Ah, marketing… the one element of taking pictures for a living that many a photographer dreads. Marketing is the business side of the photography industry, yet as a photographer, you’re a creative-minded soul. Those two aspects are sometimes hard to reconcile, but you’ll never be able to survive without marketing yourself…unless you want no one to pay for, admire or recognize your work!

Instead of groaning about marketing yourself, look at it as the path to greater prosperity for your career and business. Plus, if you market yourself properly, you will soon realize that it takes a lot of creativity in and of itself. Eureka! You can use some of your creativity in snapping pictures on the marketing side of things.

When it comes to marketing your photography, there are tips… and there are awesome tips that raise your chances for success by a mile. We’ll cover the latter right here.

1. Get Some Testimonials

Testimonials are the epitome of the trust-building element because they increase your reputation and credibility as a photographer to your prospective clients. Hence, they’re a can’t-be-beat, powerful force in marketing yourself. It’s a savvy idea to devote some space on your photography portfolio website to showcasing various testimonials from clients. Sometimes, they’ll volunteer to provide them; other times, you’ll have to ask them if they’re willing to provide them.

Since everyone is used to reading product and service reviews on the Internet these days anyway, they’ll be highly receptive to testimonials on your site, too. Prospective clients will read your testimonials and decide that you’re the perfect photographer to hire.

2. Show up at Local Events

Local events may not be the most glorious way of marketing yourself, but they sure are effective since powerful factors like introducing yourself to people (read: visibility) and word of mouth come into play. Get permission from the organizers of said events, and then snap away. Some of these shots can go into your portfolio, others can be pitched to local papers that may be covering the events, and organizers may even want to hire you to shoot their events.

In any case, while you’re shooting events, you should be handing out your business cards to anyone and everyone. Make sure that your website address is on the card, so that you’re marketing yourself subtly, but powerfully. You could also have photo folders made to showcase your work to prospective clients.

3. Take Advantage of Online Art Profiles

What are online art profiles, you ask? They’re somewhat similar to your own portfolio website, but different enough to warrant being a separate form of powerful photography marketing. Online art profiles let you show off your best shots, just as you would on your own portfolio site, but they allow you to interact with other photographers, too, and that’s where the stellar usefulness of online art profiles comes into play.

Examples of more well-known ones include sites like Flickr, Behance and 500px. You can interact with a whole bunch of creatives on these sites, empowering you to share your work with both professionals and amateurs in the industry, pick up some insightful pointers on photography and marketing, and, of course, network and make new connections. Think of this as a more creative and nicer-looking approach to LinkedIn!

4. Have Numerous Samples of Photographs Ready

A quick and efficient way to market yourself to prospects is by showing your work with the intention to sell it to your clients in the first place. It’s always beneficial to have wall portraits that you can show your clients because they make it easy to impress people.

Also, go for the “wow” factor by over-delivering and blowing past any reasonable expectations. If your clients are expecting merely the usual offerings of 8 X 10, go the extra step and instead surprise them with a 16 X 24 standout mount. Better yet, go all the way and show them a 20 X 30 gallery wrap on the wall of your studio, so they can also take it in as the art piece it is.

5. Understand Your Target Market

Half the battle in successful marketing lies in knowing to whom you’re marketing, so you must figure out who your target market is. Do research into what they like, how old they are, what interests they have and specifically what makes them tick.

Know that you don’t even have to be in your target market to understand them or to successfully market yourself to them.

That’s why it’s a good idea to pull out all the stops when studying them. Find out what their habits are and where it’s best to reach them. Ask yourself if social media, various clubs and organizations, mall displays or wedding shows are the best places to find and reach them. Of course, it’s going to vary based on who your target market is.

6. Time to Social-Network

Social networking has gotten a bad rap over the years (and rightly so) as the part of the Internet where people with way too much time on their hands… tell other people with way too much time on their hands about the totally meaningless things they do (seriously, you went to the bathroom… again?). Savvy marketers know, though, that a higher purpose of social networking is for the promotion of your services, skills and brand.

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook permit you to reach out to people and prospective clients in a way they’re comfortable with and enjoy.

On Facebook, you can create a page devoted to your photography brand and business. Having a page like this (as opposed to a personal page) is instrumental in keeping folks up to date regarding your latest work, projects and jobs you’ve taken on. Make sure to also flood the image galleries of your Facebook business page with shots of your best work.

On Twitter, you can use the site as a tool for curating your online “portfolio.” Simply regularly tweet shots of your best work and latest projects for your followers to see and enjoy.

7. Old School Meets New School Marketing

Our tips included a good mix of both old- and new-school approaches to marketing yourself as a photographer. This simply means that some marketing approaches will never go out of style while you definitely have to be on top of online marketing as well. A great balance of both worlds will help to ensure that your marketing power is maximized to its full potential.