There are lots of ways to promote your wedding photography services, but for many photographers, sales tend to come down to a couple of proven methods: building a website; and hoping for enough personal recommendations to keep new clients rolling in. But there’s a lot more that wedding photographers can do to find clients, close bookings and increase their income, and when we were putting together The Successful Wedding Photographer, we came across several that were delivering solid results.
All of these methods were being used by real, successful wedding photographers, but there’s no reason the same principle couldn’t be applied to just about any other form of photography. Here are five of the best:
Video Ads That Show How You Shoot, Not What You Shoot
Photographers rely on their portfolios to show leads that they have the skills to produce the images they want. But when clients are inviting a photographer to spend hours with them — and especially when those hours are going to make up the most important day of their lives and contain the most important people in their lives — they also want to feel confident that the photographer is personable, professional and a pleasure to work with. That’s not going to come across in the quality of the photography.
Lan and Vu Bui are photographers who fell in love with videography, and they’re bringing those two interests together to offer promotional video ads for photographers. Those ads though don’t show any images. They don’t show the photographer’s work. Instead, they focus on the photographer at work. It’s an approach, Lan says, that has shown real results in his own wedding photography business.
“[T]hat is where we get hired: not from great work, not from a killer sales team, but by connecting with our viewer.”
You can shoot those promotions yourself or hire a videographer to do them for you, but showing how you behave at the scene can have a real effect on your ability to convert leads.
Facebook for Ads and Fans
A lot has been said about the ability of social media to sell anything that isn’t nailed down — and many things that are. The experience of many people with services or products to promote though is that the returns just don’t live up to the hype.
But the results depend on how you use social media. Some photographers reported that Twitter was a good place to find other photographers as well as wedding service professionals with whom they later formed joint ventures and made cross-promotions. But the biggest success came with a smart use of Facebook.
Chris Meyer, for example, has already been quoted by Facebook as a case study for its advertising networking after the ads he placed on the site brought in over $40,000-worth of work. That figure has since risen to more than $100,000 from a total spend of less than $1,000.
It’s not just the ads that are working for Chris though. His Facebook page now has more followers than the Digital Wedding Forum, and creates the kind of connection with clients that brings easy and steady referrals.
Newsletters that Offer Filtered Choices
While some of the wedding photographers featured in The Successful Wedding Photographer only shoot nuptials, other offer a wider range of services, including engagement, maternity and family shots. For those photographers, staying in touch is essential if they want to turn young couples into lifelong customers.
Although the photographers are doing that in a number of ways, one of the most effective (but also one of the most challenging) is to issue a newsletter. The regular appearances in a mailbox remind past clients that the photographer is still around, and keep their name fresh when friends ask for referrals. And discounts and bargains, even on extras such as frames and extra prints, can generate some useful extra income. But the difficulty is to balance the desire to maintain contact with the fear of irritating readers so much that they unsubscribe.
Allowing readers to choose the kinds of photography they want to read about has proved to be a useful way of solving that problem. Offer check-boxes at sign up and you’re able to filter newsletters only to those readers who have chosen to read content related to that topic.
Networking for Support and Referrals
While photographers might admire each other’s work, when it comes to looking for clients, the tendency is to regard other photographers as competitors. That’s not always a good idea. When UK-based Canadian photographer Julie Kim started looking to network with other wedding photographers, she didn’t just find the support she wanted. She also found that those connections brought in new clients. Photographers who couldn’t accept jobs that clashed with pre-booked dates passed those leads on. Eventually Julie found that most of her bookings were coming from her professional referral network.
And she still gets to meet her new friends for coffee and talk photography.
Workshops to Give Back and Get More
Other photographers have taken that collaboration even further. Rather than marketing their skills to potential clients they’re teaming up to offer their knowledge to other rising photographers. Denis Reggie, one of the founders of wedding photojournalism, has joined with Joe Buissink to offer a three-day workshop for almost $500 a day, but they’re not alone. Paul D. Van Hoy and Brady Dillsworth, two New York wedding photographers have also come together to teach wedding photography by putting on their own workshops. It might not be the kind of work that people think of as they’re learning photography but it can be a powerful way to build your brand, create an additional revenue source — and give back to the photographic community.
Wedding photographers, like all photographers, need to know the most effective ways to market themselves. Those methods though are changing all the time. They’re changing as technology creates new opportunities, and they’re changing as photographers figure out the best way to make use of even the oldest of channels such as print advertising and word-of-mouth. They’re strategies that any photographer — whether they shoot weddings, portraits, news or anything else — needs to know. You can learn more about them all in our new book The Successful Wedding Photographer.