No matter how many years you’ve been in business, one thing’s certain: nothing is certain!
What I mean is, client bookings ebb and flow. Even if you have “regular” clients, you never know when slower times will hit or the economy might change (hello, covid!). This unpredictability means you have to stay on your toes and maintain good solid business tactics that will do some of the heavy lifting for you.
Today, I’m sharing three things that helped me build a very strong client base that’s been helping my business THRIVE for over a decade.
When I first started this business, referral discounts were EVERYTHING. I’d ask each and every client if they were referred to me by a friend or family member, and both families would get a small session discount or gift, like a few free 5×7 prints. Minneapolis is an extremely community-oriented, word-of-mouth city. A lot of people who live in Minnesota have lived here most of their lives and have a huge network of friends, so this offer made perfect sense when I needed that initial boost.
Now that I’m more established, I still ask on my inquiry form if they were referred by anyone, but that’s more to have a good starting point for building a relationship, and to send a quick “thanks!” email to whoever gave them my name. When the new client comes to my studio, we can talk about our mutual connection and it always works great for getting them more comfortable and relaxed!
I think most people can relate to this: the power of moms is incredible! In most every community, it’s guaranteed that you can find a local mom group, and they’ll probably have online communities, in-person events, and maybe even a guidebook. I’ve connected with a few mom groups during my years in Minnesota, and even co-created one (@mplsmomtribe)!
I’ve done everything from hosting mini sessions just for the group members to buying an ad spot on the mom groups website. All that work I put in to keep MDP in people’s minds has given me local name recognition to the point where I’m being approached, not the other way around! These days, since my name is known in the community, I’m getting the chance to participate in lots of special projects, like donating sessions to auctions at schools and non-profits and taking headshots for a popular home builders magazine (Parade of Homes). The point is, make sure your name is OUT THERE in your community!
The world of ads can be tricky, but trust me when I say, it’s worth the time and money you’ll put into them. Whether you learn the ins and outs of advertising and SEO yourself or hire a pro (both are great options, it’s just a matter of weighing time vs. money for your business!), this is how you get clients.
When you google, “Minneapolis Family Photographer,” Meghan Doll Photography pops up twice on the first page – and I worked hard for that spot! Facebook ads, promoted Instagram posts, Google ads, and killer SEO on your website are how you’ll get your content seen. And, more importantly, when you take the time to identify your ideal audience and create ads and web content that is aimed right at them, you know your views will turn into real bookings. Most people searching for “Minneapolis Family Photographer” are looking to spend money on a family session – so put in the effort and make sure that’s who you’re reaching.
Tip: If you’re ready to tackle SEO on your own, I can’t recommend Hipreneur enough! Their courses will give you the knowledge AND confidence.
Did you notice anything special about these three ideas? They work for ANY type of business! I used referrals and google ads to create a super-successful photography business, but these tips can make any brand shine, and they can help at any stage, from first launch to slow-season slump.
Were these tips helpful? Are you excited to dive-deep into your local community and get your name out there? I share tips and tricks like these every week in my newsletter for photographers. So, if you’re ready for even more advice to grow your business, sign up below! GET ON THE LIST.