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Actionable PR and Content Marketing Tips for Photographers

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What to focus on now to help your photography business survive the pandemic

Reading Time: 7 minutes

One thing is certain, normal life as we know it has changed. These are unprecedented times. Here in the UK, most of us are currently in lockdown; confined to our homes. Schools are closed, public gatherings are prohibited and non-essential businesses have been ordered to close.

As an independent photographer, you’re likely to be wondering where this leaves you and how you can help your photography business survive!

Challenging times

Up until recently, you were perhaps running a busy, thriving photography business.  But as clients postpone their weddings (again), as corporate events, fashion shoots and studio appointments are cancelled, your income is drying up overnight. So, you may well be wondering…now what?!

It’s going to be a huge challenge in the coming weeks and months to ride this wave. And, what’s worse is that the end-point remains unknown, making it even harder to understand how we may all be affected in the longer-term.

While the situation may well feel pretty hopeless, I do believe though that you can and should be taking action now. This will help you to ensure that you’re in the strongest position possible in your business once this has all blown over (and, it will).

Three things to prioritise to help your photography business survive the pandemic

1. You!

Looking after yourself is particularly important at times like these. While it’s completely natural to be fearful, worried and scared, try to reduce the amount of time you’re spending thinking about the pandemic.

By all means, take some time out. Reflect, ponder and allow yourself some time to take it all in. No doubt you’ve felt all the emotions these past few days (I know I have!). But, don’t leave it too long before you pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Aim to reframe any negativity that pops into your head and focus on the things you can control. Be as positive as possible. Seek out opportunities rather than focus on what has been lost.

2. Your audience

Although you may not feel that you have all the answers right now, show up for your audience anyway. Be there for them. Show you care and give your time and attention as generously as you can.

Ask them what help they need and aim to provide that help. Even if you don’t know what to say sometimes or how to say it, just do it anyway! Communication is always important, but particularly in times of crisis.

Keeping in contact with others will help you to feel connected. And, you know what? You could be helping people more than you realise just by showing up with a listening ear and being there for them.

While the situation has changed dramatically in the past week or so, people who’ve opted to follow you on social media, who are in your Facebook group or who have signed up to receive your emails do still want to hear from you.

They’re feeling as confused and overwhelmed as you. But your regular presence in their newsfeed, or in their email inbox, may be just what they need to retain a sense of normality!

Related reading: Email marketing for photographers: More (or less) worthwhile than social media?

So, what I’m suggesting is, communicate. Share information, advice, resources. Reassure clients who have bookings with you. Clarify your short-term plans and keep them in the loop as things change.

3. Your (future) business

Your photography business may be quite different in the future to what it has been. Now is the time to accept this, look ahead and adapt as well as you can.

Whatever you decide to do for the sake of your business, do keep marketing.

You could:

  • Use any spare time you have to review your website. Add new images and copy
  • Write more content to add value for your audience, boost your SEO and help potential customers to find you online
  • Pitch yourself to podcasts and propose blogs that you could write for other websites where your target audience hangs out
  • Source reviews from past clients and ask them to add their kind words to your Google My Business listing and Facebook page. Seeing your glowing reviews will help future potential customers to have faith in your service
  • Create an enticing lead magnet to attract people to sign up to your email marketing. Send out regular emails
  • You can still also find PR opportunities out there. Not every journalist in the world is writing about Coronavirus, believe it or not! There is still a big demand for evergreen stories and content. Pitch stories now to magazines and, if successful, you won’t see coverage for a few months at least anyway.

Related reading: PR 101: Using the media to promote your photography business

When it comes to marketing, think long-term and act now to reap the benefits later.

And in the short-term, think about how you can assure the longevity of your photography business. Can you be taking aspects of it online? Can you offer photography training courses to other professionals or aspiring amateurs? Can you pivot in a way that makes your business viable in these uncertain times? Can you secure revenue now by pre-selling shoots for later in the year?

If you need help and ideas, reach out to other photographers in online communities including my own group, PR-Savvy Photographers. In there, you can ask questions or seek the advice and support of me and fellow group members.

 

What to focus on now to help your photography business survive the pandemic

How to show up in your photography business during the Coronavirus pandemic

As I’ve already said above, showing up for your audience should be a major priority. By that I mean your photography clients and prospective clients, other businesses you work with (wedding venues etc.), and your online audiences.

  • Offer help

Build relationships. Be there to listen, to offer advice and be of service.

Don’t just add to the ‘noise’ but consider how you could help, whether that’s through providing information/resources, discounted or free services, a forum for people to get together, perhaps even just humour to lighten their day!

If you don’t know what to say, start with ‘How can I help you?’ / ‘What do you need from me?’ / ‘What resources can I create that would benefit you?’ / ‘What’s your biggest challenge right now?’

Listening to the responses, and acting on them, will ensure that you are helping them in a way that matters at this time. This will build trust.

What your audience tells you they need from you may well be different to what you’d planned to be doing this year, but you’re not alone in facing these unchartered waters. We’re all having to adapt and pivot to survive!

Make offering value a key focus, in whatever shape or form that comes in for your audience.

  • Provide regular updates

Don’t go quiet on your audience now. Keep them informed about the practical implications of all this.

For example, tell them how bookings are being handled within your business – whether there is anything they need to do in regards to their booked session with you. Customers and clients are bound to have lots of questions about how their bookings with you are affected by the current crisis.

Be proactive in sharing details of your postponement and cancellation policies. Tell them of any changes you’re making in the business in the short-term and how they can still get in contact with you, not forgetting to also share how people can book you in the future! Selling vouchers now for future sessions is one way to keep money coming into your photography business.

  • Be human

Also, share how you are feeling. Be prepared to be vulnerable. Talk as you would to them in person, and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers.

We’re are all in this together and we are all just as nervous and concerned as each other. Trying to show otherwise will do you no favours. Now is the time to show your human side. Be real, be relatable and you’ll be loved all the more for it.

Keep a dialogue going. This will not only help you to build your visibility but also the know-like-and-trust factor. This will stand you in great stead for the future, as people remember how you make them feel, particularly in difficult times. Those people who show up and demonstrate that they genuinely care will be the ones who are remembered most vividly.

Practical ways to look after yourself and your mental health

I also wanted to share some practical tips for how you can look after yourself and your mental health. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it’s especially important to do the following:

  • Snooze social media

Be selective about the pages, groups and the people you are following on social media. Unfollow or snooze those who are sharing content that you’re not finding helpful.

  • Stick to following credible news sources

Speculation is rife on the internet, so stick to credible news sources, and don’t get involved in conversations online that are based on hearsay rather than fact.

  • Minimise distractions

Still trying to work? Check the news and social media only a few times a day, and unsubscribe from emails that aren’t providing you with any value.

Everyone is providing a ton of free content right now. While this is incredibly generous of those concerned, it can get overwhelming. So, pick just a handful of resources you want to refer to and ignore the rest.

  • Stay connected

Use online video conferencing tool such as Zoom to have face-to-face conversations with friends and family, colleagues and customers. Voice messaging tools like Voxer are also useful for sending voice messages.

Thankfully, in this day and age, despite the social distancing restrictions, we can still remain connected with others

Related reading: Recommended (and mostly free) digital marketing tools I use

  • Schedule your day

Plan out your days and spend focused time on tasks that will move your business forward, making sure to have regular breaks. You’ll feel more productive and in control if you are intentional about what you do. I recommend planning a maximum of three tasks per day. Anything more is a bonus!

Related reading:  Eight habits to boost your productivity

  • Make time for exercise

Although you might be stuck at home for the foreseeable, do get out in the fresh air every day if possible. Try to get some quality sleep too. Make the most of not having to get up and out of the house!

  • Prioritise doing things you love

It’s really important to not just think about work but to also find time for pleasure. Whether that’s starting a personal photography project, knitting, crafting or any other creative hobby, make the most of having some more time than usual at home.

  • Meditate

If meditation works for you, do that. New to meditation? Try apps like Calm and Headspace if you’re in need of some inner peace. Keeping your mental health and physical health a priority will help you to navigate these tricky times.

  • Journal

If you find it helpful, keep a written or video diary. Use it to keep track of your thoughts and emotions, and acknowledge the things you are grateful for.

Use these tips to help your photography business survive

I hope this has helped you in some way?

While no-one can predict the future, I do believe that if you make the effort to help your photography business you’ll be in a stronger position once this is all over.

Feel free to get in touch via the comments or join the PR-Savvy Photographers group for more tips, PR and content marketing advice and support.

Email marketing for photographers: More (or less) worthwhile than social media?

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Let me ask you, is most of your marketing centred around social media?

I’m seeing so many photographers devoting hours of every day to posting on Instagram. But, I’m concerned that many of them are focusing on social media without giving enough thought to their wider strategy and on how they are going to convert their social media fans into customers.

Yes, Instagram is the perfect platform for photographers.

It attracts people who also appreciate beautiful images and some of these may be considering investing in professional photography services, like yours. So, it absolutely makes sense to have a presence on there.

But, while getting visible online is important, I don’t believe that social media is where you should be focusing the majority of your marketing efforts.

Instead, one of the things I’d urge you to prioritise over social media is building an email list.

Prefer to listen instead of read? Click the audio file below.

Email marketing for photographers: Should it be more of a priority in your business?

In this article, I’ll be encouraging you to consider email marketing as a key focus in your photography business. I’ll also be debunking some common email marketing myths.

So, if you’re a photographer who invests a lot of time into social media but you only have either a small or inactive email list, or you don’t have an email list at all, then keep reading.

By disproving some of the common misconceptions about email marketing, I hope to convince you that it’s a marketing tactic that’s well worth your time and attention. In fact, I believe it should actually be one of the main priorities in your business. Yes, even over and above social media!

Email marketing for photographers

Seven email marketing myths debunked: Photographers, take note!

Myth Number 1: Email marketing is dead

Email marketing is far from dead in the age of social media.

It may be less sexy than Instagram, but email marketing continues to be an extremely effective way of promoting and selling products and services.

In fact, 80% of marketers have reported an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months, according to HubSpot (2020), and 91% of people say they want to hear from companies that they do business with via email.

Email marketing is alive and kicking and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

So, while we all dip into social media several times a day, most of us also check our emails regularly. Social media has not replaced email, and it’s not anticipated that it will.

Instagram feed shown on mobile phone

Myth Number 2: You can reach more people on social than via email

The question of reach does depend on how many people you have on your email marketing list, but I still believe that there is a compelling case for email marketing whatever the size of your list.

Remember, social media platforms typically only show your posts to around 2% of your total following unless you boost them or pay to advertise. I’m no mathematician, but even I know that that means you’ll need a following of around 1000 people to have your posts seen by just 20!

Even with just a fraction of that number on your email list, say 250 people, and presuming the average open rate applies of around 20%, you could potentially get your message seen by around 50 people, which is more than double that of the reach on social with an audience four times the size!

So, I hope you can see that by taking the time to create an email and sending it out to your list, you could potentially generate far more visibility for you and your photography business than by posting on social media.

This, in turn, could help to drive more traffic to your photography website, boost enquiries and lead to more sales, making it an incredibly effective way to reach more of your ideal photography clients.

Related reading: How to attract more of your ideal photography clients

Free digital marketing tools

Myth Number 3: Your audience is overwhelmed by emails and doesn’t want to receive more from you

Even if you actively ignore a large majority of the marketing emails you receive, it doesn’t mean that your potential clients will. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your customers and potential customers won’t want to hear from you via email.

You are not your customer!

If someone has subscribed to receive news and information from your photography business, then they have expressed an interest in hearing from you. Rather than your emails being annoying to your subscribers (and if they are, they can always unsubscribe), you’re actively doing them a disservice if you don’t keep in touch.

So, if you have any reservations about using email marketing to keep people on your email list in the loop about your photography business, remember that they want to know what you’re up to!

Myth Number 4: Social media marketing is the best place to build a community around your business

While building an online community around your business is important, social media is not the only or the best place to do this, necessarily.

Yes, it can be satisfying to see that you have hundreds, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of followers on your social media accounts. We can tell ourselves that we are building an online community, a fan base of potential customers, which will bode well for the future of our businesses.

But, likes and follow counts on social media are simply ‘vanity’ metrics.

These numbers don’t have any bearing on how successful you are or will be. Sadly, even if you’ve accrued a large following on social media, this will not necessarily correlate with the growth of your business. You could have millions of followers on social media but, in real life, have a business that’s on its knees!

So, don’t feel threatened by the numbers of people following your competitors’ social media accounts – they may have lots of followers, but they may not be people who will ever pay for their photography services. And, don’t tell yourself that social media is the best or only place to build community. Email can be a great way to build a community and a truly engaged audience too!

Once you have subscribers to your emails, through email marketing you can take the conversation away from the noise of social media and nurture a relationship with your prospective customers over time.

By landing directly into the inboxes of your subscribers, and with the ability for them to reply to you directly, you can then start to develop a rapport with them and potentially build a strong connection – the know, like and trust factor. This will help to convert more of them from being ‘potentially interested’ into a paying customer and, perhaps, even a raving fan!

Promote your blog post with email marketing

Myth Number 5: An email list is not as valuable as a social media following  

Once you have the names and email addresses of people who have ‘opted in’ to receive your emails, that data is under your control. You effectively ‘own’ the list and it’s yours to use.

You have the right to communicate with those people via email unless they choose to opt-out, whereas, on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you are not in control of the audience. You don’t automatically gain their contact information (unless you acquire it via an opt-in), so should these platforms shut down at any point in the future, you will lose access to your hard-earned social media audience.

Another reason why emails are in fact more valuable than social media followers is that when someone gives you their email address, they’re more invested in you than if they were simply a follower of your page on social media. They are more likely to convert into a customer further down the line because by sharing their email address with you, they have indicated they are interested in what you offer and have proactively opted to find out more about what you do. They are a ‘hotter’ lead for your photography business.

For these reasons, I’d argue that an email list is actually far more valuable to you as a small business owner than even a sizeable social media following.

Myth Number 6: It takes years to grow an email list that will generate leads and sales

Yes, growing an email list can take time, which is why it’s better to start now if you’ve not done so already. But don’t worry about slow growth because there are lots of things you can do to speed up the process and get hundreds of people on your email list relatively quickly.

For example, you can create a valuable ‘lead magnet’ or freebie to entice people to subscribe. If what you are offering is perceived to be worth them exchanging their email address in order to access it, you could find that your email list grows quickly.

So, spend time considering who your ideal photography client is and how you help them. Then, craft an enticing freebie that they would find valuable and that is relevant to your products and services – ideally, give them a flavour of what you do and of your approach to excite them and make them want to find out more.

Myth Number 7: In a post-GDPR world, managing an email list is too much hassle!  

Since GDPR came into force in May 2018, you – as a ‘data controller’ and/or ‘data processor’ – need to ensure that you store and handle personal data (i.e. people’s names and email addresses) in accordance with the GDPR regulations.

For example, you can only use the data for the purposes that you obtained explicit consent for, and you must ensure the data is kept secure and not shared with others.

But, realistically, the introduction of GDPR has not made it any more difficult to manage an email marketing list.

Presuming you’re capturing email address in a GDPR-compliant way, are only sending emails to those who have subscribed to them, and giving people an opportunity to opt-out if they wish (as platforms such as MailChimp allow you to do), then email marketing is no more complicated or any more hassle than before.

Promote your blog post in your email signature

Prioritise email marketing in your photography business

So, what I hoped to have convinced you of is the fact that while social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are brilliant free tools for getting yourself visible and for spreading the word about your services and what you do, they have their limitations and should not necessarily be prioritised over and above email marketing.

I urge you to recognise Instagram and Facebook for what they are – social platforms from where you can direct people to your website and email list. But, they are not the be-all and end-all of marketing.

Social media is merely a channel to raise awareness of yourself and your business online.

Related reading: 33 Social Media Content Ideas for Photographers

Your end-goal with social media marketing, and in fact any other marketing, should be to attract and encourage people over to your ‘owned’ channels – the spaces you own and control, such as your website and your email marketing list.

If you are doing little other than promoting your photography business on social media then I suggest you start or develop your email marketing activities as a priority from here on in.

The truth is unless you are strategically building your email list off the back of your social media audience already, you’re missing a trick. Don’t keep putting in the hours on social if you aren’t capturing the email addresses of your followers.

Instead, I’d recommend that you devote your energies on creating a compelling lead magnet to build your email list and then keep in touch with your subscribers regularly to keep top of mind.

Don’t abandon social. Just don’t focus completely on social.

And, when you do post on social media, be sure to include a call to action that inspires your followers to visit your website / download your freebie or get in touch.  This is the marketing activity that will help to drive revenue and grow your photography business.

Do you have an active email list, or do you need to get started with email marketing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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How to use newsjacking to promote your photography business

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this article, I introduced you to three ways to secure publicity and to the concept of newsjacking.

Here I’m going to talk in more detail about newsjacking and about how to increase your chances of being featured in the media when using this technique.

What is newsjacking?

‘Newsjacking’ is when you use a fresh angle on a current news story as a means of getting yourself into the press. It’s a great strategy for gaining free publicity.

If you see a news item break that applies in some way to you or your photography business, then this could be a potential opportunity for you to secure valuable exposure in the media.

Whether it’s a local or national story, if you can find a way of linking yourself or your work to the breaking news, you have a chance.

And, since even a small mention in the press can potentially expose you to an audience relevant to your business, this is definitely a strategy worth adding to your PR toolkit.

Newsjacking is a great way to get featured in the press

What can you add to the story?

Being successful at newsjacking relies on being able to add to the already-topical story.

You need to be thinking, “What can I add to the story or conversation around this news that would extend and enhance the existing story?”

So, when you hear of a news story that applies to you in some way, clarify in your mind what value you can offer a journalist who is covering that story.

  • Are you an expert on this topic?

Could you provide further information, an example or further clarity on an aspect of the article that was lacking in detail?

  • What opinion do you have about the subject?

Have you a counter-opinion to the one taken in the article? Or perhaps you wholeheartedly support the sentiment of the article and have a compelling reason why?

Perhaps you could share something that either illustrates the points made or that challenges them?

  • Have you had a personal experience that is relevant to the story?

Journalists love speaking to people who have interesting or unusual experiences. And some publications will even pay people who come forward and offer their story.

A common question I get asked is whether it’s worth trying to pursue a story that has relevance to your personal experience even if it doesn’t have any relevance to your business or work.

My answer to that is yes.

Personal experiences are worth sharing, even if they’re not at all related to your business. That’s because if you are quoted in the media, even if it’s on a subject completely unrelated to your work, they may even include a mention of your business name or occupation.

Young woman reading on her ipad

Newsjacking: How to increase your potential success

Being successful at newsjacking relies on you being on the ball and fast to act.

In order to do this, you need to have routines and systems in place within your business that help you to be aware of relevant stories as they break.

  1.  Keep on top of the news agenda

Quite literally, keep an eye on the news stories of the day.

  • I’d recommend that you check the news first thing in the morning and at regular periods throughout the day.

Perhaps have the news on a TV or second device that is visible from where you work (use the subtitles function if you don’t want the distraction of the sound), or the radio on in the background while you work.

National news publishers such as the BBC are my first port of call, along with selected local news media. You may also have industry-specific news media that you’d choose to follow.

Twitter on smartphone with coffee

  • Also check Twitter, which is a great (if not the greatest) online platform for breaking news.

Check both the newsfeed and the ‘trending topics’ section to see if anything related to your business is coming up.

Also, run a search by using a specific hashtag (e.g. #photography). This will bring up recent tweets that have included this hashtag. A quick scan of the content will enable you to identify if there is a news related story mentioned across multiple tweets.

  • Set up Google Alerts for keywords and phrases related to your business.

Google Alerts are completely free and easy to set up. You will receive an email when a specified search time is identified on the web.

Review the results to see if there is a breaking story that applies to your business.

Pile of newspapers

2. Spot an opportunity? Then, act fast!

Then when you do spot an opportunity, react quickly and strike while the iron is hot!

Don’t delay in making an approach to the media. Yesterday’s news is old news.

You’ll need to get in touch with the journalist(s) or publication(s) you have in mind as soon as possible – whether by calling the newsdesk or sending an email or tweet – and clearly present the reasons why they should consider involving you.

3. But, prepare!

That said, do make your approach after you’ve carefully considered what exactly it is you are going to pitch.

Approach the media in haste and you may fluff your words or pitch something that you haven’t fully thought through.

Instead of rushing, take the time to practice your pitch out loud or write it out until you’ve got it just right before approaching a journalist – this needn’t take more than a minute.

Whether you plan to speak to them on the phone or approach them via email or Twitter, you’ll likely only get one shot at pitching to the media. A little practice may make the difference between success and failure.

4. Don’t be afraid to follow up

If the news story is only likely to be relevant that day, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email, tweet or make another call a few hours later if you haven’t heard back.

If it’s less urgent than that, follow up in the next day or so to check that they received your pitch.

But don’t become a pest!

Journalists are often up against deadlines and overflowing inboxes. If you don’t hear back in a reasonably short time frame, chances are they don’t want to take up your offer.

Don’t take it personally. Perhaps consider reaching out to another publication which is also running the story.

Have you ever had success with newsjacking?

Keeping on top of the news is potentially the difference between getting coverage for your business and not. So, my advice is to implement the tips I have shared above and use your knowledge of what’s topical today to your advantage.

Let me know in the comments, have you ever used newsjacking to secure media publicity for your photography business?

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