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Congrats!!! You have set up your business correctly, built your portfolio, and set your pricing. You have a website and social media accounts. All these are major steps and a lot of work but it is time for it to pay off! 

It’s time to land your first paying client! Booking your first client always seems to be the hardest part. Yet once you work with a few clients, earn rave reviews and referrals, securing future bookings becomes easier. 

But how do you clear that hurdle? 

Here are 4 simple ways to get you booking clients and making money!

Photographer holding camera in studio

1. Mindset

It is important to start with a confident and positive mindset.  

Sharing your dreams and your work with the world can feel intimidating. 

Believe in yourself and the value of your work. You are beautifully preserving meaningful memories and rightfully asking to be compensated for your talent and time (let’s not forget expenses!). 

Find it within yourself to project confidence, enthusiasm, and passion. Need some help, take a look at our Mindset Matters blog post.

2. Ask your friends and family  

The majority of your first clients will come through friends and family. 

Talk to your family and friends. Create an email for your friends and family to share that you are now booking shoots. Send them links to your website and social media, along with photos they can share. Ask them to spread the word and to recommend you to people looking for photos in your specialty. As always, project your enthusiasm and confidence. Get your network excited about helping you and your business grow

Family of six taking family portrait outside.

3. Build relationships 

Relationships are key for long-term business success, especially other small businesses. Are you a boudoir photographer, perhaps there are some hairstylists and makeup artists that you can create relationships with? The next time you get your hair done, strike up a conversation with your hairstylist. Are you wanting to get into real estate photography? Join your local chamber of commerce or reach out to local realtors to see. Relationship building takes time and some will be a good fit for you and others might not. Also, the best relationships are a two-way street, don't just ask for them to promote you, ask how you can work together? Be sure to help them with their businesses too - doesn’t cost you anything to like or share their social media posts! 

People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust - especially if they are local. They want to be able to put a face and a personality to your business. The best way to make this happen is to get active in your community. Here are some easy tips: 

  • Frequent other local businesses and get to know the owners. 
  • Recommend these local businesses to friends on your social media, write reviews. 
  • Go to local events, volunteer, and meet people. 
  • Try to make your work visible in the community. Are there any local businesses willing to display some of your photos or brochures?

Want more insights into the benefits of social media? Check out this great article on how to get clients from Instagram

4. Advertising

Advertising in some form is essential to your business.  There are paid and unpaid (organic) options. 

Paid

To have successful paid advertising you MUST create targeted ads for your business.  You can do this using online tools like Google Ads and Facebook Ads. You can target people who live in your area, people with certain occupations or interests, and much more. A great way to help develop a target persona is to understand your ideal client.

Organic

If you aren’t quite ready to financially invest in advertising, you can also advertise organically, which is unpaid advertising. Join local Facebook groups and post about your services. Utilize the strategy outlined in this article about booking clients for this weekend! Many people use Facebook groups to ask for recommendations. If you see people looking for photographers, chime in and let them know that you’re available! 

Pro Tip

Some groups have policies about advertising, so make sure you’re not violating any rules.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start, browse our list of best courses for new photographers for some helpful resources.  

Final Thoughts

Securing these first few clients can feel overwhelming, but you’ve got this! Be confident and vocal. Spread the word, market yourself consistently, and talk to as many people as you can. And remember that you don’t need hundreds of clients to succeed. 

Once you get your first paying clients, provide a stellar experience. Ask for reviews and referrals. Enter their information into your client database and follow up when you have new services, products, or specials. Continue marketing your services and staying visible in the community. This way, you’ll build momentum and leverage those first few bookings into a steady stream of paying clients.

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