The pandemic has made life harder for everyone. Small service businesses, like photography, can still stay afloat but need to pivot to the new normal. This means you as a photographer have to step up and market your services more prominently and creatively than before to ensure you bring in business. We have put together some helpful tips (with free resources and links) to help you as a photographer out during these difficult times. Continue reading below to see our marketing recommendations.
8 Ways to market your photography services:
1. Understand what rules and restrictions are in place
As a business owner, you need to understand what specific rules are in place regarding your location. Are there any changes to normal operating procedures that might affect you? To what extent is photography being impacted? Limitations on the number of people at gatherings? Venues closed down? What public places are restricted and what about mask-wearing (and taking off for a photo)?
The above might not be applicable to all photographers - but if you are primarily offering portraits, wedding, event and other typical photography services, you might need to confirm that none impact your normal operations. If they do, you will have to be creative, pivot, or adapt to meet the necessary requirements (masks on at all times, no access to beaches, four people in a group, etc).
2. Consider running a promotion/updating policies
People - especially your customers - might be more price-sensitive during these times. They might even be considering pausing or delaying the need for photography services. If you can incentivise them to make use of your services - like discounts or free value-added services, it can ensure you still drive revenue.
Secondly, you might want to have a more flexible and supportive cancellation and refund policy. Given how uncertain the times are - governments changing social distancing rules/restrictions - your customers might want to have peace of mind knowing they can reschedule, change the nature of the order, or get a refund if it is directly because of COVID-19.
3. Start sending newsletters
This simple, tried-and-trusted, method of reaching your audience is now more important than ever before. Word of mouth - especially going out and meeting new customers - as slowed down. But one way to connect with your audience and remind them that you're still active is through a digital emailer (newsletter). As a business owner, which you basically are, keep your clients updated.
We recommend setting up two different newsletters - one for a cold audience, or new leads, perhaps acquired through online advertising, like Google Ads. The second emailer can go out to previous customers and loyal fans - these can showcase your current promotions, incentivise them to reuse your services or have a referral code if they bring you new business.
A great example of a free marketing tool is Mailchimp. Mailchimp makes email subscription and newsletters easy. The "Forever Free" account is perfect for new businesses or those just starting out on their email marketing journey. You get a subscriber list of 2,000 and a monthly send limit of 12,000 emails. Try it here - https://mailchimp.com/
It also doesn't heart to call up customers you worked with in the past, and just ask them how they are doing, after all it's about keeping a good relationship with people you work with.
4. Make website for your online presence (FREE)
This is a no-brainer! People are utilizing social media and surfing the web now more than ever. The days of roadshows, in-person events, and walking around with flyers are over. You need to take to the internet. Where to start? With an online portfolio website to market your photography website. There are many free portfolio websites available at your disposal. Find a website builder to set up a free website to showcase your photos, experience, and help you attract customers.
A great example is Vsble. A stunning and simple, drag-and-drop, site builder for visual artists. Their free website builder makes website creation effortless. Select a template and create a better-looking website in minutes. Vsble site builder is free and allows you to reach worldwide audience online. You can also connect your online store. The hosting planincludes 80 images with Free tier, and unlimited uploads with a paid plan. You ge t a free domain url, and can connect any first level custom domain you already have from any hosting provider. Thanks to free ssl certificate from Vsble you will be ranked better on the search engine. Select a template from a large and constantly growing collection. Any template you choose, will look perfect on any mobile device. Connect social media with your vsble website builder. You can keep the free website forever without any cost.
You can sign up for vsble here to create a free website and go life instantly.
5. Set up a home studio
People are afraid to go outside. Well, to an extent, we've all taken extra precautions when venturing outside because of the pandemic. People are now spending more time at home - even when it comes to working. If you run a photography studio or operate in an office, perhaps you've already allowed work from home procedures to take place. If not, or if you're a sole operator, consider setting up shop at home.
A home studio cuts out on unnecessary commutes, is likely to be occupied or accessed by as many people, and in general, helps to flatten the curve. A home studio might also be more affordable to upkeep and shows customers you're pivoting in these new normal times.
For invoicing and billing, consider a free tool like https://invoice-generator.com/
You can use tools like https://www.joinhoney.com to find discounts for online store camera and light gear.
6. Take care of your social media.
Keep your social media like instagram or facebook vital and update it regularly with good content. A seo tool will recommend to update your social media regularly to be rankt better on any search engine. Your online presence doesn't grow only because you have created a free website with your site builder. Post on social media about your new website. Follow brands and companies you want to work with. Comment and engage with their posts. Put links in your social profiles to your website. You migh consider tools to plan and schedule posts on social media, there are few to choose from:
7. Offer remote services
Contrary to what you might believe, photography services can still be carried out in isolation. Instead of visiting a customer's office or arranging an in-person event to shoot products, you could do it remotely. Simply allow the option of having your clients send you their products, take the relevant photos, and send both (the product and photos) back to them.
This isn't something entirely new - but it ensures a high level of safety and social distancing. If you have a good relationship with the client, and the product is simple enough to courier or post to your home office, then why not? Your studio has all the relevant technology to create what the client is needing, and it doesn't require them to personally need to attend or spend hours waiting around during the shoot.
Remote product photography services are convenient, flexible and mean you're not limited by distance - it allows you to create images for clients all over the world.
Clients can ship products directly to you so you can photographe them in your home studio for their online store.
8. Stay connected with your clients
Although events and functions have slowed down, you can still stay in touch with your clients. Many might still need basic editing and review work done, or perhaps want a photographer to be involved in the decision making process for future events. You can simply reach them using tools like Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams, all of which provide video calling services. Just don’t give up, there are many ways to keep your business running and even growth opportunities in every situation.
Find solutions to overcome the travel barriers, and incorporate that into your marketing plan!