The launch of Calm the Chaos is right around the corner, you guys. This is my baby (pun fully intended). For today’s episode I pulled some of the information straight out of the course to share with you. Part of the course walks you through marketing your newborn photography business.
If you find it helpful and you want to learn more about the course, you can click this link in the show notes to get more details. Or you can always shoot me a DM on Instagram. I love to chat with you and answer any and all of your questions about the course. I think newborn photography can be one of the more difficult niches to initially start in. There’s really a small window of time that’s optimal for photographing the baby. And so it’s not as easy as, say, grabbing a family and going out and shooting in a field at sunset. So today we’re gonna talk about a few ways you can get started in newborn photography and how to book more newborn clients.
Breaking into newborn photography can be pretty daunting at first. If you don’t have any newborn images in your newborn portfolio, then you’re not going to have that trust factor with clients. This can make it pretty hard to get booked. So to start off, I would definitely recommend doing a model call.
Be specific about what you’re looking for. For example, I’m looking for a mama who’s due in October, or a baby that is between 7 and 21 days old during certain timeframe. Now, I don’t usually charge for my model calls, but that’s not to say you can’t. I’ve seen photographers who give five images free and let the models buy more if they would like. Inevitably, it’s up to you how you want to run your model call. It’s really important to make sure your models know that you will be posting them on social media and your website. Make sure to get that model release signed up front. Because if they don’t let you do that, then it was really a pointless free shoot. Right?
All right, so now you have images to work with. Now what? How do you use those images to book paying clients? We live in a world where we want results now, we love instant gratification and it’s why we’re addicted to our phones and why we feel that hit of dopamine when we get a like on our images. But, to have a truly sustainable business where we aren’t relying on hustling daily to book clients, we have to work on our marketing long game. A lot of what we do now is going to pay off in three months, six months, nine months from now, especially with newborn clients.
Think about it like this, if someone is a newly pregnant mom they aren’t usually going to book us next week. They see our images when they’re eight weeks pregnant and put a little mental bookmark by our name, then we have three to four months to build this relationship with them. During that time we take them from, “oh, those are pretty images” to, “I love that photographer and I want to book with them!” But we don’t see this process happen. It can be really hard to do all this work and get crickets for months and months. So keep the long game in mind when you’re marketing. Don’t give up after a couple weeks. If you want this, you’re going to have to stay consistent and work for it.
Now I’m breaking these newborn marketing tips into three tiers. The first is going to be top priority. The second is going to be the second most important, and third is going to be a filler. You should focus on the top tier first, the second tier next, and lastly, tier three. And I’ll explain why at the end.
Tier one of your marketing plan, this is going to be the most important form of marketing. It’s always going to be community, word of mouth, and referrals. When you get a recommendation from a friend you automatically have a sense of trust for that person you’re going to be working with. It’s so important to utilize the people you already know. A lot of the times our current clients are going to be our biggest cheerleaders. You can honor the support by implementing a referral program. When the clients, or friends, recommend a new client and they book with you, you can give the referring person a discount on a future session. It’s such an easy way to say thank you for supporting me.
In addition to word of mouth, share your business in the community. Partner with a local baby boutique, pediatricians, OBs, mom’s groups, daycares, etc. You can ask to hand out flyers, offer to hang canvases up for decoration, do a popup where you take photos at an event, or donate a session to a charity or a benefit for children. The opportunities are endless here!
Recently, I have printed canvases and hung them at my OB’s office. I printed a QR code and put my business information on little plaques that hang beside the canvases. At the time of recording this episode, I have five track scans and I finally got those QR codes hung up like less than two weeks ago. So I’m definitely playing the long game on this one, and it was a pretty big up front expense. But, if I just book two sessions from the office, it’ll more than pay for itself. Side note, when investing in my business, I always think about the ROI, which is return of investment. What could I get back from doing this? It makes it a bit easier to spend money on growing your business when you think of the return you’re gonna get from the money you invest.
The second tier of your marketing plan will be your website, SEO, blogging, and Pinterest. Let’s call this technical marketing. This is where people who you don’t necessarily know will find you. Why am I putting this tier above social media if it’s going to be a slower gain? All right, yes, this tier takes a fair bit of work and knowledge up front, but once it’s done and set, you can gain clients from these sources as long as the content exists. It’s called long form content.
You can post a blog, a website, a pin, etc. and it’ll get traffic to your website for years and years. I posted a blog about how to photograph in the box photos and a link to get a free template by joining my email list. This blog was originally posted about one year ago. The longer it lives, the more traffic it gains. At this point in time, I get about an average of two email signups per day from this one blog post. And I have not touched it since I wrote it except to transfer it when I switched my website over.
Now let’s translate that to you as a newborn photographer. Let’s say you write a blog post about how to prepare for a lifestyle newborn session. You do all the things, you optimize it for SEO on Google, you pin it to Pinterest. During the discovery phase, a potential client hops on Google or Pinterest (both are search platforms), they’re looking for tips to prepare for a newborn session. Maybe they happen to also type in your location (remember you optimized it for SEO already). So your location is on the blog and your image or your blog post pops up for them. They click it, they decide that they like your work and inevitably they book with you. That one to two hours you spent to write this post brought you a whole client! Even if you just book one client, it’s totally worth the time spent, right?
But let’s say no local clients ever click on your link, but you get several non-local people just curious about how to prepare for their session. Google sees this traffic, Google likes that you’re getting this traffic and you get bumped in the rankings and you’re more likely to get found on Google. You can also direct all of your newborn clients to this blog post before their session for tips to get ready for their their own session. Again, you’re playing the long game on this one. It’s totally worth the ROI in my opinion.
Tier three of your marketing plan is going to be social media. Your first two forms of marketing can drive clients to your social media and you can use your platform to connect with your clients and your potential clients. You want to let them get to know you and fall in love with you. You want to use social media for what it was created for, to be social.
Now, you can double down on your marketing. You have inquiries coming from word of mouth and from your website. You can supplement that with social media. It’s great because yes, it’s a quick and easy way to get seen by new people, however, keep in mind with social media that your content really only lives for a day or two. And after those first initial days, it’s not seen quite as much. You have to keep posting in order to be found. With that being said, I do tend to book more clients when I share a lot of newborn sessions on social media.
So, if you have the bandwidth to post every day and you aren’t burning yourself out, go for it. You will see benefits from that. Just don’t put all of your eggs in this basket and burn yourself out, because the algorithm is always changing and you aren’t always gonna get seen. Don’t worry about it because you have two other solid forms of marketing in place. So the pressure is totally off social media. You can spend as little or as much time on these platforms as you want to. You can take a break and you don’t have to worry that you won’t be booking clients because you’re not posting.
I said I would explain why I put these three tiers from most important to least important. So let’s say you only have five hours a week to focus on marketing. Go ahead right now and look at your screen time on Instagram for the last seven days. How much time did you spend on it? All right, in the last seven days, I spent, yikes, 7 hours and 47 minutes on Instagram. All right, note to self, spend less time on Instagram.
Let’s say I hadn’t spent any time working on the first two tiers of marketing. I could log off Instagram for one week, spend nearly eight hours on the long forms of marketing, write seven blog posts, visit places in my community to partner up with. I could do a lot in eight hours, and those things would live a lot longer than whatever I was doing on Instagram last week.
Let’s recap. I want you to focus on community marketing first, which is word of mouth referral programs. Get out in your community and see where you can get yourself visible. Second, work on the technical forms of marketing. Go listen to episode 10 for tips on SEO for your website. Write some blog posts that are related to newborn photography. And third, when you’ve spent time on the other forms of marketing first, then hop onto social media and use it to get social and connect with your clients.
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