MY TOP 3 WAYS TO BOOK MORE WEDDINGS AS A PHOTOGRAPHER
It seems like forever ago when I was shaking while holding onto the steering wheel driving to my very first wedding as a photographer. I could not believe someone had paid me to go hangout with them on the best day of their lives and capture precious moments. It felt like an actual dream come true for me!
But I will be honest it was not an easy job. Being a wedding photographer can sound like such a fairytale way to make a living but the truth is it's expensive and it can come with a lot of stress and responsibility. It's also not nearly as easy to book out an entire year as I thought it would be.
In my head I thought that if I just took pretty photos and slapped them up on Instagram with some fluffy caption, I would see all the brides start rollin' on in. But that's not true at all. Not even close.
It took a LOT of time, patience, trial and error to start booking consistently and making good money, so if you are reading this and are not ready to put in the work, then this industry may not be for you.
Probably one of the worst things I ever did for my business was to to copy others. There were some photographers that I looked up to because they were popular. They had 10k or more followers, they were shooting all the time, they just seemed to have it all together so in my head, I thought that if I just copied what they did, then I would immediately become successful. But behold... there were crickets.
If you take nothing away from this post except for this one thing, then hear me out...
You have your own unique, special something to bring to the table. You are different and that's a good thing. The second you stop trying to be like everyone else, and start growing into your God given potential is the day you are going to thrive. So before you continue reading, I want you to drop all that weight you are carrying to try to please everyone, and first just take a look inside yourself, and let that shine to the outside. THAT is the key to booking more clients, but not only that, but clients that actually love you for who you ARE, not who you are trying to be.
1. SHOW UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA
One of the very first things that you need to start doing right now, no matter where you are in your journey and no matter what your experience is, is show the heck up. And yes, I do mean show your face, as in getting on your stories and talking to the camera.
One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners making is using their work as the only means of booking clients. They post their product or talk about their services but never actually show what they look like, who they are or anything about themselves. This is a huge no no, and here's why:
People are more likely to book with someone that they feel like they know. If they have never seen your face, heard your voice, or don't know anything about you as a person - you are creating a disconnect. YOU as a person are sometimes the difference between a client booking with you or someone else.
If a potential bride is choosing her wedding photographer and it has come down to you and one other photographer, and that other photographer is about the same price and has a similar style, what makes you stand out?? At that point it's just a coin toss. But if you are actively creating a personally brand for yourself advocating for the things you love and talking about who you are outside of being a photographer, then that bride may make a connection with you in another way and decide to book with you because of it.
2. PROVIDE FREE VALUE
Another mistake I see a lot of photographers doing specifically is not providing enough free value to potential clients. Key word: potential clients. You should of course be providing your already booked clients with an above and beyond experience but that's also because they have already put money into you. But do not lose sight of those who have not yet booked with you, because they are important to.
Let me try to explain this with a metaphor: Would you go into a bar and walk up to the first person you see and ask them to marry you? Probably not... because you don't know them and they don't know you. You have not given them a reason to want to marry you or even hangout with you - instead you approached them really quickly and asked them to make a large commitment to you.
Well that's kind of how it is when wedding photographers are just screaming from the rooftops "book me!", "hire me", "choose me!" when all of those followers or potential brides are thinking - why in the heck would I dump thousands of dollars into you? I don't even know you!
This is why providing free value is so important. It builds our like/know/trust factor as business owners. We first need to get our ideal client's attention, make them realize that we even exist. Then we need to start building the foundation of our relationship together by creating content that serves them right where they are at, and ultimately fulfilling a need or problem. The reason for this is because once someone gets buttered up to us, and realizes that we are providing them with so much value and we haven't asked for a single dime, they are going to start wanting more. It's the mindset of "wow if I get all this good stuff for free, I wonder what I would get if I paid for it".
Free content can apply in many ways from podcasts to videos, blog posts, instagram captions and more. The goal is to be consistent when publishing content, ideally on a weekly basis, so that they can start to remember you and you will always be front of mind.
One of my favorite ways to serve my audience is by generating a sales funnel. Basically just a fancy way of saying that I turn my followers into paying clients by taking them on a journey. First I grab their attention on social media (usually instagram) and then they hopefully see my content and like what I am putting out so they follow me. Then after I continue to show up on my stories and in my feed they will start to trust me and feel as if they "know" me. Then from there I can ask them to take our relationship to the next level and have a more intimate connection such as them joining my email list where I can pop directly into their inbox and serve them my weekly content + more. This feels more one on one and will strengthen your relationship with your leads. And after they are taken through your funnel and you have served them regularly, now you can ask them to purchase something from you. They are now "warm" leads instead of "cold" and are much more likely to book from you.
Email marketing is by far my favorite way to market to my clients, and the best part? Most of this can be automated! If you are feeling super intimated about growing your email list or never really gave it much thought, I challenge you to take my totally free online training where I walk you through the basics to getting started with email marketing and how to get your first subscribers on your list. IT'S FREE - you have nothing to lose. JOIN HERE!
3. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
Probably one of the number one ways I was able to book consistently with brides was because I set clear expectations from the moment they reached out to me, and frankly even before that. I make it a point to consistently talk about the kind of experience I provide on my social media, who I serve, what my ideal client is and so on. But also my website is a roadmap for potential clients and I show them exactly what they can expect from me as far as communication, accommodations, the services themselves, my style, how I work and so on. That way there is absolutely no confusion when they book me. They can be 100% confident they are making the right choice and that I will stick to my word.
There are so many things that can get lost in translation and if things take a wrong turn this can become a mess down the road. It's best to put it all out in the open from the get go so there is never any confusion between you as the photographer and your client/bride. Never feel like you are repeating yourself too much by plastering your FAQ's or guidelines/restrictions on everything you put out to potential clients, because at the end of the day it's better for them to see it multiple times and really have it stick vs. see it once and possibly forget what they even agreed to.
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