Deal 7: How to make money through your photography
Satisfied brides are the most powerful marketing tool you can have as a wedding photographer. She will sing your praises to all of her single friends. She will promote the gorgeous wedding prints hanging in her living room. She will take her wedding album to the “girls night out” so all her friends can rave about her special day.
Nothing is better for your business than a happy bride.
However, what happens when the “getting” of brides for your business is more difficult than the care and keeping of them? Everyone knows the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” If there were ever an industry where this saying was true, it would be the wedding photography business. A photographer must network, not simply for the purpose of getting to know other people; you want other people to get to know you – both as a person and as a photographer.
In other words, “It’s not what you know, but who knows you.”
In this economy, you’ll need to utilize all the marketing tools at your disposal to create a buzz about you and your work. Fortunately for you, the digital age gives you access to direct online marketing like never before. With a few digital tools under your belt, you can create additional buzz to your business.
Many photographers use indirect marketing to promote themselves. Business cards. Flyers. Ads. Specials. These are most powerful when paired with direct marketing, when you engage the customer personally.
Try direct marketing your wedding photography in these six ways:
This doesn’t need to be created with fancy equipment and effects. Simple is sometimes most real. Use clean backgrounds, nice lighting, and engaging topics. If you film this well, you won’t have to worry about complex editing. Windows Movie Maker and iMovie will provide you with tools for basic editing and output for web.
A blog is your space to communicate you! Write about humorous situations you encountered during shoots, post on recent work, and share anecdotes from your personal life. Remember, a wedding photographer holds a great deal of trust. A blog can help foster that trust between you and your clients as they get to know you.
Create a twitter account for your photography business. Encourage your clients to follow you, and create a following of potential clients from them! [You can even add twitter updates to most free blogs]. Maximize Twitter by activating your mobile account and keep your clients updated on a day-to day basis. “Out of sight, out of mind” won’t be true for your business!
Here, you can send updates on promotions and receive real world reviews from clients. You can also post your best work and promotional videos.
Follow up with each potential client by a personal email or call congratulating them on their wedding with genuine interest. People can always detect if you are being fake. Even if the bride doesn’t end up booking you for her wedding, she will remember you for your personable and friendly attitude.
Find a worthy cause in your area and use your artistic skills to support it. Ask the local Boys and Girls club if you can take pictures for their own use. Donate a few fine art prints to a charity fundraising gallery. Host a “Portrait Day” for low income families. Advertise the event on a radio station or newspaper. If you are known as a photographer who is in the business of bettering others, you may earn the respect of individuals who are in need of your services.
For additional marketing tools, check out Guerilla Marketing, or follow the Guerilla Marketing blog. Purple Cow, or Tribes by Seth Godin are also great resources for using marketing to better your business!
April 25, 2013 04:31 am
February 22, 2013 07:16 am
Thank you so much for the useful information. I've been doing pretty much all of these things, but I don't currently have Twitter. How would you suggest go about building up a following? Should I have a business account or just one account for my business and personal life?
As for the being personal, I find that I do very well when I meet someone in person because I am truly interested in their wedding and enjoy photography, but I tend to respond to people in email. Would it be better to start calling people so they can understand my personality or would a personal call be viewed as applying sells pressure on them?
September 27, 2012 04:06 am
Amen to satisfied brides being the best source of business. I did about 6 weddings last year. One of the brides has been my best marketer and booked about 4 more weddings for me this year. It's quickly becoming a full time business with the help of word of mouth. Yes, I do some other advertising, but the word of mouth is where I get my best customers. They know what I can produce and I know what they are expecting. It works out well for both of us.
August 9, 2012 02:51 am
Great suggestions, thank you!
April 20, 2012 07:46 am
I absolutely agree with this post. Some photographers don't have time though and that's why I really recommend the Bridal Marketing Group. They can help wedding photographers blog, post to Facebook and tweet so that photographers can focus on booking and shooting weddings. www.bridalmarketinggroup.com is the website to check out.
August 2, 2011 07:54 am
Great tips! Simple but effective. I would also suggest getting to know your local wedding vendors. Referrals are what this industry is all about - & where most of my photography business comes from!
June 22, 2011 03:35 am
These are great ideas. Having a blog is a wonderful idea, especially if you can blog about local events and include your best photos. I would also include having a website and setting up your profiles on google places and yelp.
Here's another article that discusses low cost and effective methods of marketing your photography business.
April 19, 2011 03:03 am
Many thanks for your help I have used some of the marketing skills and it do's work put you have to write new items on blogs and twitter and facebook. it is a no going thing marketing always keeping your eyes open all the time. Thank you for your help..
February 28, 2011 11:04 am
great tips... will follow up on the video...
December 22, 2010 08:17 am
Thanks for this - I have some time off over the holidays and although my background is PR and marketing lists like these are really helpful. I'm one year into my wedding photography business and have utilised some of this tips - but think a video with an overview of what I'm all about would be useful.
October 3, 2010 06:11 am
Thanks for suggesting a video to promote a photography business. I haven't thought about that. :)
July 2, 2010 11:47 am
I'm not a wedding photographer, but I heard a technique for using Twitter I thought would be an amazing marketing tool for Wedding photographers. It would take a little bit of tech savvy to set-up, but once you had it going it could run itself and provide a lot of leads.
There are programs that will monitor key words in tweets. One example is a program called Hootsuite. I was thinking what if a wedding photographer monitored tweets in his or her area for tweets with words like "engaged" or "proposed" etc. You could know when someone is getting married even before the person's family. It certainly would put you at the front of the line for offering your services.
To find people in your area to follow just find a local restaurant, club, radio or TV station that people are following and begin following them.
Just and idea I had. If someone tries this I would really like to know how it works. I'm seriously considering starting a "social media" marketing company from all the things I've learned promoting my own site. contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've used a lot of these techniques in this article and it has definitely driven traffic to my site. http://www.bikerallyphotography.com[eimg url='http://www.bikerallyphotography.com/img/s10/v16/p197516006-1.jpg' title='p197516006-1.jpg']
April 20, 2010 04:54 am
I love your first idea with the video! Definitely would help with the destination brides and for those shopping around- it kinda builds a personal connection even before you speak with them.
February 24, 2010 02:22 pm
Thanks for the tips. Great article. I have employed some of these tips but will have to try them all.
January 8, 2010 02:15 am
Thank you for a very informative and insightful blog post. Will keep coming back for more. :)
December 16, 2009 05:09 am
Thank you for the useful, serious articles.
The real wedding photographer not simply earns money.
He is your friend and helper in a time of wedding.
October 17, 2009 02:25 am
October 17, 2009 02:24 am
Having had a marketing career for many decades (!), before finding my passion in pro photography (weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs), I'll be the first to support the premise of this article: you need more than one arrow in your quiver. I'd also like to suggest that there are many more "arrows" available to you as an independent photographer than the six mentioned here.
While videos and blogs have their appeal (for vastly different reasons), videos can cost a lot of money; don't attempt a do-it-yourself video any more than do-it-yourself dentistry. If you're selling high-quality photography, you'll want and need a high-quality video to showcase you.
Blogs can get you bogged down, if you're not a facile writer. If you are, then also consider a direct e-mailed newsletter. Templates abound to make them look professional. Check out Constant Contact or Vertical Response. Social media can help get the word out, but they can be huge time sucks. Walk before you run.
Surprisingly, the article omits advertising either in print or online. Admittedly, I'm still getting the hang of this myself. I have listings running in The Knot and Service Magic, as well as a linked display ad in a local community website. There are other websites that target brides-to-be, so do your research.
Also, consider writing articles for your local paper, community websites, religious organizations and so on. Keep to topic focused on useful information ("How to..." rather than self-promotion.
Volunteer. Yes! Network with other wedding vendors, such as caterers, videographers and DJs. It's entirely possible that they may be asked for a referral for a photographer. Offer them prints or files for their own marketing purposes whenever you work with them at an event.
Overall, you do need an understanding of where you are in the market, who your audience is and what image (brand) you want to project. Oh, keep track of where your leads come from. Stay with what works, abandon what doesn't. You only have so many hours in the day.
July 13, 2009 12:36 pm
Great tips, Christina!
Thanks so much!
June 15, 2009 11:40 pm
I agree that a blog is agreat way for photagraphers to express their creativity. This is a great way to update clients relevant info. Great tips!
April 18, 2009 02:58 am
Re facebook: last time I looked, it actually said more like "we can do anything we like with your stuff for the purpose of providing the service". They kinda have to have that right... But each to their own level of mistrust, and if you're not comfortable, of course, you must stay clear. Good to think about these things.
And to the original post, good stuff, thanks :)
April 17, 2009 06:07 pm
Thanks for a great, thoughtful article. Much of this stuff is common sense, but sometimes one doesn't put it all together.
April 14, 2009 09:27 pm
Great list apart from number 4. Facebook. Take a look at the terms and conditions of social networking sites. They can be very dubious on what rights you have to any work you publish there.
There was a point were Facebook basically said, "If its on our site, we can do what we like with it." Now while there has been a certain amount of retraction, I personally still wouldn't trust it one little bit.
Just something to be aware of.
April 13, 2009 06:42 am
What a timely article! I have found working with the local community folks to not only generate more clients, but to be a very rewarding time and experience.
April 13, 2009 04:50 am
Hi, this is a great list.
great ideas have been considering making a promotional video for some time!
Emily @ emilyhancockphotography
April 13, 2009 02:30 am
Excellent list. “It’s not what you know, but who knows you.” - is right on target.
The more you can get your style of images in front of prospects eyes the better. I've also linked a list of 189 business ideas for photographers http://is.gd/rFp5
Also agreed: Seth Godin is always a great resource.
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