Marketing your photography business by the holidays (71 ideas) for April 2015

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on April 1, 2015

in This is Business

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It’s springtime, which should have your photographer heart going pitter-patter. I looked outside this evening when I got home from putting the newspaper out, and saw the first green buds appearing on the trees in my yard.

Spring has sprung!

Now is the time to look ahead to April, and what marketing opportunities you’re going to build a campaign around.

From helping to engage the public on a variety of causes, to fun wardrobe and mini-shoot opportunities, to countless good excuses to make new contacts and connections, holidays are a powerful tool for growing the scope, depth, and community awareness of your photography.

Here’s an outrageously big list of ideas to play with:

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Post image for 72 ways to rock your photography marketing campaign online, on social, in print and in person

In the February 2015 edition of Inc. Magazine, Lexus advertises on a double-truck spread their Lexus NX Turbo with the headline:

Go Beyond Utility

This is a great theme to borrow for a marketing campaign as a part time professional photographer:

Go Beyond Good Enough

You may look around your market at other photographers and consider them your competition – from the amateurs doing extensive portfolio building at low prices to boutique artists serving the luxury end of the market.

But do you know who is really stealing your clients?





More than anyone?


First through low-cost prosumer digital cameras (the same you may be using yourself), and now through always-on-hand smartphones, it has never been easier to get good enough portraits.

Good enough family portraits.

Stylish enough senior photos.

Cute enough baby photos.

In the digital realm, consumer-photographers can shoot spray and pray – just shoot a thousand photos and hope one comes out good enough to Share.

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

With enough apps and filters, good enough is more than good enough for most people. They’re getting Likes on Facebook and Instagram, so they must be good enough, right?

You know what?

They are good enough.

It’s not up to you or me or any artist (note the lowercase A) to criticize the taste of the market.

What the market will bear is what the market will bear, from the price of a cup of coffee to the price of a professional photo shoot.

So how do we convert the ‘good enough’ crowd into clients?

By going beyond good enough.

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Confidence comes with acceptance

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on March 8, 2015

in This is Art,This is Business,This is Life

Post image for Confidence comes with acceptance

The seemingly never-ending insecurity we photographers experience is born from our stubborn, fearful refusal to accept where we are in our journey up the mountain of success.

We don’t accept that to get where we want to be as artists and as business owners, we have to start here, where we are today – and that’s okay. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We don’t accept that our art, prices, marketing, web site, business cards, client rapport, social skills, Photoshop skills, selling skills are not as good as they’re going to be in the future, but are more than good enough to give our very best effort starting today – and that’s okay. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We don’t accept that our photographer heroes are human beings who climbed the same mountain that lies ahead of us. Every path may be different, some may have been blessed by exceptional talent or opportunity, but every successful artist has had to climb the same mountain – and that’s okay. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

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How to run a gift certificate sale on Facebook

March 5, 2015
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“Want to save on your next John Doe Photography photo shoot?

I have a few open bookings on my April calendar, and I’d like to get those filled – even at a deep discount.

So I have two half-price gift certificates available: normally valued at $200, today you can pick up a gift certificate good for a 30-minute session and 10 hi-res, fully processed files on CD for only $99.

If you’ve been thinking about a professional photo shoot for your family, or you need the perfect, thoughtful, custom gift for a family member or friend, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

These 50%-off certificates go fast, so send me a PM with your e-mail address quickly and I’ll e-mail you a simple PayPal invoice to make your purchase.

Thank you for welcoming my art and business onto your Facebook timeline!”

If you’ve ever needed to generate a little extra cash flow, or book up some quiet dates on your shooting schedule, a gift certificate offer on social media can get you back to booked solid with paying clients, even if those folks are paying less than your typical rate.

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Mailbag: First steps to learning marketing

February 8, 2015
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Would you like to read more Reader Q&A posts? Leave a comment below or drop me an e-mail to let me know!


I ran across your blog and it’s inspired me to dust off an old dream of mine of being a pro photographer. I’m a newb when it comes to marketing however. Most of my advertising efforts and marketing would be through social media. Do you have any pointers or tips, or references to books or articles that would help me figure out where to get started?

Thanks in advance,

Marketing 101


Thank you so much for your e-mail and your readership! Excited to hear you’re going to make a go at the dream of being a pro photographer. It’s never too late – my ‘most experienced’ reader is 88 years old and still learning and hustling!

The best books I know on advertising and marketing for part time photographers are:

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It’s time to Do The Work

January 14, 2015
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It’s time.

Not for another kick-off-the-new-year ra ra cheerleader post.

Not for another “this will be the year that you make your dreams come true” pep talk.

Not for another January where you get excited, make some awesome to-do lists, then get to March or August or next New Year’s and realize with numb regret how little you’ve done.

(You know you’re not living right when you’re so used to disappointing yourself that your don’t even feel regret anymore.)

It’s time to reframe the entire discussion, in your head and with those whom you’ve told your dreams, into one of excitement and conviction.

Damnit y’all, you and I and everyone in this position where we have a camera in our hands and a dream in our hearts are blessed.

We have the opportunity to exercise our art to create a side income for ourselves and our families.

We have the opportunity to earn benefits artistic, financial and social through our work.

We are lucky. We are envied by those less fortunate across the globe.

Living your dream of being a part time professional photographer is just a choice away. We have no one whose permission we have to ask – the opportunity is there if we want to take it.

But we aren’t acting blessed, are we?

We’re not acting lucky, or graced with opportunity, or empowered to make the choices that will shape our future.

Instead, we choose through inaction to be scared.

We choose through inaction to be unworthy.

We choose through inaction to be weak.

We choose to read another book and another blog post, to hack through another Photoshop tutorial, to pour over a dozen more camera body or lens reviews or sample shots.

We choose to do none of the things, take none of the actions, which we perceive as introducing the chance of discomfort or failure. We choose to fear discomfort (which is not unhappiness) more than we fear disappointing ourselves.

It’s time.

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Thumbnail image for 14 ways you’re NOT ruining the photography industry

14 ways you’re NOT ruining the photography industry

November 11, 2014

If you’re tired of being spoken down to, degraded, discouraged and treated like a cancer on the photography industry – this one’s for you.

PTP exists because of posts like this:

Dear cheap-but-good photographer: you are ruining my life and this industry“, by the talented and tenacious photographer Jamie Pflughoeft of Cowbelly Pet Photography up in Seattle.

Jamie is a wonderfully talented artist, a leader in the pet photography niche. She is worth every penny she asks and her art is a true blessing to her clients, a value we should all strive to give. Let me be clear: I absolutely respect Jamie and the work she does, for her clients and fellow photographers.

But in her post, and in much of the established photography industry, there is a frustration that is violently misdirected toward startup and low-end photographers like you and me.

That discouraging voice greatly slowed my growth as a professional photographer throughout my career, and is why for five years now I’ve been writing PTP, to give startup photographers a voice of encouragement and realistic guidance as they embark on the amazing journey of becoming a working artist.

Folks, Jamie is frustrated.

As most grognards are – nobody without a fear of scarcity reacts so strongly to aggressive competition, either manifest presently or the perceived potential.

With lower barriers to entry in the portraiture industry (the digital revolution), there has been a flood of newcomers offering, as Jamie frames it, “cheap-but-good” options in every market.

Jamie, with intense frustration, contends that those cheap-but-good photographers are ruining her life and the photography industry.

Whoops…let me slip my hand up. Duly convicted.

Read more inside…

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