Whether we like it or not, it’s true: word-of-mouth referrals are vital to the success of any business.

Especially photography businesses!

Getting your clients to refer you to their friends and family sounds simple enough, but it’s not.


Because referrals are one of the only marketing strategies you can’t control. You can spend hundreds or thousands on print promotions and Facebook ads to gain exposure, but you can’t control what other people say about you (if they talk about you at all).

A few months into starting my own portrait photography business, I realized almost all of my new clients were coming from referrals of past clients. So I asked myself, “How can I keep this going? How do I make it easier for people to spread the word?”

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Because I was still new to running my own business, I didn’t feel confident asking clients to refer me through email or Facebook, so I did what any normal person would do. I googled “How do I get more word-of-mouth referrals”.

That’s when I learned about creating custom business cards for each of my clients.

The concept seemed brilliant.

Step 1: Print the best image of your client on the front

Step 2: Add your logo, website, and contact info on the back

Step 3: Give each client 25 cards to pass out to friends and family

Step 4: Fill calendar with hundreds of bookings

I really thought these custom business cards would lead to phenomenal business growth. And, in all fairness, they worked pretty well when clients shared them, but I soon noticed this strategy had some serious problems.

Print to Digital to Social+Mobile

By moving from print-based referrals to a digital referral strategy, I wasn’t reinventing the wheel. At this point in time, thousands of companies had already made this switch, but the rules of social media were starting to change.

In the early days, getting word-of-mouth referrals by sharing and tagging posts on Facebook was pretty easy. Now, since Facebook’s standards have changed (making ads necessary), getting noticed can be really expensive.

Also, as consumers, when we engage in social media, we’re usually alone on our computer or phone. It’s a little ironic that we still call it social media when it’s actually very anti-social.

Real social interaction comes from spending time with our friends and family — through sharing a meal, meeting up for coffee, or getting together to watch our favorite show. When we combine this truly social setting with mobile technology, we have the perfect setting for word-of-mouth referrals that help grow our business and book more clients.

Over the last several years, StickyAlbums has evolved into something much bigger than we initially imagined. Now, with the new StickyFolios builder, we can create a custom mobile “app” for each and every high school senior (or any other portrait client) in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s what the latest version of this strategy looks like…

The 10-Minute Tactic to Turning Photography Clients Into Raving Ambassadors

To create a custom ‘app’ for each client, you’ll simply:

  1. Enter the new StickyFolios builder
  2. Add the client’s best images from the photo shoot
  3. Upload your logo and contact information
  4. Add the client’s story (a few sentences that make them feel special)
  5. Share the URL link via text or email (no App Store uploading/downloading necessary)

When your client opens the link, they immediately see instructions for adding the URL to their home screen. It looks just like an app, but they don’t have to download anything from the App Store.

At this point, they’ll probably be most excited about seeing their own face on the cover image for the app! This is the million-dollar feature.

When your client opens their folio, the images automatically save to their phone, so they can still view and share the images even if they’re offline.

Now they can show off their amazing images (and brag about your work) to friends and family by physically passing around their phone or by sharing the URL with one of the many sharing buttons in the app.

As friends and family view the images, they’ll see your name and logo embedded throughout; along with any promotions and options to contact you through features like tap-to-call, tap-to-email, and links to visit your website.

This entire strategy was pioneered in 2012 when I moved away from custom business cards and started StickyAlbums. Now, with StickyFolios, we’ve taken our original set of features to the next level so getting word-of-mouth referrals for your photography business has become easier than ever before.

Want to try out the example above on your phone? Use the button below and we will email it to you so you can check it out on your phone or desktop.

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