In the pre-Internet days of photography the main ways of marketing your photography business was through passing trade from a shop window and Yellow Pages. Well, Yellow Pages are no longer printed, and the internet gives photographers the opportunity if you don’t have a shop.
I started my Studio Portraiture side of my business on the 2nd January 2019 working from Ocean Studios in Plymouth. My main options for marketing were organic search engine hits to my website (SEO), Google Adwords (Google Ads), Bark, Bidvine, Yell and social media.
Organic hits was a nice place to be, it is free, and a constant reference to potential customers, but unfortunately organic hits takes time and hard work to kick in. The rest of the list other than FaceBook, costs money and is expensive.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. I needed to optimise my website so it can be searched by search engines on the internet. Search engines use algorithms to assess the website’s content, description and keywords. Keywords can be single words such as the name of your business, but more generic words are best to be phrases. Common phrases such as Portrait Photographer, will have thousands of searches but less likely to find you. If you are more more pacific by adding a location, it greatly narrows down searches. For example, Portrait Photographer Plymouth. Their are less searches with more specific key words, but it increases the chances of you being found if they are used.
To show up on Google’s radar, my website needed to be crawled with a spider. At the time of writing this post one of my keywords was in position 22 and another was in 97. That buts the first key word on the third page and the second on the tenth. Most people only look at the first page. My key words are so far down the bottom of the page, there is next to no chance of being found.
Adwords, now been renamed as Google Ads, is a pay for clicks service. Adwords add their own keywords, but I can add as many of my own as I like. Adwords provide statistics for the number of impressions and the number of clicks to my website. The statistics show the number of impressions and clicks for each keyword. This can be useful to determine which keywords to use on my website.
But Adwords can be expensive. The cost of clicks range from £2 to £4.50 depending on the popularity of the keyword. Most people browse and shop around without converting to a customer. And paying £4.50 for someone just to look at your website, seems expensive. During a three week period, I had 330 impressions and twelve clicks at a cost of £30.
Bark and Bidvine
Bark and Bidvine are similar services. I created a free profile in each. They are both present on the first page of Google searches for my keywords, and I need to buy credits to make a bid or given the customers contact details. The credits equate to about a pound a credit, and each contact or bid can be between 8 and 15 credits, which is expensive if the bid doesn’t convert into a booking.
With Bark you can pay £100 for Elite membership so my profile is at the top for searches. But I have found it was always me that had to contact the customer using up credits. If the contact didn’t convert to a booking, I still lost the credits, which equate between £8 and £15, ouch. So far, I have made one booking with Bark over a period of three months. I won’t be buying anymore credits and Elite membership. But customers can view and write reviews and rate my service. Potential customers can view the reviews without registering with Bark. I have a link from my website to my Bark profile to confirm my reviews.
So far I haven’t spent any money with Bidvine. You can buy credits like Bark, but I’ve opted for the automatic bid option. I’ve set a limit of £34 a week on bids, but so far there haven’t been any bids. I can ask for a refund if I don’t win a customers booking, which is fairer than Bark. Customers can write reviews, but any visiting potential customers need to register to view my reviews.
Since I started my studio portrait service from Ocean Studios, I have been advertising my services in FaceBook for free, by posting a promotion in FaceBook groups which I’m a member. I offered Time For Print (TFP) session in acting groups (which are a target audience) on the 2nd March at Ocean Studios. This allowed me to expand my portfolio as well as providing free publicity. Some of the actors who I provided a portfolio for, have also increased my profile on FaceBook.
In the end, it is best to gain organic hits on my website so I can be found by customers looking for my services.