It’s hard to book a shoot immediately using a paid ad. People aren’t on social media platforms, credit card in hand, ready to make an impulse buy for an expensive professional service.

Start by understanding that your initial goal is not to sell anything. You need to start off by building a relationship. And you can do that by simply providing value.

Use some finesse. Here’s what the journey can look like for your potential clients…

Most people try this and fail:

It should look more like this: 

Your initial ad should offer a simple piece of educational content that can be traded for a name and email address.

What kind of content? Well, that depends on your target market and what problems they have…

If you’re a wedding photographer, it could be something like a “Wedding Preparation Checklist” or “How to make sure your wedding photos are amazing” guide.

Or maybe you’re a portrait photographer and you write up a guide or create a video about what to expect for your first portrait session. The key is to answer one of the biggest questions or insecurities your potential clients have.

This method does a few powerful things… 

First, you’re providing value to your prospect, which is the best way to start a new relationship.

Plus, you now have multiple ways of contacting this prospect to continue building the relationship. The first way is through email. The second way is via retargeting (you know, by stalking people who have interacted with your content with new ads).

Since you have permission to contact your prospect, you can stay in touch over time. This increases the chance that when the time is right, you’ll be top of mind and the first photographer they contact.

I’m purposefully keeping this article very high-level. I just want you to see the potential here and hopefully adjust your thoughts about paid advertising. The technical side of it changes often, so I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole since it’s all already available online, just use Google!

Here are some resources I recommend checking out that will get you on your way to building your our own social media advertising fed sales funnel.

Here’s what you’ll need in order to launch a campaign as I’ve described:

  • Image or video ads with text headlines/descriptions. Here are details for the creative: Facebook | Instagram
  • A defined target market you can enter into Facebook so your ads only show up to the right people
  • A landing page where you offer your content and collect your leads. You can use your own website, but will probably save time with LeadPages
  • Educational content that you deliver in exchange for email addresses
  • An email autoresponder service. I like these: ConvertKit | MailChimp
  • An email sequence that further helps your prospect while positioning you as an expert
  • Sales related emails designed to get a prospect to contact you

I almost always recommend starting as simply as possible, which is what I’ve outlined above.

Don’t complicate this with a bunch of more advanced tactics that you might read about. Once you start to see positive results, then you can invest in more advanced methods that might further improve the return you get from your ads. But the more complex you start out, the better the odds you won’t finish it or will have some nasty bottlenecks that prevent you from generating all the leads you could be.

If you simply do what I talk about in this article, and then test and make adjustments as necessary, you should be able to create a lead generating system that can be turned up or down depending on your need to book shoots.

Keep in mind though that this method isn’t expected to yield bookings right away. You’re building relationships with clients that could take weeks or months to turn into bookings. So don’t turn your ads off while you’re busy and expect to turn them back on when you need more work! Over time you’ll learn how long it takes your email opt-in leads to turn into bookings and can carefully adjust your ad spend based on the need for future bookings.

I know this sounds like a lot. And if you’ve never done it before, there’s a lot of little things you’ll have to learn. But cracking the lead generation code is possibly the most important thing you can do for your photography business.

We’re currently testing an awesome photography sales funnel with great initial results. Once it’s ready to start offering to our clients, I’ll be sending out an email to get a couple of people in for a free beta test.