THIS IS A GUEST POST COURTESY OF MARKETING AND BUSINESS VETERAN BRENDAN HUFFORD. IN 2016, HE FOUNDED PHOTO MBA, WHERE HE TEACHES PHOTOGRAPHERS HOW TO CHARGE MORE, LAND BETTER CLIENTS, ELIMINATE BUSINESS HEADACHES, AND BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN THEIR CURRENT REALITY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS GOALS.
I talk to a lot of photographers.
Since I started Photo MBA, I’ve probably gotten on a call with over 100 photographers and the thing that I keep hearing over and over again is something along the lines of:
“I don’t get how they’re so successful?!? Their work is passable, at best.”
These photographers are struggling to fathom how another photographer in their area can produce sub-par work and still get tons of clients, seemingly with ease.
And their disbelief is their undoing. Mostly because what their competitors are doing isn’t a secret.
The truth is, their competition is just focusing more on business than photography.
Here are three things you can do to get more clients, without getting better at taking photos.
1. Do More for SEO Than “Blog”
The reason that “blogging” is a huge mistake for most photographers is because they think they can just throw up anything on their website and it will help them.
Some photographers create a new blog post with 60 photos and no words.
Most photographers don’t bother to write more than a few sentences, which I totally get. You’re a photographer, not a writer.
But your photos are only proof that you can do good work.
Your words are what sells a person on booking YOU.
Words are hard-wired into us and we expect to be sold with words, not just images. Squiggly lines on a page and I can communicate things to you that even photographs can’t describe.
Look, you’re still reading. That’s magical, but it’s not magic.
You just need to learn to write in a way that builds trust.
So to break it down even further, I created a specific blogging formula just for photographers:
- Clients – Chat up your relationship with your clients. It’ll help the reader understand that you personally invest yourself in your work and you care about the people who hire you.
- Obstacles – Tell a quick story of something that went wrong during the day of the shoot and how you handled it. If you had to think fast because the couple wanted night-time outdoor photos, say that.This places you in the position of the “expert” and let’s them know you’re a professional who is ready to handle anything.
- Highlights – End your article on a high note by sharing the more amazing parts of your session/day. The reader will start to imagine themselves in the same successful position.
- Link – Post a link for them to get in touch with you, join your mailing list, go to your contact page or even call you. If they’ve read this far, they may be ready to get in touch.
- Photos – WHAT? Shouldn’t the photos go first? NO. Remember, words sell your photos. Thus, words come first. Also, only show 5-10 of your best photos. If they don’t want to book you after seeing 5-10 photos, posting all 227 of them isn’t going to do the trick.
- Link – Yes, ANOTHER link. We don’t want the reader to have to scroll back up or search around to get in touch. They’ve read a whole post and they’re ready to take the next action so make it easy for them! Link to similar places as the first link in the article but use different wording.
This formula has helped photographers of all levels turn their website into a money-printing machine. For example, Shane Cleminson works this formula perfectly here:
If you’re in a down season of work, going back through your blog and turning each article into something that actually drives business for you is well worth your time.
2. Start Building (and Using!) an Email List
Remember the last time you were ecstatic to get an email?
I do. It was 1998.
Probably the same for you and your clients.
Now, is that to say that nobody likes getting relevant emails? Absolutely not! Email is still the number one way to communicate with past and potential clients.
The same adage has always been true in business: we work with people that we like and trust.
And the best way to keep building that trust once somebody leaves your site is by getting their email address first.
Michael Williams, a Pittsburgh wedding photographer, has started offering something that’s really smart: a guide to all of the best wedding vendors in Pittsburgh. In one fell swoop he gets to promote his friends and earns permission to market to people by getting their email address.
Pixan Photography does something similar with their “ultimate guide” strategy. They’ve created an ultimate guide to getting married at Azul Fives and with such a long article, a potential client may not want to read it all so they pitch a quick “checklist” that you can opt in or.
These photographers are earning the permission to market to clients and build a relationship by giving value first instead of trying to close a sale on the first interaction.
3. Keep a Client Database
How many of your clients pick up their phone and give you a call on a regular basis?
I’m willing to bet that number is somewhere around… zero.
But photographers who’ve kept a smart client database can, similar to an email list, keep in touch with them at specific and important intervals!
Here’s an example of four things that I advise wedding photographers to do:
- One year after the wedding, send a follow-up email with a note about something you remember from the day. Don’t think you’ll remember? Of course you won’t, but if you made a note in your database, you will!
- Two years after the wedding, check their Facebook pages and see if they’ve had kids. If they have, send them a quick message on Facebook or via email and congratulate them!
- Three years after the wedding…. See where this is going?
What happens is that you end up turning a $3,000 one-off wedding client into a $10,000 wedding/birth/newborn/family client.
Don’t want to do birth, newborn, or family photos? No problem. Work out a referral deal with another local photographer and refer them over to them for a small fee.
Now, do any of those things have to do with taking better photos? Absolutely not. It’s a photography BUSINESS.
Your ability to keep your passion as your main source on income is entirely dependent on your skills as a business-owner, not as a photographer.
Prove Me Wrong!
Comment below (I read every one!) and let me know which of these ideas won’t work for you and why. I’d love to start a conversation and think through how all three of these tips can work for every single photographer on the planet.