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Already dabbled in all the different types of photography and figured out you have a flair for faces? Got the best portrait cameras and best portrait lenses sorted out? Now it’s time to take that beautiful portrait photography website you built and start a portrait photography business. But how do you find new clients?

Well, we’re going to teach you how to market that website and promote your portrait photography business! Here are 10 of the best ways to get started now:

1. Maintain a Flawless Online Portfolio

You probably know that building an online portfolio and keeping it up-to-date is one of the most important things you can do to promote your portrait photography business. It gives people a place to see your latest work and get a sense of your style as a photographer. But are you getting the most out of it?

An online portfolio builder offers many value-adds that can boost your business. Pick a platform that offers a free trial to see if it’s right for you! Here are just a few features that could help your portrait photography website stand out:

  • There’s a range of beautiful, modern themes and layouts to choose from that make it simple to build a portfolio that’s attractive and looks on-trend.

  • You can easily set up an online store that seamlessly integrates with your portfolio.

  • It allows you to embed videos in your online portfolio. This could be used for things like giving customers a behind-the-scenes look at how you create your beautiful portraits.

  • The ability to maintain an email list of existing and potential customers, which will enable you to keep in touch with them and offer promos.

2. Start a Portrait Photography Blog

While you may have already built an excellent website to show off your portrait photography, if your website doesn’t include a blog, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to promote your portrait photography business.

Adding unique content to your site will improve its search results ranking. Also, your blog offers an opportunity to show your expertise in portrait photography and establish you as an industry leader.

When people are finished reading your excellent blog posts, they’ll be more likely to check out your portfolio and keep you in mind for their portrait photography needs. Not sure what topics to tackle? Here are some ideas for what creative professionals should blog about.

3. Visit Portrait Photography Conferences

Portrait photography conferences offer a great place to network with other professionals in the industry. The contacts you make there may be able to cross-promote with you or even refer clients to you. To get the most out of it, you should be giving out your portrait photography business cards to everyone you talk to.

Here are two of the largest upcoming conferences for portrait photographers:

4. Volunteer

When it comes to marketing portrait photography, spending some of your free time volunteering is one way to get your work out there. For instance, you can volunteer to photograph a charity event such as a fundraising banquet. The event organizers will be highly motivated to actually use your photos on their social media or website.

Plus, all the attendees at the event could be potential clients! Once they see you in action and check out your photos from the event—and realize what a great job you did—it may lead them to hire or recommend you for their own corporate jobs.

5. Offer Special Deals

Limited-time offers tend to grab peoples’ attention since they don’t want to miss out on a good price. So consider offering your clients some special deals to help with marketing your portrait photography.

One example is mini sessions: quicker and more affordable shoots that can draw in clients who aren’t ready to hire you for a full shoot.

For example, if you usually charge around $200 for a two-hour portrait shoot, try announcing a special offer where clients can get a half-hour shoot for $80. Besides helping to drum up interest in your portrait photography business, the shorter time commitment means it’s less work for you and you’ll be able to book more clients.

6. Get Listed In Photographer Directories

Photographer directories can be a great place to get your name listed because they attract exactly the type of people you want to find you: potential clients who are currently seeking a photographer! Typically, there are fees involved to sign up, but it may be less expensive than you think. There’s a few that let you get listed for free. Here are a couple popular directories for marketing portrait photography:

  • Photography Directory Project is free to join. The only requirement to get your free listing is that you include a link to the directory on your site.

  • Photographers Black Book is a large directory that lets visitors search for professionals in the photography industry by location, category, and specialization. It costs $15 a month to get listed.

7. Enter Portrait Photography Contests

Entering photography contests is another good portrait photography business marketing strategy, as the contest website or sponsor company will often show off submissions. In addition, if you manage to win, that’s a great thing to list on your About Me page, as it will contribute to your credibility as a skilled portrait photographer.

Some of our favourites:

  • The Faces portrait photography contest is free to enter. It has a grand prize of $2,500, and the first-prize winners in each category also have their work published in PDN Magazine and on the PDN website.

  • 16th Annual Photo Contest has a grand prize of $2,500. Winning submissions are shown off on the Smithsonian website and also appear in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Check out our list of the best photography contests for a few more ideas of where to submit!

8. Make the Most of Your Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your portrait photography business. If you’re doing it right, you can expand your reach and build your followers without a ton of effort. Here are some of the key things to keep in mind:

  • Set up a business page on Facebook. A dedicated business page looks more professional than a personal Facebook account and gives you access to additional tools for reaching customers and showcasing your brand.

  • Use Instagram analytics tools to understand your audience and whether your following is growing. These tools can identify things like audience demographics and what type of posts perform best.

  • Use Instagram scheduling tools as a convenient way to ensure your feed is consistently updated. These tools also enable you to schedule your Instagram posts to go up at the best time of day, so your posts get seen by as many people as possible.

  • Encourage people to promote your business on Facebook. One way to do this is hold a contest. For example, you could offer a free portrait shoot as the prize, and ask people to post about why they need professional portraits and include a link to your page in their posts.

  • Embed your Instagram feed on your online portfolio. This lets you take advantage of your Instagram feed to keep your online portfolio as current as possible.

For more tips on making the most of your social media, check out this guide for growing your business using Instagram.

9. Encourage Referrals

Don’t hesitate to remind your satisfied clients to mention you to friends who are seeking photographers. Offer a small discount in exchange for posting your work on their social accounts and tagging you, or referring their friends to you. That’s great portrait marketing!

10. Invest in Paid Advertising (Like Facebook Ads)

When you’re starting a portrait photography business, Facebook ad campaigns are a great way to get into paid advertising. One benefit is that the pricing is extremely flexible—you can get started for as little as a dollar.

Another benefit is that Facebook ads offer a lot of tools to help target your ads to users who are likely to be interested in your portrait photography business. For more information on how to make the best use of Facebook ads, check out our guide, Facebook Advertising 101 for Visual Artists.

Want more info on the best ways to market, promote, and grow your portrait photography business?
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