Reconsidering (Wedding) Photography as a full-time business?
You started off your wedding/portrait photography business super motivated with dreams of success and plans of living your passion.
You felt elated and unstoppable.
You had several requests for your photography services.
This was going to be amazing.
Then something happened:
The fire, zest and motivation within subsided.
Now you’re feeling some stress:
• it could be from trying to keep a steady income of bookings
• wondering why you aren’t getting as many inquires as before
• noticing people aren’t booking as quickly as before
• or you're no longer getting the same response on social media
• or you’re just tired of the hustle.
Is it over? Or are you just in a temporary rut?
Most of us can safely say, we’ve all felt like that one time or another.
Things have changed. And you can’t understand why. Is it the industry or is it me?
Your business, like everything else, naturally changes over time. Think:
Blockbuster > Netflix
Blackberry > iphone.
Ok probably not that drastic of a change. But how can we stay relevant? How can we keep our services in demand?
In my experience, a check-up in these 5 core areas has kept my business in-tune while adapting to the changing market.
1. ATTRACTION (The moving target)
2. PERSISTENCY + CONSISTENCY (Let’s get honest)
3. STRENGTHS (How to discover them)
4. NEED + DESIRE (Listening to your clients)
5. DIFFERENCE (Taking inventory)
Use this quick exercise to give your business and your brand a quick check-up:
1. ATTRACTION: (The moving target)
Who are you trying to attract? Who do you want your clients to be? Often wedding photographers will answer:
"anyone who is getting married next year that lives in my city."
Ok, that’s a good start. But let’s get a bit more specific.
Tell me, are there clients you’ve worked with in the past who you absolutely loved working with?
Who are they? Where do they hang out online and offline?
For me, when I started my wedding photography business 8 years ago, almost all of my brides were hanging out on Facebook. Back then, posting images on my FB business page got a huge response in likes and comments. Fast forward to today. For the most part My FB business page is pretty quiet - unless I pay to promote my posts.
So I said to myself - people are obviously still getting married in my city - where are they hanging out online now? Answer: Instagram and Snapchat.
Another example is, you are a wedding photographer who is trying to attract brides who desire outdoor weddings. Take a look at your branding and your website: are nature and outdoor wedding images a prevalent theme on your website? If they aren’t - make changes to get it in line with who you want your ideal client to be.
ACTION: Go further in-depth with who you want to work with. Try to figure out everything about them - and then tailor your brand and marketing to attract them.
2. PERSISTENCY + CONSISTENCY
Let’s get real honest for a moment. How persistent and consistent are you being in promoting your business?
Has the number of inquiries you usually get dropped? Or are the inquiries you are getting not booking?
If so, it’s a good time to do a check-up on your persistency + consistency to ensure they’re aligned.
First, let's look at persistency. Have you been putting your business out there everyday? (And I don’t mean doing something difficult or overly time consuming).
I mean like posting on social media, putting an update on your website, or going out and talking to people about your business.
Here are some super simple ideas on how you can do something for your business everyday (from the comfort of your own home):
• post an image from a client’s wedding
• post an image from a shoot you did 3 years ago today
• post an image from any shoot you’ve done
• post a meaningful quote
• post a behind-the-scenes photo or video of you in action
• post a selfie (every now and then it’s okay)
• post a snapshot of what's going on in your world (vacation?)
• post something you are in the process of working on
It’s a known fact that people buy from people they like.
Which leads me to my next question:
Does your audience know you? Can they relate to you? Do they like you? Do they remember you?
If you aren’t getting any quality inquiries, go to your social media. When did you last post? And how long before that post did you post?
I recommend posting on Instagram once day or once every 2 days. You can plan out your posts ahead of time so it doesn’t become a chore! I used Adobe bridge or my album software to design my consequence ahead of time.
Now let's look at consistency.
If you’ve been posting on social media all the time and you’re still not getting any busier, let’s take a closer look at what you’re posting.
As with your brand - the goal of your social media posts is to represent your brand visually and textually.
If you’re on Instagram, make your 9 squares look pretty and have them complement one another. You are in a visual business after all - people will be judging the first impression of your feed. What are you posting?
Back to our last example, if you want more outdoor weddings, post images related to and showing the outdoors.
And if you want to book weddings, don’t post photos of babies.
In other words don’t post what you don’t want. Post only what you do want.
Action: Post to social media often. Focus on one platform where you are seeing results. It takes time and persistence to get a following.
For Instagram I recommend 1/day or 1/every other day.
Keep the posts on topic and make them look beautiful. You can avoid being overwhelmed by planning them out ahead of time using Adobe Bridge or your album design software.
What are your strengths? Many of us photographers will say, something like:
“I take good photos."
Yes that’s most likely true. But again we are looking for something more specific.
One tip to figure out what your strengths are - or what your clients see as your strengths is to go back into your client email correspondence. Usually right after you post a client’s image online or provide them their photos, they’ll write you an email to say thank-you.
Open up those emails. What else did they say about your work - or about the experience of working with you?
Here’s an excerpt from an email I received from a client:
“Thanks so much and for everything you guys did to make sure you could give us the best!! I know you stayed a bit later then expected, you both were great and by the glimpse of the photo you posted we can’t wait to see them, it’s incredible everyone keeps telling us that the photo is an amazing shot!! So truly thank you for working with us!”
What is something my client saw or noted?
I’m patient. I don’t rush them. I care about them.
Something went a little off schedule on their wedding day and I stayed to capture it even though it was outside our contract and over and above what was expected of me.
When I consult with future brides, I can tell them, “sometimes things on your wedding day may go a little off schedule, but don’t worry I will stay to capture those moments regardless. If things go longer than 30 minutes extra, only then do I charge for additional coverage.”
ACTION: Take a look at what your previous clients have said to you or about you. Then weave those strengths into your marketing text -- and into your consults!
4. NEED + DESIRE
Now let's look at what your prospective clients need or desire.
Do you know what they need?
They need, photos, prints and maybe a wedding book right? All true!
But what else do they ask you for?
For example clients often ask me for, high resolution digital files, canvases, video, video slideshows, bridal shoots, boudoir shoots, engagement shoots, rehearsal dinner coverage, shower coverage.
Now check your current packages and price-list - are you offering what they’re asking for? For example are you still offering a DVD of images, when clients are asking for USBs or digital cloud storage?
Listen to what they are asking for, don’t assume. These are the specific items you should have in your packages.
Tip: Include a big bundle of them in your top (dream) package. I go into great detail in the E-course on how to create packages that sell.
ACTION: Ask yourself, when your ideal clients see your packages, do they get excited? Are they thinking “wow she read my mind, I want all of this”. Or are they thinking “I don’t want a DVD, I wish she offered cloud storage”...
Take steps to include the specific items your clients ask for in your packages.
Are you busy watching your competition and trying to figure out how you can keep up - or do the same?
Before going any further, remember you’re always going to be second best if you try to copy someone else.
That being said, wedding photographers specifically, are all offering similar products. Digital images, prints, wedding books etc.
So what or how are you doing that differently from everyone else?
do you consult with your clients regarding wardrobe for their engagement session?
do you help create their wedding day schedule?
do you offer a complimentary 1 year anniversary photo shoot?
does your background as a fashion photographer help with posing your clients so they look beautiful?
do you travel worldwide?
The goal is to stand out and be memorable for what makes you different and unique.
Action: Take a moment and make a list of what makes you - YOU!
Then work those unique and amazing things into your brand and marketing - textually and visually. These things should be loud and clear! Not something someone needs to dig out to discover in your FAQ section. Or something someone discovers in the last paragraph on your about me page. Be obvious and make it beautiful, i.e. through photos or blog titles! Go through your website and take some inventory - is it obvious to your visitors on what makes you different in your approach, service or products?
I hope I’ve given you some fresh eyes to see how your potential clients currently see you - and how you can make simple changes to get more bookings from your ideal customers.
If you’re stuck in a rut, this 5 step quick exercise should shed some new light on what’s going on.
If you’d like to take these concepts deeper, join me in the E-course: Stand out. Save time. Sell more. Registration is now open - more information here.
Or start out with my FREE 3-part training series: Confessions of a Wedding Photographer first.
Remember information without action futile.
I’d love to hear your comments. Did anything spark a change in you, your business or your online identity? Share with us in the comments (way down below)!
Thanks for sharing your time with me today! Leave me a comment below - what was your breakthrough moment?
With love, gratitude and wishing you all the success,