What makes you buy from a company? You can probably think of a variety of reasons you shop with the companies you do. Yet if you look at all of them together to find a common thread, chances are you’ll come up with the term “trust”. You would never invest your time or your money in a company you didn’t trust first.
As a photographer, many of your connections will come from your online presence. Your prospects may see your work for the very first time online; their friends and family may order photographs from you without ever stepping foot in your office.
Trust can be earned in a variety of ways. Yet here are the easiest and most effective ways to get started today.
1. Be clear and concise
When I was in college, a teacher had us write up a step-by-step blueprint to help an “alien” start a car. The “alien” would be someone not from this planet, someone that had no idea what a car was or how it worked. Then she read some of them aloud.
Those instructions were amazing. Some people would say things like “put key in and turn”. What is a key? And where does it go? It taught me a valuable lesson: never assume the person reading your information knows what you know. Don’t leave anything out.
Your site is designed to provide information, and without knowing who might be reading it, the more information the better. I’ve chatted with people who want to include a paragraph or two on every page they create, leaving them to view images instead. But if you don’t explain what you want or what they should do next, they really may overlook it.
Never brag about your own products and services – let others do it for you. In today’s world, you can get testimonials in a variety of ways – in person, in video, email, Facebook and Twitter. Combine a quote with a photograph, a name, a company, a web address, or some other identifying information. The more the better.
Also, make the testimonial match your content rather than putting them all on one page. If someone is reading about wedding photography, a testimonial from a recent bride is the perfect addition to that page.
3. Verification signs
Anyone can put up a “Voted Best Photographer 2010” banner. What matters is where its from and how it connects to you. Don’t just add erroneous banners; link them to showcase what the award means. Also add in other signs you are a legitimate business – security, credit card acceptance, VeriSign and more.
Photographers love showcasing their work – yet have a much harder time showcasing themselves. On your about us page and sprinkled through your site, show people how you work by using photographs of you. Whether you hire a professional, use an assistant, or trade services with another professional, its just as important and easy for you to have great photographs as it is for other business owners.
5. Be detailed with your location
The Internet is worldwide. If you aren’t available worldwide, tell your visitors what you will do. Many photographers work out of their homes and don’t want to release personal information – I get that. We’ve operated exclusively out of our home for years now, and to get around that we use a mailbox company. We have a professional looking address I can place on every page of my site. And its nice knowing my mail and packages are safe and secure waiting for me, even when I’m gone for a long holiday weekend.
6. What happens along the way?
Many people are afraid to start a process for fear of what will happen once they get into a system. They may see they can buy images by clicking the “buy now” button, but what happens from that point forward?
Instead of leaving it to chance, explain the process before they begin. Offer FAQ or help sections, and describe shipping options, tax charges and international rates. While a description is a start, don’t forget photographs as well. If you screen shot the process and use those images in your description, it will be even easier for people to see what will happen next.
7. Show you care about more than money
Your business isn’t all about sales. Your clients want to know about you and what you stand for. Be detailed in pages like your About Us and tell them why you got into the business. Talk about charity work you are involved in. Showcase events and awards you are proud of. Not only does it add to your credibility, it also makes you stand out from your competition as well.
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