How to Relocate Your Wedding Photography Business in 3 Steps

No one’s saying they’re easy steps, but we’re saying it’s definitely feasible to relocate your wedding photography business. Now, if you’re interested in wedding photography and the business aspects of this field, you already know that the issue of location is very important. It’s relevant for a wedding photographer’s digital marketing efforts (think location searches), for acquiring new business leads, for building a brand identity and for raising brand awareness. As such, with location being so inextricably connected with the very nature of the wedding photography business, how does one successfully transition from one location to another – without killing the business in the process? Check out our three helpful tips below, with input from real-life photographers.

relocate-your-wedding-photography-business

1. Future-proof your business for location changes

This is one step to start working on as much ahead of the time when you actually relocate your wedding photography business as possible. Your plan should be to target global audiences, even before your physical move. If you do this successfully, you will have already built a bit of a reputation for yourself, by the time the move comes around. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But in the digital age of social networking, it’s not that difficult either. Update your website and/or blog regularly, announce your upcoming move via social media profiles and keep your online presence pleasant and likeable. The Internet basically works as a global market place, so drumming up a bit of hype before you relocate will allow you to step forward with that much more confidence.

2. Get to know your new market

This second step in your plan to relocate your wedding photography business is all about pricing. The thing about different markets is that… well, they are different, in terms of pricing, client expectations, and requirements. Get a feel of the market by gauging the experiences of local photographers. They’ll give you a fairly accurate and comprehensive idea on what to expect. Should you stay at the wedding until the very last guest has left? Are your current prices too high for a different market? Yes, bear in mind that you might have to lower your prices in order to penetrate a whole new market; however, it’s important to know what the local expectations are, as you don’t want to go too low. Once you get there, your mission will be to get as many weddings booked in as short a timeframe as possible. Since most weddings are booked for about a year in advance, you will probably have to sacrifice making a profit in the beginning, in order to build a locally relevant portfolio. If you play your cards right, though, this will only be temporary – so grin and bear it. It’s definitely worth it!

3. Network, network, network

The third and final step in your efforts to relocate your wedding photography business is also probably the most difficult one to complete. That’s because the effort of networking needs to be sustained and ongoing, in order for them to be efficient. Not to mention that having like-minded peers as friends in a new market is good for your mental health. It will make you focused, accountable for your work, and will also provide a regular dose of inspiration. A word of advice, though: you might be tempted to follow the big names, the big shots, the big leaguers in your new market. Don’t. Keep an eye on them, to stay in the loop, but spend most of your energy building genuine connections with people you respect and look up to. In the long-run, that’s where your support system and life-long friendships will come from. Also, chances are that’s where your referrals and gig leads will come from, too.

4 Best Practices for Wedding and Event Photography

best-practices-for-wedding-and-event-photography01During the past few years, the recession and economic turndown notwithstanding, it’s become ever clearer that event photography in general, and wedding photography in particular, have turned very competitive. It’s not just the fact that money is harder to come by generally speaking – there are now more hobbyists turning pro than before, since (semi-)professional DSLR cameras have gotten more affordable and accessible to handle. So we though a guide of best practices for wedding and event photography was in order, which is why we’ve collected some of the most essential advice on this topic that we could find on the web. Check it out and let us know if you think anything essential is missing from our list.

The selection is up to you, not the client

Events (and weddings in particular) are occasions for shooting non-stop. You fire away and, before you know it, your memory card is filled and you’ve got hundreds of photos to choose from. Curating the entire raw material and selecting the best photos might sound like a drag, a bore, and a chore, but you still need to do it. It’s up to the artist to select their best photos and present them to the client; allowing customers to wade through dozens of blurry, out-of-focus or otherwise inadequate pictures is entirely unprofessional.

Market yourself with deadlines

The above principle might sound counterintuitive, but it’s all about marketing your photography business properly in the digital era. You see, the Internet is altering purchasing mentalities as we speak – clients are much more prone now to put off a buying decision. However, with the right attitude and best practices for event and wedding photography, you can counter that. Set a deadline for yourself, create a special offer which expires after a certain date, and watch how your clients respond. Chances are many of them will react to this sense of urgency.

Business is business

Among the best practices for event and wedding photography is the fact that you need to remember you’re running a business. Sure, you may have gone into photography because it was fun, enjoyable, and you are passionate about it. However, at the end of the day you still have bills to pay, a studio to maintain, and equipment to purchase. Tailor your products and service cost planning according to your financial needs. Understand your market segment: take a good look at what sells and what doesn’t and always keep improving.

best-practices-for-wedding-and-event-photography02Build relationships

Photography is, to a large extent, a people-oriented field. If you work exclusively in non-wedding event photography, you probably already know how important it is to create a good relationship with your returning customers. The same applies for wedding photographers that regularly collaborate with a particular MUA, wedding planner, or wedding planning agency. So, what’s the best way to hone a successful professional relationship? It’s as simple as being personable, sociable, and friendly. Get people talking about you. Create word of mouth and work consistently toward building a reputation.

Looks like a pro, walks like a pro, talks like a pro…

Don’t dismiss the final item on our list of best practices for event and wedding photography as superficial. It’s important to present yourself as a professional photographer whenever you come into contact with (potential) clients. This means keeping your gear in good shape, having business cards prepared, and pitching your business – but not excessively and ad nauseam. What you want to achieve is to make (potential) clients understand that they need you. You will want them to seek you out, not the other way around, so do your research on trends, take part in wedding expos, and put your best foot forward, both in terms of professional attire, as well as in terms of professional portfolio.

6 Common Mistakes for New Wedding Photography Businesses

common-mistakes-for-new-wedding-photography-studiosSeasoned photographers, who have been in the niche of shooting weddings for several years now, will come to you at various points in your career, with advice that’s more or less welcome, valid, or solicited. Now, most of them mean well and should be taken at face value, as well as with a pinch of salt. But, occasionally, you will also come across the revelation of committing common mistakes for new wedding photography businesses. There are those errors which are part of the learning process, and which you probably need to go through, in order to evolve. And while the list below does not, by any means, aim to be exhaustive, it is meant to save you at least some of the trouble these mistakes come with. So read on and try to take some of them to heart.

Common Mistake #1: You don’t use the manual mode

Don’t get us wrong – it’s not like using the Aperture and Shutter Priority modes is wrong. They do serve their purpose, when there simply isn’t enough time, or the situation is too complex to set your camera right on Manual Mode. However, if you’re serious about becoming a professional wedding photographer, this is one of the foremost common mistakes of new photography businesses you’re going to want to avoid. If you don’t use Manual Mode, there’s no way you’re ever going to learn anything about lighting, as well as about your camera in general.

Common Mistake #2: You’re only a photographer

That’s also one of the more serious common mistakes of new photography businesses. You see, when you go into this business, you should walk in assuming that you’re going to be doing so much more than just taking pictures. You’re going to become, in turn, a social media expert, a marketing expert, a treasurer and accountant, a PR person, a secretary – and just about any other business running role you can think of.

Common Mistake #3: You believe success will come quickly

Get that out of your head pronto. It’s going to take years before you start making a comfortable amount of money. That’s because, no matter how much your heart is in it, there’s still a lot you need to learn – and not just about wedding photography, but also about all those other skills and lines of work we mentioned before.

Common Mistake #4: You have no people skills

Photography in general, but wedding photography in particular, is all about knowing how to work with and relate to people. People are your clients, prime material, and everything in between. Without them, you have no business to speak of, so if you really want to turn your pipe dream into a success, then you’d better get cracking at honing those people skills – it will pay off tenfold, time and time again.

Common Mistake #5: You spend a lot of money on gear

Yes, we know – it’s hard to hold back from buying that one lens/tripod/case you’ve always dreamt of. However, if you don’t control your purchases, especially in the beginning, you risk running yourself into debt and a very sad case of business failure. And that is just about the opposite of what you want to do, especially since it’s never just that one purchase. It’s a vicious circle and you know it, so practice some restraint.

Common Mistake #6: You don’t have referrals to rely on

In entrepreneurship, getting business to come your way is all about word of mouth, references, and referrals. Yes, paid advertising can help to, but there is no publicity like the one a satisfied client can provide. So always make sure to encourage referrals, or even ask for them upfront.

6 Common Mistakes for New Wedding Photography Businesses

10 Ways Your Sales Presentations May Be Hurting Your Sales

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 10…

One of the hardest aspects of running a photography studio is the sales process. Most of us aren’t born with sales skills. And though we can learn it over time, it may be the one thing holding you back from success. If you can’t sell, your business can’t thrive. Take a look at these ideas to see how you can improve your sales process.

1. Your selling process isn’t defined

What do you hope to accomplish during your sales process? How long is your sales process? Do you have clearly defined goals along the way? The only thing that builds and grows your business is sales. Yet that’s probably the one area you leave to chance and just “go with the flow”. You take classes to become a better photographer, and to learn how to market your business. Why not take a sales class too?

2. Your selling process isn’t planned

Instead of leaving it to chance, create a program that puts your sales strategies down for each stage of the process. How will you introduce your services? How will you get them to say yes? What will you do to keep them happy with their yes decisions? How will you get them to say yes to more throughout the process? The more you define in your strategy, the more successful you will be with it.

3. Cold selling has evolved

Remember the days of getting a list, picking up the phone, and making a “cold” call to someone? Nope, me neither. That’s because traditional cold calling hasn’t been around in a long time. Yet that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – we just approach it different. Thanks to the Internet, the customer is now more educated than ever before. They do their research, they understand your business, and they educate themselves on exactly what they want. Your job is to be the expert and help them bridge the gap between what they know and what they need to know in order for you to close the sale. [Read more…]

How Many Photos Is Too Many To Post

You just finished a great portrait and are excited to share your images with the world.

You created around 100 images during the portrait session. When you look through and edit them all, you have around 25 that are extraordinary – they really are your best work to date.

Two days after the portrait, you place 25 images on Facebook to showcase your newest work. Your client is super excited – she LOVES them. She starts tagging them, sharing them and talking about them with all of her friends.

Then comes ordering day – the day she is supposed to come in to order her prints. She calls in the night before and cancels – something has come up.

You finally get her on the phone three weeks later and set up a new date. That too comes and goes with no client orders.

And so on. And so on.

What happened?

They were your best work yet? You really thought this client would be different and want the images you created. They were your best work to date. And you’ve booked several other new clients just by showing off these images. They were great! So why no orders?

Let’s step back and analyze the situation.

When is a client most excited for their images?

At the time you take the images.

She’s worked hard to get the portrait sitting on the books. She’s shopped for the perfect clothes. She’s motivated her family (if it’s a family portrait) to be looking and feeling great. Everyone is at the top of his or her game that day.

If they walk away from the sitting without seeing their images, life settles in. Things happen and they move onto new thoughts and ideas. The water heater breaks. The car needs new tires. Registration opens up for the kids for school – books and uniforms and signups for sports. The money flows to different areas.

And when they log onto Facebook two days later and see 25 of the best images. Wow! They get to see the best of the best … for free! What could be better than that? And what they really wanted was wallpaper for their computer, a few images for their iPhone and iPad, and a way to blast the latest portrait around to family members around the world. You accomplished that for them – they simply shoot a message to their family and friends to check out Facebook.

Now you’ve eliminated the two things that motivated them to buy – excitement for seeing the images, and timing to spend their allotted budget on images.

How do you get around this? Put the two motivation items back into your selling routine.

First, learn to sell ten minutes after you shoot. If you’re out on location, sell through your laptop in a coffee shop or back at the clients home. If you’re in your studio, have them wait in your sales room while you do a quick edit and put a presentation together. Either way, this is when they are most excited about their images. This is when they will buy the most. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

Second, never, never put images on Facebook before the order takes place. Use Facebook to entice them to buy – never to release the excitement ahead of time. If you really want to entice them, one image with a “wait till you see the rest…” is more than enough. Make your Facebook (or blog, or SmugMug, or whatever you use) a part of your package – you get the online images after your order has been placed. To do it before hand is sales-suicide.

Social media hasn’t killed the photographer; not knowing how to sell has killed today’s photographer.

Take back the way you sell and you’ll quickly find your business thriving.

Is This What You Are Doing Wrong With Your Sales?

Are you wondering why sales aren’t where you think they should be? Are you wondering how you can get more people to your site who won’t just look, but will actually buy?

Its hard not to fall into the trap of entitlement. If you look around you, everyone talks about the overnight success stories, and the businesses that have grown from $0 to $1 million in a matter of days. Just yesterday I was emailed a story about a company that is now making $600k a month, though they were almost bankrupt a mere six weeks ago.

Entitlement is a part of our culture. We watch a show or movie and we movie from concept to solution in under two hours. Entire serial killer mysteries can be played out in less than one. So why shouldn’t we be able to build a business in a matter of weeks? We’re entitled to it, right?

The problem with entitlement within our business model is we lose site of what is truly important. Our thoughts drift to:

  • I have the most amazing product/service ever
  • My services deserve attention
  • Nobody is doing anything like me
  • I’m charging less so I should fill up twice as fast
  • Its [insert whatever you choose] fault, not my own [i.e. the economy, my parents, my spouse, my lack of education, etc]

Yet none of that is the real problem. The real problem is we bring all of our focus internally instead of placing it where it belongs … on the consumer.

A few months ago I chatted with a woman who lost her job and was trying to build up her photography business to replace her income. Her goal was to build up a portrait business that consisted of boudoir, maternity and baby portraiture. She had some great work and had a huge potential to make it grow. Where she was lacking was in marketing and sales.

So we began talking about the best way get her work out there into her community. After a little work we decided her best bet would be to get her work on the walls of a local doctor’s office. She sent off a letter and after a week … nothing. To say she was put off by the whole experience was an understatement. She was ready to throw in the towel on the whole project. Until I asked her a few questions. [Read more…]

3 Trends You Should Be Using In Your Own Sales Techniques

Its no secret that people are less accepting of more traditional types of sales methods and marketing. How many people truly use a yellow pages anymore, or trust an ad they see in a newspaper? The percentages are dwindling rapidly.

But one thing will always remain true.

People hate being sold to. But they love to buy.

Because they hate being sold to, its more important than ever to use current marketing methods that will give your potential customers exactly what they want; without feeling like they’ve been speaking with a used car salesperson.

Attract in great numbers, then focus on filtering

When you’re in business for yourself, its easy to fall into the trap of wanting to “book” every person you talk with. Yet that isn’t reality. If you book every person you talk with, you’re actually doing things wrong. You’re prices are definitely way too low. And you probably haven’t defined your product enough to make it exclusive so that you attract a certain kind of clientele.

Yet through all of your marketing methods, it is good to drive a large amount of traffic to your business, then selectively choose the ones that are right for you. Its called funneling your prospects.

Dig Deeper: The Photographers Marketing Funnel

Funneling can actually work in two ways.

First, through all of your marketing, you can drive customers into a marketing pattern in which they learn more about you. It may be through a marketing campaign in which you mail out postcards regularly, or online as a part of a drip campaign with email marketing. Only a select few will really like what you do, calling you to book a session.

Second, once you have customers in your business as a paying client, you can funnel them to other areas of your business. A business portrait client can turn into a baby portrait client, and from there a family portrait client. You simply move them from one part of your business to another by keeping them in the know of what you do.

In either case, its all about focus. Bring people in; then focus on how to convert them into clients. Again and again. [Read more…]

7 Ways To Make Money For The Holidays

Only 52 more days until Christmas.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, chances are some of your clients do. And with the many other holidays that fall around the end of the year, there is always something to celebrate somewhere.

This year, times are tight. People are out looking for more meaningful gifts that cost less, yet still show how much they love them. What could be better than photography?

But with only 52 days left until the big day, what can you do now to bring in some business in the coming weeks? Give these ideas a try.

1. Give A Gift Certificate

For many people, the holidays is the only time of the year the entire family is together. People come from near and far to celebrate together, then head off to the far corners of the world for the New Year. A gift certificate could brighten a mother’s day when she knows she’ll have a current portrait hanging on her wall to enjoy all of next year. It’s the perfect gift to give on the big day, and use a few days after Christmas to capture the entire family together. And you can print a colorful certificate on your printer, and frame it in a keepsake frame perfect for the final image.

2. Special Events Over The Next Couple of Weeks

Set up a special event and shoot over the next couple of weekends. Depending on where your studio is at, it can be on the beach, in a park, or right in your studio. Here in Colorado, it’s a great time of year to take snow portraits. Or use something that says “holidays” and put together a unique background. Put together a package that gives them a framed image perfect for holiday giving. If you make it a limited edition, you’ll be able to build on this concept year after year.

3. Sell Seasonal Packages

Want to sell more to your best clients? Set up a 4 seasons package. Over the next year, they can come in for 4 special portrait sessions all based around the 4 seasons. Then you’ll frame it in a limited edition frame – perfect for giving next holiday season. [Read more…]

7 Deadly Sins Of Sales

Want to become a better business owner Become a better salesperson first. The heart of every good business is their sales process. And while you don’t have to spend hours every day refining your pitch, there are some simple things you can do that will polish up your presentations.

1. You don’t build the story and the interest.

Think back to the best movies or the best books you’ve read over the past year. If you were to synopsize them, chances are you would have a great beginning that pulls you in, a thrilling middle that captivates interest, and an end that leaves you satisfied. Your sales presentation should be the same way. Set up your story by using examples of clients that have come to you, what was wrong with the way they’ve done things in the past, and how you’ve helped solve the problem.

2. You offer too much.

People shut down when they have too many choices. We’re all busy in our own daily lives, and even though we may be looking for a new product or service, we want some hand holding along the way. If you’ve ever had a 2 year old child in your home, you know the best way to deal with their growing independence is to offer two choices would you like this or that The same holds true throughout our lives, and simplification will always win out over complexity. Start by allowing people to choose between two or three packages; and then customize it on the other side. [Read more…]

6 Phases of a Sale

When does a sale take place? If you said when money exchanges hands, you are only partially correct. The sales process is actually much longer, and in theory, goes on for the life of your business. How so? Read on, and you’ll learn how to expand your own business by taking control over your sales process.

Vision
What type of photographer are you? Do you photograph weddings, or commercial portfolios? Do you meet with clients every day, or is it just you, your camera, and the great outdoors? No matter what your niche, you are in the process of building up your reputation.

How do you want that reputation to be vocalized to the world? When a client from your past comes in contact with a friend who asks about photography, do they know how to talk about you? What do they say? That is your vision.

It’s the mental picture you paint for the world. It’s the way others talk about you. And if you do a good enough job, the “sale” can occur right here. If a new mom shows off her images of her baby to a group of new moms and says, “I found the best baby photographer in the world”, that’s your vision at work. [Read more…]