A version of this article originally appeared on the Format blog. It has been republished here for our audience.
While there’s no magic bullet for instantly growing your photography business, there are tools that can help. The top ones work best when used together, and they can be broken down into two categories: tools that help with lead gen (or getting leads/inquiries) and tools that help with lead management (or turning inquiries into bookings). Throw in a sprinkle of strategy and our community’s insider tips to optimize each tool and—voila—you’ll be getting more business in no time.
Top Lead-Gen Tools for Photographers
First, let’s dig into the tools that help you acquire new inquiries.
Build Stronger Connections on Social Media
When it comes to getting your work out there, we all know social media is an unparalleled channel in terms of reaching a large, engaged audience. And the highly visual nature of platforms like Instagram and Pinterest make them perfect fits to showcase your best work. We asked our community for their top tips to stand out from the crowd. Here’s their advice.
“Use Instagram stories as a vehicle for conversation and community building. When people respond to your stories, consider giving them a shout out or sharing exclusive content through stories that deepens the relationship between you and your audience. This might include giveaways, flash sales on products, or access to personalized advice. If you provide value, it’s likely that your audience will return. I shared my free Instagram Story Templates on a single story, leveraging the swipe up option, and added an additional 530 new email subscribers to my list in 24 hours.” —Natalie Franke, Photographer and Co-Founder, Rising Tide
“Because it functions primarily as a search engine, Pinterest is the perfect place to grow your business on autopilot. By converting Pinterest traffic into email subscribers, you have the opportunity to ‘woo’ and nurture these readers to turn them into new clients.” —Vanessa Kynes, Pinterest Marketing Strategist for Small Businesses
Tip: Learn more about Vanessa’s three-step method on how to use Pinterest to grow your email list.
Remember to Network with Task Management
Your own network of past clients and inquiries is full of opportunity. When treated carefully, as relationships should be of course, you can uncover referral business to help you grow. One great way to do this is to stay in touch. Follow up after big anniversaries with a quick note or a small gift to keep the lines of communication open and continue building your relationship. Doing this consistently and authentically is a natural way to check in and see if your clients have any current photography needs—or know of anyone who might.
Of course, remembering to send a follow-up an entire year after a wedding you’ve shot is a tall order. Business management tools like HoneyBook can help remind you long after your big project is over. At the start of a project, just set multiple tasks to remind you of future milestones. When the date rolls around—regardless of how far it is in the future—a reminder pops up as an item on your business’ to-do list. You never have to remember big dates and tasks again. And your to-dos are organized in one place every day so you know exactly what you need to accomplish.
Showcase Your Best Work with an Online Portfolio
“Your own portfolio is your best asset when it comes to attracting and landing clients. There’s no better way to introduce yourself—and make a great first impression. Especially for photographers, an online portfolio can make or break a client’s decision to work with you. It’s not enough anymore to just have a website,” Lukas Dryja, Format’s co-founder said.
To help you attract your ideal clients, don’t forget to build your portfolio accordingly. Pick the projects that speak to them, even if that means excluding certain projects that you love but don’t align with your brand. Everything your prospective clients see from your brand should be laser-focused towards them. As branding expert Ashlyn Carter says, “It amazes me how terrified people are to niche down. I get it, I was there, but I’m telling you, in the majority of businesses I watch and work with in our creative industry, it’s those who go after a precise niche that really ‘make it.’”
Ready to build or refresh your portfolio? Tools like Format, a website builder with everything you need to showcase your work, make it easy. You can choose from pre-built, pre-designed, customizable themes to get started quickly and easily keep your creative portfolio up to date.
Once your portfolio is ready for showtime, be sure to make it easy for people to find. Include a link on your website, in your email signature and anywhere else your target audience might be looking.
Top Lead-Management Tools for Photographers
Once you’re getting interest via social media, your online portfolio, and referrals from your network, it’s time to lead them further down the path to book with you. Here are the top tools to manage your leads and grow your client list.
Keep Everything in One Place with Smart Contact Forms
While leads can come in from multiple sources, you can save time and energy tracking everything by funneling all of your leads into one place. The HoneyBook contact form connects directly into your website, so whenever someone submits an inquiry, you can see exactly who they are and what stage they’re in. That means you can see, at a glance, whether you’ve followed up or not and what next steps you need to take.
Respond Faster with Customized Responses Using Email Automation
Now for the most important part: responding to your inquiries, or, more specifically, the timeliness of your responses. Julie Beck, Senior Editor at The Atlantic, writes that written communication has caught up to the speed of regular conversation. “There is an understanding that any message you send can be replied to more or less immediately.” In today’s on-demand environment, your inquiries expect prompt, useful responses in near real time. The good news is that you can easily provide both things with email automation. Here’s how it works:
- Include a project-type field in your HoneyBook contact form. Common project types might be weddings, corporate events, engagement sessions or family portraits.
- Create custom follow-up emails by project type. Create a follow-up email customized with more information for each project type. That is, if you offer services for weddings and corporate events, you’ll need to create two separate emails. Include examples of weddings you’ve shot for your wedding inquiries and corporate event photos for your corporate inquiries.
- Set up a HoneyBook workflow to respond instantly. Once someone submits an inquiry, HoneyBook workflows (our automation feature) uses a client workflow automation software that can automatically respond with your email response customized to the project type request. For example, if someone says their project is a corporate event, the info that’s automatically sent is all about your past corporate events and pricing. You can set up as many project types and email sequences as you want or need. Email automation not only increases your productivity and work efficiency, but it provides an optimal client experience, too.
Pro Tip: See how photographer Andy Lydick used email automation to triple his bookings.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow
If your goal is to get more clients, focus on attracting more leads and turning them into bookings. Using the right tools can help you get inquiries from your ideal clients and respond quickly with the right information when they’re ready to book.
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