You love it, right?
The art of capturing the moments you don't want to forget; the opportunity to share in people's most special days; the science of seeing the world with fresh eyes every day.
Admit it...it's kind of funny.
But here's the brutal truth:
Fun alone won't pay your bills (we're being honest here, right?). Unless you're in this industry for the sake of fun, you need to find ways to sell your photos.
But selling photography is really hard, right?
With the right methods, you can turn photography into a profitable business right away (I’m exaggerating, maybe not "right away," but in a short period of time).
And today you're in luck because I'm going to show you 7 proven ways to do it.
Let’s dive right in.
1) Use Niche Job Boards
If you've been in the industry for a while, I'm sure you've heard about freelance job boards like UpWork, Fiverr and Freelancer.com.
The problem with that kind of job boards is they’re too broad. I mean, you can find all types of freelancers (writers, designers, programmers, etc.). And people there tend to look for "cheap labor," instead of professionals.
Now, don’t get me wrong. By no means, I'm saying you can't find good gigs on those platforms, but if you're just starting, I don't recommend that you start there.
So, what should I do then? You ask.
Three words: Niche. Job. Boards.
Niche job boards are very similar to traditional job boards, but there you'll find people looking for specific types of freelancer only (i.e. writers, designers, photographers).
This kind of boards have two main benefits:
1) You can find more gigs that match your skills
2) Clients tend to pay more (they look for quality)
That said, here are some of the most popular job boards for photographers:
2) Find Clients on Google
I know, I know. This idea might look silly, but you’d be surprised by the number of photographers who "forget" to search for clients on Google (even though it’s one of the easiest ways to start).
To make your job easier, I’ve listed some “search strings” you can use to find clients. Just head over to Google and type in one of them. You'll find a ton of opportunities.
Here you go:
Here's an example:
3) Use The Costco Technique to Demonstrate What You’re Worth
The other day, I was reading an article from a blog I prefer not to mention and found something kind of interesting (but stupid, in my opinion).
It said something like this (I'm paraphrasing):
"A good way to get clients for your freelance business is to find a bunch of people who might be interested in your services and email them your pitch. The trick here lays in the quantity; the more emails you send, the more chances of succeeding you'll have."
Email outreaching can be really effective if you know what you're doing, but emailing people like crazy in hopes of getting a client is like throwing spaghetti against a wall and hope that some of it sticks.
So let me introduce you to a smarter approach: The Costco Technique.
People at Costco are brilliant. They offer free samples because they know if you test a product first, you're more likely to buy it.
And as a photographer, you need to do the same thing.
Instead of just emailing pitches to people, you need to offer a free sample of your work first. Once they have "tested your product", they will be more likely to buy.
That said, here are two guides to dig deeper into the topic:
- How To Find Real Photography Prospects On Twitter
- How To Email Cold Prospects And Get People To Respond
4) Showcase Your Expertise On Popular Sites
Most so-called experts say that if you want to get more clients you need to "start a blog and publish good content on it."
Well, that's BS (excuse my vocabulary:)
Of course, to attract more prospects you need to show your expertise, but your own blog isn't the best place to do it.
Think about it:
When you start a blog, you have no audience. Although you publish a ton of good content on it, no one (or very few people) will read it. It's much better to write content for sites that have already built an audience.
This is called "Guest blogging," and it's by far my favorite method to attract quality prospects.
You'll find that many website owners will be happy to publish your content on their sites, and since you're demonstrating your expertise, some of the readers will see you as an authority, and , therefore, they might buy something from you.
Here are some guides that will show you how to guest blog the right way:
- The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging
- Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4-Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use
- The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging
Note: Don't get me wrong. I consider blogging is an effective way to attract new clients. But I think it isn’t the best way to start.
5) Leverage The Briefcase Technique
Finding prospects is easy.
Turning those prospects into clients is not.
But don't worry, here's where The Briefcase Technique comes in very handy; a very simple method to dominate every interview you have with your prospects.
Ramit Sethi (author of "I will teach you to be rich") coined this technique a few years ago, and many people are amazed by the results you can have after implementing it.
"Your prospects will salivate for your offer like a hungry dog salivates for food." They say.
And you can go all over it by watching this short video:
6) Sell Stock Photography
If you don't like the idea of getting clients, you can still make money by selling stock photos.
For those who aren't familiar with this term, Wikipedia puts it well:
"Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer."
Magazines, advertising agencies, web designers and publishing houses often buy this kind of photography. Why? Because it's cheaper and easier to buy pre-existent images than hiring a photographer to take them.
So here's how it works:
- You take some pictures
- You sell the pictures in bulk to a stock photography company
- The company resell your photos
Of course, this might not seem very attractive for you, the photographer, but take into account that you're getting rid of the tedious task of prospecting, and when done right, selling stock photography can be really profitable.
Here are some guides that will get you on the right path:
- Make Money from Your Photos: A Beginner’s Guide to Selling Stock Photography
- Get cash for your pictures: the right way to submit to stock photo agencies
- 15 Stock Photography Sites to Sell Your Photos - For Beginners and Pros
7) Use Your Existing Contacts (But be a social listener first)
Many of your existent contacts (i.e. friends, ex-classmates, and collegues) probably don't know you've launched a photography business, and some of them can turn into real clients.
But the thing is:
You can't just call all your contacts and say "Hey, just called you because I just launched a photography business and thought you might be interested".
That would be weird, right?
That's why you need to become a "Social Listener."
Here's what I mean:
If you pay attention to what's going on with your Facebook contacts, for example, you might notice some of them actually need your services.
For instance, you might find that a friend of your friend (let's say Freddy), is going to get married within a month, and he's looking for a photographer.
That'd be a great moment to call Freddy and let him know about your services, don’t you think?
Instead of calling all your contacts, become a social listener. I'm sure you'll find good prospects.
Now it’s your turn!
That’s all you need to start a successful photography business.
When you learn how to get one client, you can get two, and three, and ten.
The key is to start small.
And now you have 7 ideas that actually work.
Now it's time to work your butt off.