The Quick & Dirty Guide to Wedding Photography Business Branding

We’ve written about branding at length before, with talk on finding your own niche and sticking to it, as well as several other techniques to help you stand out on today’s complex photography market. Today, however, we’re going to make everything simple and clear for your convenience, with a quick and dirty guide to wedding photography business branding. We’ll be covering all the basics, from getting your reputation off the ground, to putting it to work for you – all outlined in some simple, easy-to-follow steps. Oh, and good luck!

The definitive guide to wedding photography business branding: Newbie edition

1. Making a name and a living at the same time

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Back in the day, when print photography was much more important than it is today, in the digital era, photographers would make a name for themselves by getting gallery exposure, followed up with editorial work. Far be it from us, in our guide to wedding photography business branding, to dissuade you from garnering exposure via exhibitions. But, since they’re less likely to draw lucrative clients today than two or three decades ago, you’d be better advised to get some exposure online first, via curated websites. Promote any exposure you can get on your own social media channels and watch as the work rolls in.

2. Don’t underestimate stock photography

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As many a seasoned photog will tell you, stock photography doesn’t sell nearly as well as it used to, nowadays. However, if you manage to get a bit of reputation off the ground, you might be surprised to learn that stock will provide a welcome stream of steady income. The trick to making this work often entails taking up several assignments at once – the pay isn’t big, but it’s dependable, when you do strike a lucrative stock photography contract.

3. Have the best possible online presence

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In between running and maintaining a blog, several social media accounts (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are nearly compulsory) and setting up a professional website, you might even want to look into hiring an assistant to handle the workload for you. At the same time, even if you do choose to go down this route, it’s important to maintain a personal approach to your online presence. In other words, don’t make your fans and followers feel like they’re been talked at by a company, but by a genuine human being.

4. Consider hiring an editor

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What’s all this talk about hiring someone else do the work for you?, you may ask. After all, the best way to take care of business is to do it yourself, right? Most of the time, yes – but not all the time. If, for instance, editing your work is not your strong suit (which, incidentally, is something that a lot of photographers struggle with), you should definitely think about hiring someone to edit the photos for you. After all, your end goal is to put your best foot forward, as it were, and make sure that the images that get out there with your name on them are the best possible ones.

5. Work on as many projects as possible

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We’ve mentioned this before, in connection with stock photography, but it’s a good rule of thumb to go by, no matter the type of assignment. From shooting weddings pure and simple, to taking on editorial assignments, it’s a good idea to put out as much work as you can. You will thus expand your scope, grow your business, showcase your skill, and make sure you get your name out there, on as many people’s radars as possible. And that can’t be a bad idea, right?

The One Trick to Get Your Wedding Photography Clients to Follow the Rules

Have you ever had to deal with those kinds of nightmarish wedding photography clients that you just couldn’t convince to follow the rules, no matter what approach you took? You tried sweet talking them and they just got even more relaxed about the rules. You tried to be more firm about your principles (think punctuality, clear-cut decisions about locations, make-up, etc.). They failed to take you seriously – or, conversely, gave up working with you altogether, because you had turned ‘dictatorial’. If such conundrums sound familiar to you, you’re probably also wondering if there’s a way out of them. We’re here to tell you that there is: you can get your wedding photography clients to become more rule-abiding, with the aid of this single simple psychological trick.

Reverse that psychology on your wedding photography clients

wedding-photography-clients-rulesIf you’ve ever visited Trafalgar Square in London, you may have noticed the big signs that say “Please, don’t feed the pigeons – they cause damage and nuisance to the square”. Even if you have, even if you haven’t, try to imagine what such a sign would rouse in you. Be honest about it. Would you be tempted to do the exact opposite of what the sign would ask you? If so, it’s not because you’re particularly naughty or have a penchant for disobeying: it’s because rules like this one tell you two things. 1. That it’s not good to do a certain thing. And 2. That a lot of people are doing it anyway. So, the basic takeaway from this lesson, is that if you want your wedding photography clients to follow rules, you need to word them right.

As the old adage goes, people are social creatures. If a group of people does a particular thing, chances are others are going to follow in their footsteps. It’s the principle of social proof, deeply ingrained in our mentalities, which tells you that if other people are doing it, you should probably be doing it, too. Psychology has countless examples in this sense: for instance, when the IRS announced it was hiking tax penalties because tax evasion had been rampant during a particular year, tax fraud actually increased the next year. Because, hey, “if everybody else is doing it, why can’t I?”, right?

How to formulate rules your wedding photography clients will actually respect

If you’ve been following this post up to now, it’s probably quite clear to you. Combine reverse psychology with the principle of social proof and you’ve got yourself a good rule on your hands, which people are going to want to abide by. Here are a few examples and counter-examples.

Example #1: Late bookers

BAD: Don’t book me two weeks before your wedding! It’s annoying, unprofessional and messes up my schedule!

GOOD: Most clients I’ve worked with successfully in the past had booked me right after setting the date. This gave us a lot of time to get to know and understand each other, figure out all the details and come up with great ideas for photos.

Example #2: Sharing photos with no watermark

BAD: Do not share my photos on Facebook without a watermark on them!

GOOD: All clients receive a set of watermarked images, which they are more than welcome to share on Facebook. In fact, I love it when wedding photography clients share my work, because this basically works as free advertising for my business!

Example #3: The chronically late

BAD: If you’re always late for shoots and appointments, I’m going to become really annoyed and frustrated working with you.

GOOD: Most clients do their best to respect the set times of our meetings and this helps us work better together, since we’re all more relaxed.

Why Facebook Hashtags Are Important To Your Business

Love Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or Pinterest? Then you’re probably used to #hashtags. And that’s the one thing that was missing in Facebook until this month.

Hashtags first started by Twitter, allow social networkers an easy way to insert themselves into real-time conversations. If you’re watching your favorite TV show and you use their Twitter #hashtag, you may see yourself coming across the screen. Attending a seminar or expo in your field? If they use a #hashtag, you can instantly provide feedback to all those following the feed.

Why Facebook Hashtags Are Important To Your Business

But why should you use this new Facebook feature? Think of it as a way of controlling traffic. Hashtags are searched, spidered, crawled and controlled more now than ever before. Hashtags aren’t just a Facebook thing – they are in all kinds of social networking sites. Meaning they are used cross-platform, meaning by using them in Facebook, you’ve now connected yourself to many other social platforms as well. Think of it as doing work in one area and having impact in many, many others.

Tips For Using Hashtags:

#The #First #Thing #You #Shouldn’t #Do #Is #Use #It #In #Every #Word
Now that hashtags have rolled out, I see people loading up their posts with hashtags – like this one.

Example of what not to do with hashtags on Facebook

Really? Does this look readable to you? Nope, and your followers won’t think so either. When you write, make sure you include one or two words per post, and use them interchangeably with real words That way as you have something to say about #photography, for instance, it flows as a real sentence. Using hashtags everywhere may seem like a good idea right now while its brand new, but in a very short period of time it’s the people that use it the right way that will come out on top. [Read more…]

Making Them Pay For Social Media

Don’t you just hate it when a client “lifts” an image that you’ve created for her to use on her social media sites? They simply don’t understand copyrights and assume its okay.

And what are you to do? You can ask them to take it down and pay you for the image. But then you have a very UNHAPPY client. And with social media, that could be a fire storm.

So you let it go … and lose money.

The problem is most of us think in the “old” world. We still think 8x10s and 16x20s.

We don’t think Facebook and Google+.

But what if we did?

Talk with a high school senior, and they want images for online use. They want a new Facebook profile or a Google+ cover image.

Talk with a business person and they want a photo for their latest website and a cover image to match for their Facebook page.

But of course, they don’t know how to make it professional. So they stick an image – possibly the one they bought from you scanned into their computer – and they plop it into their profile.

The problem is they don’t understand sizing or how to make things look great by following size guidelines. So they get this:

Social Media 1

Or this:

Social Media 2

Instead of this:

Social Media 3

What if you gave them a package of online graphics instead of a package with 8x10s? Create a social media package that’s fresh, creative, and perfectly proportioned for all online needs.

Start with perfectly sized graphics especially made for the top online social sites. Here’s a sizing cheat sheet to keep the dimensions on file:

 

How to use social media for your photography sales

 

Click to view the entire cheat sheet

Then create packages that your customers will want to buy.

  • Maybe a Facebook package that includes:
  • a Facebook cover photo that integrates perfectly with the profile picture
  • a Profile photograph
  • a Newsfeed image
  • an Ad image

All created to make adding to Facebook easy … and look great too.

You can create separate packages for each social site, or mix them up a bit and include different things from different sites.

You can create several packages and offer “discounts” if they purchase more than one social package.

You can give “discounts” when they purchase a traditional package with a social package. Use your imagination and have fun with it.

Really, the opportunities are endless.

And the more creative you are with your designs, the more you can charge. Look to these for inspiration.

 

Timeline cover 1

 

 

 

Timeline cover 2

 

 

3 Things You Should Be Trying On Facebook Now

Have a Facebook account? Not sure how to use it to gain more traffic and network with more people?

The great thing about Facebook is everything you need (and then some) is built right into the system. Most of its for free, you just have to know what’s out there and how to use it.

If you have an account, you probably understand how to friend new people, build a page, and post content to your newsfeed. But do you know about these:

Using Survey To Get Your Followers Involved

Are you Nikon or Canon? Do you prefer indoor portraits or on-location?

With both of those questions, you had an instant thought run through your head. That’s an automatic process – everybody loves giving his or her opinion.

And while you can ask questions in your newsfeed, with Facebook Survey, you can do more with it. Post it to your timeline or build it into your page. Even add images or YouTube videos to make it more in depth.

Facebook Survey

Then make it a regular part of your marketing and post surveys all the time. Your follower base will become more active – and you can learn more about who’s following you and what they want from your business.

Inject Your Personality Into Your Page

Too many photographers think people follow them to see their images. While that may be a big reason – they want to “test drive” you before booking you – they also want to learn more about who you are. What do you like? What do you do every day?

In no way should your Page be the common chatter you share with friends – your religious beliefs, your political beliefs, what you had for dinner last night – you can share your personality without going over the top.

Have a fantastic view of New York City sitting in your favorite restaurant? Post a picture. So much better than a daily picture of the food you’re about to consume (unless you’re a foodie photographer that is).

Photographing an engagement image? While sharing an image or two is great, take a quick image with you hugging your clients. Have your assistant take a picture of you at work with the couple. Those images are just as important because it allows potential clients to see you in action. It puts a “realness” to who you are.

Then get creative with your cover photo. Don’t make it one large image – instead use a panel with multiple images. Spend some time in Photoshop building something that makes you stand out from other photographers. And really says who you are and what you do.

Use Your Facebook Insights To Make Decisions

When was the last time you viewed your Insights? Or maybe I should ask, Did you know Facebook has Insights?

Facebook Insights

With each of your pages, you can access Insights to find out more about how well you’re leveraging your content. You can use the overview to find out how well your page is doing at a quick glance. Or dive in further and look at the details. Insights will show every post you create, how many people it reached out to, what your engagement rate is, how many are talking about it and sharing your content. You can use these numbers to help you evaluate what is successful – and what is not – and help give you direction for future posts.

Whenever you are stuck on what to write about next, your Insights can be a valuable tool to help you out.

You May NOT Use My Images Online

I recently saw this comment come through on Facebook.

Any advice on how to respond to a client who has just booked me for their wedding, and doesn’t want any images used on blogs etc? I get where the couple is coming from, but we all wouldn’t have much of a business if we couldn’t blog/publish/share what we do. The wedding may not even be ‘blog worthy’ anyway, but keen to hear people’s thoughts. Thanks!

And it reminded me of a client we had many years ago.

When we first started putting our clients’ images online, it was a big deal. Because very few were doing it, the one’s that were almost went into a “celebrity” status. It was cool and amazing, so that became one of our big selling points.

Yet fear was rampant at that point as well. Because very few were doing it, you can bet things went “viral” in a much easier manner.

So we added a clause to our contract – separate from our model release – that said we had the right to share their images online. Even though they signed off on it by signing the contract, we put an extra signature line with a yes/no by it to make sure they understood what they were agreeing to.

Most people loved it. They hired us because we were savvy technology and business owners.

Yet one client came in that made us realize we were doing it the right way. The family had recently adopted a child that had gone through all kinds of custody battles. They wanted a family portrait to solidify the family in the child’s eye. Yet the thought of the birth mother maybe seeing it and being able to identify every family member was chilling.

You May NOT Use My Images Online

At that point we realized that there are always extenuating circumstances in every situation.

This mother didn’t have to tell us her story; the fact that she didn’t want her images online should be sufficient enough. But because she did, it opened our eyes to the fact that you may not always be aware of things going on in your clients’ life.

If you’re shooting dozens of families (or whatever field you’re in) in a season, you’ll have more than enough people say “yes” to being online. Most will love their images on your sites, your blogs and your Facebook accounts.

And when you occasionally get the “no” from a client or two, respect their wishes.

There is more than enough business to go around.

Not only will you have one happy client, you’ll also build up your integrity and your own internal ethics.

8 Things That May Be Keeping Your Social Media Profiles From Looking Professional

As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably run into many times where you start something with great intentions, only to find you end up ignoring it throughout the year simply due to lack of time. If you have portrait sittings, files to edit, and clients to meet, do you really have the time to stop and edit your Facebook profile?

Since social media networks change their structure every couple of months, its easy for your profiles to lose their professional look and feel – leaving your business to look like a true “mom and pop” place. If you haven’t made your social profiles a priority lately, use this list to do a little profile cleaning and bring your online persona back to a modern day look and feel.

Facebook

Pages cover images should attract attention, not monetize your business
Facebook has made a number of layout changes since the beginning of 2012, most notably the introduction of timelines. Instead of being able to choose which “page” your Page opens up to, Facebook now has one standard look and feel. Your cover image is what introduces visitors to your business, and it should be representative of your business without selling them. The cover image should be 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall, and to make it load quickly, make sure your JPG file is less than 100 kilobytes. According to Facebook guidelines, covers may not include calls to action, price or purchase information, and they may not ask for “Likes”. Comply to make sure you aren’t shut down after you work hard to grow your followers. [Read more…]

What’s The Best Way To Promote Your Photography Business – With A Pinterest or Facebook Contest?

The only way to succeed with social media is to have a following. And the more time you spend building your following, the more results you will see.

And people love free stuff. They are completely attracted to coupons, deals of the day, and anything “fun” that will allow them to get a hold of a great product at a great price. Which is why many smart businesses have turned to social media contests.

Dig Deeper: How To Start Up A Pinterest Contest

Dig Deeper: The Guide To Growing Your Facebook Page With A Contest

However, the social media platforms and the rules to follow are always changing. What worked a few short months ago may be “illegal” by today’s terms. If a contest is in your future, it’s important to evaluate your options regularly and choose the right platform to grow – the right platform to attract quality prospects to your studio. [Read more…]

How To Make Your Facebook Page More Interesting

 

“I’ve been on Facebook for awhile now, yet I really have no enthusiasm for it. I post sporadically because I feel like I have to. I only have a hundred fans. And I really don’t know how to keep them interested. There is zero communication on my page, yet everyone says it has great potential. What do I do?”

Have you ever felt like that? Don’t worry, many people do.

If you have no enthusiasm for it, you will fail. Its as simple as that. So at this point you have two choices.

1. Quit using Facebook altogether for you business.

2. Choose to use it to attract new business.

If something isn’t working for you, you don’t enjoy it, and you really have no desire to make it work, why put your focus there? Instead, choose another way of marketing your business and put your concentration there instead.

Facebook is just a marketing tool – its one of thousands that exist for a small business owner. Yes, it will work if you use it right. But if you don’t enjoy it, why spend the time on it.

Yet if you decide that Facebook is truly something you want to use to attract new business, then its time to treat it like a marketing tool, and gather all of your energy up to make it work.

Are you using Facebook correctly?

Before you begin building a Facebook presence, make sure you have your accounts set up correctly. When you originally set up your account, you should have set up a personal account under your personal name. Your business should have its own Page. Browse through one of the many Pages that already exist on Facebook to gain some ideas. Then set up your own. You can use it as your business name – ABC Photography – or try creating different pages for different niches. For instance, if you focus on corporate events and weddings, the two make great stand alone businesses, and would potentially be more attractable if you separated them and created a page for each. [Read more…]

What Do Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter All Have In Common?

The statistics are always out of this world.

  • Total unique visitors increased – 2702.2% since May 2011
  • Gender breakdown – 68.2% female, 31.8% male
  • Over 1.36 million visitors a day

Yep, that’s the latest statistics put out by Modea and comScore on the social networking site Pinterest.

If you are trying to grow your photography business, it’s THE place to be.

Dig Deeper: The Code For Blocking Pinterest … And 12 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use It

So by all means, jump over, start up your own Pin boards and Pin away. [Read more…]