Advice on how to grow my little photography business

by Rainboy 19 replies
I've owned a small little real estate photography business for close to 3 years now. I remember when I first got all my clients, it was with spammy email marketing. Buying a list of realtor emails. Blasting with a special offer and having some bite, then having the rest find me with word of mouth.

But ultimately in the end I got in trouble with my email account and learning about the CAN-SPAM Act. But its really what helped get my first dozen of clients.

Fast forward to now and I'm wanting to expand my clientele and make more. But struggling to find the best internet marketing avenue to do so.

Here's a list of what I'm currently doing, keep in mind I'm coming out of my slow season with not a lot to invest in. But will be willing to save up money to invest in the right method.

1) Website with a great portfolio, contact page, about page and 5 blog posts. I hire someone to write content for me. (My grammar sucks) My goal here is to gain more organic visitors to the website with SEO keywords for my niche. I believe I have around 109 post views. Not sure if that's just my friends viewing them or not...

2) Recently this month I'm doing a monthly budget of $300 in adwords. Targeting specific keywords, having a decent landing page. Haven't really had the ad's run long enough to see if its working or not. Had another photographer call me and say my photos are amazing and to raise my pricing, LOL. No realtors yet.

3) Being somewhat active on my fb page. Not investing a lot with facebook ads. Currently sitting at 119 likes, I believe 95% of those are just my friends. I've done little FB ads before and haven't really had good results in gaining followers. I've thought about joining and being active in realtor groups. But with realtors, they have strict rules with there groups on restricting other business soliciting there services.

4) I have a profile and my high quality photos put up on Linkedin, Houzz, Zillow Certified Photographer, Angies List, Google +, instagram and Google businesses. Not really active on those other then having my business information listed. Also have a listing on local classifieds.


I believe that my high quality photos is great content to get realtors attention. Especially if they're of a big million dollar home captured during twilight. I can create videos of me editing photos and put them up on youtube and syndicate that across all my accounts. I feel that I have great contact to share, but I'm not getting it in front of my niche organically, I would have to resort to paid methods. Which sounds like I need to save up a crap ton to do so...

I'm ready to be active on all accounts, create and syndicate my content, but would like some advice or tips before I do so, or maybe I'm coming at things wrong and need to go a different route.

Any type of advice that you have for me would be greatly appreciated. I love to research on what to do and apply that to my small business. With this being my main source of income, I have a lot of free time to research and work on the different marketing avenues when I'm slow.

Thank you!
#main internet marketing discussion forum #advice #business #grow #photography
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  • Profile picture of the author DWolfe
    I would suggest you head over to the https://www.warriorforum.com/offline-marketing/ section and make a thread there. A few real estate people hang out in that section from time to time. You may get some good answers there besides this main section. Take at https://www.warriorforum.com/members...-whitacre.html he posts some great advice about Marketing a small business.
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    You seem to have many of the online bases covered, but I suspect your business is mainly local, in that realtors would be unlikely to use out-of-town photographers. You might need to get yourself into the offices of local realtors and pitch your services face-to-face. If you want to learn from some experienced sales people, there's a lot of sound advice in the offline marketing forum: https://www.warriorforum.com/offline-marketing/ *

    I don't know what it's like in your town/city, but over here (in the UK), realtors tend to have their own in-house photographers. Perhaps one area you could explore is the independent seller market (if there is one where you are). People looking to sell their property themselves would be good prospects for your service. Local classified ads and leaflet drops could be a couple of starter routes into that market.

    *EDIT: Hey DW, you beat me to the punch!
    Signature
    I've just put Richard Branson's number on speed-dial. I call it my "Get-Rich-Quick" scheme.

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    • Profile picture of the author Rainboy
      I've sponsored lunches before and didn't have much luck with that. Maybe that itself is a numbers game as well... or that I'm not just good at networking and need to expose myself to it more.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rainboy
    From just reading some stuff here. I have some ideas for my blog.

    From the years of being in business I've captured hundreds of homes and thousands of images. My idea is taking 2 - 3 images per shoot, writing a scribble about them ( 200 - 300 words ) with targeted keywords, then posting them to the blog and syndicating them on my facebook page, google + page and so forth.

    I think I can create easily 50+ posts from that. Scheduling them to post daily. Maybe that would be great for organic traffic, what do you think?

    I've also thought about photographing new apartment complexes locally and any new building being developed, writing a post about them, sharing the images and gaining more organic traffic for the targeted keywords.

    Another one is I can go back on the older photos and re-edit them and record the screen while I photoshop them, Posting them on youtube to have engaging content. Posting these videos daily.
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  • Profile picture of the author BryrDe
    Are you using the correct keywords for your SEO? How's your website traffic and conversion doing?

    Also, how about trying the traditional way of marketing your business? Like have a business meeting with a realtor on your area and discuss potential partnerships.

    I suggest you also try joining realtor groups, not to directly solicit your business, but observe them and offer help if you can (don't be too direct on your photography business).

    Also, boost ads on Facebook and other image-based social media portals like Instagram and Pinterest. It's good for branding and to spread your brand across these channels.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rainboy
      I believe I'm using the right keywords. Long tailed local keywords.

      Website traffic is low. Averaging 4 a day. Doesn't really convert. More so to display a portfolio.

      Realtors talk mostly about stuff I'm not even knowledgeable about, unless they are directly asking about photography.
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  • Hi,
    I agree with BryrDe.
    An effective way to grow your business will be to establish a presence on image sharing websites, like Instagram and Pinterest. I am new marketing on Pinterest, but I know marketers and business owners see a lot of success on these platforms.
    It can be a very effective way to drive targeted leads to your business/website.
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  • Profile picture of the author gainerp
    first tell us is your photography business is online or offline.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Go meet them. You know where they are. Realtors advertise, they have offices, they host showings. You'll get more action out of that and learn more, too. Keep your ears open for the exact words they say when they're talking about what you do.

    You have already diagnosed the problem: your offer, your work, is not getting in front of the target market.


    If you insist on the online approach...

    I would make a report about the top things to look for in a real estate photographer. How bad ones screw it up (poor lighting, wide angle lens choices that mess the scale of the room up, framing problems). Call to action at the end to set a time to speak with you.

    I would get all the testimonials together I could from past clients. Video if possible. I'd make every effort to get those, including chasing past clients down with my video camera and mic. These are incredibly valuable conversion currency.

    I would write stories about successes...emotional stuff from not just the realtor's perspective but the seller's and buyer's, too. My parents' home sold for close to a million dollars about 15 years ago, and it was the video walkthrough, properly lighted and edited, that helped it look like a million bucks. I had nothing to do with it and was impressed. Imagine how they felt...their realtor felt...their prospective and final buyers felt.

    I would have some of this stuff on my site...but I would also make an email series for the autoresponder. That would continually send cool stories, testimonials, and calls to action to speak with me to the realtors who have signed up.

    But at this point I would not depend on it.


    Now here's what I really think:

    You should do some market segmentation. Some real targeting. See, most realtors don't make it. They are terrible at the start, and who isn't? So most never figure out how to sell, how to market, how to run their business.

    My parents' home was sold by a husband and wife team who had been in the business for over 20 years. They were monsters at what they did. They knew how to market, how to sell. How to be profitable.

    Spending your adwords budget going after newbie marketers, which I guarantee you are doing by accident, is a plain waste of resources.

    Target those who have been around two years or more. Target those who deal with homes above the price point where the home and commission mean they can invest in your services. If a realtor is going to make $30K on the deal, then it makes sense to talk to you, doesn't it. Only talk to those people. Ignore the others. I'm serious.

    Those who have survived will have figured it out. That they need to market. That they may well need YOU. That their listings need the edge, because their commission depends on it.

    Everyone else..."Oh, that's nice. I'll call you when I need you." Emergency only. Don't have the money right now, even if they wanted to. Price point of the homes (and their money tolerance behind it) don't support investment in getting the sale. NO. That's not who you want.

    You want, "Yes, there is someone we've used before...but I can see how what you do is better. We have a continuous flow of listings at the $300K - $2 million price level." For example.


    Direct mail is not that pricey, and with a simple 3-component package you can send even a few envelopes out a week no matter how low your budget. I'll bet you can get the cost down, even prepped inefficiently one at a time, to under $10 a package. If you can't afford $30/week on marketing...


    IMO depending on online methods to bring you leads is not the right way to go about it at this time.

    Might want to read this, too: https://www.warriorforum.com/offline...l#post10189242

    Oh yeah, and get this (for any photographer): https://www.amazon.com/When-They-Tha...dp/B00O94P30U/
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    • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

      Go meet them. You know where they are. Realtors advertise, they have offices, they host showings.

      Target those who have been around two years or more. Target those who deal with homes above the price point where the home and commission mean they can invest in your services. If a realtor is going to make $30K on the deal, then it makes sense to talk to you, doesn't it. Only talk to those people. Ignore the others. I'm serious.

      Those who have survived will have figured it out. That they need to market. That they may well need YOU. That their listings need the edge, because their commission depends on it.
      Jason is dead right.

      Adding to his great advice. . .

      You don't need to go in with the attitude that you are better than who they are currently using.

      All you need to do is offer an alternative that provides a "second" choice to the company.

      In many instances a photographer may be busy or may be sick or have other commitments.

      You can position yourself as a reliable second choice to agents who already have a staff photographer or are using one particular business to do their work.

      My sister used to run a wedding videography business and the single biggest problem was if they had scheduled to shoot a wedding and the cameraman was sick or had some other issue.

      In many circumstances just being professional and not wanting to "disturb" existing relationships can get you a lot of work if you approach the situation tactfully and with respect.

      Possibly become the "back-up" photog who does get people out of a bind and sooner or later you may become the "primary choice".

      Best regards,

      Ozi
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    • Profile picture of the author Rainboy
      Thank you for this stellar advice. I really appreciate it. Is there a direct mail service that you would suggest? I would assume they wouldn't have the statistics on how long a realtor has been in business for and also what type of homes they are listing. Should I manually find them myself? or....
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      • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
        Originally Posted by Rainboy View Post

        Is there a direct mail service that you would suggest? I would assume they wouldn't have the statistics on how long a realtor has been in business for and also what type of homes they are listing. Should I manually find them myself? or....
        Nextmark is one place to look for mailing lists--->

        Real Estate Agents

        You can narrow down your area but you'll get some ideas.

        Best regards,

        Ozi
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by Rainboy View Post

        Thank you for this stellar advice. I really appreciate it. Is there a direct mail service that you would suggest? I would assume they wouldn't have the statistics on how long a realtor has been in business for and also what type of homes they are listing. Should I manually find them myself? or....
        OK...

        Let's get something clear. :-D

        Getting the right audience in front of your offer is THE #1 MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do.

        So...

        Should you outsource this task?

        Should you try to cut corners on it?

        Should you hire a "gee I hope they know what they're doing" sub?


        Let me make a quick compare/contrast so it's crystal clear to you.

        When I find my kind of client, the sales discussion takes about two hours in text and then voice, and then a mid-four figure investment to get started. Did this yesterday. Smooth, easy, don't have to explain things, guy gets it.

        When I don't have a fit, there's a lot of grinding gears. "Oh it's a lot of money..." Waste of my time and most importantly waste of my energy.

        People who are making $40K, $50K, $100K a month don't have a money tolerance issue with my fees. They also instantly see the need for what I do. My talking to people who are not making at least $20K a month...that's a dumb use of my time.

        And given that the Conversion portion of these conversations is brief when the fit is good, where should I be spending my time & energy?

        On identifying the good leads.

        Right?

        If I talk to everyone in sight, what will I accomplish? (Kinda like what I do on this forum. Sort of dumb of me, because I talk to a lot of people here who aren't a fit. Oh well, I'm a glutton for punishment ;-) and enjoy helping others. But I still do some qualifying anyway, by only posting in threads that I know I can provide big value for.)


        In your case, what do you think the return on investment in your spending four hours over a week checking on local realtors will be? (And what else are you doing with those four hours? Guaranteed wasting time...I know I do.)

        Especially given that the sales conversations you end up having with the qualified prospects will be quick? They'll understand what you do, and why they need you. They'll have the budget and understand the investment in your service pays off. Then you can spend your time & energy on the actual photography work.

        Make a spreadsheet.

        Column headers: Realtor Co., Contact Name, Years In Business, Listings Value, Website, Qualified, Address, Phone

        You will only fill out the final two cells with simple copy-paste if a realtor demonstrates longevity, marketing savvy, and an appropriate listings value. The Qualified column will be a Yes/No conditional formatting green/red decision. You want records that you looked at a realtor even if you said no.

        Now we will use our brains and let someone do much of the work for us. We will accomplish this by going to a listings site like realtor.com. There, we can pick a location (eg. your city), price range, and even a property type ("I only specialize in making high value condos look their very best").

        Click. Ka-ching!

        Who is listing the appropriate fit properties? That's how you make your list.

        So I go to realtor.com, search (as a random example) for Miami FL, $500K - $2M homes, and presto! Keller Williams. I can tell KW is an established firm based on the photos of their listing, their website, and I also found that someone named Dagoberto Castillo is the team leader. I might call that guy and ask him what kind of things they look for in a photographer and how they choose who to work with. This would very educational. A handful of these kinds of conversations would tell me exactly how to arrange the marketing for my services.

        Now this is not the only directory and these are the high ticket realtors. So expect to have to wow the folks at this level.

        You may have to dial down the variables to find the match of market to you right now. Solo realtors may be the best place to start. Sometimes a parent company will not allow them to have their own website, and what they get is a lousy contact page on the parent co's site...so that's not a direct indicator of marketing savvy. But from the name you can find the listings, and check the price points.

        Yup, this is work...but it's controllable work, work which you can definitely put in X effort and get Y revenue if you're consistent about it. And it doesn't have to take all your time. But trust me, getting in front of people who can afford what you offer...and value it...well, that makes getting the job much, much easier. At the beginning of your business, most of your time should be spent prospecting. 75%+. Most people do not do this, and so it's no surprise to me that their businesses are languishing.
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  • I have been in your same shoes, almost. My main freelancing clients are all in the real estate industry and I provide blogging for them. I found most of my clients through spammy emailing, too and had to make a shift.

    I have seen quite a bit of success with Twitter and due to making the shift, I learned how to market on twitter inside and out. Social media is a great way to gain the attention of many in your industry and this is where I would focus. If you don't have the time, you can pay someone to manage it for you, but social media is my suggestion when it comes to finding new clients in the real estate industry.

    Benjamin Ehinger
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    • Profile picture of the author Rainboy
      I've never signed up for twitter before. Ha. Guess it would be a good time to start researching on how to market across it.
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  • Profile picture of the author instamust
    Be active on visual sites like Instagram or Pinterest. Growing your account on these sites helps you bring in lots of new leads and business.
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  • Profile picture of the author Connann
    Build a list by not buying it, import in facebook ads and create a lookalike public to offer your products to.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Pang
    Get on Yelp and Google My Business. Focus on branding as well as do highly targeted Facebook Ads
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  • Profile picture of the author Jordan brown
    There are so many wildlife photographers available in all over the world. Neal Goodall is also one of the top wildlife photography experts. Neal has long-time experience in wildlife photography. He has wonderful photography skills. His amazing documentaries and portfolios are the best inspiration of beginners. Today lots of fresher wild life photographer follows Neal Goodall to become a successful photography expert.
    https://www.quora.com/profile/Neal-Goodall-1
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