Episode 24: This is Why Your Photography Business Card Doesn’t Work

Episode 24: This is Why Your Photography Business Card Doesn't Work


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

I see you over there, blowing up Google with questions about your photography business card.

What should my business card say?

Should it have one photo or many?

Maybe I’ll just have my phone number and email on a thick piece of paper or wood.

There’s a reason your photography business card hasn’t magically sprinkled sessions all over your calendar.

Here’s why.

Having a cool business card used to be a badge of honor.

Then the world changed.

Cell phones, texting, email, DM’s, and Google became more common.

Now you can find anyone’s contact information with the click of a button.

You don’t need to look it up on a business card.

Your Photography Clients Don’t Want Business Cards

We are portrait photographers.

Our clients are moms and dads that have babies at home.

They are also high school seniors. What are high school seniors going to do with a two by three piece of paper that I give them?


They will throw it away without a second glance.

I get it.

Business cards make us feel like an official business.

And handing out your photography business cards feels like you’re marketing.

But just stop.

In reality, that business card will be cleaned out of the bottom of a purse in six months if it even lives 5 minutes before landing in the trash.

That photography client is not going to book you from your business card.

If they’re interested, the worst thing you can do is give them a business card.

What to Do Instead of a Photography Business Card

#1  Serve them. 

If you’re having a conversation with someone and they mention that they’re interested in photography, you say “Give me the best way to reach you and when would you like me to connect.”

Find out how you can serve them.

You’re doing them a favor.

Think about it in the reverse.

Suppose your dog groomer went out of business.

You’ve been having to wash your own dog and trim its fur yourself.

You’re frustrated and you meet someone who’s a groomer. They say, “Here, take my business card.”

You lose it.

You’re super frustrated.

They could have served you better by saying, “Hey, I have an opening next week, I think. When I get back to the office, let me call you and tell you when I can get you in. What’s the best way to reach you?”

That is serving you.

Good selling is just serving people.

Stop shoving a business card in potential clients’ faces.

It doesn’t serve them.

#2 Market Differently

Marketing differently is a little harder, it takes an investment.

Marketing for a boutique portrait photography business is different from what you would do for any other photography business (aka shoot and burn, commercial, etc).

At least once a year, I create a marketing piece called a dog whistle establishing piece.

This is not a tri-fold brochure.

This is not something I create in Photoshop and design myself.

It is an elaborate, gorgeous, printed marketing piece.

It’s a cool shape, it twists, it turns, it has bells and whistles, gorgeous, professional design, and beautiful, emotional copy.

We are photographers, people know what we do.

We don’t have to talk about the tedious specifics of lighting, cameras, techniques.

As photographers, we want to reach our customers emotionally.

A dog whistle marketing piece is the best way.

It is how you attract better clients.

Here are a few examples of my dog whistle pieces. 

#3 Use The Dog Whistle to Find New Clients

Here’s what I do when I’m in a conversation and somebody asks for my business card.

I say, “I don’t have a business card, but I do have this.”

Then I reach into my purse and I pull out this gorgeous dog whistle piece.

I can tell immediately if they’re the right client for me. I’ve had people run around the room at a business function showing everybody.

There might be just one other person in the room who loves it, but that’s perfect.

I know to follow up with those two potential clients.

If I land one of them, they more than pay for that dog whistle piece since as a boutique photographer your average orders are over $1,500.

I use the dog whistle a bunch of different ways. I mail it out to new prospects and fundraise with it.

And I always make sure I print extras to keep in my purse.

I keep one of these dog whistles with me wherever I go.

#4 Strike Up Conversations and Serve New Clients

I also created a tool for my photography coaching students that they use called Matchstick Conversation Starters.

These help them strike up conversations with strangers and weave in their photography business to get new clients.

Here’s how it works.

You ask a stranger about their pet, vacation or whatever random topic comes up in the context you are in.

Then, you use one of my strategies to get them to ask what you do for a living.

Once they ask you that, say, “I’m a photographer.”

Then I get to go through the seven Bs to booking a client that I teach my students and pull out my dog whistle piece.

This happens no matter if they ask for a business card or not.

Marketing For a Boutique Photography Business is Different, But Worth It.

Now is serving your clients and marketing differently harder?


If it was easy, like a cheap postcard, everyone would do it and it wouldn’t work anymore.

Which is exactly why business cards don’t work.

Once you get good at Matchstick conversations and nail your dog whistle marketing piece, it completely separates you from your competition.

I get it, having a business card makes you feel legitimate, but having a business card isn’t what makes you legitimate.

Having strong business building skills and knowing how to talk to and book people makes you legitimate.

Being able to connect with others and confidently get their contact information makes you legitimate.

Then putting them into your strong boutique photography business model and serving them at the highest level makes you legitimate.

Getting their glowing referrals makes you legitimate.

These are the places to invest your time and money, not a business card.

You can do this.

connect with portrait photographer Sarah Petty on instagram to learn about your photography business card

Episode 221 – What #FamilyFirst Really Means

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