18 Tips for Growing a Photography Business

Tips for Growing a Photography Business


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

The #1 concern almost every photographer has is….

“How do I get more clients?”

And that’s a fair question!

But there is more to growing a
photography business than getting more clients.

Here are 18 quick tips for growing a photography business today.

Why 18?

This year marks 18 years of my boutique portrait business, Sarah Petty Photography, so it felt like a good number 😉

Here they are:

#1. Treat your clients like friends (because they are)

Know their names, their children’s’ names, their birthdays and what is important to them. Keep in touch. Don’t just take their photo, take their money and exit their lives.

photography marketing for family clients

Treat your clients like family. Because they are!

#2. Remember you’re running a business

When I make an investment in equipment, education or props I ask myself how will this help me make more money? If it doesn’t, then I put it on my wish list for gifts or save it until the end of the year when I know how much money I made for ‘extras’.

#3. Give FIRST before you ASK

I’m always on the look out for opportunities to help fellow business owners in my community. When I meet a business owner I ask “What can I do to help you grow your business?” I know it will come back to me ten-fold if I give generously of my time, advice and talents.

#4. Don’t forget: you are not your target audience

This is a hard one to remember. Just because you wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars on portraits doesn’t mean your clients can’t or won’t.

Finding the target audience for your photography

Don’t forget: you are not your target audience

#5. Surprise people (in a good way)

Blow away your clients’ expectations of what a photographer should do. Don’t just show up, shoot the session and throw the images on a jump drive. When you go above and beyond their expectations, they’ll say you’re worth every penny.

#6. Focus on YOU…not your competitors

You don’t know their goals, their financial situation or what their end game is. Focus on YOU and what YOU do best. That’s an important part of growing a photography business.

#7. Do fewer things better

Instead of spreading my marketing budget and my time over 15 things and skimping on them all, I do 3 or 4 big marketing activities really well.

Marketing Calendar for growing a photography business

The Autofocus Marketing Calendar for Photographers

#8. Put family first

I went into business to have more time with my family so I have to be careful to protect the ‘creep’ of business taking away from my family. I don’t do evening or weekend sessions. I explain to my clients why. They respect my family first values and we schedule around my family time.

#9. Marketing = Freedom

The more time I spend marketing, the better clients I attract. And the better clients I attract, the higher my portrait average is. And the higher portrait average is, the fewer sessions I need to photograph…and therefore the more FREEDOM I have to take vacations, spend time with my family and invest in fun things for my business.

#10. Shop locally

Can I find what I need cheaper on Amazon? Many times, yes. But supporting local businesses is important if I expect them to support me. It’s hard to grow your photography business without local support.

photography packaging

Shop locally

#11. Buy time with your money

My friend John Hartman taught me this years ago. I’m frugal when it comes to investing in shiny gadgets and fun props. Instead, I invest my money getting more time in my life so that my time spent on my business is one things that make me money that no one else can do: selling, shooting and marketing. I don’t retouch my own images. I have a bookkeeper take care of my accounting. I trade with a designer to work on my marketing materials. And when I’m not in my business, I have more quality family time for my family.

#12. Know your numbers

Always. If you don’t know what your costs are to produce your photos, then you’ll never understand how to make more money with your photography. Understand your cost of sales, your expenses and your net and gross revenue for starters. Here’s a resource that can help.


Know how to profitably price your photography with this course

#13. Support local charities

I may not be able to give by writing a big check, but I can give with my time, my photography and my creativity. I have a handful of local charities I support as well as my own community fund.

#14. Act like a professional

Professionals don’t gripe about other businesses on social media. And professionals follow through on their commitments. They show up on time. They answer their phone and return calls. They deliver their products and services on time. And they give back to their community rather than always taking from it. They mentor young people and provide internships.

#15. Be a sponge

Never stop learning. I always have education scheduled on the calendar. I read business books. I go to conferences. I research what other businesses are doing well outside the photography industry for opportunities to try new things at Sarah Petty Photography. If you don’t have any education on the calendar now, this is a good place to start.

Pet photography marketing

Be a sponge.

#16. Don’t say yes on the spot

Come home, pull out your decision making filter and decide if the opportunity really fits your goals. Then compose a nice response. Even if your answer is no, you’ll be respected for your reason why more than you would be if you said yes and failed to deliver.

#17. Treat your best clients differently

They deserve to be treated better. Give them special services and perks. Surprise them with gifts of your photography 6 months AFTER their order. Give them a reason to talk about you well after their session…and keep coming back. These clients are a great resource for growing a photography business. Spoil them!

#18. Don’t be vanilla

Photography IS a commodity to many people…and those people aren’t your client. We compete with FREE because EVERYONE has a camera. I push myself to do things that my clients can’t get from my competitors whether it be the products I offer or the experience they have with me.


#19. Selling is not a BAD thing

You aren’t helping your clients when you send them home with a gallery of images to sort through. Part of your job as a photographer is to help them choose images to hang in their home or include in their album. Your job is not to take photos and dump them in your clients’ laps to print themselves.

Now I’d love to hear from you. What is your favorite tip for growing a photography business?

Want to learn more?

Are you ready to change your pricing from a fear-based reaction to a business decision?

The profit is in the pricing! Your prices even help you attract your model client while scaring off the clients that just don’t fit.

Join me in this free 60 minute webinar to learn how to profitably price your photography. Seating is limited. Reserve your spot now!

Photography pricing strategy

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