bouquet on floor

By Nancy Young

Owning a photography business makes you a wearer of many hats. You will most likely be a photographer, an accountant and your own online marketer all in one.

When talking about “online marketing” we mean everything from SEO, to social sharing, to community growth, as well as management of your company’s presence on visual social networks like Instagram.

These days marketing your business does not need to be expensive or hard.  In fact, with just a little creativity you can generate some serious interest in your photography that can lead to more traffic, more clients and more bookings.

Read this quick guide to online marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Approaching it carelessly

Remember that your attitude towards your own photography business will affect someone else’s attitude towards it. Every visitor on your site, every person you speak to, and every follower you have on social media will know exactly how you regard your business.

So, what are the warning signs that your attitude is careless?

– When you have not put a new product or service on your site for the last six months
– When you have not updated copyrights on your site
– When you don’t update your site regularly
– When you don’t post on social media regularly
– When you’re expecting quick success and are surprised that you’re not rich and famous after six months

Look through this list of warning signs and ask yourself, do you care about your business?

If you do, become pro-active about your business.

Mistake #2 – Not Doing Research When Choosing a Website Platform

When it comes to showcasing and selling your work online, there will be many different options for you to choose from. There are a lot of website platforms out there, suggesting plenty of possibilities.

However, do proper research when choosing the best platform for your new photography site. Think twice before buying a fancy WordPress theme or signing up for a top-notch image hosting service. Finding out the installation nuances, reading some user reviews, and figuring out the learning curve of the platform might be reasonable things to do before you click the “sign up” button.

Consider the following when choosing a website platform:

– Does it require any coding skills to customize your site?
– Does it support responsive design?
– How many customization features are provided?
– Are any manual updates / syncing required?
– What kind of support / knowledge-base does it offer?

There are plenty of platforms such as Zenfolio, Photoshelter and Format. All these services offer free accounts or trial periods, but most platforms require you to buy their top-tier subscriptions in order to access the full-featured version.

A solution that has caused some buzz over the Internet lately is Defrozo. It’s a free web-based platform that aims to combine all the essential tools for photographers to manage their marketing efforts. They offer tools for website management, delivering your work to clients with customized client galleries, managing your client base and business workflow, selling / licensing your prints, and organizing your photos in the cloud.

Defrozo is currently live on Kickstarter, looking to attract active contributors to the project and offering some tempting rewards to backers.

Mistake #3 – Not Utilizing Email Marketing

Photographers are increasingly turning to the world of social media to get the word out about their businesses. However, a much more powerful method of online communication and engaging clients is email, which is often ignored by photographers.

Email marketing is not just for bloggers – it’s a strong marketing tool every business should consider. Emails can be used to build relationships with current and potential clients, to help you build your brand and drive sales. You can use emails to showcase your work and run any kind of promotions.

Just make sure you choose best email service provider. At the moment the most commonly used are MailChimp and AWeber. They both have convenient plans for small and big email lists for you to choose from.

Mistake #4 – Forgetting about Image SEO

As a site owner and active internet user, you may already know what SEO is and how to use it for your benefit. However, most photographers forget that SEO is about images too.

Images are a photographer’s main feature, so don’t forget to rename your photos with SEO-friendly names, which depend on your keywords.

Moreover, make sure every image you use has an informative caption, detailed description and relevant keyword in the “alt” and “title” attributes. The “alt” attribute specifies an alternate text for an image, if the image cannot be displayed. So, it’s quite important to fill in the alt attribute too.

Consider those people who search for your photos using Google Images and who may find your photos on Google through keywords. Also, make sure to specify your area, for example, “Cape Town, South Africa, Wedding Photography,” to help potential local clients find you.

Mistake #5 – Not Blogging Regularly

A blog may help you to generate more clients and sales.

Make sure your blog is self-hosted, meaning it’s hosted on your site. The blog should not be hosted on,,, or

While I have nothing against these services for a personal blog, it’s not wise to build your assets on someone else’s property. When you host a blog, you’re building your own empire online, and should therefore be hosting it yourself.

In addition, constant updates are important for search engines. They show that your site is active, and there is more likelihood it can provide relevant content for readers.

If you have not reached that level of experience you think you may need to be able to write good blog posts, just share some interesting information and photography experiences. For instance, as a portrait photographer you can share the process of improving your skills and growing your business, or share some recent photos with a brief description.

Or just find inspiring pictures on other blogs and repost it with your own feedback and comments, creating some new content. There are so many ways to make your blog interesting and useful; you just need to start.

Mistake #6 – Neglecting Cross-Marketing

Cross-marketing is when you promote someone else’s business to get them to promote or help you with your brand.

Many photographers underestimate this method of online marketing and never use it. But it can be really useful.

For example, if you worked with a client or vendor, ask them to promote your brand via their social media accounts.

Satisfied clients can help you by just adding a quick “thank you” note along with a cool photo from your latest session on their social media accounts. Vendors and photography partners will promote your services, if you promote theirs.

Never underestimate the power of “word of mouth.” This old school method can still bring in many clients.

Mistake #7 – Failing to Plan Long-Term

Planning is the key to growing any business. When you don’t plan your marketing activities, you drift. You’ll flit from one marketing technique to another, claiming that nothing seems to work for you.

What do you expect from your business? What is your main aim?

You don’t necessarily need to create a 100-page plan with financial results and possible budgets that no one except an accountant can understand. You just need to be clear about your business goals, who you are marketing to, and what makes you different from any other photographer in your area.

No plan = no business.

Mistake #8 – Stressing Out About Social Media

On social media the goal is not to get a huge number of likes, shares and comments, so don’t become stressed if this doesn’t happen right away. The goal on social media is to engage clients. To achieve this you should consider two things: the content you share and the way you post it on a profile.

Post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram at least once a day. Pay attention to what part of the day brings you more likes and shares. This will help you understand when your audience is more likely to engage.

Create content around major holidays or events, like Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, or even Kissing Day. Everyone likes holidays, and your suggestion about a cool photo session for a special occasion could engage more people than you expect.

Also, try to add some personal style to each post you share. Don’t forget about images, as text only looks dull. Images attract people’s attention, so choose them carefully. Offer your current and potential clients on social media some discounts, sales, and giveaways.

The tips I shared above are not the only ones you can implement on social media. Just try to stay active and creative.

Please, feel free to share your marketing mistakes and how you fixed them.

What are your tips for growing your photography business online? Leave a comment to share your ideas.

About the Author:

nancy-youngNancy is a passionate freelance writer and blogger. She writes tons of inspirational articles on photography and web design, despite the fact that she is an economist by education. She enjoys reading, learning SEO and also losing her mind to French movies. You can check out her photography blog Photodoto and follow her on Twitter.


Photo Credit