Great clients are the lifeblood of any portrait photography business.  If you can get them in the first place!

Here are three practical ways to create and expand your client base.  Even seasoned professionals will benefit from these easy tips.

1. Gifts of Gratitude

Show your thankfulness for your past and current clients by giving them something small and thoughtful.

Remember special dates for your clients by keeping it in your personal calendar, and send them something in the mail.  We almost never get anything in the mail anymore, except Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and bills.  An unexpected giftbox will go a long way in showing your client that you’re thinking of them.

For example, check out Greetabl, where you can build, customize, and send a mini gift box!

Why does this work?  Even if you were the best photographer in the world, clients can only say so much about your technical talent.  Your personal touches are what makes you stand out from every big corporation. And gratitude is contagious.  Your small gifts of gratitude are part of the story that your best clients will be excited to share with others.

2. Work Locally

In my experience, when we started making videos for small businesses, we didn’t take out any ads or work on our website SEO.  (Although those tactics are important too!) We just got in touch with our favorite coffee shop up the street (on their instagram account) and told them our concept for an awesome video we wanted to do for them.  What’s the worst that could happen?  They could have said no.  But they said yes!

So, before you start looking at ways you can reach everyone in your city or state, why not shrink your radius a bit?

  • Wedding Photographer?  Ask friends and family if they know anyone who has recently gotten engaged (or are about to!) and see if you can get an introduction.
  • Headshot Photographer?  Business owners, lawyers and real estate agents all need good headshots, to name a few.  Even if they already have one, it may need to be updated.  Reach out to local businesses, tell them that you’re close by and you’re now offering services in the area.

Few photographers actually do this, probably out of pure fear of talking to strangers, or possible rejection.  Again, just ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  They could say no.  Shake it off and focus on the best that could happen:  A new client could be just around the corner.  (Pun fully intended.)

3. Get Personal

When Josh started out, he made the mistake of saying nearly nothing significant about himself, and talking in the third person.  He focused on his photography accomplishments and how good his technical ability was.  His clients didn’t really care.  They couldn’t relate on any personal level, and just wanted to know his price.

Needless to say, I no longer speak in the third person.  Most people are drawn to real human beings:  With passions, goals, likes and dislikes.  Of course you love photography – that’s why you’re a photographer.  But your conversations don’t always have to revolve around how you became one, and what makes you so great.  Yes, your clients will probably be impressed with your photography knowledge and skills – but they won’t really feel attracted to you outside of being a potential service provider.

The most successful photographers are great at showing their clients that they can relate to their lifestyle and values. When clients know that we have a life outside of photography, and we talk to them about what they like to do, they feel understood and valued as a person, not just as a customer with spending power.

Conclusion

Invest in your clients with personal touches, search for local clients before going further, and let your clients know you’re a real person.  You’ll reap the benefits sooner than you might think!

What do you think?  There’s lots more that can be done.  Has something in particular worked for you?  There are clients for everyone, how did you get yours? Let us know in the comments!