Marketing your photography business for free

Marketing. Important but expensive right? Perhaps you’ve been burnt before – spent a lot of money on something that offered little return? Or perhaps you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of where to invest your marketing budget. Have a quick look on Google (other search engines are available) and you’ll find that most marketing websites will tell you to spend anywhere between 5 and 15 % of your overall turnover on your marketing. That sounds like a lot! If you’ve been on my Marketing Bootcamp workshops you’ll know I don’t even start talking about spending money until the end of the day. There’s so much free marketing opportunities out there to try first. So much so, that despite receiving almost 1000 enquiries this year and booking out my diary with beautiful weddings, I spent less than 1% of my turnover on advertising.

I market every single day. So whilst I might not spend huge sums of money on it, I do invest a great deal of time in my marketing. Here’s some of my favourite and most effective marketing strategies – and they are all free!

Social Media

An obvious one of course. It’s very likely that one of the first things you did as a business owner was set up a Facebook page or Twitter account. Most business owners use social media to some extent or another. For some businesses, it forms the basis of their marketing strategy. If you’ve been using Facebook for any amount of time, you’ll know that there’s been big changes for business in the past few years. It’s no longer a free ride. Facebook seriously restricts the reach our business pages achieve. Sceptics claim it’s because they want us to spend money on advertising – Facebook says it’s to improve the experience of it’s users. Whatever the reason, it’s impacted businesses in a big way!

Social media is still a great free marketing tool if used intentionally and with your ideal client in mind. The first thing you should be asking is – will my client find me on this platform? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the main contenders for most businesses. But don’t forget about lovely Pinterest – it’s a much overlooked social media platform.

Social media is a huge topic so there’s definitely not enough space here to cover what you should be doing. But my top tips are:

– Choose the right platforms for your ideal client

– Post consistently: it’s good for your followers and you’ll be rewarded with a better reach too.

– Develop relationships: follow other suppliers, share things that your followers will be interested in, respond to comments.

– Give your clients content that they want to see. They do not need selling to all the time.

Wedding Blogs

Wedding blogs are a fantastic free source of marketing and one I definitely encourage you to try and make use of. The blogs exist for the purpose of inspiring, entertaining and helping couples in their wedding planning. There’s lots of lots of wedding blogs out there – some big, long established ones and many smaller, newer ones. Some have very specific styles and other accept a wide variety of weddings. What these blog need is content – lovely weddings – which we have in bucket loads. Submitting to wedding blogs is a great way of getting your work in front of your ideal clients, driving traffic through to your own website and helping your SEO with a lovely backlink.

If you go down this route you’ve got to be prepared for some rejection. Not every wedding you offer up will be accepted (unless you’re some crazy – uber talented – rockstar wedding god). You’re more than likely to get a no every once in a while. The bigger and more popular the blog, the harder it is to get an acceptance. But that only makes it the sweeter when you do. Whatever answer you get remember this one thing – do not take it personally. A rejection is not a reflection on your work – just that that particular wedding wasn’t what the blog was looking for at that time. For more info and tips on submitting to wedding blogs click here.

SEO

What’s SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. Or in other words, any work you do to try and rank higher on Google. We all want to be on page 1 for our chosen search terms. SEO is what you do to get there. It’s a huge, complicated and often contradictory subject. Everyone has an opinion on it. Every ‘expert’ does things slightly differently. Google is a fickle mistress, and with over 200 ranking factors and algorithms that change regularly, it’s no wonder that many people find SEO confusing. That’s why there are so many companies out there willing to take your money to do it for you. They’ll promise you the world on a plate, or at least a page 1 ranking. PLEASE SAY NO. I speak from experience here. I paid a company for over a year. I can’t really complain – I got to page 1 for my chosen keyword. But here’s the thing. I was doing all the work. The things that do make a huge difference to your SEO are all things you can do for free – creating great content, implementing good habits when you blog, generating backlinks and so on. If you’d like to learn more about SEO please get in touch for a 1-1 session where I promise to demystify it for you!

Your blog

I hope you look after your blog. It’s the hardest working part of your website. It deserves a good foot rub every once in a while. Blogging is a major chore to lots of photographers. Something to be put on the winter to-do list, or when the editing pile is less overwhelming. But your blog doesn’t want to be neglected in this shameful way. Your blog needs regular tending. And in return it will reward you with marketing benefits. A well kept blog ticks sooooo many boxes. It’s great for your SEO – Google loves the fresh content and loves to see a website that’s regularly updated. It also loves great quality, relevant content – all of which is achieved by blogging. It’s amazing for helping you be found for different things. Love marquee weddings? Blog about them – how to plan them, how to decorate them, where to hold them. What ever you can think of! Love a particular venue – blog about it.  You’re much more likely to be found for what you love to shoot if you blog about it!

Networking

I’m leaving my favourite free marketing tool for last. It’s easy, it’s fun and it occasionally involves gin. Making friends in the wedding industry is the most valuable free marketing you can do. From a purely business point of view it’s great to develop a network of people who you can share referrals with. You send their details to potential clients when you’re already booked, they do the same for you. Booking clients in this way costs you nothing and you can return the favour to your network or contacts, helping them out too. But the real benefit of networking comes from having some friendly faces in what sometimes can be a very lonely job. If you’re anti-social and you’re favourite evening consists of Netflix and an early night (me!) then perhaps your networking can be done online but if you crave a bit of human contact, it’s a great idea to organise some co-workings days, when you meet up with other photographers, chat about business ideas, work on your marketing or editing, and generally get a break from the crazy world of weddings. If you’re new to the industry look for regional Facebook groups – there’s one for most areas. Or reach out via email to local photographers in your area and offer to take them out for a brew.

I hope you found this article on free marketing strategies helpful. There’s lots more content about marketing and business on my blog for photographers or if you’d like some 1-1 help then please have a look at my mentoring sessions.