I knew absolutely nothing about marketing a photography business when I met my husband four years ago. A starving artist, I was living off of what little college scholarships I could get and hoping for the best in my schooling, so I could someday live off of my photography. The few photo sessions I did were for next to nothing, almost always for free and rarely enough to cover gas. I was desperate to become self-sufficient in photography, and I didn’t know where to start.
Enter into the picture a marketing expert. Having worked for Ford, the US Defense, Sam’s Club, countless “As Seen On TV” companies, and many others, his thirty years smashed my two years into the wall and bashed them into pieces. When he first hired me (our relationship started out professional), he also promised to help me with my photography. “You need a website,” he said, “Something to show off your work to potential clients.” My Flickr and measly Weebly account weren’t enough.
Having a Photo Business is About More Than Photography:
Professional veteran photographers know that shooting is only half the battle. It doesn’t matter how well you are behind a camera, or how great your photos look after post processing – you have to be able to get new clients, keep older clients, and sell to clients. A shy personality and inability to talk to people face to face will get you nowhere. So how do we get these clients without spending hours upon hours out in the field searching for people who want our niche: local google search marketing!
The next conversation with my now-husband went like this: “You want your business to be Jenna Beth Photography. Type that into Google. What do you see?” I do the search, and find a mix of myself and a California wedding photographer. I show up, so what’s his point? “If you lived in Las Vegas, and you were looking for a photographer, would you be able to look up someone you don’t know?” Okay, I get it. People can’t type in Jenna Beth Photography if they don’t know my name. So how does he expect me to be found in Google? “Think like the customer. What do you type into Google when you are looking for a local business?” Well, usually I type in the business name and the city, or vice versa.
“That’s the key. That’s what your customers are searching for. That’s where you want to be found.”
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The young lady found her calling with her new keyword, ranked number one in Google and booked many new clients, to live happily ever after in her home studio.
How You Can Rank Better On Google:
Now, let’s get serious. You need to know what I’m talking about, because 99.9% of you aren’t married to veteran marketers. Local search marketing is the term for a search within a specified area, and works everywhere around the world. The cities will change, the niches will change, and the arrangement of words may change, but it will always be the same concept. Customers are out there looking for you, but they aren’t looking for “you” – just your niche, and a glimpse at who is there.
A checklist for photographers:
- Does your fan page list clearly where you are located? It should.
- Does the About Me on your website talk about your studio address, or the cities you do on location portraits in? It should.
- Does the URL to your website even give a hint about who you are or what you do? It should.
Put your ego aside. You are not Target or Sam’s Club – where the brands are big enough that we know Target.com doesn’t sell targets, and samsclub.com isn’t a club for people named Sam. In the big picture, you’re a small studio and are not well known enough that you can start branding it in the hopes that people will find it, because most of the time, they won’t. And, you can brag on about how you are booked to the max and you have so many clients, but you have no idea how much of the market you are missing when you are not branding yourself to match local search.
It took me a couple of years to brand myself into what I wanted to do. And after a few years, I figured it out. Newborns had caught my eye, and they, along with babies and toddlers, were what I enjoyed the most. I did some keyword research (try Google’s keyword search tool if you don’t know where to start) and choose one with a decent amount of traffic coming to it locally. Newborn Photography Las Vegas is what I came up with.
Are you wondering “should I actually change the name of my business?”
Now, choosing this as your actual business name is up to you – but it is easier to do it that way when it comes to search engine optimization. Your URL and main keyword for all of your site and social media sites needs to be this set of words, but you can choose to incorporate it in another way besides as your business name.
There are many techniques for ranking yourself for your keyword, and the basic rule is to make sure you have lots of content, and that all of your social media is somehow linking back to your website. Flash does not SEO, and Google cannot read it, so if you have a flash website, I recommend using WordPress to find an HTML/CSS alternative. Try a little back linking if your budget allows it, and if you aren’t sure how to build your website, talk to a designer. You can be ranking in Google for the number one position, but if your web design isn’t up to par, clients won’t stay on the page and won’t book you. A domain registration costs less than ten dollars a year, and hosting is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee each month – so it’s up to you to decide how much that small cost means to branching out your business.
For almost six months I have been teetering between position one and position four for my keyword “newborn photography Las Vegas”. I’m also number one for Photo Studio Vegas, as my main portrait keyword. I’ve only stayed up there because I work on my SEO and keep up content and social media. And I am happy about it, especially when I get one of those nice emails from a potential client that says, “Sent via contact form on NewbornPhotographyLasVegas.com.”
Jenna Schwartz is a boutique newborn and child photographer in Henderson, outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. She also markets for local search with clients, optimizing hundreds of sites a month for organic search results with local search marketing, as well as website creation and design, social media optimization, social media campaigns and management, sales page creation and more. You can find her on Facebook or view her websites for newborns and portraits.