How do I promote myself?
Like any business, you'll have to devote time and money to advertising - particularly when you're just starting out and building your reputation.
Many wedding photographers choose to advertise through traditional channels such as Yellow Pages and ads in the local press, as well as specialist websites such as Find a Wedding Photographer. You may also want to consider giving out leaflets and brochures; these can be left with wedding dress and other related high street shops, as well as country houses and hotels where weddings and receptions are staged.
If you want to network and meet potential clients face to face, you may want to check out wedding fairs. however Paul Spiers, of photographymarketing.co.uk, warns that "wedding fairs have the highest cost and can be very hard to get into. One of my clients was recently told by the organisers of a large wedding fair that she could fill the room three times over, just with photographers."
Overall, Spiers estimates that a photographer focusing solely on weddings should expect to spend around £1,500 on advertising in their first year.
When it comes to portrait photography, Spiers says that "the work is nearly all generated by direct response marketing, such as direct mail or having a promotional stand at a location with a high footfall. These are of course very expensive, but also very productive if done well. Costs vary greatly depending upon location and average footfall.
"I would estimate a budget of £3000 - £5000, just for promotional stands. All in, a portrait photographer could reasonably expect to spend £8,000 and £10,000 per year on marketing."
These costs can seem prohibitive, but there are also several low-cost avenues you can explore. Spiers says that "generating work from the internet can be done for very little money, if you are prepared to work hard at SEO yourself," and there is plenty of potential in social media. For example Twitter can work wonders for your business, provided you're selective in who you follow, deliver relevant information about your business on your feed and offer proactive information in retweets and responses.
As you become better known, some of your work will come from word-of-mouth recommendations, so your advertising spend may drop in time.