Coach April Sims

iCoach * iTeach *iInspire

Marketing for photographers


What is marketing and why on earth do I need to market?

Simply put, marketing is whatever it takes to attract clients to you (your brand, products and services).

What are you doing to attract clients to you?

  • You cannot wait for business to come to you

  • Sometimes you have to go to the business

  • Most clients do not own a crystal ball and sometimes you have to create the business

“Customers don’t always know what they want. The decline in coffee-drinking was due to the fact that most of the coffee people bought was stale and they weren’t enjoying it. Once they tasted ours and experienced what we call “the third place”.. a gathering place between home and work where they were treated with respect.. they found we were filling a need they didn’t know they had.” ~ Howard Schultz, Starbucks

EDUCATE the client regarding the types of services and products you offer

  • this is imperative to not only introduce to the clients to your products and services, but also to avoid any obstacles in the future

How do I educate my clients?

  •  “record one idea to be shared over and over again” ~ David Fagan, CEO of Guerilla Marketing (Law of multiplication)

    • handouts
    • checklists
    • questionnaires
    • video

“No matter what your product is, you are ultimately in the education business. Your customers need to be constantly educated about the many advantages of doing business with you, trained to use your products more effectively, and taught how to make never-ending improvement in their lives.” ~ Robert G Allen

What is your niche

  • today’s society is niche based

  • specialize in something.  this is not to say that you cannot offer other things, just specialize in something

  • Burger King for instance is the home of the Whopper.  You can get a burger anywhere, however you can only get a Whopper at Burger King.

  • Tasra Dawson is a photographer and her niche is teen girls.  She shoots all types of portraits but her niche is teen girls.

What is your target market? 

Your target market is the exact market you are marketing to.  You should be able to put an age range, demographic etc. on your target market.

How well do you know your target market?

  • Did you know Women make up nearly 98% of the purchase decisions for professional photography with the exception of commercial work?

  • Did you know that brides, babies and pets are the top three reasons people hire photographers?

Do you know your value?

  • What is value? – (n) – the quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable.

  • value is perceived and if you do not believe in yourself and abilities, then why should potential clients.

How to create value?

  • uniqueness - show clients and potential clients how unique you are

  • when you go to the store you are not just buying a product but the perception of what the product will do.  perception is reality.

  • under promise and over deliver

    • go above and beyond the call of duty to service a client
  • Quick turnaround will set you apart from the competition.

  • don’t give discounts, because this diminishes the value of your product; instead give stuff away.

    • make sure your giveaways are something that your competition is not offering.  this adds value to your product and services.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”  ~ Steve Jobs

“Brands are not simply products or services.  Brands are the sum total of all the images that people have in their heads about a particular company and a particular mark” ~ Steve Bedbury

What is your client looking to buy?  People buy emotion

  • If people buy emotion, then sell them emotion

  • sales is simply a transfer of emotions.

  •  Create an effective slogan – keep in mind that people buy emotions

  • You slogan should contain all or some of the following

    • who you are?
    • what do you want your target audience to know about you?
    • what message are you trying to convey to your target audience?
  • Examples of slogans

    • Disney is King at this.  “Where dreams come true” “Price your dream vacation” the magical experience is priceless and this is evidenced by the millions of visitors that visit their parks every year from around the globe to experience the magic of Disney
    • Everlon (jeweler) “now more than ever you are each other’s greatest strength” (diamond knot collection)
    • Bose “You have to hear it to believe it”
    • Allstate “Put yourself in good hands today” “the good hands people” – you can trust your family in our hands
    • American Express “Don’t take chances.  Take charge”
    • Discover Card – “What will you get back with your cash back?”
  •  You have to hit the consumer 8 – 10 times for them to remember your brand (name).  Its all about top-of-mind awareness.  Do everything you can to hit them 8 – 10 times.

Sell your passion

    • When you are passionate and excited about a session that is transferred to the client.
    • Capture that passion and emotion on film and sell it to your client
    • if you are not passionate about your work, then why should potential clients be excited.

Sell memories

    • people love the memories that images (photos) provide
    • portraits create a lifetime of experience.
    • when one looks back at photos, they realize how valuable the images are especially after the loved one has passed

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” ~Jeff Bezos

How do I market myself, along with my brand, products and services?

  • website – (n) – a location connected to the Internet that maintains one or more web pages (according to Compact Oxford English Dictionary)

  • is a 24/7 employee

  • be careful of names that you choose for your site

    • (go Tahoe)
    • (pens island)
  • needs look professional

  • needs to be up to date

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – very important – enhancing a website so that it appears at the top of the listings of a search engine

  • meta tags – very important – tags that help the search engine understand the contents of a site.  Putting the correct meta tags is called on-page optimization in Search Engine Optimization (according to SEO-Equalizer)

  • keep the site clean and simple

    • use easy to read fonts
    • stay away from brochure style websites
  • fast loading

    • take into consideration those who still might be on dial-up
  • easy to navigate

  • weeds out who is right or not right for you

  • create an experience for your clients

  • more than just a business card

  • keep testing website – let’s face it.  it is human nature to find fault first.

  •  what your website should contain

    • contact information – give people a way to respond (phone number, e-mail, address, etc.)
    • bio – a cyber introduction between you and your potential client(s)
  • you bio should include

    • your philosphy
    • your passion
    • personality (keep in mind that customers buy emotion)
    • recommendations
  •  view Dawn and Bob Davis website for example

  • create a personal website for each of your portrait and wedding clients – majority of guests to personal sites will be next year’s clients

press release / press kit (publicity) – if you can get people to talk about you for free then there is little need for much else.  editors are constantly look for new items for the business section.  create an awareness of your business which will lead to additional value for your service.

    • A press release, news release, media release, or press statement is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value. Typically, they are mailed, faxed or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, televisions stations and/or television networks. Commercial press-release distribution services are also used to distribute them. (according to Wikipedia)
    • reason to create a press release . . .
  • recent accomplishments

  • Getting involved with the community – reciprocity – you want the community to be good to you, so you need to be good to the community

    • Kiwanis
    • Lion’s Club
    • Exchange Club
    • Chamber of Commerce
  • Getting involved with charities

  • Getting involved with your local school system

    • Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
    • Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)
    • career day
    • taking pictures at a school event
    • performing at a school event
    • teaching a class (music, drama, etc.)
    • teach an adult education class
  • hiring a new employee

  • speaking engagement

  • teaching a seminar

  • earning a degree

  • publishing an article

  • portfolio of images - show work that is diverse

    • commercial
    • fine art
    • portrait
    • children
    • high school seniors
  • referral network team – clients that are referred to you come to you already sold.

  • partner with other vendors to cross promote (fusion marketing/strategic partnerships) educate them (vendors) about you and vice versa.  with this education vendors will only send clients your way that meet your standards because they have already educated the client about your services (pre-qualified).

  • Vendors

    • wedding coordinator
    • event planner
    • formal wear
    • limousine services
    • make-up artists
    • hairstylists
    • florists
    • venues (hotels, country clubs, mansions, etc.)
    • dj services
    • security services
    • videographers (should be referred to as filmmakers)
      • videos should consist of
        • setting
        • character
        • plot
        • backstory
        • detail
    • cosmetics/personal care products (Mary Kay, MAC, Avon, Carol’s Daughters, etc.)
    • health clubs
    • doctors office
  • Mailings

    • Prom mailing – fusion marketing with tuxedo shop, limo service, florists, venues
    • Wedding mailing – fusion marketing with hotel, florist, venues, travel agency
    • Studio mailing – fusion marketing with landscaper
    • Commercial – fusion marketing with printer, ad agency
  • past and present clients – what would you pay for a magical experience?  what are you doing with all those positive testimonies?  encourage testimonies.  create a short questionnaire to give to clients after they pick up their portraits.  if they are satisfied with you they will have no problem giving you a list of names.  strike while the iron is hot.  if you wait too long their emotions would have diminished.  testimonies that blow your horn and sing your praises to the world.  you already have their names and buying habits.  perfect target market.  build a referral base by nurturing past and present client base.

  • advertising - (passive marketing) needs to be carefully monitored and can be quite costly

  • ad pieces – remember your clients and potential clients buy emotion, so when designing your ad pieces make sure they evoke the emotion(s) that you are trying to convey.  use as little words as possible.  customer needs to be able to envision themselves in the ad piece.  Be consistent with ads, stationary, flyers, etc.  Presentation and packaging are everything.

    • business cards
    • post cards
    • flyers
    • door hangers
    • composite cards
  • publications (might want to hire a publicist) – find out protocol for submissions to periodicals

  • magazines (hard and soft) – hard is physical magazine and soft is online

    • wedding
      • global (such as Bride and Modern Bride)
      • local (such as Maryland Bride)
  • newspapers – make sure to advertise to your niche

    • local
    • national
    • global (great for destination photographers)
  • mall displays

  • yellow pages

  • television

  • radio

  • cable


  • education 

  • speaking and selling from stage

  • fusion photography - photography coupled with video – team up with video editor or videographer – will set you apart from the competition

    • when can i use fusion marketing with a videographer?
      • engagement sessions
      • weddings
      • high school senior sessions
      • baby sessions
      • pet sessions
      • boudoir sessions
      • family portrait sessions
  •  slideshows – great gifts to give to your clients and for your clients to give their family and friends

    • holiday
    • engagement
    • wedding
    • birthday
    • anniversary
    • graduation

Continuing Education

Places to purchase equipment

Online image hosting and processing

Packaging and Presentation

Points to leave you with

  • Always LISTEN to your clients –  we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.  this is their occasion and not yours.  you can suggest, but do not dominate.  if you LISTEN you will know what they want.

  • Be FIRST or be forgotten – quick turnaround on the proofs and portraits (this is crucial to set you apart from the competition)

  • The service that you provide to the client is an investment

  • Satisfied customers will be your best salesperson (Word of Mouth)

  • Overall goal is create more value for yourself, your brand, your products and services

  • Little things mean a lot from your curb appeal physical or online store front; the way phone is answered, tidiness of your appearance; cleanliness of your restroom, etc.

  • Time – your time is valuable   

    • how much value do you put on your time?  we each have 24 hours in a day and 365 days a year (less during a leap year).  only difference is how each person spends their time.  we cannot buy more time.
      • primetime rate – rate you would charge outside of your normal business hours

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April Sims
Financial, Health and Wellness Coach
iCoach * iTeach * iInspire
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