Business + Marketing

Advertising Boudoir Photography: 10 Ways to Promote

December 17, 2021

By Tanya Smith

© Tanya Smith

To set yourself up to be booked solid and not have to worry where your next boudoir client is coming from, here are some ideas you can start using right away.

Every photographer wants to know how to get clients and fill up their calendars, am I right? After all, if you don’t have people buying what you are offering, then you don’t have a business. I have been a boudoir photographer since 2011, and boudoir photographers have unique challenges to advertising boudoir photography that other portrait genres just don’t have.

  1. A lot of boudoir photography clients don’t want their images shared at all. Obviously, boudoir photography is an intimate and private type of shoot; the majority of people aren’t going to want photographers to post their images anywhere. If boudoir photographers don’t have images to share with the market, how can they show potential clients what they can do?
  2. Boudoir photographers aren’t always able to post the images they do get approval from clients to share. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms have rules around posting nudity or anything they deem to be “sexual in nature,” which oftentimes includes boudoir photography.

[Read: A Guide to Boudoir Photography Pricing and Packages]

So, what is a boudoir photographer to do? How do we find clients? How do we get in front of our ideal clients?

The “where do I find clients” question is one of the biggest, most common questions I get asked, by new boudoir photographers and seasoned pros alike. As boudoir photographers, we need to make our marketing about two very important rules: trust from you clients and compliance with social media practices.

What to Do When Your Boudoir Clients Don’t Want You To Share Images

boudoir photography at home by tanya smith

We have all been there: We have a client who completely kills their boudoir shoot. The images are amazing and you have share-worthy shots. But when it comes time to ask your client if you can share, you hear those words: “Please don’t share any images. I’m keeping these private just for myself.”

Obviously, you need to respect your client’s wishes, but there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of having images you can share and use in your marketing materials.Of course, we still want to show images with a face, showing emotion and connection, but women (who make up most boudoir clients) are much more likely to allow you to share images that don’t show her face or identity. So in your boudoir sessions, make sure you are also capturing those anonymous photos and detail shots.

I only ask about sharing images at the ordering session, and only after a client has chosen their images. I’ll ask, “Which images can I share?” instead of asking, “Can I share your images?”

[Read: Teri Hofford on Building a Body-Inclusive Boudoir Photography Brand]

It is very rare to have a boudoir client be okay with you sharing all of the photos from a shoot, but 95 percent of clients will let you share some—especially if you are making an effort to include those detail and anonymous shots in their selection.

You can also ask if you can share “in studio” only. Some women don’t want you to share images online but are totally fine with you showing clients who inquire or come to your studio, if you have one. Make sure to ask if this is okay, and of course, always have them sign an image release.

How to Post and Advertise Boudoir Photos Online While Complying with Policies

As boudoir photographers, we need to make sure we are not advertising boudoir photography that will get our accounts shut down. You probably already know that even if you have a client who is okay with you sharing nude photos of her, you still can’t post them to social media. Sure, you can add bars to cover the parts of her body that Facebook or Instagram don’t want you to show, but I have seen that that can still get you banned from their platforms.

[Read: Successful Boudoir Photography—Finding Your Style, Starting Your Business]

This is a challenge for sure, but instead of getting annoyed and venting about social media policies, focus on figuring out how to play by their rules. If you are running boudoir photography ads and you want them to get approved, don’t show traditionally “boudoir-ish” images. You can use images of your boudoir studio, images of you, or images that fall more in line with the beauty photography genre, with not too much skin showing.

10 Tried-and-True Ways You Can Try Advertising Boudoir Photography to Find New Clients

tried-and-true ways to advertise boudoir photos by tanya smith

To set yourself up to be booked solid and not have to worry where your next boudoir client is coming from, here are some ideas you can start using right away:

1. Post Content For Your Ideal Boudoir Client

A big way to market any portrait business is your free content—the kinds of things you post on your website, social media, etc. Before you post anything, you must know who you are talking to, and by that I mean the content you put out must resonate with the kind of client you want to work with.

For example, my client is usually a mom in her mid- to late-30s, whose job keeps her busy, as do her kids. She has realized that she needs to take more time for herself and she wants to remember the woman she was before kids and work took all of her time. This person likes to see me post things that appeal to her—things that are empowering, things that give her confidence.

Your content helps your perfect client get to know you better, so they can like and trust you. We are always trying to work on the know, like and trust factor because that is what will keep you top of mind when clients think about booking a shoot. Ideally, you will be the first and only person they think of.

2. Make a VIP or Private Facebook Group

If you do not have a Facebook group set up just for your past clients and potential clients to advertise boudoir photos, you are missing out. This is still a really good way to connect with your perfect clients. A private Facebook group is especially useful for boudoir photographers because the group is private and clients will feel more comfortable posting their images in there.

Plus, you can ask past clients to invite their friends, who are more than likely similar to your ideal clients, too.

3. Answer Your Client Inquiries via DM with Voice Messages

This one is simple to do, but so many people are not doing it. I always encourage people to reach out to me via DM or private message, and when they do, I answer and respond to them with a voice message. 

Just hit that little microphone and record a quick message. It’s easier than typing a message out and it’s so much more personal. People love it! In fact, if you have ever sent me a DM, you probably got a voice message back. I do it all the time, and it’s a great way to turn an inquiry into a client. It helps people trust you just by hearing your voice. If they trust you and like you, they are more likely to book you.

4. Advertise Boudoir Photos by Giving Vouchers to Potential Clients

I have an entire podcast episode on this and a whole module in my membership about it, and for good reason—vouchers work. This is what I recommend you do if you’re advertising boudoir photography or growing your portfolio but don’t want to offer free shoots: Give someone a voucher with a specific dollar value assigned to it for them to spend.

For example, for the first year and a half, most of my shoots were voucher shoots. I gave them out everywhere!

They got a voucher worth $895, which included the session fee (at that time, my session fee was $295), hair and makeup, plus they had $600 to spend on portraits.

Yes, they could do the shoot and just walk away with two images, but 9 times out of 10, when you show them 30 or so beautiful boudoir images, they usually end up purchasing more and using that $600 to apply towards a higher package. It works like a charm.

5. Attend and Exhibit at Photo Expos and Shows

Put some money out and book a booth at a show or expo so you’re advertising boudoir photography in person! You can do a big international bridal show, and you can do local shows. The idea is to get in front of a bunch of people who have never heard of you and turn them into fans.

I take a ton of vouchers to these shows as well as offer a giveaway, but my goal for these shows is to get as many email addresses as possible so I can bring them into my world and let them get to know me better—and work on that know, like and trust factor. (Are you seeing a theme here?)

6. Run a Sale on Your Offerings

This is another way to advertise boudoir photos, get an infusion of cash and get a booked calendar: Offering a promo. There is a strategic system I used to run these—essentially, you heavily discount your session fee and add a couple of valuable bonuses with a client’s purchase.

For example, I might run a $99 promo, and there is a value to the client of almost $1,500 that they can buy. It’s a steal for them, and they are always super profitable when I run them. The last time I ran this promo, I made over $80k in sales. One of my students ran one for Black Friday and she booked her calendar for 7 months in advance! Sales work

7. Gather Client Testimonials

This is an easy one, but it’s one that so many photographers don’t do when they’re advertising boudoir photography—and as a boudoir photographer this is a must. Remember when we talked about the trust factor? A boudoir shoot is usually way outside of a woman’s comfort zone, so having some social proof in the form of a testimonial from someone just like her is a very powerful way to find new boudoir clients.

Ask very specific questions: How did they feel about their shoot? How nervous were they before and how did they feel afterwards? What did they think about their final products? What did they feel when they saw their images for the first time?

Ask them for a Google or Facebook review, ask them to post in your private Facebook group so others can see what a shoot with you is like, and any time you see a comment or a review or a post singing your praises, take a screenshot and show it on your social media and website.

People want to hear from other people just like them.

8. Advertise Boudoir Photos with Before and Afters

This is similar to getting testimonials; they show social proof, but in a slightly different way.

Before and Afters work very well when you’re advertising boudoir photography because most women do not think they specifically can have images of themselves that are as beautiful as the finished images they see online from you. But when they see the everyday photo of a woman beside the final boudoir image from you, well now they can relate. They realize if that woman, who looks just like them, can look like this, then maybe they can too.

Before and after shots eliminate that worry, and, again, they make them more likely to trust you.

9. Hone Your Email Strategy with Lead Magnets

A lead magnet is something that you offer your ideal client for free, something valuable to them—for example “how to take a sexy selfie with your iPhone” or a “lingerie guide.” And in exchange for this free thing, they give you their email address.

Now they have something that they liked and found helpful or valuable or entertaining, and now you have their email address, which you will use to send them regular emails when you’re advertising boudoir photography so they can get to know, like and trust you. And hopefully the emails are so good (and your lead magnet was so good) that they now want to book with you.

Setting this up is not as hard as you might think. I show you how to do this step by step in my monthly membership called The Society—you just need to do it once and have it run automatically, on autopilot, nurturing those leads and turning them into clients.

10. Follow Up on Inquiries

One of the best and easiest ways to advertise boudoir photos and book your perfect client addresses the biggest mistake you are probably making that is sabotaging your marketing efforts and holding you back from getting more bookings. So many photographers get an inquiry, send an email—then don’t do anything!

That person is a warm lead! They were interested enough to reach out, but something stopped them from moving forward and booking with you. Maybe they forgot about it, maybe they were interrupted with kids or work, and they didn’t respond to your email, maybe your email ended up in spam and they missed it. You should be reaching out several more times with them. People need to be reminded. A lot of photographers think they are “bothering” those potential clients, but remember, they reached out to you. You can reach out again if you haven’t heard back.

In fact, I reach out six times, and only if I have not heard back from them do I move them to a dead inquiry. Most times, they will thank me for reminding them, and I get a booking from it.

Don’t make this mistake as you’re advertising boudoir photography. Put a system in place where you follow up every few days until they book or until they say they are no longer interested. You will be amazed at how many people simply forgot and end up booking with you just because you followed up.

There are so many more ways to market to boudoir clients, but if you start with doing these ten things consistently, I know you will see an increase in your bookings. 

Tanya Smith has been a women’s portrait photographer since 2011. With a background in corporate banking and sales, she is constantly on the hunt for how to better run a boudoir photography business. She has been mentoring and coaching other boudoir and portrait photographers since 2017.