How to Get More Tattoo Clients—The Ultimate Guide

Ahh, the age-old question. How to get more tattoo clients?

OK, maybe it’s not the exact question that’s been floated around the last hundred years, but you get the picture.

From building a brand to scheduling appointments to scoring rave reviews… the battle to stand out among a throng of tattoo shops is tough.

So, rather than continuing to throw spaghetti at the wall hoping something, anything, sticks—this ultimate guide gives you a strategy.

Get a step-by-step breakdown on how to get more tattoo clients through your shop door minus the industry jargon and over-complicated tactics. The road to getting more appointment bookings begins here ⬇️.

19 Ways to Get More Tattoo Clients:

  1. Create a welcoming environment
  2. Build your tattoo brand
  3. Focus in on your signature style {by saying no}
  4. Nail your portfolio
  5. Have a clear marketing strategy
  6. Social Media is a *must-have*
  7. Not sure how to get more tattoo clients? Start with a website.
  8. Make the move to online scheduling
  9. Mind your *word of mouth*
  10. Ask for more referrals
  11. Business cards aren’t dead
  12. Attend conventions {ya know…when it’s safe again}
  13. Partner up with a cause
  14. Have a client communication strategy
  15. Put down the paper & pen
  16. Automate your reminders
  17. Ask for reviews
  18. Update your public profiles
  19. Keep learning

1. Create a welcoming environment

two tattooed men in a shop

Your goal should be a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere the moment clients walk into your shop. If they feel intimidated when they stroll through those front doors, you’ll miss any opportunity to share your talent.

That’s not to say you need to give up who you are to bring in more tattoo clients. You want an experience that’s authentic to both your industry and who you are as an artist while still keeping in mind the comfort level of the clients you’re targeting.

The level of detail is up to you. You can dive into what color you paint the walls, the music you’re playing, and the art that’s displayed. The sky’s the limit here.

Related → 17 Tattoo Artist Misconceptions (That Refuse to Die) 

2. Build your tattoo brand

An entire blog post could be written about how to build your brand, but we’ll stick to the basics. If you’re looking into how to get more tattoo clients it’s all about consistency. The way you present your shop is important, whether that be on social media, your website, or IRL… it’s what determines the type of client you’ll attract.

If you’re opening your first shop, think about the type of clients you want to come through the door. Even if you have artists with all types of artistic niches, don’t let your branding become wishy-washy. Make your shop name easy to remember, have a logo that encompasses the vibe & feel {not just the *look* of your brand}, and aim for brand consistency. You want every touch-point to be instantly recognizable as *your shop* so potential clients build trust with you over time.

3. Focus in on your signature style {by saying no}

Having a shop with one signature style is unlikely and when you’re trying to beat out your competition, not in your best interest. What you’re looking for are artists who’ve honed in on their signature styles. To fill up your online appointment schedule day after day you need artists on your roster who know their strengths and their weaknesses.

If they’re unaccustomed to saying no to potential clients because a tattoo is outside their wheelhouse, they aren’t the best fit for your shop. After all, being known as a shop with specialists is a good thing. Tattoos are a lifelong commitment. Clients need to know the artist putting that piece on their body has chosen to dedicate their career to learning one discipline.

The faster you understand your niche, the quicker you’ll attract clients your shop is stoked to have booking appointments. That’s not to say that the going is tough when you first open a shop. It certainly can be. But if you want to be *custom* only, does it make sense to take clients’ begging for pieces off Pinterest *as-is*? Not really.

Sure, in the beginning, it’s going to hurt. But in the end, you’ll have a client list full of people you’re stoked to have in your shop. Not to mention a group of artists excited to come to work.

Related → 5 Reasons Why “No” Is the Most Important Word You’ll Learn

4. Nail your portfolio

This is true for every artist in your shop. Online & offline you want your portfolio to be representative of your current work… not from ten years ago. On top of that, spend a little bit of time figuring out how to take a picture that reflects the houuurrrss of sweat that went into the piece. Lighting, angles & clarity make a massive difference. The greatest tattoo can look beginner if you’re unsure how to capture it. No bueno when you’re looking to book more tattoo clients.

5. Have a clear marketing strategy

Let’s face it. In 2020, if you’re not online in some capacity you don’t exist. Is that fair? Absolutely not. But it’s the truth. You don’t need to be everywhere, all the time. Spreading yourself too thin will only produce a watered-down mess of your shop, your brand, and your art. So, pick a couple of platforms you enjoy, commit to a posting schedule, and hop to it. You’re shooting for progress over perfection here… but if you don’t start now, your shop & your talent will be invisible.

6. Social Media is a *must-have*

We’re all blessed {*cough* cursed} with teensy computers we carry around in our pockets day in and day out. Use this as a way to mainline your art to potential clients. Not only will you gain exposure for your work & your shop, but it’s an effective way to build relationships with current ones.

Instagram is a visual place you can use to keep things interesting by sharing engaging content. Invite your followers to like, comment, and share your posts. Mix in *behind the scenes* video so potential clients get a feel of what the in-shop atmosphere is like. But go further. Support other parts of the tattoo industry, give shout-outs to fellow artists, take your video *on the road* to events… GET SOCIAL!

Instagram is also a great place to let your current and potential clients know how they can book appointments with you. If you’ve moved past pen & paper bookings into the online scheduling world… let them know. With an ever-changing algorithm, you never know who’s seen what post. Make sure you’re reminding your followers how to book appointments through Instagram every time.

You can also add your booking link to your Instagram bio. It’s as easy as following these steps:

  1. Edit Instagram Profile
  2. Edit Website
  3. Enter your booking link URL
  4. Done ☑️

7. Not sure how to get more tattoo clients? Start with a website.

get more tattoo clients with a website
The Arts Corporation ☝️

Does your shop have a website? If you’re wondering how to get more tattoo clients, this is one of the most effective ways. Having a website adds credibility to your brand/business which builds trust and authority. When a new client is looking for a tattoo artist they’ll likely do one of three things:

  1. Ask a friend for a referral
  2. Google: who’s the best tattoo artist in their city
  3. Google: what is the best tattoo shop in their city

If they ask a friend and your shop name comes up… awesomesauce. But the next step isn’t usually a call to book an appointment. It’s opening up the laptop (or the iPhone) to google your shop. If you don’t have a web presence or it’s an Insta page with 14 crummy pics…you’re quickly losing credibility.

Here’s what you should be aiming for on a website:

  • An updated portfolio page for each artist at your shop along with a bio
  • A contact form so potential clients can reach you if they have more questions
  • A link to online scheduling OR an embedded online booking page
  • Testimonials from past clients (with photos) to build your credibility
  • Branding that matches your aesthetic
  • A URL that doesn’t look like this: www.tattooshop.squarespace.com (buy the branded URL)

8. Make the move to online scheduling

Are you currently scheduling your tattoo appointments with a pen & paper? Or is it a mishmash of Instagram DMs, emails, and text messages?

If you’re wondering how to book more tattoo clients… make the move to tattoo booking software. Give your clients the option to book securely through Instagram, Facebook, your website, and a dedicated online booking page.

You can stop stressing about artist availability, double bookings, and no-shows. Clients have the freedom to can book appointments online when it’s convenient for them. Win-win.

9. Mind your *word of mouth*

Now, word of mouth is not something you can *control* per se, but you can encourage it. With current clients being literal walking billboards for your shop you need to give them something to rave about. Your team can make sure each tattoo appointment is dialed in on all accounts—from the tattoo to client service to the follow-up.

Great experience travels fast… terrible ones travel even faster.

10. Ask for more referrals

Don’t let your fear of feeling awkward AF stand in the way of asking your clients for referrals. Think it through first and then forge ahead. You don’t want to ask alllll of your clients to send you their friends… only the ones you love working on. And for them, well, they deserve a reward, right? Maybe a discount, or an incentive of some sort for sharing the love? Whatever works most authentically for your tattoo shop.

11. Business cards aren’t dead

tattoo-stickers-from-la-convention

Alright, business cards. It’s kind of like email. They’ve been declared DEAD more times than can be counted, and yet, if you get caught empty-handed at a convention or the coffee shop… oof. You won’t make that mistake twice.

If you feel too much like you’re Uncle carrying around business cards (and I beg you to think twice… you can get any style you like nowadays), then grab some stickers. When you tour around a convention, stickers range from shop logos to the artists’ work to a representation of the causes they believe in (like Jason Dunn with #fuckanxiety). Having a visual representation of yourself (and/or your shop) makes you memorable.

And remember, according to branding lure a potential client needs to see you at least 7 times before they feel confident enough to take the next step. (<– that’s booking an online appointment)

12. Attend conventions {ya know…when it’s safe again}

three tattoo artists looking for new clientsat a convention

It’s great to spend time figuring out how to get more tattoo clients but you NEED to build relationships with other artists as well. Not only to keep yourself from going nuts {everyone needs a solid group to lean on that just *gets* them} but having a group of industry pals can also pack your shop.

The tattoo industry {like makeup & hair} runs on recommendations. If you build the right relationships, with the right people it can change your life. But to be clear, you need to be genuine and in this for the right reasons. An artist who’s looking to make *connections* can be spotted a mile away (in any industry) and that makes you immediately untrustworthy.

So, head to conventions looking to build relationships—not grow your business—when it comes to other artists. Here are a few other ways conventions are beneficial to your shop:

Guest artists → you have the opportunity to scope out other tattoo artists and see if they’d be a welcome addition at your shop as a way to entice new clients… or, maybe another shop will see you and think the same.

Writers & publishers → while most outlets go to conventions with interviews already set, you might get lucky and be approached to be featured in an upcoming publication.

Clients → thousands of tattoo lovers attend conventions. Some to get work done that day, others to peek into the lifestyle and many to scope out what’s available for the future.

13. Partner up with a cause

What changes do you want to see in your community? Start there and look into how your tattoo shop can help. Whether it’s sponsoring a local 5 km race to raise money for ALS or donating a portion of the day’s sales to a local charity you feel strongly about.

There are no downsides to becoming a good neighbor.

This one isn’t about getting mad publicity or being recognized for what you do. Being an upstanding public citizen feels good…again, there’s no disadvantage to kindness & good karma.

14. Have a client communication strategy

If you’re staring at a half-empty online appointment calendar wondering how to get more tattoo clients… it’s time to go back to the beginning. Client communication strategy. From the moment a client books a tattoo appointment until they leave a review… how are they feeling? Is the process as seamless as possible—or, are your potential clients hitting roadblocks preventing them from booking?

When you look at the journey your client takes from the very first interaction they have with your shop it’ll help you identify any possible shortcomings. Go through your entire booking process. Literally, take the steps (whether that’s physically or electronically). When you step into the shoes of your client it will give you an entirely new perspective that you can use to improve your client service.

15. Put down the paper & pen

It can be intimidating to move from a tattoo scheduling process you’ve always known. The one your artists and clients are familiar with. But, what if that booking process is beginning to show cracks… signs of wear at the seams. A double-booking here, a missed reminder there. No-shows leaving your top artists twiddling their thumbs with $0 days.

When is enough… enough.

Angel Caban, owner, Guardian Art Gallery told us this when we recently interviewed him:

“Everything we did was by hand, so appointments were held in a notebook by hand in calendars on computers, and everything was scattered all over the place. Nice thing about Bookedin, it was all in one, so I was able to make my appointments and to even take payments, so everything came together all in one, which was really nice.”

A tattoo booking app is just about the organization, up-front payments & convenience it gives you. Your clients get to book appointments online without having to create an account (when it’s convenient for them) and receive automated reminders in the places they’re checking every day anyway {hint: it’s not voicemail}.

16. Automate your reminders

No-shows are an issue for most service-based businesses, tattoo shops are no exception. Your clients might forget, get called into work, or have a bill come due and find themselves strapped for cash.

As empathetic as you are to those scenarios, you have bills to pay and spots to keep full at your shop so follow-up is key. You need a way to keep your clients informed of your policies (late, no-show) and also give them the option of rescheduling if needed.

Enter: email and text reminders.

When you take your shop from pen & paper to online scheduling you give yourself the gift of automatic email/text reminders for your clients. Your clients can reschedule (with parameters set by you) and confirm automatically.

Stop chasing your clients and start focusing on how to get more tattoo clients through the door.

17. Ask for reviews

When was the last time you checked out a new business (let’s say a restaurant) without first digging into reviews? Maybe I’m old school, but even when I’m digesting them with a big pinch of salt… I still want to hear what past clients have to say.

That’s why it’s imperative you’re asking clients to leave reviews. Whether that’s on Google, tagging you on pics they post via Instagram or giving you a testimonial for your website (don’t forget to ask for a picture). You want your clients to be shouting your tattoo shop and artists’ names from the rooftops (electronic and physical)!

But you’re gonna have to ask for it… as a species, we’re less likely to leave a review for a positive experience than a negative one. So blow your clients away and then explain to them how beneficial a little love for your shop will be.

18. Update your public profiles

We’ve covered this briefly but it’s worth mentioning again. Unless you’re *famous,* an out of date web presence is useless. How will potential tattoo clients know if you’re still working? They aren’t going to dig around to find out… it’ll be onto the next tattoo artist who is updating their public profiles.

Take some time each week to post to your Instagram page and engage with your community. Remember, it’s called *social* media for a reason.

19. Keep learning

As a tattoo shop owner and artist, you need to stay up to date on the important updates & changes within the industry. To keep drawing in fresh clientele, you’ll need to stay up to date on techniques, equipment, and (at least) be aware of new trends. Check out upcoming brands, vendors & be aware of artists on the rise. Bare minimum? Stay excited.

Did we miss anything?

When you ask, how do I get more tattoo clients? This is how we answer. But, the reality of the industry {all industries for that matter} is they’re constantly changing.

So, we’d love to hear from you.

Let us know what your best client-attracting strategies are in the comments. We’d love to hear how you’re innovating and so would our community ⬇️.