Marketing Your Business and Staying in Business

Before you take the leap and start your own photography business, you need to consider three very important questions and know how you’ll use different marketing techniques to help maintain a sustainable business.

From naming your company to designing your website, Karl looks at the various marketing materials you could use to draw attention to your business. Using examples from his own work, he covers identifying your market and reaching potential clients, defining your brand, building a portfolio, tackling social media and website design and much more.

In this class:

  • What to think about before starting a business
  • Understand how to market your business
  • How to build your brand
  • Different materials to market your business
  • How to use social media to market your business
  • Working with agents

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Marketing your business

Marketing your business is key to success.


  1. Hi Karl,
    I’d like to use my name for branding but my last name is what the young folks would refer to as a “dumpster fire.” What would be your advice in this situation?

    Thanks for all the time and effort you put in on your coursework.

    1. Hi Josh, that’s an interesting one and I’m sure there are many people with names or surnames that don’t have the right ring to them to be used as a business title. But you can still be creative with your first name alone….., joshvisuals, joshimages, etc and develop your brand just on that in some ways it could be quite novel and simple and be easy for people to remember.

  2. Hi Karl,

    I’m just about to set up my website and so this video was very useful, thank you. I’m interested in what medium you use to transfer images to clients. There are many website providers that include a facility for photographs to be downloaded on payment, but I’m just interested in whether this is the best option. Thank you.

    1. Hi Karl,

      Thank you for a very useful course . My work is based mostly in tourism agencies ,magazines, brochures , etc. ( travel & landscape )

      Due to the pandemic , I had to open my ratio of work , doing portrait and some small entrepreneurs shops photos, but , all my social media and my website is focused on landscape and travel .

      Should I create a new Instagram account for this type of work ? or Just a little section called ” portraits” in my website would be enough?

      Everybody knows me for my “travel and landscape ” so, I dont know how to face a new line of work just because , travelling is suspended.

      Thank you so much ! A Hug From Patagonia.

      1. Hi, I personally don’t think it’s necessary unless you are concerned that you need to market yourself solely as a travel photographer?

  3. Hello from good ol boy world.

    How do you combat the quality dosent matter but its who you know? I live in an area where i am the only one shooting sports. I donate photos to the news paper when they cannot attend a game. With that i still dont get the team photos. The same person gets all those and yet the parents hate the pics every year. I dont even get asked if i will do it, What I charge anything. I am lucky to shoot 3 kids all year for senior pics. Im traveling as far as 100 miles for that. The coment I get is I didnt know you shot portraits. Yet the portrait photos are all over my facebook and instagram. No real way to not see my work if you seen my sports photos.

    1. Hi Norm, thanks for your question. I have a live show next Thursday ‘Business Advice for Photographers’ so I’m going to bring your question up then and answer it on the show.

  4. Greetings Karl. This course is so very informative as I explore getting started in the photography business. Regarding speculating, if I send a photo to a company of one of their products and they wish to use that photo in a campaign, should I then expect them to pay for the photo or should I consider that photo as a ‘gift’ to the company and hope that they send work my way in future?

    1. Hi Darrien, that’s a good question and it depends on the amount of usage and the size of the company etc. Letting them use it can be a good building block to a future relationship but on the other hand if they are Gucci and want to use it on a campaign all over the world then you should consider negotiating a fee! 😊 – They don’t have the right to use it, it is still your image but you will have to weigh up the future value of either option.

  5. i lean many things from every video you you post , i have a question is it ok to photograph brands and post it in your website and social media ( i mean even if you didn’t actually worked with them)

    1. Hi Fadi, yes many photographers do this. Brands generally won’t have a problem as long as you don’t overlay their logo on top and the picture is good and doesn’t represent them in a bad way.

  6. Do I need a very strong portfolio to get hired by the agencies? Or do I to hire a marketing person who can get some leads for the business? This makes me frustrated sometimes, even if I can do better product photography then many other competitors, I don’t get many clients. Can you please guide me with this?

    Thanks in anticipation.

    1. Hi.

      1. Yes, without doubt a photographers agency is never going to hire anyone without the strongest of portfolios – I talked about that in this video
      2. Only you can answer whether you get a marketing person
      3. It sounds like you have uncertainty; either in the standard of your own work or the ability to market yourself. Watch the video I’ve given you the link to.

  7. Hello Karl,
    when you send those postcards, do you wait for an occasion? what do you write on them? do they recieve it well? wish we can see a sample of that

    1. Hi, know there is no occassion they were just nicely designed cards that had an introduction message and a striking image on one side. Then follow that with a phone call a week later.

  8. Hi Karl, thank you and your team for the awesome course, finally something helpful about the business in photography! My girlfriend and I are started a business in product photography, and still wondering about what name should we use. you said in the video that the first and last name is the best choice, but as we are 2 peoplem it would be way too long… so we were thinking about a more generic name related to photography, or just our initials (MD Photography). For me it’s a bit too basic, but do you think this would be the best choice anyway ? Thanks a lot again for all the infos and the document to downloads! Can’t wait to watch your next videos !

    1. Hi, I once nearly went into business with another photographer and we were going to use both our last names as the business name. I guess if that doesn’t work for you then you will have to consider your alternatives.

      1. Thank you Karl for your reply. Well, it’s gonna be quite complicated to remember if we both use our polish names and really long for a logo. (Tabol – Tuczapski) haha.
        Would you rather use the initials instead of a generic name like “Lightbox” (just an example) ? Or the opposite ?
        Have a great day!

  9. Hello Karl Sir, Your tutorials are absolutely wonderful but i have a question that why would a client give a commerical job to a photographer who doesn’t has his/her own studio vs where there would be other photographers who got their own studios & the studio rental part would be saved by the client. What are your views on it?

    1. Hi I think most clients base their decision on the quality of the work that the see from a potential photographer, their level of experience and responsibility and how well they think that photographer will match what they want to achieve. With commercial clients they are only interested in one thing; will this photographers work help make me more money.

  10. I can’t remember the name of the company that makes the binders you have used for your portfolio. Do you remember the name?

    1. Hi William, I’m afraid I’ve got no idea as the one I’ve got was made in London more than 15 years ago. I’d search for acrylic and leather personalised photographers printed portfolios and see what comes up.

  11. Hello Karl,

    Very helpful and informative videos as always.

    Quick question. Do you have a plan for when you retire?

    A business with a generic name could be sold, but maybe a bit tricker as a photographer. I understand you can build wealth throughout your career and you could sell your assets, but I guess not the business its self?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Matt, Thankyou. I don’t think I want to stop shooting as it’s my passion so i’ll probably reduce my workload and maybe run a few workshops and continue with some consultancy work. It’s very hard for photographers to sell a business that is ‘them’ or under their name but sometimes they can train another photographer to take over the business and introduce them to the clients etc etc and sell it as a business with equipment and good will. The business in most cases is the years of building relationships and keeping clients and if you can introduce those clients to another photographer over time that they can come to trust then you have something to sell to that photographer.

  12. Hi Karl,

    I’ve been getting on the phone working down my long list of Ad agencies. Generally speaking I’m finding that the receptionists will tend to ask me to send an email with my information and I wont get put through to anyone. Is this just par for the course or is there a way round this? Also, if I know the name of the CD for that company is it worth asking to speak directly with them?

    Many thanks.

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Will, yes that is just par for the course, if you have the name of the CD or an art director then that will help and try and get through to them especially if that is the one you sent the direct mail to.

  13. Hello Karl

    Have finally signed up with your course and can’t wait to get started.

    I have a Photoshelter template website and looking at either having a stand alone site or look at squarespace ? Whilst i’m happy with the way the site looks, its getting little traffic,and in turn few leads. With the squarespace site you use how do you optimise/ promote to get more traffic ?



    1. Hi David, thanks for signing up but the honest answer is I’ve never relied on SEO as I’ve done all my business through my own marketing. I believe Squarespace has some tutorials on it on their own website.

  14. Thanks Karl, that’s good to know, I’ll be sure to get on the phone to them this week then. Best wishes Will

  15. Hi Karl,

    I’ve just done my first direct mailout to the ad agencies with an A5 flyer/cover letter etc., and I was wondering what the best follow up plan would be, I was thinking maybe contacting them again by email in a month or so?

    Also, do you think paid google ads are a good idea for a product photographer, or is it better just putting money into B2B direct mailing?

    Many thanks.

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Will, you have to be a bit bolder, one month is way to long. If a person receives the mailer on their desk, they would have forgotten about it within 2 weeks. I’d also pick up the phone and ask to speak to them in person while they likely still have it on their desk. This is often difficult to do, I remember worrying about it back 20 years ago but I just did it and it open many more opportunities just getting to speak to someone personally.

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