I am Jeff Millett and I’ve been actively involved in internet marketing for over 10 years and have been a full-time SEO consultant for over 5 of those years.
I know what it takes to rank in today’s highly competitive internet playing field.
This article covers some of the most important aspect of growing a successful photography business including SEO for photographers – a source for generating consistent work in your area via major search engines.
Here’s the deal:
You want to run a successful photography business
It’s a bit overwhelming – Right?
You’re struggling to balance a budget, do taxes, promote your business all while trying to provide superior photography services …
Then someone says “You need SEO” and you’re like … “What?”
Don’t worry, I can help.
(two big-giant thumbs up)
Here’s what you need to know:
With the availability of high quality digital cameras and editing software, it’s never been easier to start a career as a photographer.
With a basic understanding of lighting and composite, almost anyone-anywhere can pick up some extra cash by calling themselves a photographer …
With the low of cost of entry, photography is becoming a very competitive field but someone like YOU can make it further!
With a little know how, a modest marketing budget and the desire to succeed you can make your hobby a thriving business.
Because YOU don’t want to be just a photographer, YOU want to be a Professional Photographer. YOU want to pursue your passion full time and make a career out of it and Grow A Legitimate Business.
And that’s the attitude that’s going to make you win!
Now … where should we start?
- Photography Business Basics (If You’re A Longtime Pro You Might Just Skip This Part)
- What Type Of Services Should You Offer?
- Running A Photography Business
- Advertising Your Photography Business
- On Page SEO: keyword research, web design, meta data, content and more
- Page Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- H1 Tags
- Off Page SEO: Google My Business, local marketing (online), link building strategies and anchor text variations
- How to Rank Higher On Google My Business
- How Can SEO Software Help You Run Your Photography Business?
A Quick “Everything About Running A Photography Business” Crash Course – Ready, Set, Go!
So, What Type Of Services Should You Offer?
Pay attention: This is the key.
There are a number of different services offered by full-time photographers but it’s safe to say that wedding photography services, family portraits, newborn portraits and graduation portraits will make up the bulk of your business – unless you choose to specialize.
Now you’re wondering … “Should I specialize?”
What are the benefits?
Specializing allows you to build a business (and website) that appeals to just one type of customer. It doesn’t matter that you might get a few less leads because the potential clients you do bring in will be MUCH MORE likely to hire you knowing that you offer exactly what they are looking for.
Whether you choose to specialize or not it is still important to know what the vast majority of people are looking for and a little market research can help you figure this out …
Do you like presents? Because I’ve done it for you!
Yeah, because I’m so cool I’ve made a list here of a few very specific services people are looking for.
Wedding Photographer Services
The happiest day of someone’s life can also be one of the most challenging.
This is where YOU come in!
Coordinating the various photo shoots is a big part of the day. Not only do you have to corral multiple combinations of the bride, groom, family and the wedding party for photos, you are also operating on an extremely tight schedule.
As a photographer you are expected to relieve some of the stress. Be prepared for a lot of input from family, especially if they are paying for the ceremony, but try to the respect the wishes of the bride and groom.
What’s the secret?
Managing this delicate balancing act is central to your success as a wedding photographer.
Getting the whole family together for a big group photo is a tradition that dates back to the days of daguerreotypes.
Multi-generational photos are precious keepsakes that only increase in value over the years. The trick is getting everybody together at the same time. Once that has been accomplished, the next challenge is choosing the right setting.
Some families will want a standard studio session while others may want the picture taken at a location that has special significance for the family.
You may find yourself battling the weather and other challenges, but the finished product will make it well worth your extra effort.
Proud parents frequently invest a lot of money on photos of their children and it starts soon after the baby comes home from the hospital.
What do clients expect from this service?
Typically, parents will ask for a package that includes pictures of the whole family and some solo shots of the baby.
Remember this …
Anytime you work with children, especially newborns, you should be prepared for delays and interruptions but the good news is it’s pretty hard to mess up a photo session that features such adorable subject matter.
Senior Portraits & Graduation Photos
High school graduations are a milestone for parents and their children.
Senior sessions are designed to express the transition from childhood to young adulthood and capture the unique personality of the student.
These are not only easy, they’re FUN too!
Be prepared to take the session outdoors and incorporate a lot of props that reflect the young person’s interests and hobbies.
But How Do you Grow Your Photography Business?
This is no secret:
Positive word of mouth is vital to the success of your photography business. Do a good job capturing somebody’s wedding and you could find yourself getting referred for other jobs.
Every photograph you take can have a far-reaching impact on your business.
Be prepared in advance.
Make sure you’re on time for the photo session. Many of your jobs, such as weddings, will be on site. It’s important that you have made all your preparations before it is time for the session to begin.
Always remember this!
There will always be crying brides, grumpy grandfathers, and uncooperative children – remember how important the day is to the people involved and do your best to alleviate some of the tension by remaining upbeat and calm.
In the end …
When you combine memorable photos with customer service, patience, and the ability to adapt, you will find yourself with as much work as you’re able to handle.
Running A Photography Business (Online & Offline)
There is more to being a professional photographer than snapping pictures of babies and brides.
“Great images are a big part of a photographer’s success, but not the only part.”
Like any business, supplies have to be purchased, expenses have to be managed and a marketing plan must be developed. All of this may make your eyes glaze over but successful photographers are more than artists, they are also sharp business people.
If you aren’t willing to devote adequate time and attention to the business side of things, you WILL struggle.
When choosing a location for your business, you’ll need a space large enough to conduct sessions with your clients and accommodate your equipment. Almost any property will do provided you have adequate space and avoid clutter. Although it is important to choose a good location , many of your sessions will probably take place off site.
Today, most people are looking for unique settings that have special significance for them rather than generic backgrounds. In these cases, you’ll have to do some traveling. Make sure to include a fee for travel expenses, even if you only require a few minutes to get to your destination.
Not passing on the cost of mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle to your clients will catch up with you in the long run.
Equipment & Supplies
Although the cost of entry is low, photographers must make a substantial investment in equipment and supplies
Here’s a thought.
In addition to cameras, lens, and photo editing equipment, you will also need a printer if you plan to sell prints.
Props, backgrounds and frames are other items most photographers end up needing at some point.
This is important …
Don’t cut corners, especially when it comes to equipment. When you use substandard products the evidence can be seen in your photos.
Whether you handle the bookkeeping duties yourself or you hire an accountant, make sure that keep a close eye on expenses and receivables.
Your goal should be positive cash flow but in the beginning, you may be satisfied with just breaking even. In the lean times, you have to control what you can, namely expenditures.
There are bills that have to be paid such as rent and utilities, which means you will have to hold the line on extraneous spending.
Which means …
That new camera or software program may have to wait until your business is on a better footing.
One of the advantages of hiring an accountant is the expertise they bring to the table, especially when it comes to taxes. There are many business deductions that you may not be aware that could make the difference between finishing in the red or turning a profit.
Whether you do your own taxes or rely on a professional, keep good records including receipts and bank statements.
Make a note:
If you intend to personally take care of billing your clients, invest in a program that generates professional invoices.
This makes you look more legitimate than someone who sends out a handwriting bill or requests payment informally via e-mail or text.
The invoice should include your business name or logo on the letterhead, including your contact information.
It should be itemized with a clear explanation of what each charge represents and the total charge.
How Do You Advertising Your Photography Business?
Photographers are fortunate when it comes to marketing. You have plenty of great images at your fingertips to produce engaging digital and printed advertising pieces. However, there is more to effective marketing than just sharing examples of your work.
With so many magazines struggling to stay afloat, advertising in a periodical can be hit or miss. Despite the issues facing the industry, magazine advertising remains quite expensive.
On the positive side, you can target your audience by placing ads in trade or specialty publications.
Look for locally or regionally produced magazines as these are more likely to have readers in your area and offer lower ads rates.
E-mail marketing can be effective, provided you have a list of qualified prospects.
The good news …
Your best prospects are probably your current customers and since you already have their contact information, including e-mail address, you have a big advantage.
When you request your client’s e-mail addresses make it clear that you intend to use the information for promotional purposes. Most long time customers will appreciate being made aware of special offers. Others may decline out of fear of being spammed. Either way, you have to give people the choice of whether or not to be marketed to via their e-mail.
You can’t run an e-mail campaign from your business account or it will likely get flagged as spam. E-mail marketing programs are affordable and easy to manage.
Newspaper readership has fallen off dramatically in recent years, but it can still be an effective local marketing channel.
Who can you reach this way?
Older people are the main consumers of newspapers. While this may not sound like the ideal demographic for a photographer, you have to consider the influence that parents or grandparents have within their family.
And in case you didn’t ALREADY know …
They may be the ones writing the check for the wedding or family photos, which means they will probably have some input when it comes to picking the photographer.
If you aren’t on their radar you could lose out to a more savvy photographer who uses a marketing mix.
Radio can be a relatively inexpensive way to reach potential clients locally.
It is best used to advertise specials, such as graduation and family photo packages, or to increase awareness of your business during certain times of the year (Spring for weddings, later in the year for holiday photos).
Local radio faces stiff competition from satellite radio and other digital music services, there is still an audience that relies on the medium for news and entertainment.
In today’s photography market promoting via social media can be a game changer.
Few businesses are as uniquely suited to capitalize on social media’s combination of text and images to promote themselves as photographers.
Don’t wait for your clients ask if they can share their photos on Facebook, ask them to.
If you’re THAT photographer, you know the one, the one that gets all their photo’s shared then you’re going to make waves in certain circles.
You take one good picture of grandma’s handsome high schooler and all of the family will rave about it – sharing it with friends and family from all around your area.
Go ahead …
Take a wild guess at who they’ll be calling when their sweet little Senior grand daughter is ready to toss that graduation cap.
That’s right, you!
Make sure that you have the permission of anyone whose image you post on any of your social media channels.
What About Your Website?
Don’t forget this …
Today your website is more important than your physical location or phone number.
With more and more people conducting an online search of your business before they ever contact you, it is vital that you have as much information on the website as possible.
This is essential …
Make sure your website design is simple, easy to navigate and mobile responsive. Your site should serve as an online portfolio with numerous examples of your best work and pricing.
Promote your website in every aspect of your marketing plan; be it print, electronic or digital.
This may sound redundant but it’s true …
If you’re easy to find – you’ll be found more often.
SEO Services For Your Photography Website
Ever Heard Of On Page SEO?
On Page SEO are mostly back-end elements of your website that are important for search engines like Google to see.
Whithout On Page elements Google won’t know what your website is about.
Think of On Page SEO as an important part of the marketing composition that others might forget.
While keywords may not be the center of the universe, your On Page SEO will revolve around these very important elements.
You aren’t looking to simply go after a single word, though – you want to target phrases that will bring you a very specific type of visitor.
Your goal is to put yourself in the shoes of someone who might be looking for you and – more importantly – who wants to spend money on your services.
If you can do that, you’ll be able to target the right keyword phrases.
How Do Photographers Pick Awesome Key Phrases?
Obviously, your core key phrase is always going to be something similar to “photographer in [your region]”.
For most, you’ll want to go after the city and state in which you are located, but those who live in regions with a well-known nickname (Tri-cities, Twin Cities, Four Corners, etc) may want to go after those words instead of the city-state signifier.
Here’s the secret though:
You’ll want to surround these key phrases with supporting words like “newborn portraits” or “wedding photographer”, which will help to further distinguish you from your somewhat-less up-to-date competition.
Let me reiterate this one thought …
Think like a customer and it will help you with choosing your SEO phrases.
Ok, I’ve got a few keyphrases picked out … What now?
Titles, Descriptions & Tags
SEO tends to do some of its heaviest lifting in the places you might not expect. As you design your site, you’ll need to keep the use of your page titles, meta descriptions and H1 titles in mind – these are important On Page SEO elements.
Your title is the first thing your customers will see, so make it stand out.
More importantly though:
Your Page Title is what Google uses initially to identify your website.
Your page title needs to reference who you are and what you do using keywords as explained above.
Think about a great title that’s only about fifty or sixty characters in length, that lets your customers and Google know that you’re a photographer and where you’re located.
Like this one.
It sounds tough, but it’s doable.
These are a short descriptions of your page hidden on the back-end of your website, and they’ll tell the world and Google exactly what you have to offer.
Don’t stuff these full of keywords, but do make sure that you put in relevant information like like “wedding photography in [your city]”.
Use H1 Tags (or Title Tags) to engage your readers with eye-catching information about your photography business.
Tags on your homepage should contain valuable keywords and phrases, again, that includes the types of services you offer and service area.
Then, there’s the fantastic world of photos – you know, the thing that you’re trying to sell.
These images need to add to your site, not take away from it – and this means you’re going to look at optimization. If a picture slows down your site, you need to figure out why. Change the resolution if necessary, but make sure it doesn’t slow down and hold you back from high rankings.
And always …
Make use of the alt-text tags when loading pictures by adding your key phrases like “Smith Wedding Shoot” and “Sarah’s Senior Portraits”.
This really adds a great deal of SEO value to your site.
Finally … You need to remember content!
Content is king on the internet, and it’s the perfect place for you to connect with your customers.
Make sure there’s something there to connect you with your readers or they’ll move on to someone else.
While you’re adding content …
Take some time to add in some of the great niche keywords that define the photography industry. This is where your key words should live in breathe, but only if they do so organically. If they don’t fit correctly, don’t use them.
Off Page SEO
If On Page SEO is the process of building up your business from the inside, off page SEO is the process of getting help from the outside.
Let me explain:
Many people think of Off Page SEO simply as link-building, but it’s more than that.
What you’re really looking at from a business standpoint is promotion. This can be by way of recognition from other websites, news sites, local directories and even social media platforms.
If you think of the things you might have done to promote a brick and mortar business in the past, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to wrangle this kind of SEO.
You’re making associations that will drive up the profile of your website and, by extension, your business.
Going off page means thinking about how other pages – including your own social media pages – can help your primary website.
This means reaching out to make contact with authorities in your field, networking with people who are in associated businesses, and leveraging your connections in the community in a manner that will help drive people towards your photography website.
Backlinks: A MUST.
One of the keys to Off Page SEO is getting a good supply of quality backlinks.
For those not familiar with the terminology of SEO, a backlink is exactly what it sounds like – a link back to your website.
You’ll need to find a few natural sources for these backlinks if you want to build up your site’s rank and create a good network of potential visitors.
So, where can you find backlinks?
One great place is to go incredibly old school – straight to your local chamber of commerce.
Most CoC host local business directories on their chamber website and if you get listed in their directory and they link to YOUR website that’s a backlink!
As a photographer, it’s in your best interest to join the CoC as it is, since very few of your competitors will do the same.
Likewise, local community websites are a great way to get backlinks. If there’s a community organization from which you think you can benefit, join it.
- Shop local groups
- Hotel vendor lists
- Mastermind groups
If that organization has a website, make sure that it links your business on your page – and don’t be afraid to have a reciprocal link to them.
This is a fantastic way to stay engaged with your community while getting valuable backlinks that’ll help give your rankings a boost.
Google My Business Reviews
You want to rank locally right?
Google My Business is the single most largest business directory online.
People actually use it – a lot!
So if you haven’t claimed your local listing already then go do it right now.
If you’ve already claimed your listing then you’ll have to move on to the next step … Getting reviews!
Getting reviews isn’t easy and further more you’ve got to be careful not to break any Google guidelines in the process.
So, what’s the secret?
Drum-roll please … “Ask”.
Lot’s of satisfied customers will gladly leave a review for your business if they knew you wanted one.
Looking for another freebie?
Download this Step-By-Step Google My Business Review handout and give it to your happy customers. Go ahead … it’s free!
Off Page SEO Works And It’s Not As Hard As You Think
In the end …
Off Page SEO doesn’t have to be hard or complicated.
Think of Off Page SEO more as a process of curation rather than one of production and you’ll be able to rest a bit more easily.
Remember this and you won’t fail.
Don’t be afraid to ask for backlinks, and don’t be afraid to leverage your social media accounts.
Any work you do WILL be worth the effort.
How Can SEO Software Help You Run Your Photography Business?
A good photographer knows that using the right tool is a necessity when trying to get the job done correctly.
Just as you’d always want to use the right lens for the right picture, you also want to always use the right software to help you with your SEO needs.
WebsiteRocket.com provides you with a number of very useful features that makes it a must-have for anyone in the photography business. Whether you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of SEO for the first time or you are looking to get better returns for your efforts, this SEO software can help you to accomplish your goals.
So, what does WebsiteRocket have to offer?
A Simple Interface
One of the places where WebsiteRocket.com really helps out photographers is with its clean and easy to understand interface.
While there are certainly many people in the business who have a great deal of computer and marketing experience, sometimes it’s nice to use a software suite that simply gets the job done.
You’ll like this …
Website Rocket doesn’t hide its tools behind layers of confusing menus and doesn’t make it more difficult than necessary to accomplish basic tasks.
What does this mean for you?
This means less time spent trying to figure out how to work SEO magic and more time spent actually improving your business – something any small business owner should appreciate.
By taking the mystery out of SEO, Website Rocket allows you a chance to build up your business on your own terms.
Hand in hand with its Simple Interface is the website’s focus on breaking down SEO into easily digestible, Easy-To-Follow Tasks.
SEO can be a difficult process even for professionals, and it’s unlikely that any professional photographer has the time on hand to memorize every tip and trick in the book.
That’s why the site provides you with a list of daily tasks that you can do to improve your site and get more favorable rankings – rather than stumbling blindly and wasting time, you can get in, get out, and get back to doing what you love.
Ease & Flexibility
Finally, the site has an incredible amount of flexibility built into its design.
If you’re just getting started in the world of photography and you’re not sure where to go next, you can sign up for a basic service package with excellent data tracking tools.
If you’re working with multiple sites or you’re looking for something a bit more robust, there are options available that can fit your needs. This means that as your business grows and your goals change, you can expect multiple tiers of service that can evolve right along with you.
So, what should you do?
At the end of the day, Website Rocket’s tools are simply the right fit for most photographers – Take a tour and see for yourself.
Whether you’re looking for something to simplify the SEO process, something to guide you through the steps of optimizing your website or you want something that can evolve along with your business, the Website Rocket has you covered – start with a Free SEO Analysis.
With a little guidance and the right software, you too can master SEO and take your photography business to the next level.