As a photography business owner, there’s no avoiding self-promotion. You likely are the face of the business, and you know that you need to continually market yourself and your photography. After all, it helps you to stay visible and top of mind, and to attract new (and repeat) clients, continuously.
In this article, I’ll make the case for regular self-promotion. I’ll also share self-promotion tips in the hope of helping you feel better about promoting and marketing your photography.
Whereas self-promotion as a photographer may make you feel uncomfortable, believe me, it IS possible to turn the discomfort into empowerment and even confidence!
Why is photography marketing and self-promotion so important?
Now, you were likely driven by a desire to create beautiful images and to make money from your art and passion when you first set up your photography business. Yes?
But, you will have quickly realised that self-promotion and photography marketing are essential. Arguably, in fact, more essential than your ability to create high-quality photography.
There’s simply no denying the importance of promoting your photography and marketing your services and products. It’s vital to the business. Just like we all need food to eat and water to drink, your photography business needs a constant flow of leads to sustain it.
No self-promotion = no photography clients!
If you have ever stopped marketing your photography for a while, chances are you will have experienced a slowdown in enquiries in the weeks or months that followed.
- Perhaps you had health or other personal distractions that preoccupied you for a while,
- Perhaps you were renovating your photography studio,
- Perhaps you were avoiding it (be honest, it happens!)
- Or, perhaps, you simply got too busy with client work and didn’t find the time for marketing during your busy spell.
…these situations, and others, will all contribute to a slow-down in photography enquiries, leads and sales. (There’s no judgment here by the way – all of these things happen – it’s just life.)
The lesson you will have learnt, if any of the above apply, is that you MUST promote yourself and your photography regularly.
Without marketing, (unless you are well-established and have a long wait list of clients) you cannot expect to have continual lead flow and booking emails pinging relentlessly into your inbox.
The reality is that photography leads and enquiries naturally dry up if you are not prioritising marketing activities that get and keep you visible. And it’s not just regular and consistent promotion that you need to prioritise…To stay visible, top of mind and to attract clients, it’s likely that you also need to do far MORE marketing than you are now.
The importance of self-promotion as a photographer
Promotion of your photography (the images you create), and self-promotion in the sense of highlighting why you could be the right photographer for a prospective client is an ongoing task.
You’ll need to continuously be talking about and promoting your services, highlighting your unique approach, as well as sharing your story – your ‘why’ – to build trust and personal connection.
You need to constantly be growing your online audience and filling up your sales pipeline with new prospects, as well as showing up to nurture those who are already following you and who are already considering hiring you as their photographer.
Yes, there’s lots to do and to consider – no-one said it was easy – but all of this is vital if you are to stand out in a crowded market and achieve success as a photography business owner.
How to feel good about self-promotion as a photographer
So, how can self-promotion as a photographer feel good rather than feel uncomfortable?
Well, there are a few things you need to do if you are to feel better about self-promotion. I think it largely comes down to how you view self-promotion, and to your mindset around it.
To fully prioritise it in your business, you’ll need to see self-promotion more favourably and focus on the positives of promoting yourself rather than any potential negative consequences.
Here are some of the things I suggest you consider, accept and keep in mind:
1. Promoting your photography isn’t boasting
Photography self-promotion is about sharing your unique vision and skill with the world, rather than shouting from the rooftops about how great a photographer YOU are.
You can take away some of the ‘icky’ feelings you may experience around self-promotion simply by changing your mindset.
Realise that you are separate from your work and business. While you run the show, and everything in a small business can feel personal, ultimately you are a service provider.
In your marketing, you are simply promoting a service. Your goal should be to reach more of the people who are interested in this service and highlight the benefits of them choosing you as their service provider.
If they don’t choose you, remember that this is NOT a personal rejection in almost all cases. Instead, it’s likely to have been because they have found an alternative service that better meets their needs or budget.
2. Genuine connections are more important than vanity metrics
Social media can be a valuable platform for self-promotion as a photographer. But rather than viewing it as a means to accumulate a certain number of followers (no amazing thing is going to happen when you hit a certain number of followers anyway!), recognise that it’s where you can focus on building meaningful connections with those who are interested in your work.
You should use social media channels to engage with your audience genuinely and in keeping with your values and personal style.
3. The ‘Ick’ factor can be overcome!
Acknowledging the ‘ick’ factor around photography self-promotion is the first step towards overcoming it. Recognize that discomfort is common, especially among creatives, and stems from a fear of appearing arrogant or pushy.
By understanding where this feeling comes from, you can address these concerns and start to shift your perspective on self-promotion. Honestly, no one is judging you as harshly as you think they are, nor are they likely to think that you are arrogant or pushy. Change your mindset and see it differently!
Whenever I feel hesitant about sharing a self-promotional social media post and sending out an email about my services to my list of subscribers, as I did just last week, I let myself sit in discomfort for a second or two, but ultimately I still force myself to hit ‘send’.
What I always find is that the post attracts lots of positive reactions – likes and comments – (which actually helps to drive further visibility!), and that I receive a flurry of positive email responses rather than seeing people unsubscribe in droves!
4. Don’t let the fear of judgment stop you
Linked to the above is the fear of judgment often holds creatives back from self-promotion. Again, the fear is natural but it shouldn’t stop you from marketing yourself.
Of course, not everyone will resonate with your work, and that’s okay. What you should focus on is those who appreciate your photography and try to let go of the fear of judgment.
Those who don’t appreciate your work, or who would judge and criticise you for what you share, are not your people and therefore not worth your time or attention.
5. Balancing humility and confidence in self-promotion is an art
If you feel uncomfortable about self-promotion as a photographer, know this…There is a way to share your achievements, celebrate your business milestones, and tell your story without taking an air of superiority.
Acting self-obsessed and arrogant will lead people to think of you as such. Always aim for a balance between self-promotion, relatability and humility to build a positive image around your photography brand and business.
An authentic approach to self-promotion, in which your personality shines through and where you tell stories and share information as you would if you were talking to someone face-to-face, is far more preferable than being all ‘shouty’ about what you have created or achieved.
The power of photography self-promotion
Ultimately, it’s important to prioritise marketing because self-promotion as a photographer can have a huge positive impact on your brand and business growth.
It can lead to visibility, yes, but a whole host of other positive benefits too including opportunities that you would never have otherwise dreamed of! For example, you may:
- attract new followers on your social media accounts
- gain more email subscribers
- get offered exciting editorial feature opportunities, podcast interview opportunities or speaking gigs
- receive invitations to collaborate with others
- And, most importantly, win more paid work!
Photography self-promotion CAN feel good!
So, what I hope to have helped you realise with this article is that feeling good about photography self-promotion is not only achievable but necessary for the success of your business.
I’ll end by encouraging you to embrace the positive impact self-promotion can have on your visibility and your photography business overall, and I urge you to work on your mindset to look at self-promotion in a different light.
Self-promotion as a photographer can be done in a way that is comfortable and even empowering. Just remember to focus on sharing stories, achievements and news authentically and naturally. Chances are, you won’t be judged as harshly by others as you fear and the benefits in terms of greater visibility, and more, will be realised if you put yourself out there more.
Remember, your photography is something unique to share with the world, and it’s only through promoting your work that others can get to experience it, enjoy it and benefit from it!
Related reading: Self-promotion tips for introverted photographers