Six Ways Real Estate Photographers Can Compete Against Established Photographers?

September 13th, 2015

CompetitionChristian in the Seattle area posed this important question:

I am reading a lot about marketing to Real Estate Agents. I’m in South King County (greater Seattle area). Many of the top tier agents in my area are using professional photographers. Some of the photographers however do not provide what I feel is “professional quality”. Though I am struggling to reach out to agents because they “have a photographer” and do not want to change. Do you have any good suggestions to reach out to agents in a competitive photography market?

Great question! I can remember back in 2003 there were hardly any agents in the Seattle area using professional photographers. Now, agents have to promise professional photography to win the listing contract. I’m sure there are many other markets where the competition is significant.

Here are some suggestions for getting started in a competitive real estate photography market:

  1. Understand your competition: You need to know what you have to do to compete so understand your competition’s price, quality what they offer and everything else you can.
  2. Have a great looking portfolio: Work at looking as good or better than your competition. The portfolio on your website is the center of any marketing you do so make it looks top notch!
  3. Meet your potential clients: You need to meet your potential clients if possible. Real estate agents are people oriented and respond best to personal face-to-face contact. Go to their open houses and their office meetings if possible to meet them face-to-face.
  4. Create a marketing piece: Create a regular size or jumbo size glossy postcard that has one or more of your very best images on it along with your contact info. Deliver your marketing piece to targeted agents office mail slots. You don’t have to mail these. Agents have mail slots at their office. You can personally deliver these to these mail slots. Distribute your marketing piece every few months.
  5. Be persistent: You have to stay visible to agents that may decide to hire you for whatever reason.
  6. When you get a chance to shoot, make a good impression: Word-of-mouth from other agents is the most powerful marketing. So when you get a chance, dazzle them with great customer service. Frequently, great customer service is more important than anything else.

What have others found to be good competitive practices to breaking into a market?


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7 Responses to “Six Ways Real Estate Photographers Can Compete Against Established Photographers?”

  • Christian – Shoot me an email and I can give you some tips. 🙂

  • Christian,
    I am one of those photographers in South Seattle. I started my business on June 1, 2015.
    You are not alone, I’m there with you. Your question might as well have been written by me. I work at this 7 days a week. That is no joke. From 9am to 11pm sometimes. I can only say that I love every minute of it.
    I’m not making enough money at this point but I know that it will come. My guess is next year. We, you and I, are entering the slow season so you have to make every day count.
    Here’s what I do:
    1. I go to open houses and engage the agent with a 30 second elevator pitch then show examples of my work if there is time. I always get cards from the agent.
    2. During the week, I drop off the same lit to the real estate offices in a section of town I chose to cultivate.
    3. Also during the week, I send e-mails to the new agents I just met and say think you for the time they gave me. In the e-mail are examples of my work along with my rates.
    4. I just recently got set up on Google + and Facebook. Most agents use Facebook. Send your success stories to the ones that friend you or put you in their circles.
    5. Ask the manager of the real estate office if you can do a 10-15 minute talk to the agents, (if any come to the office, most work out of their home)
    6. Find out if there is a “event” put on by the real estate company that you can attend and set up a booth so you can show your shots to ALL the agents.
    7. Set up a website. I’m re-doing mine tonight as it is old and the photos are not as good as I’m cranking out now.

    That’s my two cents worth.

  • I am just starting to make traction in the RE Photography market… The things I noticed around the St. George, Utah area that other photographers were not doing are adding a floor plan (I use the magicplan app and and creating a video slideshow. With very little practice you can learn to make simple basic floor plans in as little as 20 or 30 minutes extra on sight. For videoslide shows …i have a subscription for the Adobe CC that includes the Premiere video editing and host them on (25.00 a month) gives you l lot of space. Vimeo (pro) 200.00 a year … has the option of private videos (they do not allow RE Videos except if they are private link or iframe only) Tourbuzz is also a great inexpensive option to get both a virtual tour $15.00.. and a video for $5.00 a tour more. I like my videos better than the ones tourbuzz makes… but tourbuzz kicks them out branded and unbranded for $5.00 that is pretty great price and if you load them right it is really quick option with great results.

  • I am both a RE Photographer and a Keller Williams REALTOR in Northern Virginia. I do use and my REALTORS love it sine it does branded, Unbranded for IDX and plain. It also send the REALTORS an email showing them all the data on their tour form traffic to favorite photos. I do drop off flyers to area offices, do a sale pitch and word of mouth is key. I can tell you that once you get going, go after the large TEAMS. They usually have a stager on staff, have several homes a week to shoot and have staff. The once in a while agents fill to income gap, but concentrate on the large TEAMS. I built my website from WIX and paid to upgrade it once they had a sale. ($150 for an entire year). Also, to get more homes in your portfolio, go to a local model home and ask the sales manager if you can shoot the model on a quiet day or do a spec home that they might have. This way you have work to show. I do ALL homes, from small to very large. The small ones get as much attention as the large beautiful homes because I want the REALTORS to know that I feel every home is important to them and their clients.

  • For MLS real estate photography: 1) Fast turn around, 2) Fair price and 3) decent quality.

  • Learn the craft of producing great HD video walk thru tours.. An established photographer who does weddings or baby pics etc most likely does not want to get into this space. too much of a learning curve. This is a developing market niche. Video is where it’s at in real estate. Not talking a youtube video of a slide show BTW. Once agents learn how Google yahoo and Bing index content, they quickly understand that the virtual tour slide show is if I may be blunt useless. They do not index well at all, as a matter of fact they are almost invisible to search engines. If search engines can’t find them how will a buyer searching on line? So….there is very little return on investment in VTSS. besides, the slideshows are exactly the same photos they post on the MLS. Video is top dog when it comes to SEO. Video gets eyeballs on listings, creates excitement and emotional connection with the viewer. AND HD Video tours help agents get more listings . . We hear this ALL the time.

    The way to compete with established photographers is almost not to compete with them. Offer your clients real value. we package our photos with our video walk thru tours. I would say 75% of our clients opt for the package deal. About 25% are straight photos…for now.

  • I’ve been doing RE stills for almost two years, but I don’t understand what realtors mean by a virtual tour. What I’ve seen is really a slideshow of the stills. Are there two different types of video — one of stills and one where it’s actual video? Is a good resource to turn-around stills for a virtual tour? Who is a good resource to learn how to take video of real estate?

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