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:
The Month of April Is…
National Oral Health Month: Co-op with your local dentists on a Smile campaign. Photograph their top clients with big, beautiful or cheesy smiles (especially kids), and hang these prints in their waiting rooms and exam rooms. Heck – photograph the dentists and their staff! Encourage them to use the photos on their web site and social media (with your byline, of course). Do a co-op marketing campaign in the local newspaper with all your partner dentists, sharing the ad bill. Give each dentist a gift certificate or three to gift to their top clients – full shoot and CD of hi-res, processed photos. Have each dentist gift a certificate for No Session Fee to every client for the month.
March for Babies: Fundraiser for March of Dimes, which benefits babies born too soon. Great focus for newborn and baby photographers. Do photo stories of kids in your community who were born premature and have grown up strong and healthy – combine with family photos taken when the baby was born. Do photo stories of your area hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units, and the wonderful nurses and doctors who serve there. Share these photo stories online and with your local newspaper. At the end of the campaign, host a big play day in the park to celebrate the lives of these little miracles and those who helped them to grow up healthy and strong. Educate your community in how they can donate to March of Dimes or other local non-profits which serve the needs of newborns and their parents. Do a fundraiser mini-shoot and make your own donation.
National Occupational Therapy Month: Occupational therapists enable those with physical and mental challenges to live full lives. Tell the stories of these professionals and those they serve with great photo stories. Coordinate and share these photos with their places of employment to hang on the walls and use in their own marketing and PR. Connect with pediatric clients and offer their families a free family photo shoot. Tell stories.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Make a series of photographs which creatively, subtly, but powerfully communicate the realities of child abuse – share these as a powerful message to encourage the community to get involved. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, as public service announcements. Connect with your local Alcoholics Anonymous group and explore how you can use your photography (such as with a photo story) to create awareness, education, and empowerment.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month: On many of these awareness campaigns, your goal is to connect with the people involved in these areas within your community, and learn how you can use your creative photography to serve their cause. Choose awareness campaigns that are close to your heart, that you have a personal connection to, and involve or impact your target market. Be a liaison between these entities and your local media, and use your photography and storytelling skills to grow awareness. If you do nothing else, tell stories. Reach out, and you will find subjects who are willing to tell their story in order to empower others. For example, one PTP reader offered her services to her local women’s shelter, doing family photos for several women and children staying there.
Jazz Appreciation Month: Connect with local jazz musicians and make their portraits – they will invariably be some of the most interesting and stylish characters you will meet. Spend some time at the places they play. Hear some stories. Share those stories. Narrow your focus to jazz musicians within your niche: high school seniors who play jazz, kids whose parents or grandparents play jazz (imagine the wardrobe opportunities!). Mix in video and create a highlight reel or mini-documentary of your subjects. Ask if you can be the official photographer for your local jazz festival. Organize a free jam session for the community.
National Car Care Month: Co-op with your local auto businesses, from dealers to detailers to car washes to mechanics. Work with them to identify clients with awesome cars, and let your co-op partner gift those clients with a free photo shoot of them with their ride. Hang these portraits at the businesses that serve them. Work with your local car groups (classics, race cars, demolition derbies) to do mini-shoots of owners with their rides. Set up an informal car show and photo day at the park. Do photo stories within your niche: a high school senior’s first car, the road trips and adventures a family has had in their vehicle. Partner with auto dealers to give every new car buyer a free photo shoot.
Facial Protection Month: Another dentist-driven awareness campaign. Co-op with these local professionals, with a focus on outdoor activities safety, such as helmets and mouth guards. Co-op with your sports teams, including portraits of kids in their safety gear, and enjoying their favorite sports. Rare opportunity to focus on your local skater community and earn your way into their circles. Create some action-packed ‘sportraits’ of youth in action in their gear. Do a mini-shoot focusing on youth athletes (Mom will always – always – love a portrait of their child in a T-ball uniform).
National Humor Month: Seek out the comedians and comedy troupes in your local market. Especially in a nice-sized metro, you’ll find some of the most interesting and awesome people to get with and shoot portraits of. Combine your portraits with their jokes for a great social or meme campaign. I’ve worked with comedians on the small-time circuit in my market, and from experience, you will be hard-pressed to find a more appreciative group of fellow artists.
Mathematics Awareness Month: Co-op with your local schools, including charter and private schools. Math can be one of the hardest subjects for kids to pick up; try doing videos of teens or adults who can identify what moment, idea, concept, or teacher made math ‘click’ for them. (for me, it was Drafting class in high school with Mr. Flink!) Run with photos as a PSA (Public Service Announcement) in your local newspaper, linking to your campaign online where folks can watch the videos. Share on social with your educator and parents friends. Don’t forget homeschoolers.
National Arab American Heritage Month: Co-op with a knowledgeable fellow small business owner. Do mini-shoots with traditional props and wardrobe for the culture you’re celebrating, and use it as an educational opportunity. Do photo stories of local leaders.
National Poetry Month: Do a series of photos and videos of local poets (of all ages) reading their poems. Collect and share their stories of how they got into writing and performing poetry. Arrange a poetry slam at a co-op partner’s location and invite the community. Make connections between artists. Ask poets to submit a short poem that speaks about the importance of and feelings they have about photographs of their family, either direct or historic. Share those photographs and poems on your blog and social.
Baseball Kickoff: Professional and most Little League baseball seasons kick off in April. Co-op with your local league, teams, and athletes – as well as coaches, youth sporting good stores, high school athletic leaders, footwear stores. Do baseball and softball mini-shoots with wardrobe, props, and scene. Co-op with your local leagues or teams to do a fundraiser mini-shoot at the field.
April Fact – The birthstone for April is the diamond. Co-op with a local jeweler, give them gift certificates to gift to their top customers, run a drawing for a free photo shoots with their customers and walk-in visitors.
April Fact – Zodiac signs for April are Aries and Taurus. Run some fun promotions reaching out to these ‘personality types.’
April Fact – The birth flower for April is the sweet pea or daisy. Co-op with your local florist or garden center, do mini-shoots in their gardens and featuring their flowers.
April 1 – April Fools Day: The opportunities for fun (and foolish poor taste) are multitude. Let Google Images be your guide – hunt up an idea you can crib and localize for your target market and community. Hard to go wrong with #selfie jokes: how about you offer to rent out your camera equipment and lights and offer your services as art director so clients can make their own professional-quality selfies?
April 2 – Autism Awareness Day: Co-op with special education teachers. Photograph, collect, and share the encouraging stories of your clients or community members with autistic friends or family. Great awareness resources at Autism Speaks.
April 2 – PB&J Day: Get messy. PB&J-themed mini-shoots; co-op with a local restaurant, grocer, or health food store. Co-op with a non-profit that serves children, serve PB&J sandwiches with volunteers from the non-profit and do mini-shoots of kids getting super messy enjoying the good eats. Get free press for the event with your local paper and radio station; invite the TV folks out, too – they love cute kids too. Arrange a PB&J Championship Spread-off event (just like a good barbecue cook-off), hold as fundraiser for local hunger and nutrition non-profits. (Almost every day is a ‘food day’ of some kind: find one close to your heart at TheNibble.com.)
April 3 – Walk to Work Day: Focus on sartorial street fashion photography. Who’s out and about in interesting duds and styles today? Co-op with a downtown businesses with good outside foot traffic, and offer free street fashion photos in exchange for an e-mail address. Meet interesting people!
April 3 – Movie Release of Furious 7: I won’t list all the new movie releases for the month, but introduce here the idea of tying some of your promotions, co-op marketing efforts, and mini-shoots into popular movie releases. Heck, co-op with your local movie theater! Do fun photos of moviegoers, have movie-related props and/or wardrobe, and focus on your target market (kids, seniors, families). Couple examples: For Furious 7, co-op with your local hotrod club to set up in the theater parking lot and let moviegoers do stylish photos with the featured car(s). For Disney’s Monkey Kingdom, have little monkey-ear headbands and bananas at the ready.
April 4 – Vitamin C Day: Co-op with a local grocer, farmer’s market, health food store on an orange or orange juice mini-shoot or in-store promotion. Do a headshot or environmental portrait with a co-op pharmacist partner and produce a ready-to-run article on the benefits of Vitamin C supplements to share with your blog readers and the local newspaper.
April 4 – International Carrot Day: Co-op with grocer, snap photos of kids snapping into crisp, fresh carrots.
April 4 – Full Moon: Time to get wild. Pet photographers, run a special for local pups who look like their wild wolf cousins. Moonlight couples portraits.
April 5 – Easter: Always a popular holiday for mini-shoots with colorful eggs, easter bunny stuffed animals, and live rabbits and chicks. Try bunny ears and bunny costumes too. A great way to get face time with first-time clients, mini-shoots offer a low barrier of entry and a ‘great excuse’ to have professional photos done. Work with your local newspaper on a “cutest bunny” contest, with kids in bunny ears or costumes. Get ahead of the game so the newspaper can publish the week of Easter, and so parents and grandparents have their purchased photos delivered in time to post on Easter day. Connect with your local churches and photograph their special Easter services – the rituals can be very powerful and visually interesting.
April 5 – National Read a Map Day: A map makes for an interesting and fun background for photos. Do a map mini-shoot for kids, and have them tell you about where they want to visit one day and why, and what their coolest travel experience has been in their lives. Share these on social. Co-op with your local geography teachers.
April 6 – Tartan Day: Celebrating Scottish-Americans. Go for kilts and bagpipes. Host a Scottish-themed party at the local pub, inviting folks out in their finest kilts. See if you can get a bagpiper to participate in the festivities. Do a mini-shoot with kilt, bagpipe, and cap wardrobe for kids.
April 7 – World Health Day: Focused on food safety, so co-op with your local grocer, a mom and pop restaurant, culinary arts school, health inspector, or other food-related entity. Tell the stories of the people behind the food.
April 7 – No Housework Day: French maid boudoir mini-shoot special (beats taking out the trash). Co-op with your local hardware or cleaning stores on a household cleaning products / tools promotion. Co-op with a maid or house cleaning service to give away a free house cleaning and photo shoot in a contest. Offer discounted or free staff headshots for your local maid or house cleaning services.
April 7 – National Beer Day: The anniversary of Roosevelt’s first steps toward ending Prohibition. The co-op opportunities are many: bars, breweries, restaurants with great beer selections, home brewers, bartenders, clubs. Prohibition-era clothing, cars, and style.
April 8 – Draw a Bird Day: With roots going back to a World War II hospital in England, this day has more a more poignant background than you might think. Hold a Facebook contest for a free photo shoot. Have fans draw a bird, post to their Wall, and tag your business page for an entry into the contest. Ask them to share with their friends so they have a chance to win as well. Co-op the promotion with a local pet store or retailer that serves bird owners. Co-op with a local birding or nature group.
April 9 – Winston Churchill Day: English bulldog mini-shoots. English bulldogs dressed as Winston Churchill contest. Co-op with pet store or pet food retailer.
April 10 – Sibling Day: Sibling photos mini-shoots. Come dressed the same (the exact same) and get your photos for free. Come up with a funny theme or funny poses to show both sibling love and sibling rivalry.
April 10 – International Safety Pin Day: Reach out to your crunchy local moms who cloth diaper their kiddos (although they rarely use safety pins these days). Rare and fun opportunity to reach out to your local alt community, your tattoo artists and piercers, and those who love them.
April 11 – Barbershop Quartet Day: Photo stories on your local quartets. If none exist today, did they at one time in your community? Who was in them? Are they old men now? Do portraits of them now, and collect photos of them then from the men themselves, to share on your blog, social, and with your local newspaper.
April 12 – National Library Week: Co-op with your local library, literacy group, school librarians, book store, and/or teachers. Do mini-shoots at the library of kids reading their favorite stories. Super cute young readers? Do videos of them reading their favorite stories out loud. Do mini-shoots of kids dressed up as their favorite book characters.
April 12-18 – Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week: Work with doctors and nurses to tell their stories and recognize their service, and/or work with patients to tell their stories, especially those who have recovered and whose stories can provide encouragement for those undergoing treatment now.
April 12 – Licorice Day: Co-op with grocer or retailer. In-store mini-shoots of people enjoying their favorite treat. Do cute Lady and the Tramp-style photos of couples sharing a licorice stick all the way to a kiss – and capture the resultant laughing kisses.
April 13 – Scrabble Day: Host a Scrabble tournament for your target market. Top winners take home gift certificates for photo shoots. Do Scrabble and other board game photos of kids playing together in the park. Co-op with your local game and card shop.
April 13 – Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday: Founding Fathers mini-shoots, periwigs and all. Co-op with local library, teachers, or independence-minded groups.
April 14 – Equal Pay Day: Advocating for equal pay for women, red clothing is the official color for this day. Host a red-wardrobe focused mini-shoot. Do portraits of local women in positions of leadership in civic and business positions. Collect their stories of how they overcame challenges to earn their positions, and share these on your blog, social, newspaper, and teachers who mentor or serve young women.
April 15 – That Sucks Day: Also the last day to file income taxes, one of the most universally despised dates in America. Co-op with local tax preparers to help their clients “turn That Sucks day into I Filed Early! day.” Before and After photos: pre-filing, post-refund. Good to combine irreverent portraits with a tax preparer co-op partner for a marketing campaign.
April 18-23 – Consumer Awareness Week: Educating consumers to their rights and protections, this is a chance to show how you go above and beyond the requirements as a business owner, especially in the arena of guarantees. If you have a satisfaction guarantee, talk it up. If clients have complained about bad experiences with other photographers, talk about how you differ and strive to create an exceptional, risk-free experience for your clients.
April 16 – National D.A.R.E. Day: Another collaboration opportunity for children’s photographers. Work with your local D.A.R.E. law enforcement officer to reward kids who say no to drug abuse. Shoot a series of children with D.A.R.E. posters, stickers or pins for the local organization to use in their newspaper and social media campaign.
April 16 – High Five Day: Offer a free street portrait for anyone who hooks you up with a quality High Five (and an e-mail address). Get funny photos of friends high-fiving each other. Hold a contest for people to post and tag you in their most outrageous, funny, or awesome high-five photos.
April 17 – World Hemophilia Day: World Federation of Hemophilia offers materials and information to help spread awareness about bleeding disorders. Again, as with most awareness campaigns, use your creative, artistic, and storytelling abilities to educate and empower your community to support the challenged and less fortunate.
April 17 – Bat Appreciation Day: Almost anywhere you live, there is a nearby bat cave. Grab some gorgeous photos of these invaluable creatures leaving their homes, and send the shots and a good educational story to your local newspaper. Share on social. Co-op with teachers to do educational coloring pages about bats – both what bats do for us, and how they shouldn’t be touched even if they appear sick or dead.
April 18 – Pet Owners Independence Day: Pet mini-shoots, with and without owner. Even if you don’t normally shoot pets, earn some dollars and/or e-mail addresses with a pet mini-shoot. Co-op with your local pet store, pet food store, and/or animal shelters or animal groups.
April 19 – Bicycle Day: Do street photography of bicyclists and their rides. Show them in the context of the community they ride in. Do a marketing campaign to build up attention for the day in your local community of cyclists, and set up at a promoted location to do rider + bike photos. Co-op with local bike shop or riding groups.
April 19 – World Circus Day: Three-ring circus mini-shoots – wardrobe from ringmaster to animal costumes. Have locals who work or have worked in the circus? What are their stories, and their special talents? Have a local upstanding, ethical, animal-friendly circus? Tell their story.
April 19-25 – Administrative Professionals Week / Day (April 22): Seek out local co-op partner businesses large enough to have administrative professionals (secretaries, receptionists), and offer ‘the boss’ gift certificates for photo shoots to present to staff for their special day. If you’re hustling for bookings, offer the certificates for free, or for an e-mail address; if you’re hustling for dollars, offer the certificates BOGO – when the boss buys one for his family or to give as a present, he gets a free certificate in the same value to gift to his staff.
April 20 – The Boston Marathon: Co-op with local sporting goods or footwear stores, gyms, fitness trainers. Create an inspirational video (a la Nike) that features local runners of all fitness levels. Arrange a Moving For Beginners event where beginners can learn about how to walk, jog and run safely and injury-free – work with experienced runners to present information, tell stories, and give examples. Do a series of educational videos leading up to the marathon, such as Running 101 In Mills County, featuring the advice of local runners – both on the basics of running, and on the best and most beautiful trails or routes in your area. Do some promotional photos showing off your sportrait skills and build a campaign inviting local athletes and trainers to use you for their promotional photos.
April 20 – National Princess Week: All Frozen, All The Time. Princess costume mini-shoots. Princess for a day promotion, co-op with your local spa. Street photography – how many people can you get to wear a tiara and make a funny princess face for your camera?
April 20 – Chinese Language Day: Co-op with a local Chinese food restaurant, hold a fortune cookie eating contest and submit the funniest photos to your local newspaper. Work with area Asian-American business owners, tell their stories.
April 21 – Kindergarten Day: Connect with local kindergarten teachers. Do photo stories of “a day in the life of a kindergarten teacher.” Do ‘photo day’ for the kiddos, raising funds for the classroom or just collecting e-mail addresses. Do video interviews with kindergarteners, getting “kids say the darndest things” type responses to edit into a highlight reel to share on your blog and social. (Mommas almost automatically share this with their circles)
April 22 – Earth Day: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose. How about a mini-shoot shot entirely with a pinhole camera? Or work with your local electronics or camera repair shop to have people bring in their old or broken cameras for repair and redistribution to local kids and photography students. Or, host a Kids Day craft event, teaching kids to make their own pinhole cameras, photographing them working as little photographers with their pinhole cameras, and then holding a contest for the most interesting and artistic photo produced from those pinhole cameras. You could charge as little as $5 per child for materials, or do it as a loss-leader to get face time with kids and parents, and get them on your e-mail list for future family or children’s photo shoots.
April 22 – Jelly Bean Day: Hold a kid and pet costume contest for Cutest Jelly Bean. Do a Facebook contest to ‘guess the jelly beans in the jar’. Do mini-shoot portraits at your local grocer: have a kid sit in a chair, give them a jelly bean, and tell them as soon as they put it in their mouth and take a bite, you want them to make a face that shows what they think of the flavor. Get a mix of faces with different flavors – sweet, sour, weird. Capture those faces, and capture parents’ dollars or e-mail addresses.
April 23 – Talk Like Shakespeare Day: Set up in the park or a high-traffic area in town. Have signage and tell folks what day it is – ask them to talk like Shakespeare (extra points for quoting The Bard himself). If they’ll do it, take their photo, get an e-mail address, and send them your lovely portrait. One notch better: record people talking like Shakespeare, give people your card and direct them to your blog, make a funny highlight reel, post to Social, then publish a blog post talking about your efforts to get people to Talk Like Shakespeare, and direct people to click over to your post on Social to see themselves and their friends invoking The Bard.
April 23 – Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day: Do mini-shoots of parents and their kids dressed for the same profession or work. Promote the day and encourage locals to participate, and to swing by your portrait setup at the park or with a co-op partner (such as a local bank) before or after work for a portrait, parent and kid(s).
April 23 – National Architecture Week: Feature local architects, and if also local, their designs. Tell their stories. Share their photos and drawings of their work.
April 24 – Arbor Day: Co-op with your local gardening store. Do portraits of gardeners in their award-winning (or should be) gardens. Co-op with local orchards for orchard tours and photos, and telling their stories. Co-op with a local sustainable logging and lumber company to show how they do what they do – tell their story.
April 24 – Pig In a Blanket Day: Co-op with your local bakery. Give away free pigs in a blanket in exchange for a quick portrait and e-mail address. Have wardrobe on hand and do photos of kids wrapped up in blankets with piggy noses and ears. Every participant gets a free pig in a blanket.
April 25 – Hug a Plumber Day: Co-op with your local plumbers. Do funny photos of these plumbers getting big hugs – from kids, from pretty women, from their wives, from the cashier at the grocer, from their banker, from a police officer, etc. One step beyond: do a funny photo series of plumbers getting hugged by their clients while in awkward positions doing their jobs (under the sink, crawling under a house, with water spraying in their face) – over the top hugs and smiles from their clients. “April 25 is Hug a Plumber Day. While we encourage you to hug your plumber – please wait until they’re done working.” Have fun with it.
April 25 – National Frog Day: Co-op with your local zoo. Do froggy mini-shoots and costumes. Do a kiss-a-frog contest, and share those photos of squinched-up faces on social.
April 26 – National Pretzel Day: Co-op with whoever sells pretzels in your market. Get funny photos of couples being goofy – ask them to try to tie their bodies into a pretzel. Snap photos. Get e-mail addresses. Share on Social.
April 27 – Morse Code Day: Do a mysterious post on your blog and Social with nothing but dots and dashes. Have the message read something like: “Happy Morse Code Day! Call 555-555-5555 to be entered to win a $200 photo shoot gift certificate!” Find out who in your community can write or read Morse Code – do a photo story on when, how, and why they learned. Tell stories.
April 29 – International Guide Dog Day: Great day for pet photographers. Feature local guide dog owners, their pets, and even their trainers.
April 29 – International Dance Day: Co-op with your local dance teachers. Do ‘sportrait’ style, mid-action or mid-performance dance photos. Do a funny dance photo contest – set up in a high-traffic area or hit the street and ask people to give you their funniest, best, or worst dance – do photos and/or video, collect e-mail addresses, share on Social.
April 30 – National Hairstylist Appreciation Day: Co-op with your local salon, barber, hairstylist, hair and make-up artists. Do street photography of ladies and gentlemen with those most exquisite and interesting hairstyles.
Now get out there, get social, connect with your community, tell stories, and earn your reputation as a creative and engaged artist.
- It’s easy when faced with a lot of options to choose the worst one of all: nothing. If you do nothing else, pick one holiday you can get behind, and work it. Pick one each month and really go deep: blog posts, social campaigns, memes, posters featuring your art, contests, co-op with a series of small business or non-profit partners, get familiar with your local media reporters and engage them in your campaign, and always have a sales funnel in place so those people who are touched by your art in all these endeavors have a clear path to becoming paying clients or advocates for your business in the community.
- Brainstorm session: Get out your pen and paper. Of the many holiday marketing opportunities above, which one really speaks to you? Which one makes a clear connection in your mind between you and your target market? If you committed to your best creativity and marketing for this holiday, what would you do? How would you engage on your web site, your blog, your social media channels, your local media, and your target market? Brainstorm as many ways as you can think of – you can toss the wild ideas later. And some of those wild ideas may end up being your most successful, so don’t know them out with the bathwater.
- What holidays did I miss? What creative holiday-related marketing ideas would you like to try out?
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- If anything in this post has spoken to and inspired you, please comment below, drop me an e-mail, or call or text me at 830-688-1564 and let me know. I’d love to hear how you use these ideas to better your part time photography business!
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