So you’ve started up a portrait business and you are looking for creative ways to build your business.

You’ve got the gear, got the studio, have business cards in hand, and have talked to your family and friends. Yet clients are still few and far between. You don’t have a ton of money to invest in advertising – what do you do next?

Social media of course. Everyone is talking about Facebook and Twitter, so why not jump on board and reach out?

According to eMarketer, in 2009, 36.5 million moms are online in the U.S., with numbers expected to reach towards 39.6 million moms by 2012. And its not just Facebook and Twitter where thy hang out. Every day a new social site is set up to attract moms in different ways. Here are a few tips to help you attract and engage moms online.

Do Your Research

Reaching out to 250+ million users on Facebook sounds like a great deal. It’s free, right? But how is that going to help your business when you are in Des Moines, IA? Can you really do a portrait of a family who lives in San Diego? Does it really help you network with people all over the world?

Yes. And no.

The key to reaching out and building connections all over the world is all about building your expertise. When we were in wedding photography, we started out promoting in our local area. It took us two years to develop the knack of being able to promote and run a business from anywhere in the world, and be able to attract clients just as easily from Germany as we did from Denver.

You have to know your target market, how you are going to reach them, and how you are going to sell to them. If you want to travel, you can’t request that they meet you in person for an initial consultation.

twellowhood

Once you know your target market, than you can go out and reach out to them based on your needs. For example, TwellowHood is a local directory of Twitter users from the site Twellow. Think of TwellowHood as your Twitter yellow pages for your local community. Drill down to your state, city or town. Then find people to follow within those communities, and start connecting.

Stay Active
Now that you have new friends, build the relationship. I’m willing to bet that up to 95 percent of all people that try out social media sites fail in one of two ways:

1. They spam the system and only promote themselves.
2. They get bored with the process after a few days, and leave it forever.

For most photographers and business people in general, it’s fairly easy to understand that you need to be constantly marketing yourself to succeed. You understand you have to keep an ad in a magazine several months for it to work. Or you have to mail a series of postcards for people to take action. Easy enough.

But somehow that thought process gets lost in social media. People put up an account, friend 10 people, send a couple of messages, and stop because it doesn’t work.

Like any good marketing tool, you have to dedicate time to it, keep at it, and make it work. If you’re going to try social, set up goals:

1. Set up a Twitter account
2. Friend 10 new people every day, 4 days a week, for one month.
3. Send out 5 new Tweets per day.
4. Learn about re-tweeting, and RT 1 person per day.

Those are real goals that give you something to shoot for.

Don’t Stop At One
Just because you are active on Twitter, doesn’t mean it’s the best place for you.

Watch your local community for other social sites to hang out in. Here in Denver, we have a lot of options, one being MileHighMamas.

mile high mamas

Build your profile and start a conversation. Maybe even talk with the site owner and become one of the regular posters and commenters. With just a little bit of time and energy, you could be connecting with thousands in your community.

Have any other ideas? Let me know in the comments.

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