In part two of this series, we will discuss tips six through ten. These are steps you can take today to grow your photography business. If you missed part one, you can read it by clicking here. Special thanks to Lancaster, PA based headshot photographer Richard Waine for collaborating with us to create this series.
6. Sanitize and Prioritize Your Social Media
In 2022, this should be obvious, yet many of us are still either neglecting or abusing our social media accounts, to the detriment of our businesses.
The first step we must take is to sanitize our socials. If you have a public Facebook or Instagram profile, or if you post on blogs, forums, or online magazines like Fstoppers, it’s extremely important to remember that potential business connections may read what you write and see the photos you post. Most of us are guilty at times of oversharing on social media (myself included), but one of the best ways to grow your business (not to mention improve your overall quality of life) is by avoiding negative and divisive posts and comments. Refraining from political posts and conversations is also a great idea. Remember, half of the people who read a political post will most likely be offended by it, and so no matter what you say, chances are you will isolate a large part of your audience. Sanitizing socials also includes removing photos that don’t show you at your best and that don't reflect your brand properly.
Create engaging posts that aren’t just about you and what you offer. People rarely respond to posts that are thinly veiled ads for a business, so instead, write posts that create value for the reader. This could be offering tips, explaining how you can solve a problem for your client, or even sharing a positive story with your followers. People want to interact with a human, so besides staying positive, be genuine. People want to work with someone who cares about their needs and isn’t just trying to make a sale.
Engaging with other people’s posts can be more effective than creating your own content. Another way to use social media wisely is to comment on posts. LinkedIn is a great platform for this method, since most of the content is geared towards business and away from personal posting. By commenting on posts from others in your community, you can increase your visibility and also position yourself as an expert in your field.
Finally, you must post regularly. Yes, it is annoying and time-consuming, but consistency is key to winning the social media game. This doesn’t mean you should just post anything and everything, but great content, shared consistently, will certainly increase your business.
7. Get Referrals and Testimonials
Nothing is better than having a client rave about you to their friend, who then calls you to schedule a shoot. This person is already convinced and feels like they know you based on what they’ve heard from their friend. These referrals are a monumental win. Besides having clients write you a five-star review, ask them to tag you when they share their photos and write about their experience. If your clients are happy with you and their photos, this is something they will be happy to do. Make sure you kindly ask them for a review more than once as well, since people often forget. Although I don't suggest telling clients what to write, I usually tell them that the best reviews talk about their experience and mention that I am a headshot photographer in Garden City, New York. This is because keywords are extremely important not only on your website, but even in reviews.
Another way to get referrals is by connecting with local agencies. If you are a headshot photographer like me, find the local acting schools and talent agencies and work at making establishing a relationship with them. This is easier said than done, but if you make one good connection, it can lead to a lot of steady work. I have a handful of agencies who continue to send me clients based on a great first experience someone had at my studio.
Finally, make sure that you are offering a five-star experience if you expect referrals and testimonials from your clients. I think some small business owners expect clients to go the extra mile for them just because they are a local business, but this is not the case. Scrutinize your process, from beginning to end, and evaluate if you are providing your clients with an experience (and product) that makes it easy for them to refer you, even without asking them to.
8. Your 30-Second Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a 30-second explanation you can give about what you do, why you do it, and why you're the best person for the job.
Having a refined reply when people inquire about your services is crucial. Even if someone casually asks: “so, what do you do for a living," you should have a better answer than “I’m a photographer.” Give them a 30-second explanation that draws them in and positions you as the authority and problem-solver in your field. As a headshot photographer, my pitch includes explaining that most people hate having their headshot taken, but I make the entire process fun and easy while providing my clients with photos that are engaging and empowering, which are an asset to their brand. And I make it fun. I am paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
9. Create a Consistent Brand
Consistency and authenticity are so important for any size business, and many small businesses put very litte thought into their brand. Make sure that your brand and marketing are laser-focused, and don’t try to be everything to everyone. If a potential client has trouble figuring out exactly what you do and how it will solve their problem, they will seek someone else. Don’t make it hard for them by having overly complicated websites, multiple packages, or endless offerings. As I said in part one of this series, don’t be a jack of all trades, but rather, become a master in one specific area. If you try to be everything to everyone, you may wind up being no one at all!
10. Become Self-Motivated
One of the greatest challenges for entrepreneurs is staying motivated. If you don’t have any clients today, that doesn’t mean you should spend an hour scrolling on Instagram or watching YouTube videos. There is always something to do when you own a business — and I mean always. Seriously.
If I have a few free hours or the rare free day, I use that “free time” wisely. Whether it’s cleaning my studio or hanging new work, cold-calling, checking old emails and following up, posting relevant content to social media, writing an article, or even reading a book or watching a tutorial to increase my skills, I do my best to make good use of my time. Granted, I’m not always successful, but when I remind myself that there is always something that needs to be done, it makes it much easier for me to get my butt in gear.
Well, I hope that part two of this four-part series has motivated you and given you some great tips to grow your photography business! Stay tuned for part three. For more great advice on what to do, and what not to do, when running a photography business, check out Ivor Rackham's excellent article on his experience with a local company.