This is the last day of my guide to becoming a wedding photographer or even just a better photographer. We’ve gone over a lot of important things from whether you should even be a wedding photographer, getting your first wedding, what to buy, and tips on being a legit business. Today we end with the thing I struggle with the most: marketing. I feel like I’m a decently persuasive person when I want to be, but for some reason, when it comes to selling my work and getting customers, I struggle. Part of it is just being apprehensive about asking for business and the other part is the actual techniques of marketing. I’ve learned some things over the years, and marketing is definitely a vital part of running a business. Some people are just naturals, but if you are like me, here are some marketing tips for wedding photographers that I think will help out.
Marketing Tips for Wedding Photographers
Before we get into the marketing tips, let me say that not everything works for everybody. Some photographers are really good at one form or marketing, while others excel in another area. Feel free to look at the tips I give and see which fit better with who you are and your business. You can try a few of them out and see what works. You might even come up with some of your own ideas along the way.
Everyone is online these days. Just look around and you’ll see people looking at their phones. Social media is what people do, and you need to be out there as well. For wedding photographers, I’d say you should be on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and possibly Snapchat. These seem to be the most popular these days.
The idea behind social media is that people will find you through certain outlets, look at your work, and then contact you. For lots of people, social media is a large part of their marketing. I do a decent amount of work with social media, but honestly, it doesn’t bring me tons of business. Most of the business I receive is from Facebook, and it’s from people I already knew. Occasionally I’ll have someone not connected to find me, but it’s rare.
I really don’t know why it doesn’t work for me. Maybe I’m just not social enough or I don’t put the right stuff out there or something else. It’s something I really should figure out.
There are plenty of great things about social media. One, it’s free. You can get an account and participate without having to pay. Two, it helps you find out information about potential leads (Facebook stalking) that could help you book them. Three, most of them are visual, so they work well for photographers.
I’ve seen a few things be successful of social media. You can build a large group of friends and followers and ask them for referrals or other favors. You can have contests and specials to attract leads like mini shoots or a free engagement session contest. You can simply be active on social media and see when people get engaged. These are just a few ideas for social media.
The most known and common form of marketing out there is ads. We see them all the time, everywhere we go. We’ve learned to ignore a good chunk of them, but ads still do work. I still find myself looking at them, reading them, and researching their products. Ads do cost money, but they can be a good idea for wedding photographers.
The good news is that you don’t have to pay to have a billboard. There are much cheaper forms of ads out there. The most popular among wedding photographers are Facebook ads and Google AdWords. I’ve used both and had some success, so I would put them above social media.
Out of the two, I use Facebook ads way more than I do AdWords. I find Facebook ads to be simpler to use, and I’ve already got a strong presence on Google. The cool thing about Facebook ads is that you can target exactly who you want. Remember your ideal client? You can actually put in some of that information and send the ads to those people only.
There are different ways to go about these ads. I’ve used them with contests to get leads. This does work in that I got a ton of leads, but the majority of them weren’t really my ideal client. Most were interested in something free or I was out of their price range. I have booked at least one wedding from it, though, so that has made it worth it. The other way is to retarget your website visitors. This means that once someone visits your site, he or she will start seeing your Facebook ad. You can also ad the other targeting into this as well, so only engaged people that visit your site are seeing the ads. This is a nice way of reminding people about your services. They might have loved your work but got distracted and left your website. The Facebook ad will remind them. The ad itself can just be promoting your business and what you do, or it could be offering a special deal.
If you search for anything wedding related, you will most likely see a few different wedding websites at the top of Google. The two big ones are WeddingWire and The Knot. There are a few other ones floating around, but I wouldn’t put any money into the other ones.
These two sites are wedding directories. That means they list wedding businesses. You can get a free listing on either one, but the features are limited, and you will be on the 3rd or 4th page. When you are a paying member, you can add photos and you will be on the first page.
I’ve been a paying member of WeddingWire for over a year now. I have some mixed feelings about it. I get a decent amount of leads each month, but the majority of the leads never respond back after they find out my starting price. Still, I booked two weddings at least last year from WeddingWire, so it was worth it. I’ve gotten a good amount of leads so far this year, but nothing booked. If for some reason I don’t book at least two weddings this year, I’ll be moving on.
I’ve never paid for The Knot, and I hear mixed things, just like I do about WeddingWire. Some think it’s a big scam, and others get tons of bookings. They both are decently expensive, so I’d pick one and try that out.
I’ve been doing bridal shows for about 7 years now. A bridal show is a big convention where you set up a booth and people come around and talk to you. For the most part, I’ve had good success with bridal shows. I usually book 1-3 weddings from a show. There have been only 2-3 times I got nothing.
Bridal shows can be a waste if you go about it the wrong way. First, you need to have an attractive booth. You need to get their attention. I always have something big built with some larger photos hanging on it. I think this helps because they can see the photos from far away and will want to come get a closer look. Two, you have to be outgoing. I try not to be the super annoying, force you into a conversation person, but I don’t just sit behind a table. I’m up and about and when people start looking at things, I’ll start up a conversation. Three, do a giveaway! People are generally shy as well, so if you give them a reason to come into the booth, you’ll have a better chance. The giveaway also gives you something to say to them as they pass along without just yelling, “Hey you! Come talk to me!”
A few days after the bridal show, you’ll get a list of contacts. Some people will call every number on that list. I’m sure this does work and gives you a better chance of booking some of them, but that seems kind of annoying and takes a lot of time. If you are into that kind of stuff, go for it. For a while, I use to just send a big email blast out to the list. That really did nothing for me. Now, I strategically look for people to reach out to. It might be a date I have open or a Friday wedding or maybe I just had a good conversation with them. I’ll reach out to those people and maybe offer them a special deal.
By far, my most productive form of marketing has been my website. My website brings in about 50% of my business. You might think, how is a website marketing? Well, it’s something that I put out there that helps people find out about me and persuades them to book me, so I’d say that’s exactly what you want from marketing.
The major thing my website does is bring in visitors. I’ve been working on my search engine optimization (SEO) for about 6 years, and I’ve managed to be at the top of several searches. People will go to Google, type in something about wedding photographers, and bloop, there I am. SEO does take some work, but if you learn the right things and put in the effort, you can make it to page 1 on Google.
The website itself will either attract leads or lose them. I went into some of the important information on the build a website post, but I’ll try to go into more detail.
You have to get their attention quickly and make them interested. This means the page has to lead in a second or two and they have to see something that wows them right then. From there, they will look more deeply into your website.
Eventually, they will look at your About Me section. They’ve probably already looked at 30 other photographers’ sites, so you have to say something to stand out. Mine is pretty goofy and I did that on purpose. They might laugh or make a connection to what I said. It’s also a part of who I am, so I want them to know that I like to have fun.
One other very important thing is to have a way for them to easily reach out. I have a contact form with about 5 questions. That’s on the contact page, but I’ve also put buttons on several other pages that entice them to contact me. The more times you can put it out there, the more likely they will fill out the form.
Marketing can make or break your business. I know several photographers that aren’t amazing, but they are good at marketing, so they do really well. Sometimes it’s about getting in front of the right people and saying the right thing. That’s what marketing is all about.
I hope these marketing tips for wedding photographers were helpful, and I hope these past 10 emails have taught you something as well. I love the wedding world, and I want to make sure all brides get an amazing photographer. With that said, I’m here to help, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask.