Marketing for Maternity Portraits with Karen Bagley
You have heard me say it once, and you will hear me say it at least a million more times. Maternity portraits are huge. Pregnancy and everything that goes along with it is a multibillion-dollar industry. I don’t know about you, but I want a slice of that cake. The mindset that women will not invest in maternity portraits because they want to put their real investment in newborn portraits is hogwash. How do I know? Because I am living proof that these soon-to-be mommas will spend big bucks on their maternity portraits.
So now comes the huge question: How do we find those expecting mommas who want to drop some serious bills for their maternity portraits?
It’s that million-dollar word: marketing. For many, that word is overwhelming. We all know (or should know) that marketing is largely the key to our success. For someone like me, in a very niche field, it not only is the key to success, but is vital to the growth and well-being of my company. This article gives you a few marketing tips to help you not just find those women (really, they will find you), but book them as well.
First, we need to discuss your marketing material. If it’s subpar, you are making things harder for yourself. This means if the images you are using are not unique in any way, it will be much more difficult to make your mark in the maternity field. Locations, wardrobe and the way you are posing your clients have a huge effect on your marketing game.
You should be using your very best work to market yourself. If you don’t have anything that you feel represents you well, go shoot and build that portfolio. Do not be afraid to let your creative side run a little wild (notice I say a little wild) to get yourself noticed. And that is what this game of marketing is all about: getting noticed.
My underwater portraiture is a huge part of my marketing. Even though I photograph many clients underwater, many potential clients have called me because they saw an underwater maternity portrait of mine but didn’t necessarily want an underwater session themselves. They were lured in because of the uniqueness of those shoots. They were unlike anything they had ever seen. That led them to investigate my website and then want to book me for their outdoor maternity sessions.
Let your creativity be what draws clients to you. That doesn’t mean you have to shoot something underwater to market yourself. It just means do something outside of the norm to get your work noticed. It could be as simple as investing in a couture gown, taking a six-hour road trip for a location you have had your eye on forever or trying a stylized session, like maybe a milk bath. Set yourself apart from the crowd, and you will get noticed.
Now that we have that first little piece to the puzzle set, let’s break down marketing into two categories: offline and online. Let’s start with online marketing. This means your website and social media platforms. The foundation of it all is your website, which is where everyone will wind up. So first and foremost, let’s make sure everything is up to date on your website, especially your images. Again, your website is the foundation; if your gallery doesn’t blow away potential clients, if it doesn’t represent your best work, redo it. Having tons of images that look all the same is not what we want. Quality over quantity is our goal.
Next, blogging is everything. It helps with your SEO, and you never know when a blog you have written could get picked up and shared. Blogs keep your website fresh and show potential clients you are active and busy.
Finally, work toward an SEO-optimized website. My company outsources this, but if it is something you understand, by all means take the time to do it. SEO is the lifeblood of your company. It allows people to find you through keyword searches, and can lead to some of your best clients.
It is not enough to have only one source of marketing. Spread it out. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
Now let’s talk about the big one, social media. Social media is very difficult for so many. Focus on one platform at first. Remember, we do not want all of our eggs in one basket. That would be marketing suicide. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to get the best results, put your focus on one in the beginning, master it, then go to others. Understanding the platform you start with is the main goal.
Instagram was my focus at first. I learned that posting at the same time of day, every day, helped my posts get seen. Consistency will always be the key. I realized that my feed was all over the place. I needed to clean up my page, make sure half the posts weren’t personal and the other half business. Potential clients want to know what you are all about within the first three seconds of looking at your page.
The biggest and most helpful thing I learned was that hashtags matter. I could not just put a hashtag in front of a word and expect potential clients to find me. Hashtags have a purpose and are like keywords in SEO. They must make sense, be used locally and actually have relevance. Avoid the large overcrowded hashtags—you will get lost in the numbers.
Aside from people finding me organically, I like to use Instagram and Facebook ads. Understanding how to use those ads is an entire article in itself, but here are a couple of tips that might help you get started. First, understand that you should be very specific with how you target your ad. Make sure you are targeting the right crowd; if you don’t, the money you invest will bring you nothing. Second, use video to grab people’s attention. Use some behind-the-scenes video clips or video you have taken of your clients at the session. People love to see how your work is created.
As we move on to offline marketing, it’s important to remember that there is not one area of marketing that is unimportant. You want to be wherever your clients are. Offline marketing is going to expos and OBGYN offices. It’s about good ole hustle and attitude. You have to put yourself out there and interact with people. If you are an introvert, you’ll have to work at it. Look at it as an opportunity to grow. You cannot be afraid of the word no—you have to just keep at it keep hustling.
I left my very first expo in tears because I booked no one. But I realized I had to change my viewpoint and not give up on expos. The second I realized it is not about booking people, that it’s about all of the eyes seeing me, learning my brand and networking with other companies, I began to benefit from them. People now expect me to be there, which leads to client bookings. I have developed relationships with businesses that have marketed for me. That is how I landed my images in OBGYN and pediatrician offices.
Getting into offices is hard work. There is no special trick or phrase that will magically get you in with these offices. I basically just continued asking and explaining the benefit of having my artwork displayed in their offices. It takes patience and persistence. These offices are where my clients are. Tell yourself that you must be up on their walls. If you want these mammas who are willing to spend big dollars on maternity portraits, you can’t afford to not even try to be on those walls.
Every form of marketing your maternity work is worth your full attention. If you follow these marketing tips, I promise you your maternity clientele will grow. Go out there and photograph those mamas.