If you have a photography business and if customers are not finding you online, it is time to step into the 21st century. If you have heard of buzzwords like SEO, social media, and hashtag in regards to getting yourself out there on the Internet but have no idea what those things mean or how they can help you get your work in front of more eyes–we are here to help. Here are 10 ways to run your business online in South Africa.
1. Make Your Own Website
This should probably be the first thing you do. All of the headway you make on social media and elsewhere should be linked back to a central spot, thus making it easier to get your photography discovered. There are several website builders online that are inexpensive with great customer support. A couple of them are Wix and Squarespace. You can even build your own with WordPress. They make the process painless and can help you achieve great results fast and easy without any major coding know-how. Once you get your own site, make sure you have email address that reflects your business instead of a generic Gmail address.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Once you have your website, in order to get photography clients, it is important to make your business show up when a potential customer searches online. Ways to do this include registering your website with the top search engines like Google, utilizing keywords as much as possible that help place you at the top of search results when people are looking for a specific sort of photographer. This does not take much time to do and can be a great help.
Chances are that you already know people that could utilize your services. Furthermore, the chances are pretty high that those people are on Facebook. If you already have a personal page on this social media behemoth, you can also set up a profile for your photos, being sure to make posts on your personal profile that directs your social circle to your business profile. For many, this is the quickest sure-fire way to get photography clients–by targeting people that are part of your social circle and will want to go with someone they feel connected to for weddings, graduations, and so on! Yes..yes, Facebook is really restricting the business pages but that’s only to your benefit as their algorithms are favouring relevant content and not purely promotional content. So make sure to tell your stories on Facebook instead!
4. Email Newsletters
You have a bunch of contacts listed in your three email accounts and aren’t sure what to do with them all. There are several great online services that can help you design professional newsletters to send out to all those contacts. There is an old adage that it takes people six times to see something before they will act, so with regular newsletters being sent out (once a week, for example) you are likely to get photography clients just from them getting used to seeing your name and what you are about in their emails consistently.
Instagram has become a monumentally popular way for photographers to showcase their work. This is especially ideal for attracting a younger and hipper clientele base, but all sorts of people do use Instagram these days. Instagram also works pretty seamlessly in parallel with Facebook these days too, so you can do things have video from a photo shoot posted on your Instagram and have it show up in your Facebook as well. Especially helpful for gaining followers and interest (thereby helping the chances to get your photography discovered) is tagging other users that you may be working with and utilizing hashtags. Hashtags are keywords that you choose that are related to your post (e.g. #southafricaweddingphotographer) that help users discover you when they look up those keywords.
If you have a big project coming up or are just getting your business off the ground and need some capital, crowdsourcing is a great way to bring attention to what you are doing. There are the classic platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo but there are also new services like Patreon where you can have monthly subscribers where you offer services for set subscription tiers. This could be an ideal way to get your business running online.
7. Digital Booking Platforms
One of the best tools for running a photography business online is to use a digital booking platform. Have you looked at Tapsnapp? Tapsnapp allows photographers to have their rate set upfront so that customers can search you out based on price and location. This helps save a lot of time and makes booking the right photographer as easy as booking a hotel room. It also makes managing the financial end of things a breeze, since a customer pays in the platform for your services using credit card or Electronic Funds Transfer. Also a plus, a photographer gets their own public URL which can help you sell to any customer. If a customer wants to book you, just share your public URL and let them come to you.
If you think that you have some interesting stories that people might like to hear about your work, you could be a podcaster! All you need to get going is your computer, a microphone, and some basic editing software (Audacity, for example). You could do episodes about your process, particularly memorable shoots, even interview other photographers or professionals related to your specific niche. After that it is just a matter of uploading episodes to streaming services like iTunes and/or signing up with a podcast network that wants to air you. You may also find other podcasters that want to interview you on their shows.
Blogging is a good way to keep potential clientele engaged with what you are doing and may help get your photography discovered. Think of blogging kind of like keeping a journal online. Your blog might be anecdotal or it may just be a spot for you to post outtakes or other items of interest. The key though, is consistency. Regular updates are vital.
10. Stock Photography
Have you noticed the images we used here? An increasingly popular way for photographers to establish fairly passive income while also building name recognition for themselves online is through licensing their work to stock photography sites. The law of averages is best here, so your best bet is to have hundreds of photos available across several stock photo sites. Not only can this get your name in front of many more people that might need your services but it can also be a fairly reliable second source of income for your photo work.
Each one of the options above can help you get photography clients by exposing your work to a wider audience. Pick and choose the best platforms depending on your type of photography and audience as well. If you do personalized weddings, blogs really help. If you’re business talks to companies, podcasts maybe a better option. Therefore use the tools that you need so the correct customers can reach you easily.