Episode 52: The Ulti-mutt Slow Season Portrait Promotion

Episode 52: The Ulti-mutt Slow Season Portrait Promotion


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute


Earlier this year, several of my Peak Performance coaching students kicked off a portrait promotion to raise money for charities while growing their photography businesses.

On today’s episode, one of my Peak Performance coaches and six-figure photography business owner, Jill Gray, is sharing that portrait promotion with you for inspiration. Jill created Pooch Playoffs. Here’s how it brought in photography clients during the slow season.

Coming Up With The Idea Of Pooch Playoffs

Jill Gray:

“At the end of last year, my husband and I didn’t quite reach the financial goals we had set for our photography business in 2020.

We wanted to do something special in the first quarter of 2021 to make up for it.

We’re located in St. Louis, Missouri, so we don’t have great weather during the winter.

We couldn’t hold an outside event and it wasn’t high school senior or family portrait season.

My husband and I knew that we had to do something different.

We noticed that anytime we posted a photo that included a dog, people were interested.

Posting photos of got us more engagement and we even received calls saying,

“I didn’t know I could bring my dog to your studio. That’s awesome. I’d love to book a session with my dog.”

We thought,

“If people love dogs so much, why not do something that really features them?”

That’s where the idea of Pooch Playoffs was born.

People could bring in their dogs, and we would photograph them for a March Madness bracket-style competition.

Each dog was put up against another and people voted on social media.

The winning dog would receive a ‘swag and wag bag’ full of special goodies.

I brought this idea into the Peak Performers group and everyone loved it.

We ended up creating a nationwide photography portrait promotion from this idea.”

Portrait Promotion Through Word of Mouth

Jill Gray:

“Our whole photography business is built on word of mouth.

We’ve never gotten any return out of expensive Facebook ads, but we have booked many sessions from people talking about our business.

Referrals mean everything to us and everything in our business is set up around word of mouth.

This competition was perfect for our business because it was a competition.

Not only did it drive engagement, but our clients were motivated to tell their friends about it and say,

“Go vote for my dog!” I couldn’t believe how competitive some of our clients were. It was so fun. It brought so many people to our social media pages and people had an opportunity to see what we were doing.

We also partnered with local charities.

Through this portrait promotion, the participating Peak Performance coaching community of photographers raised over $36,000 for local charities.

Not only did this do lots of good in our communities, but it gave us access to many potential clients.

People who donate to charities are people who are willing to give away their money for good.

That makes them great families to photograph.”

Partnering With Local Business for a Portrait Promotion

Jill Gray:

“At the end of this competition, we gave the winner a ‘swag and wag bag.’

We visited dog parks and groomers and asked if they would want to be a part of this portrait promotion.

We also went to retail businesses and restaurants that allow dogs.

They were able to donate goodies for the prize bag and also become a sponsor.

Because we aligned so closely with their mission, many of these businesses said yes.

We were able to create many new relationships with local business owners.

It was wonderful.”

Pooch Playoffs Opened Us Up to a New Market

Jill Gray:

“I was surprised at how many people wanted portrait artwork of their dogs.

When I first posted on social media looking for dogs to photograph, I heard from people I haven’t heard from since high school.

It is amazing how many people were blown away that they could get photos taken of their dogs.

Most people don’t consider looking for a pet photographer, but would love wall art of their pets.

It opened our eyes to a whole new photography market.

Not only do my clients love having their dogs photographed, but many photographers said that they prefer photographing dogs to toddlers.

Pooch Playoffs was an amazing event that opened up so many new doors in our business.

We were able to create lasting relationships with local business owners and charities while stirring up buzz on social media.

I recommend it to everyone.”

Sarah Petty:

So what about you?

Have you ever considered a pet photography promotion?

It truly can be the ulti-mutt slow-season event to get people excited about your business.


follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline

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