Nobody wants to hire you for their wedding photography. It’s not fair, is it?
Your photographs are gorgeous, you’ve created a shiny new website, and you’re more loveable than a bucket of kittens. So why isn’t your phone ringing off the hook with people wanting to hire you for their wedding?
It’s easy to start doubting yourself and going a little crazy. Maybe your photographs aren’t as good you thought. Are your prices too high, or too low? Perhaps all your competitors are secretly dating wedding planners?
The reality is that these days it requires a little more savvy to be a successful wedding photographer. It’s because there may actually be more wedding photographers on the planet than there are stars in the solar system. So, let’s help you shine brighter than everyone else in your area with some simple, practical ideas for getting more wedding photography bookings.
Your photography style
There are so many different styles of wedding photography. Photojournalistic, posed, quirky and fun, romantic, fashion, traditional, highly retouched, and so on.
Pick a style that you love to photograph and then specialize in it. Only show that style of photography in all your marketing. Ideally, it’s a style that most of your competitors aren’t using. The more defined you can make it, the better because people who love that style will be drawn to you.
Yes, you will repel some people, but it’s better to have 20% of people love your work than having 100% of people just say that it’s “nice”.
People buy from people they like and trust
Hiring a wedding photographer is a huge decision for a bride and groom. They have to pay a large sum of money to have a stranger stand by their side all day on one of the most important days of their life. They’ve got so many concerns spinning around their head. For example:
- Is this photographer going to be rude, or just plain dull?
- What happens if we don’t like the photographs? After all, most photographers can cobble together a decent portfolio. But can they do a good job in tough conditions?
- What happens if it rains?
- Will the photographer be able to cope with my crazy family?
- Will they actually turn up?!
- Is it even possible for me to look good in a photograph?
- Will they be able to keep us on schedule?
- Will the group photographs be as painfully boring and time-consuming as I fear?
The list goes on.
One way to get more wedding inquiries is to handle these concerns within your marketing. When you show a couple that you understand their fears and you can help them, then they’ll start to trust you. If you can do this in an engaging, kind, and entertaining way then they’ll start to like you, too.
So how might you deal with their concerns? The single best way I’ve found is to have a money-back guarantee. However, you shouldn’t simply have a bullet point saying “Money-back guarantee” on your website. Inject some feeling into it.
Explain that you’ve heard all the horror stories about wedding photographers letting down couples and that your signed guarantee is there to put their mind at ease. It also demonstrates that you’re confident in your abilities and that you truly care about your clients. This one thing will instantly make you stand out and build trust.
If you’re the same as every other photographer then the only reason to hire you is the price. We’ve already talked about differentiating yourself through your photographic style and through having a guarantee, but there are many other ways to do it.
For example, I choose 70-page A3 sized (29.7 x 42.0cm, or 11.69 x 16.53 inches) wedding albums that can fit 250 photographs in them comfortably. That number of photographs can comfortably tell the whole story of the wedding day, so the bride and groom don’t have to leave out any images. This avoids awkward conversations with Auntie Betty where the couple has to explain why she didn’t make the cut because they put their friends in instead.
There are lots of great slideshow services (like Animoto) available for you to create beautiful, animated, audio-visual presentations within a few minutes. Couples love them and you can even create presentations made up of their childhood photographs which can be played for the entertainment of guests during the reception. I use a projector and screen to present the show and it’s guaranteed to get the parents a little tearful.
Or, how about creating a framed portrait of the bride from the engagement session to give to the bride’s parents as a surprise gift on the wedding day?
Sometimes you don’t have to be different to stand out. You simply have to explain something that other photographers don’t make clear. For example, many photographers scout venues before the wedding. It helps then find the best places for the romantic and group photographs. They get to see where the best light will be and the best compositions can be made. Most photographers never mention this in their marketing, so if you do then it cements your position in the market as a helpful and dedicated professional.
Reveal your personality
Again, people hire people they like and trust. So, give prospects a hint at what it would be like to work with you by injecting your personality in your marketing. The About Page on your website is really important. If a couple doesn’t connect with you after reading it, they’re far less likely to get in touch.
Just like with your photography it’s okay if your personality doesn’t gel with everyone. If you’re a bit quirky that’s fine. If you’re obsessed with dogs then talk about that. People will connect with you over the weirdest stuff. But if you give them nothing to connect with then you won’t attract anyone.
The less you reveal about yourself the more unfriendly or distant you may seem. These days even large businesses are starting to understand that people don’t like dull “corporate speak”.
Use social proof
People want to get a feel for what it would be like to work with you. That’s why people love to read reviews and testimonials before going on holiday or watching a movie. The same applies to photographers.
Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use. Never stop asking for them. Don’t just put them on one page of your website, use them on every page and in your other marketing. Make them impossible to miss. Ask clients to put them on your Google business page too, as this will quickly help your search engine ranking.
Another great way of showing clients how great you are to work with is to create a behind the scenes video. Ask a second shooter to film you in action at a wedding. The best moment is when you’re charming the guests during the group photographs, or perhaps the romantic ones. It’s the perfect way of providing absolute proof that you would be a joy to work with on the big day for their wedding photography.
Rocking the client meeting
Most wedding photographers meet their couples in person, or over Skype before they’re booked. Sadly, all the fantastic marketing in the world can unravel quickly if you screw this bit up.
One of the most common mistakes photographers make is they start talking about their packages 30 seconds after meeting.
A better approach is to make the whole meeting about the client and what they want. You do that by asking lots of strategic questions. For example:
- What are you looking for in your wedding photographer?
- What’s the most important thing to you about your wedding?
- Describe your wedding in three words
- Is there anything you’re worried about?
This shows that you care about them and what they want. It also gives you a nice segue into explaining some of the things that separate you from the competition.
For example, when couples tell me, “we hate weddings with formal group photographs with everyone looking bored”, that gives me the perfect excuse to bring up something unique I do. I bring a bottle or two of bubbly to spice up the formal photographs. One of the bottles is given as a prize to whoever performs the best during the group photographs. This always leads to a bit of banter and of course you get great photographs of the bubbly being popped open.
You should only start talking about your wedding packages once you’ve been chatting about their wedding for about 30 minutes. That is enough time for you to build rapport with them, find out what they’re looking for, and to explain how your unique services can help them.
When presenting your packages, start with your finest (biggest and best). After you’ve explained each package, ask them how they feel about it. Some clients never even bother looking at the smaller packages if they love the top one.
When you work down the packages like this it’s hard for people to then take the smallest package because they’ve just heard you talk about all these fantastic things you can do for them.
Get the booking
Don’t forget to ask for the sale! It’s so easy to have a nice long chat, only to realize that the couple has left and you never asked them to hire you. It’s your job to gently nudge them into a decision. As you go through the packages and find out which is their favorite, just come right out and say, “Fantastic, I’d really love to work with you because you’re such an amazing couple and your wedding sounds fantastic. A deposit is just $XXX amount and I can take a credit card if you’d like to reserve the date now. How does that sound?”
Simply asking for the booking in a positive and enthusiastic way will dramatically increase your conversion rate. But, you’ll still get some couples say they want to think about it and get back to you. There are many ways to handle that situation. The underlying strategy is to keep them talking because the longer they’re with you the more likely it is that they’ll book. One response is to say, “I completely understand, but do you mind if I ask how you feel about everything we’ve talked about today?”
Another response would be, “Absolutely, but can I ask what it is you’re looking for, maybe I can help if there’s something on your mind?”
The trick is to keep digging until you find out what’s keeping them from hiring you right then and there. This is a great time to stress your money-back guarantee because it helps people overcome the fear of choosing the wrong photographer.
This article only scratches the surface on how to book more weddings, but hopefully, you can see that the issue is rarely just price. Sadly, too many wedding photographers respond to a lack of bookings by lowering their price rather than improving their service and the way they connect with couples.
The more you think about how you can serve your clients the better you’ll do. So, which idea resonates the most with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.