How to Use Facebook Ads to Generate Photography Leads and Bookings

You’ve heard that Facebook Ads are all the rage in the entrepreneurial community; maybe you’ve even heard fellow photographers talk about how many bookings and sales they’ve been able to make using Facebook Ads.
How to use Facebook ads to generate leads

On the flip side, it’s probably just as likely that you’ve heard the horror stories of photographers that have tried to implement a Facebook Ads strategy, only to spend hundreds of dollars with no return.

While it may seem like a pretty big gamble when you look at it like that, I’m here to tell you that Facebook Ads can be an incredibly profitable investment for photographers when implemented correctly.

Because, when done correctly, you can actually target the right customers at the right time – meaning people who are interested in your services who are likely in a place when they would be looking for a photographer!

So here are my four top tips to up your Facebook Ads game, and make sure that when you invest, you’re doing so wisely and with a return!

1: Understand exactly who your client is

This may seem like a no brainer, but one of the biggest issues that I see for business owners is that they lack clarity on this ever-important piece.

When you know who your client is, you know exactly what their needs are and you know exactly how to speak to them. Everything in your business should speak to who your client is, from your branding to your marketing.

So when you get to the point where you’re ready to begin advertising on Facebook, or any other platform, you’re 100% clear on who you’re meant to serve and how your business does that.

If this is out of alignment, you will struggle to differentiate yourself from every other photographer out there. Unfortunately, this is why so many businesses end up competing on price. When they don’t have a clear understanding of who their business is meant to serve, the only thing that differentiates them is how much (or how little) it costs to hire them.

Once you have achieved clarity on this point, I promise that Facebook Ads will seem so much easier! You’ll be able to figure out your targeting, your budget, your offer and your messaging – and it will seem effortless by comparison.

And, I promise, you will end up spending less to achieve your goals as well!

Let’s look at how this might pan out in two different scenarios:

In the first our photographer, Jamie, is looking to book more clients. She feels like her photography should appeal to all women, which means that she tends to change her style depending on her client.

Sometimes Jamie is worried that her personality is a bit too edgy for a lot of her clients, so she tries to reel in her offbeat style. She keeps her blog posts pretty safe as well.

So when she decides to set up Facebook Ads, she decides that she will target all women within a 50 mile radius of her studio between the ages of 21 and 65. Using her upcoming mini sessions as her promotion, she launches her ads with high expectations.

Unfortunately the response that she gets doesn’t meet her hopes, and the sessions that do book try to haggle her price down.

Now let’s look at a second scenario with Jessica:

Jessica knows her ideal client to a T: she is in her mid-30s, is tattooed and has an offbeat sense of humor. That personality always takes center stage in her sessions. Each woman shows up fully in all of her funky glory in every photograph.

That’s because Jessica knows that this is the exact kind of woman that she loves working with. She feels 100% connected to these women, and bringing their light out in front of her camera feels totally natural to her.

And that personality shows up everywhere on Jessica’s website, her newsletter and her marketing materials.

Girl wearing a cowboy hat

So when Jessica decides to try her hand at Facebook Ads, she comes up with a list of targeting that she thinks matches her ideal client: her interests, her demographics and her behaviors.

She knows that it generally takes her some time to nurture a potential client; they usually begin by reading her blog, and then signing up for her newsletter.

Once a potential client is on her newsletter, she finds that they tend to inquiring about a booking after about a month of receiving specialized tips from her.

Therefore, Jessica decides that the most effective thing for her would be to create an ad that offers a juicy incentive for women to sign up for her newsletter list: a beautiful e-magazine detailing all of the behind-the-scenes things they need to know to look beautiful in photographs.

When Jessica launches her ads something surprising happens: not only to women respond to her ad, but they start commenting on it and sharing it with their friends! And, she gains 50 additional subscribers to her email list, 5 of which end up inquiring about a booking.

Moral of the story: when you know who your ideal client is, it becomes so much easier to reach them and offer them something that they both want and need!

When you’re working on figuring out who your ideal client is, I recommend writing down their characteristics so that you can refer to it as a touchstone for all of your marketing and advertising!

If you’re struggling: Think back on your three favorite clients. What were their similarities?

Write those down, and you’ll be able to begin assimilating a persona that you can work off of!

2: Give Value First

I’m going to save you some money right off the bat: if someone has never heard of your studio before, running a Facebook Ad to them will not likely result in a booking inquiry.

The reason is that photograph is not a necessity, it’s a luxury. Therefore, people will likely require more nurturing before they are ready to invest in the luxury of a photo session.

Did you know that it takes 7 to 13 touch points, on average, before someone makes a final decision on a purchase?

The question to ask yourself is how your business can be making those touchpoints, helping and educating your prospective client before asking them for the sale.

Let’s think about it in another context: if you want a new purse, you will likely not think too hard about spending $20 on a new one. You probably also won’t value it too much; it will just serve as a utility.

But, if you want a brand new Kate Spade purse, you might spend a lot of time finding the perfect purse. Once you find it, you’ll Pin it, you’ll sign up for a newsletter hoping for a sale, you might even visit it at the department store.

Finally, you might decide that, sale or not, you’re buying that purse and you are going to love it, dammit!

If the Kate Spade company has served you a Facebook Ads telling you to buy a $300 purse before you were ready, you probably would not have clicked on it.

But, if they had served you an ad telling you that if you sign up for their newsletter you’ll be on the VIP list for new releases and sales, that would have been a no-brainer.

The difference here is that the first scenario is simply asking you for your money and commitment without having provided value.

In fact, you don’t even need to look a big designer brand to see this in action. The company House of Flynn sells high-end camera bags that range from $300 – $400.

Not only are the active on social media, and have a newsletter, but they also nurture a large community on Facebook.

And many photographers save their money to buy a bag, full price, from House of Flynn because they have received so much value from the company being a part of their community.

As a proud owner of one of these camera bags myself, I can tell you that the next time I’m ready for a purse upgrade, I know exactly where I will be buying from.

If the House of Flynn were to run Facebook Ads, they might invite people to join their newsletter with a coupon code, and in the first newsletter they send out to subscribers they might invite them to join their community.

From there, they have a system in place to nurture their clients and provide products that they are interested in investing in.

But if they created ads to promote their high-end bags to people who had never heard of them, do you think that they would have a lot of people ready to spend $400?

So ask yourself, as a business owner, how do you provide value first?

Because if you’re providing value on your blog, on your social media, and on your newsletter, then targeting those people with a Facebook Ad to book will convert a lot better than an audience that has never heard of you before.

And, if you want to find new audiences, what is it that you can advertise in your Facebook Ad that would provide value for people who haven’t been in your circle before?

Let’s look back at our example of Jessica: she knows that her ideal clients, in all of their sassy glory, may need a little bit of extra help blossoming in front of the camera. So she created her e-magazine guide to walk them through everything they need to know to feel confident and sexy.

She teaches them the exact techniques she uses with clients in her studio, so that even if they choose another photographer, they will feel confident and prepared. But she also knows that by providing value first, she increases her chances of those prospects coming to her when they’re ready for shoot.

In fact, she knows that women save up to do a shoot with her, rather than go with another, cheaper photographer.

So look at your entire marketing eco-system: your blog, your newsletter and your social media, and ask yourself where you’re already providing immense value.

Now take that, and turn it into an offer that you will use in your ad.

An example of this that I love is Authentic Portrait, who has created a Facebook Ad offering a free guide to prospective clients who sign up for their newsletter:

Example Photography Facebook Ad

3: Align your targeting

Once you know who your ideal client is and where you want to target them (i.e. a new audience or someone who is already connected to your business) it’s time to determine your targeting.

One of the most amazing things about Facebook Ads is the power of the targeting available.

If you know that your ideal client, like Jessica’s, is into Rockabilly and tattoos, works in tech, makes $70,000 a year, is engaged and therefore might be in the market for boudoir photos, you can target that!

There are many different types of targeting you can take advantage of in Facebook Ads:

Types of Facebook Targeting

Custom Audiences: this type of targeting lets you match customer emails, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs to people on Facebook. So you could create a custom audience around everyone who ever signed up for your newsletter and then serve them a special offer!

Website Custom Audiences: this requires that you install a Facebook tracking pixel on your website or on specific pages to tracks your visitors.  Facebook then builds an audience for you out of these visitors which you can “Retarget” and show them specialized ads. If you offer boudoir & weddings, for example, you can serve separate ads to people who visited one page or the other.

Lookalike Audiences: This is where I get geeky-excited! Say you’ve already uploaded your email list to Facebook and you’ve created a Custom Audience from it.  Because Facebook matched these email addresses on your list to Facebook users, it is now able to take that data and create a brand new “lookalike” audience of other people on Facebook who are similar to your newsletter peeps!

Interests: When most people think of Facebook targeting, they usually just stick with Interests targeting. So if I advertised this training I might target people who have stated they are interested in both “Photography” and “Marketing.” Target Interests that are most relevant to your services.

Behaviors: This targeting let you serve ads to people based on their off-Facebook purchase behavior or the mobile device they use. If you’re a luxury brand, for example, you would want to target Facebook users whose behaviors indicate that they are luxury shoppers.

Connections: This lets you choose whether to target people who are already fans of your Facebook page, their friends, or people who aren’t already fans of your page. So if you’re running an Awareness phase ad, you probably won’t want to target your fans since they know who you are already.

Demographic: This is pretty powerful targeting. If you want to book young brides you could, for example, target women aged 24-35. But to go further you can also drill down into Income & Life Events. With that you could target women, 24-35 with an income of $75,000-$100,000 who are Newly Engaged.

So looking at this above list, ask yourself how you could take the characteristics of your ideal clients and break it down into a persona that you can target!

Then, in the Facebook Ads Manager you can begin to hone in. Here’s an example of how you might begin targeting women who are newly engaged, but layering in interests and life events:

Example of Facebook advertisement settings

4: Create ads that speak to your customers

This is the final component of an effective Facebook Ad! We can get your ideal client spot on, come up with the perfect valuable offering and target those prospects with laser focus, but if we create lackluster ads then they will flop.

But we’re not going to let that happen, now are we?

It’s time to pull together everything we talked about in the previous three tips and really think about what it is that your ideal client needs to hear right now in their journey to booking.

If you’re thinking of targeting brand new prospects who, for example, just got engaged and are looking for a boudoir or wedding photographer ask yourself what your ideal client would most need from you in that moment.

Maybe it’s a tip sheet or a checklist that will make their photography planning easier. Or it could be a digital magazine, much like our example Jessica created for her prospects.

If you’re thinking about targeting people who have been newsletter subscribers or who have visited your website before, what would be the next thing that they would need to know or need to hear from you before they decide to book?

Craft an ad with those things in mind!

The anatomy of a Facebook ad is as follows:

Example of a Photography Facebook Ad

Your Headline is going to tell your prospect what your ad is about. The Description is what emphasizes why someone should click your ad. And a Call to Action is the explicit instruction to your prospect on what they should do, such as “Learn More” or “Book Now.”

In a Headline you get 25 Characters to catch the viewer’s eye and tell them about your offer. You also get a description that allows 90 characters to elaborate on your offer. Depending on the type of ad that you run, you’ll also get nn extended News Feed Description to go deeper into that offer.

Keep that Headline, Description and Call to Action clear; aligned with a what, why and how; and make sure that they are all in agreement with one another.

Your potential client needs to know what you do, why it’s for them and how to get it!

Facebook gives you limited space to craft copy in your ads. So you have to be concise, while still getting your message across and providing a clear call to action.

To create amazingly effective ad copy, you should always make sure that you can answer these three crucial questions:

  • Value – Why is my offer relevant and valuable to my audience?
  • Offer – What exactly am I selling?
  • Proposition – What is the Call to Action for my audience?

Now let’s talk about what kind of images work best.

Obviously, keep your images in alignment with your offer. If you’re advertising an engagement session, then show an engagement photo.

If you’re advertising a family session, then use images of families. If you’re selling boudoir, you have to keep the images “family friendly,” so nothing overtly sexual; but still advertise with images that showcase what you specialize in.

Bright images work best on Facebook. Avoid the colors blue and gray, because they blend in too much with Facebook itself. Use this as an opportunity to showcase your best work, and continue to test to see what images appeal the most to your target clients!

Congratulations! You’re well on your way to launching effective Facebook Ads that convert like crazy and help you find amazing potential customers!

Boudie Shorts Blog Post Graphics_4 Stellar Tips for Marketing Your Glamour Photography Biz-06


Jen Kiaba is an award-winning fine art photographer, digital marketing strategist and co-author of the bookPerfect Facebook Ads. Her photography has been published internationally in magazines and on book covers. She blogs all about creativity and digital marketing, and has a free five-day course, Fantastic FB Ads designed to dive deeper into Facebook Ads.

Boudie Shorts Blog Post Graphics_4 Stellar Tips for Marketing Your Glamour Photography Biz-06


Posted in

Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.