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PPA Today: Photography Marketing Archives

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By Lisa Sharer


If you've read our previous article Marketing 101 for Photographers, you may have a general idea of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Now, let's break it down to exactly how it works, and what you can do to optimize your websites for search engines... and ultimately get more clients from improved search results.

Top Level Search Engine Marketing Factors

You probably know of some widely used search engines like Google.com, Yahoo.com, or Bing.com. These sites decide what rank to give to your website amongst the other photography businesses out there in the world and this directly impacts how far up your studio's name appears in a search results page. How they do that raking is a more involved process that you might want to learn to help you improve your own SEO ranking.

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Search engines sort the search results they serve based off a few different factors:

  • Content - Does your content match the search of your potential client?

  • Site Structure and Internal Links - Is it user friendly, and do all your links work?

  • Geographical Location - Are you in or nearby the city where the client is looking for photography?

  • Mobile Optimization - Is your site easy to use on a mobile device (phone, tablet, e-reader, etc.)?

  • Loading Time - How long does it take for your site to load its content (photos, videos, etc.)?

  • Social Signals - Are you getting traffic from social media platforms?

Search engines have "bots" or "crawlers" that visit websites and check each of the items above. Once they have tested those items they then compare your website to other similar websites. Your ranking will depend on how you fare against those sites, which is why it's imperative that you make sure each item is performing at its best.

Improve Your Ranking with Authority & Relevance

Google.com, Yahoo.com, or Bing.com all use two common criteria within the algorithm used to produce search results. And while they all evaluate them differently, there are two key factors for you to understand as they will help with your optimization: 

Authority- A website shows its level of credibility based off how many links tie it to other websites. This is what search engines call the level of 'online authority' and this is where you look to other sites and influencers to help raise your site's authority. When a search engine finds your site through an outside link, it's showing it that you have enough authority that other people/sites trust your content. Beware though, it's not the quantity of links that helps you but their quality. For example, a direct link from PPmag.com would fare better than JoeSchmoPhotography.net.

Relevance-  The content on your site must be relevant to photography or some version of your expertise (portraiture, wedding, etc.) in order to rank higher. That means you'll need to use keywords that speak directly to what your photography business offers to your prospective clients. It's not just the words on your landing pages that you'll need to keep an eye on, though. You'll also want to make sure that your URLs and text formatting are shouting about your business. For example, when PPA wanted to tell you how insurance could help protect photographers, then we created the link PPA.com/BeMoreProtected. Likewise, to emphasize the content relevance of a blog post, it earn will you more SEO brownie point if you embed keywords in the headlines of your blog post, and it is even better yet if you bold keyword-related phrases. Make sure to keep those small things in mind when creating any kind of content, as they make a large difference to the search engines that crawl your site.

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Keywords

When someone does a search online, they generally type in a few keywords. For instance, photographer or family portraits in [location]. These keywords are important to make sure you are attracting quality leads. Of course, it would be amazing to rank #1 for photographer, but if you're not Wikipedia, that's not likely to happen. That's why long tail keywords have become more important than ever to your SEO strategy. You'll need keyword lists in order to run search ads, but it's also important to think about these keywords when creating content for your site.

Remember, those search engine results pages are looking for relevant and authoritative information to improve your ranking. So you will want to include information and keywords that are specific to your specialty and locale. Rather than just "portrait studio," maybe you'll want to include things like "outdoor family photography in [city]" or "high school senior photography in [area]," etc.

Most photographers overlook the power and importance of long tail keywords. Getting by on the basic short tail keyword is fast and takes little to no research. So, of course, we want to get things done quick and easy. However, if you take that route you're missing out on a huge opportunity. Optimizing for long tail keywords will make your site stand out over the quick solution photographers.

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Content is King

If you know or have even met anyone in the online marketing world, we can guarantee they've said this at least a thousand times (and you've probably heard it at least once). Content is King. Gone are the days of dial up and Encyclopedia Britannica door-to-door salesmanship. People use the World Wide Web daily for work and for pleasure. Hungry minds are looking for education, news, social interactions, and of course, information gathering and shopping. A trusted website is going to capture those hungry minds ahead of any bells and whistles that you can sound off.

This means you need more than your homepage and gallery. You need to include content on your website that is engaging and valuable. And that content has to be 'relevant' to the searches of your potential clients. So, how do you easily add this essential content to your site? Through blogging. Having a regular blog with new and continuing content will not only delight clients looking for an added value to a site visit, but it also helps improve your search ranking.

Even if writing isn't your strong suit, blogging is a good way to relate to your clients, make you a real human being, and again help with your rankings. We do recommend having someone proof read for you if the copy is more than a couple of paragraphs long, but you are in the visual business! Use this to your (business') advantage and share behind the scenes photos, or selfies with clients, or location scouting shots by adding captions that show that you are who you and your clients say you are! Here are a few tips and ideas for blog content:

  • Added Value - Don't just write a bunch of words because you can. Think about what would really add value for your clients and go nuts! (How to prepare for a session, organizing the family for the portrait, best grooming tips for your puppy's first photo, what not to wear and why, etc.)

  • Compare - Look at the top 10 photography sites that you currently aspire to rank with. Take a look at how they used your keywords (frequency, position, etc.) and compare that to your current content.

  • SEO_Goldfish_1200x1200.jpgBe Engaging - A white page with black text is going to put most everyone to sleep. Make sure that you include photos, graphics or videos, if you can, but also remember to use bullet points and headlines (ahem, look at this blog) to help organize the content and guide the reader through your content.

  • Get To the Point - along with the age of super-fast internet, also comes people's super-short attention spans. Use enough detail to get your point across, but also get to the point quickly.

  • Have Fun - If you're not having fun with your content, it will show. People enjoy a good personal, conversational tone, and they will read more if they feel that in your words. From Throwback Thursdays #TBT, behind the scenes, bloopers or plain fun shots, people will get to know you better, making them come to like you more each time you make them smile, so have fun with them!


Stay Ahead of the SEO Game

All search engines and their bots are getting more and more complex because they're trying to think more and more like humans would think by using artificial intelligence to help answer your online searches. So rather than changing your site and content constantly to try and improve your ranking, put your hard work into the relevance of the content you create. That's what artificial intelligence will be looking for as well.

SEO_Robot_1200x1200.jpgAs you learn more about optimization and search engines, you'll start reaching that perfect client because you will be more liked by social media platforms, you will have more visitors on your website, and you'll have more followers on your blog. All these are indicators that your online presence as a photographer is trustworthy (relating to you online authority) and likeable (relating to the relevance of the content you push online) and, as we opened this article, people who like you who will do business with you. This fact of life also applies to Bing, Yahoo and Google who will improve your search ranking once they trust you and see that you are relevant in among photographers with in your area.

And as we've said in previous articles, test, test, test! If something isn't working, you can only fix it by trying something else. Just don't forget that you have plenty of marketing resources right at your fingertips with PPA's See The Difference® tools. Work on your website and blog to get more visits, and rock those See The Difference tools to be more relevant and start capturing more sales.




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About the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.
By Autumn Rice

At PPA we want to help you grow your business. And what better way to do that, than to add your studio information to the Find-A-Photographer database? The Find-A-Photographer database on PPA.com is a resource that allows professional photographers to display information about themselves and their business in front of a captive audience of prospective clients. 

Every PPA member is listed in the Find-A-Photographer database, but not all listings are created equal! Did you know that?  You can indeed make your profile pop and be much more convincing by updating it. It's completely free to upgrade your profile; you just have to do it! 

To upgrade your Find-A-Photographer profile (again, it's free!) follow these simple steps:

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1. Log in to PPA.com/My-PPA 
2. Once logged in, click on My PPA
3. Scroll down to Find-A-Photographer
4. Click Update Your Find-A-Photographer Profile and then you can:
    • Add additional information to your profile page
    • Create up to 4 photo albums
    • Upload up to 8 images to each album
    • Upload a headshot or logo
    • Preview your listing
5. Once you make your changes, be sure to enable your listing. It's a super-simple step, but if you don't do it, your updated profile won't be visible to the public (you'll only have a standard listing in the Find-a-Photographer search.)

There are other simple tools to make your business more visible and recognizable. Hop to the See The Difference resource section on PPA.com to find what works for your business. PPA is here to help you Be More Proactive.

Become a member to be a part of the Find-A-Photographer database and Be More Visible today!

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2016. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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By Tristin Vaccaro

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Having to justify your prices to clients is always nerve wracking, but why should it be? You work tirelessly to ensure quality service and you already know your worth, so don't be afraid to help others see the value in what you do as well! Yes, it's unfortunate that you should have to justify yourself in the first place, but when the inevitable conversation comes up, remind clients of these very valid reasons for your pricing structure. 

1. The Quality of Your Work: Your photos speak for themselves, and the quality of your photos should be the number one factor clients consider before even thinking about price. Your portfolio is the purest reflection of you and how you, specifically, capture people's fondest memories. This is really your chance to show off and explain to clients what you can do for them. Showing clients your previous works and describing their quality should be your go-to example of the value you bring to the table.  

2. Testimonials: Word of mouth and customer referrals can play a huge role when validating your pricing to a potential client. If every one of your customers enjoys working with you and loves the photos you've provided, why not brag about it? Consider adding a "Testimonials" page to your website or ask satisfied clients to leave a five-star review on your Facebook page.

3. Education: There's nothing wrong with being a self-taught photographer, but there is something to be said for an individual who continues their education in the photography industry. Whether you have a Bachelor's degree in photography or participated in PPA's Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program, higher photography education shows clients your dedication to the craft. Let your clients know about your photography background and how those experiences have made you a better photographer. 

4. Personal Investments: Those questioning your pricing probably don't think about all the investments you've made yourself. The expensive camera equipment, editing software, and gas to and from locations probably cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention all the time you've spent researching the client, replying to inquiries, creating the images, and meticulously editing the final photographs. Your time and money are valuable too, which may help you explain just some of the costs of doing business. 

5. Differentiate Yourself:  It's easier to justify your prices if you can explain why, exactly, you're different from your competitors. Perhaps it's a fresh perspective or your use of exclusive equipment that other competitors simply don't have. Whatever it may be, find out what makes you different from others and effectively communicate this with your clients

6. Final Products: It's a basic economic fact that people will pay more for something that looks expensive. If you have nicely matted, high-quality prints or beautifully bound albums to physically show potential clients, the products will speak highly for themselves. Also, consider taking a second look at your website and ask yourself if there is anything you could do to make it more professional, elegant, clean, etc. The quality of the little details in all aspects of your business could make the largest difference. 

7. Confidence: All of the above methods to justify your pricing don't really mean anything if you don't believe in your pricing in the first place. You know that you are worth the money because of your skills, dedication, and personal investments. The key here is getting others to see your worth. Communicate your value effectively, politely, and with confidence. Never settle for less than you are worth just because someone wasn't able to see your value. Not everyone is your "ideal" client and it's ok that price turns some people away.  YOU ARE WORTH IT! 

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By Lisa Sharer

Welcome to the Shoot & Burn Era. These days more and more clients ask for digital images, and don't even think to ask about prints. That's where you come in.

One of the things that sets the professional photographer apart from the amateur is the knowledge and respect for printed images as an art form. It's the photographer's responsibility to show clients the beauty in print, and why they are necessary for their lives. Show your clients the difference hiring a professional makes by educating them on Print Art and producing amazing products for them. We live in a time filled with opportunities for those who sell printed products and here's why: People are decorating their homes with DIY décor. Photos are the single most unique way to personalize a space and photographers who help their clients see that potential are always better off.

In this video, famed photographer Allison Tyler Jones explains why and how a professional makes the difference when it comes to that perfect print for your client's home. This talk was part of Imaging USA 2016, the conference for working photographers in the U.S.


The full video can be viewed by PPA members.

Looking for ways to help promote yourself as a Print Artist? PPA members can enjoy all the benefits of the See The Difference® marketing tools today.



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Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs. 

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So far you've learned the basics of Marketing and figured out how to recognize your target audience. Now, what do you do with this information? You can't just willy-nilly start throwing ads out there or hitting social media without a plan! So, the next step is to get organized and create that plan. Just follow these easy steps, and you'll be ready to start marketing your photography business!

Step 1: Situation Analysis

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It's as simple as, what is your current situation? Where are you and where do you want to be? Start with a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.


Strengths and Weaknesses are qualities that currently exist within your business. Is your photography great, but your bookkeeping could use work? Do you work really hard, but for too many hours? Are you strong with event photography, but need more practice in the portrait discipline? If you take a little time to reflect on your work, you will know where you excel and where you could use a little help. If you have outside mentors, friends, or even members of your business that you trust and respect, you can ask for their help in identifying some of these areas with you.

Opportunities and Threats are forces that are working outside of your business. Is there an opportunity to expand your market, but there's more competition in those markets? Can you include different types of photography, but maybe you aren't fully educated in that area? Think about what you want to accomplish as a business owner.  What conditions in the market are favorable or will help you reach those goals?  Opportunities are everywhere.  They can be relationships you're building with influencers in your area, a new photographic niche that's becoming popular or even technology advancements.    Finally, identify those outside forces that could hinder you.  Threats could be an economic downturn, discontinued product items and again, changes in technology.

Once you've done that, think about what makes your photography unique. How can you set yourself apart from your competition? Maybe you specialize in print photography. Maybe you're the only high school senior photographer in your area. You know what makes your work special, so just pause and identify what sets you apart from the rest.

Step 2: Describe Your Target Market

Lucky for you, you've probably already created an outline for this. If not, take some time to create your buyer persona. Once you've done that, you can write a short paragraph about your target market. Make sure to detail where (geographically) your audience resides, their age, gender, etc. Make sure to identify their wants and the challenges associated with providing solutions for said wants. Make it clear for yourself, and anyone else that might not be fully invested in your business (for example, a freelance marketing assistant).

Step 3: Identify Your Marketing Goals

When thinking about your marketing goals, remember that they need to fit into your overall business goals. Also, don't forget to create S.M.A.R.T. goals.

So, what are your studio's goals? To increase your bottom dollar? To expand the reach of your business? To tell clients about new products or services? Make a list of your goals, from most important to least important, and attack each goal individually. Make sure you are clear about each goal, so you have a clear path on how to effectively reach it.

Step 4: Decide on the Marketing Strategies You'll Use

Your buyer persona will again help you in this area. Many of these strategies will be based solely off of age. Does your audience relate to Facebook, or are they more Snapchat savvy? Would your target audience pick up a magazine, or would they be more likely to see a sign at the local coffee shop? By knowing the likes and recreation habits of your target audience, you can decide the best and most effective outlets for your message.

The most effective strategies will be multilevel. What do you mean MULTILEVEL?! Multilevel refers to engaging your potential client at every moment of their buying journey. You have probably made a decision about a big purchase before. Did you dive in and buy, let's say, the first car you came across? No, you probably did your research, picked your favorite kind, and then shopped your options. That's exactly what your potential clients are doing.

For example, maybe a potential client does a Google search for photographers in their area. There's your first outreach opportunity. Maybe that potential client then checks out your website, but then leaves to run an errand and forgets about their family portrait. Maybe the next thing they do is surf Facebook. Boom! There's your next opportunity to reach out. Maybe later that night your client goes to the local coffee shop to get a late night mochaccino. Did you remember to hang up a flyer there?

Think about all the paths that your buyer persona might take during their buying journey and plan accordingly.

Step 5: Set a Budget


Piggy.jpgIt's time to set some money aside. If you run the finances, make sure that you are putting the appropriate amount aside to achieve your marketing goals. Also, make sure you aren't setting too much aside in order to protect your profits. If you're a little nervous about creating a budget, the PPA Business Challenge and the Square One tool are great resources to get you on the confident budgeting track.


If you're the creative, and you have a partner or a financial advisor, they may be a huge help in this area. Talk over your plan with that person, and let them know your intent and your ideas on how much you might need for running a marketing campaign.

If you're just starting out, this may mean that you'll need to incur some costs up front. In this case, you should monitor your spending and still try to keep to a budget. If you see that some things are proving to be expensive with not much return on your investment (ROI), that's when you start adjusting your plan. Don't worry about keeping a hard line on the original plan; it should always be flexible and serve your business needs. As our marketing director at PPA always says: "Test, Test, Test!"

Once you've followed these steps you should have a clear outline of your next steps. If you're looking for additional marketing tools, check out the See The Difference© campaign and PRINT. The Movement campaign. If these intrigue you, find out more about becoming a PPA member today!

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Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.

By Autumn Rice

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PRINT. The Movement is an awareness campaign that helps consumers see the value in showcasing and preserving their lives or their families' lives with high-quality prints, albums, and all types of displays from professional photographers and photographic suppliers.

As a professional photographer, it is to your benefit to get involved and spread the world about the movement to your clients and peers!

The Resources page on PrintMovement.org offers easy-to-use content that taps into the emotion of clients to help them understand the value of printed photography

  • The brochure template is tri-fold and customizable for your studio. Simply download the brochure, and add your photos, your studio information, and prices. 
  • The outreach content expounds on the movement and provides clients with credible information about the importance of the movement, and why they should be willing to pay more for printed work. 
  • The Print videos are a great way to promote the movement in your studio. All you have to do is download or stream the videos in the lobby of your studio. 
  • There are also logos for you to put on your official print materials. There are a variety of styles and colors, so choose the one that best fits your business! 

All of these resources are downloadable and customizable on the Print Resources page. Head over to PrintMovement.org/Resources to get your resources and be a part of the print movement today!

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By Lisa Sharer

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Are you looking for additional tools to help brand your photography business? There's a new exclusive marketing resource for PPA members. Check out the new postcards, which can be found under See The Difference©'s "Custom Brochures."

Many clients can appreciate the quality that comes from hiring a professional, but do they always see or understand it? These postcards can help to get the point across. PPA members submitted their images to give your clients an idea of the before and after when it comes to professional photography. Each specialty contains a unique postcard. Each postcard shows the contrast with professional changes in posing, location, lighting, and/or editing. These are the small changes that you as a professional might see, but it's not as obvious to the untrained eye.

Download these resources to show your current and potential clients just how important it is to hire a professional over an amateur. With these postcards, it's right in front of their eyes!

If you aren't already a PPA member, visit PPA.com to find out how you can join today!

Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.
by Tristin Vaccaro
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Standing out in the sea of other photographers is so important when building a client base. Luckily, you have PPA to help you differentiate yourself in this growing photography market. 

As a part of the See The Difference® initiative, professional photographers like you get equipped with marketing resources to help explain your pricing, promote the quality of your work, and convey the worthiness of your skills. These resources are helping to reshape the public's view of professional photography. Educate your customers as to why they should only hire professional photographers.

See The Difference has many resources available to PPA members, and one of the easiest to implement are the PPA logos. Adding a logo to your website shows clients that you are backed by a well-established and trustworthy association. 

Once you log in, there are two logos to choose from, and both are available in full color or black and white, with or without transparent backgrounds. If you're a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP), you can also download a CPP logo to inform clients of your further credibility. 

So go ahead and impress your clients, because as soon as they see your PPA/CPP logo, they will also see your commitment to photography excellence! 

Check out more See The Difference marketing resources offered to PPA members. Not a PPA member? Join Today!

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By Autumn Rice

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The Print Movement is all about encouraging photographers to add value to their business by showcasing their print art. In a time when everyone can take a picture on their phones and technological growth is rapid, it's important to share the value of professionally-printed photography with clients. Digital files can easily be misplaced or destroyed, leaving memories lost forever. Let's change that!

In an effort to help photographers promote printed products to clients, the PRINT Movement has created customizable resources for use in your studio. Today's resource is brochures!

The tri-fold brochure folder contains a .psd as well as a .pdf, and is a customizable tool for your studio. You can add your own photos, studio information, and pricing to clearly inform your clients. This resource will help you explain the power of print and the necessity of print pieces in every home. This gives you the opportunity to increase your sales by using a beautiful pamphlet that says everything, so you don't have to.

The Print Movement resources are easy to use, and they trigger emotions that help clients understand the importance of printed images. Visit PrintMovement.org/Resources to download and customize your brochure today!

By Autumn Rice


In 2010, PPA launched a multi-million dollar marketing campaign called See The Difference to help consumers "see the difference" when evaluating photographers and see that hiring a pro is a worthwhile investment. PPA is also helping photographers spread the word to their clients and prospects by giving its members free access to marketing resources like shareable videos, shareable quizzes, logos, custom brochures, dedicated landing pages, consumer tips & FAQs and other marketing materials. 

One of these videos, #PhotoFail, recently aired on Public Broadcast Television (PBS)  stations nationwide. #PhotoFail is a wedding video featuring real brides sharing real life horror stories about wedding day photo fails.  So far, #PhotoFail has aired 891 times in 51% of U.S. households reaching more than 4.5 million viewers. The video has reached viewers in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, New York, Georgia, and Florida. 

If you're a PPA member, you can upload this video to your website, share it with your clients and prospects on your social media pages. Better yet, play it on a monitor in your waiting room! It's easy to do, watch these instructional videos and see for yourself.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Photography Marketing category.

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