If you love feisty photography full of life and soul, then senior portraits are definitely for you. Here’s how to get those senior portrait clients!
How to Get New Senior Portrait Clients in 8 Steps
Senior photography has been high-profile for a few years, and its popularity continues to spread globally. For a long time, wedding photography was considered the most lucrative area photographers could earn their cash. Today, celebrating the independence of high school seniors has become big business. But how do you get those high school senior portraits clients when you’re new to the genre? Get ready for our eight top marketing strategies that’ll have you filling your books with senior portraits clients in no time!
#1: Get Your Marketing Strategy on Point
If you’re already running a photography business, then this might seem obvious. But marketing for high school seniors is different from anything else you’ve done, especially now with social media being so readily available. You’re as likely to be seen and followed by the teens as you are by their parents!
First the Seniors, THEN the Parents
It may well be Mum and Dad who book and pay for the photography session, but it’ll be the teens who find you first. And you know they’re going to use all their persuasive techniques to bring Mum and Dad on board!
Teens Don’t Want a Sales Pitch
Kids are smart. They’ve grown up surrounded by advertising. They’re used to avoiding hard sells and pushy sale techniques. This will not work as part of your marketing strategy if you want to book senior portrait clients! As a photography business owner, you need to be super smart about how you market yourself to a client. You’ll need to consider your entire brand and how to put that out there so the seniors you want to work with will engage with you.
#2: Build Real Connections
Real connection is what seniors want. Remember, no hard sell! After all, this client is not the one picking up the price tag for your service. What they want are senior portrait photographers who are fun to work with and who’ll give them photographs they’ll look amazing in. Ultimately, it’s the experience of a senior photoshoot you’re selling, not merely the photos themselves!
Dare to be Different
There’s no one marketing style that “fits all”. Standing out is how to get noticed. Embrace your quirks and shout about them!
Look at your competitors. How are you different from them? Figure that out and share it. Be clear about it. Know your plus points inside out and share them in everything you say and do.
Dare to be Real
Teens are loyal to those brands they identify with. And they’ll identify with what you’re putting out there if it’s not fake. That means showing your personality through every part of your brand—your work, your website, the way you speak in your copy… EVERYTHING! Don’t be afraid to be you. This is what seniors will engage with and connect to.
#3: Put Yourself Out There
The Power of Social Media
Photographers mainly market through social media. Marketing your business to a wide audience from the comfort of your office is always going to be a winner! And we all know seniors are well versed in this area. In fact, we have a hard time keeping up with them!
Consider which platforms you want to concentrate your efforts on. Which ones will your ideal senior clients be using? Are they Facebook or Instagram users? Do they prefer Snapchat or TikTok or something else? Do your research and get yourself on those platforms.
When a client contacts you through whichever platform they found you on, respond to them in the same way. You’re more likely to build a strong connection with them by doing this than if you try moving them to email.
Consistency and Continuity
Many photographers market their business all year round, even if you’re only busy at certain times. While there are typical “seasons” for senior portraits, more and more seniors are choosing to have their shoots at any time of the year.
By doing this, you’ll always be seen, recognized, and remembered.
Also, make sure you’re being consistent! It should be in line with your brand and the experience you’re promising. If you’re marketing honestly and genuinely, then it won’t be hard to do.
Pinterest is often forgotten about as a social media platform by many photographers. But it’s a great one to market your senior portrait business. By creating boards of searchable terms, like “what to wear for a shoot” or “senior portrait locations/poses”, you can bring new visitors to your website while your work gets shared further and wider with each “pin” of your photographs.
Pinterest can also be part of your blog strategy. Make your images on your posts pinnable, and create a graphic for Pinterest advertising your post so you’ll be found by seniors looking for inspiration. And your previous clients will love being made “Pinterest-worthy,” so they’ll share their images with everyone.
We know some people really dislike blogging. But a blog post will help you to generate fresh new content for your website. So do try to blog consistently. It doesn’t have to be every day, or even every week.
- Show only your best photos. Share the kind of images you love to shoot.
- Talk about the session, of course, but also use each session’s blog post to share useful information. For example, share a senior session, but talk about the best poses for girls. Or share your favourite locations for senior portraits in your area.
- Use blogging to build relationships with other local businesses also aimed at the senior market. Write about local businesses providing a product or service to your ideal clients. Promote them, send a link to the post, and ask them to tag and share on their social media, too.
#4: Show the Photographs You Want to Shoot
It’s hardly worth mentioning to a photographer. But… make sure you’re posting high-quality, professional photographs, okay?
It’s not ALL about the photography, but that’s ultimately why people are coming to you, so the photos should look GOOD. Avoid sharing blurry phone snaps. Why show teens the type of photographs they can take on their phones? You need to level up! Show well-edited, consistently beautiful photographs in line with your brand and style. That goes for photographs of yourself too!
As an aside, high-quality photographs don’t necessarily mean big files. Bear that in mind for your website. You need your website to load as quickly as possible. Especially when you’re marketing to impatient seniors!
#5: Word of Mouth is the Best Marketing Ever
It spreads and grows without any effort from you. It’s consistent and it’s FREE. So why ignore that potential marketing strategy when it comes to your business?
Consider a Referral Plan
In the senior photography business world, referral plans are huge. That means they’re commonplace though, so be smart and make sure your referral plan stands out from the competition. It’s not enough to promise a few free prints. Try to offer something that’ll wow your existing clients, so they’ll be raving about your business to their friends and their friend’s friends for years to come!
There are some senior portrait photographers who don’t even need paid advertising anymore. Their referral plan and word of mouth marketing do everything they need so they’re booked out year on year. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?
Are Senior Reps a Step Up?
Senior Rep programs are increasing in popularity. Having a fixed number of seniors apply to model for you on the basis that they’re going to get you bookings will build up your visibility. Be clear about the offered incentives, like discounted shoots. And be clear about what you expect in return. Senior Model programs like this are a step up from a referral plan because they’re exclusive, so you’ll need to give your Reps an incredible experience.
#6: Prioritize Your Products & Packaging
Your message needs to be carried through the entire experience of working with you. Think about how you’re going to finish with your seniors and give them the perfect package and experience.
Digital vs. Physical
What products will you supply or upsell to them? It’s not just about prints and framed photographs anymore (although Mum and Dad will still love those!). Seniors will want to show off their amazing photographs on their phones to all their friends, so having digital options ready will show them you’ve thought of every aspect of their experience.
Think outside the box. You don’t only have to give them photographs! What about branded gifts that they’ll use and share? We’re thinking lip balms and reusable coffee cups right now. But we’re sure there are other great ideas you can find!
#7: Be the Centre of Your Community
If you want to market yourself to seniors and their families, you need to be where they are. So, get out into the community and be more visible.
Back to School
Attend events at your target high schools—they’ve always got something going on. Sporting events, drama productions, fundraisers, career fairs, alumni events, and so on. Visit whenever you can and show that friendly face of yours!
Get permission to bring your camera and take some candid shots they can use in their newsletters or on their high school social media pages. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’ll be sharing photos from the event, which they can tag themselves in and share.
Offer mini shoots as raffle prizes, discounted shoots at fairs, and share your knowledge at career fairs.
The better they get to know you, the more you’ll build a name for yourself.
#8: Build the Experience
Senior portrait sessions don’t just have to be the simple photoshoot in a park or beauty spot in your neighbourhood. Think what else you can offer potential clients by creating a whole experience for them!
Let’s Go A-Travelling!
Seniors are about to finish high school. They’re ready to step out and be more independent. What can do that more than traveling? Especially if you can swing it so they’re traveling without their parents in tow!
What about a camping trip for a few senior clients? Or taking a couple of friends to the city for a weekend adventure? If you plan it right, it shouldn’t cost the earth, but it’ll be the thing they’ll talk about all summer, especially when they’ve got amazing images from their travel experience to show off as well!
Lastly: Love What You Do
Ultimately, getting senior portrait clients takes time and effort, just like any other photography business. You gotta put in the work! Be one step ahead, always coming up with great ideas to make your senior client excited to book you. Be consistent with your brand and who you are. And remember, you’re not trying to target EVERY senior client, so don’t try to!
Now go and have fun with your senior sessions!
As a girl who loves both words and photographs, Sarah Wayte couldn’t decide between the two, so she does BOTH! Creative copywriter + branding and lifestyle photographer, the Maltese-Brit now calls B.C. her home (indecisive much?), along with her husband and their fur-babies. Say hi to her on Instagram HERE.