helping with your page rank and your SEO). However, two points are taken away from this method for the cold calls and their lack of reach.
  • Total Score: 6

10. Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon – If you have a very interesting article or image, using Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and other similar services can give you thousands of visitors to your site. The catch is that there is very little targeting; and it’s difficult to get your article enough votes for good visibility. Furthermore, it’s not enough to simply have beautiful images. Your articles really need to be funny, relevant, and/or extremely interesting.

  • The ease of implementation: Difficult=1 You may have to contact your webmaster to incorporate the buttons on your site; or you can submit your own articles one by one to each of the sites, a very time consuming process.
  • The time it takes to yield results: Slow=1 It may take a while for your article to get enough votes for any visibility.
  • Cost: Varies=2 Listing on these sites is free, but you may have to pay your webmaster to implement the buttons on your site.
  • The quality of leads generated: Poor=1
  • Additional Factors: +1 A point is added to this method for its assistance in providing external links to your website (helping with your page rank and your SEO).
  • Total Score: 6

These results are based on experiences with operating a studio in the competitive environment of Orange County and Los Angeles. Every business has its own niche market, and there is never a universal method of advertising in any industry. If you have any other ideas; or if you have disagreements, please feel free to comment on this article.

By: Lin and Jirsa Wedding Photography, Los Angeles and Orange County Wedding Photographers
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About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Great tips

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  2. Thad

    When some one searches for his necessary thing, therefore
    he/she desires to be available that in detail, thus that
    thing is maintained over here.

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  3. Brian

    Thanks for the tips! I would also add “time needed to maintain” into the ranking factors. FB and blogs are great, but tremendously time consuming. Also, how about email lists and newsletters to keep the clients you do have?

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    some great articles on here!

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