How to grow your photography business with a giveaway contest

Pin graphic titled: How to Grow Your Photography Business with A Giveaway

You can really grow your photography business with a giveaway contest. However, it can just as easily be a huge waste of time, money and effort. In this video I’m going to show you how to run a contest that will delight your audience AND put bookings in your diary. Not only that - I have a handy freebie for you to download so you can smash your next contest!

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I helped one of our members, Laura, with a contest before Christmas and she nailed it. She gave me the go-ahead to share what she did with you so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

A few points first. Laura is a family photographer but you could adapt this for almost any genre. She promoted her contest via Facebook but you can use the platform of your choice. Yes, this was done in the run up to Christmas but this will work at any time of year. Lastly, Laura smashed this with Less than 250 facebook page followers! So if you have a larger social media audience - you should see even better results.

1. Objective

Laura firstly thought about what she wanted to achieve with her contest. She decided that she wanted the contest to grow her email list (wise woman) AND result in bookings for her quiet period (Jan-March). She put a figure against each of these.

2. Cost

Laura worked out what she was willing to spend on the contest in order to get the results she wanted. She added this to her ‘Cost of Doing Business’.

3. Prize

Laura wanted a great prize for the winner of her contest because she knew that would increase the reach and the success of the contest. She decided to give away a free family photoshoot with ten digital images.

However, she didn’t stop there. She then approached a great local boutique in her area with the same target client as her and purchased a £200 gift voucher to add to the prize. She included this in her costs. Doing this meant she retained full control of the contest, reached a new audience AND created goodwill and connection with a business she loves.

4. Urgency

Laura wanted her contest to take flight. She wanted people to take action on it when they saw it. She didn’t want to bore and annoy people to death with a contest that went on forever. So she decided that she would only give people five days to get their entry in. Make sure you plan some urgency in your contest.

5. Landing Page

Next Laura created the landing page for her contest on her website including all the important information her entrants would need.

Laura's landing page

This landing page led to her...

6. Entry Form

Laura used a simple Google form to allow people to enter her contest. But any form builder will do the job. She put the terms and conditions of the contest at the top then asked for their name, their email address and their postal address (so she could post out their prize).  

Importantly, she also asked for permission to add them to her email list and to send them a runner-up prize. They had a choice about opting in to these. It wasn’t a requirement of entry thus satisfying the GDPR police.

Google forms added all the responses Laura got to a spreadsheet so she had a list of entrants at her fingertips.

7. Facebook Post

Laura wanted the best organic reach possible for her Facebook post AND she certainly didn’t want to break any Facebook rules about contests (and neither should you - make sure you familiarise yourself with these before attempting to promote a contest on Facebook. I’ve linked to them here). Laura knew that the best way to get her post out there to the world was to quickly start a conversation under it and get engagement.

So she created an eye-catching graphic and crafted a post with information about her contest. In her post she asked people to enter by commenting below the post telling her what they wanted for Christmas. She made it clear that she would then send the entry form to them in messenger (that’s important).

Facebook post for photography giveaway contest

She didn’t ask for likes and shares because that's against FB rules and she didn’t include a link to her contest in the post because we all know Facebook does NOT like you sending its users to a link outside FB unless you’re paying them some advertising money).

You might think it’s worth the risk asking for likes and shares - it’s not. You might think adding a link to your entry form in your post will be fine. It won’t be. Not these days. Here’s what to do instead...

8. Messenger Bot

In Laura’s Facebook post she promised to send the entry form to anyone who commented below her post with what they wanted for Christmas. Laura automated this entire process by using a messenger bot. I love ManyChat for this so that’s what we used but there are lots of options for bots, including native Facebook bots, and it’s way easier to set up than you think.

ManyChat for photography giveaway contest

Inside ManyChat we used a growth tool called ‘Facebook Comments’ which allows you to send an automated message to anyone who comments underneath a specified post (as long as you’ve made it clear in the post that’s what’s going to happen).

We selected the post from Laura’s Facebook page and set the message to send immediately when someone commented under it.

We created a message to send to every commenter - firstly confirming that they did indeed want to enter the contest and asking them to reply with a simple ‘yes’. ManyChat insists you get a reply at this stage before it will allow you to continue so don’t skip this step.

Using ManyChat to run a photography giveaway contest

We then created an opt in message to send to everyone who replied which simply said 'To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is fill in this form.’ We also wished them luck and linked to the entry form.

ManyChat being used to promote a photography giveaway contest

9. Testing

Crucially we tested the entire set up to make sure it was working perfectly.

10. Build up

Laura created teaser posts in the lead up to her contest so that her audience knew something was coming and, of course, the business she purchased a voucher from shared these too. If you have an email list you could and do this via email too.

11. Timing

Laura analysed her Facebook stats and decided on the best time to make her contest live and announce it. Because Laura’s ideal client is a busy mum of young kids she went with a weekday evening after the kids bedtime.

12. Friends prepped

To get things moving under her post as soon as possible Laura had a few friends prepped and ready to start the conversation. If Facebook sees quick engagement under your post it will send it out to more of your audience.

13. Let it unfold organically

Next Laura just watched as her entrants were automatically added from her google form to her spreadsheet. As more people commented, the post was shown to more of her audience. Even though she didn’t ask for likes and shares - she got loads. Despite having only 200 Facebook page likes at the time.

Facebook post engagements for photography giveaway contest

If you have lots more social media followers than Laura then of course your contest should get more entrants but this shows you what can happen even with a very small audience.

Of course, the business she bought a gift voucher from was supporting the entire thing too.

14. Paid traffic

If you want to - you can put some money behind the post after a couple of days and send it out to a carefully targeted audience using Facebook ads manager. We spent just £25 to get 58 more engagements on the post.

Facebook ad to promote photography giveaway contest

15. Announce the winner

Laura chose to use an online random number generator to select her winner and shared these images with her Facebook audience. You could, of course, go live on Facebook and choose a winner that way if you’re feeling brave. Just make sure you do it fairly and keep your audience informed.

Are you looking to grow your photography business with a giveaway contest? Use this guide to make sure yours is a wild success!


16. Delight Runners Up

If you want to make the most out of your contest don’t forget to follow up with your runners up. Laura went to the effort of posting out a voucher to everyone who said they wanted a runners up prize on the entry form (which was most of the entrants).

Think carefully about what your voucher will be for. It has to align with your business. You could go with a free shoot, product credit to put towards their photographs or even a mixture of both. If your pricing is on the high side then including some basic pricing information with your voucher is a good idea. You don’t want to waste time handling enquiries from people who wouldn’t dream of buying from you and you don’t want to waste their time either.

Laura and I worked out a profitable offer for her voucher and that her sales process was solid. Make sure you do the same. We also put a 3 month expiry on the vouchers to prevent leads going stale.

17. Start emailing your new list

In five days Laura went from having no list to having 80 people who specifically said they wanted to hear from her. If you follow me you will know that I highly recommend you build a list of subscribers. It is still THE best way to book out your diary. Those who sign up to hear from you are your best and most loyal potential clients.

Laura now has a strategy in place which involves emailing her new list regularly with engaging, helpful emails and staying top of mind for them all.

18. Evaluate

It’s important to look at your stats and measure your success. Laura said at the start of her planning that she wanted to grow her email list. Of the 101 people who entered Laura’s contest over those five days - 80% of them said they wanted to subscribe to her emails. I’d say that’s a success!

Not only that. She wanted family shoot bookings in the diary for her quiet January to March period. In January so far, Laura has booked in no less than FOUR of her runners up who all know her package prices and are excited about their shoot. As I speak she’s dealing with two more enquiries that have just come in. All in the quietest month for family photographers in the UK! Obviously Laura will follow up with all her runners up and she is bound to get a flurry of bookings as that expiry date approaches.

Laura spent £225 on her contest. She won’t know how much profit it brings until she completes all the shoots she books as a result of it. Including those who book from her email marketing. But she’ll run the numbers and you can bet if she does something similar next year she’ll go even bigger and better.

I know that was a lot to run through. That’s why I’ve created a handy freebie for you. I’ve put together a checklist you can download and use to plan and run your own contest. You can download it below!

So what do you think? Could this work in your business? I’d love to know if it’s given you some ideas. Let me know.



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