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We’re going bananas over wedding photography this month. We recently published a new guide, “How to Grow a Wedding Photography Business” and followed WPPI in Vegas almost as closely as we follow our own @mentions on Twitter. That’s why we were excited to interview PhotoShelter user and Connecticut-based fine art wedding and portrait photographer Alexandra Tremaine to find out how she attracts the clients she wants and effectively markets her services. We also picked her brain on her top tips for those wedding photographers new to the game.
After graduating from California’s Brooks Institute of Photography with greater hands-on skills and confidence to take on clients, Alexandra was initially introduced to wedding photography when a close friend asked her to shoot her big day. Alexandra panicked (a common reaction from many 1st-time wedding photographers) and remembers this day as one of the most nerve-racking experiences of her life. But she survived and ultimately excelled, which is why word of her services quickly traveled from the newlyweds straight to engaged couples in need of a good photographer. While word of mouth marketing may have helped get her started, today her success is a result of much more.
Here are Alexandra’s 8 must-do marketing moves to grow your wedding photography business:
1. Your brand will attract the type of client you want – or the ones you don’t want if you’re not careful. Alexandra defines her brand as “clean and sophisticated,” which helps her attract brides who are typically professional women from the market’s higher end. This is exactly where she wants to be.
2. Having a blog and keeping it updated with teasers from your recent shoots is a must. Remember that when people visit your site, they often go straight to your blog first because that’s a fast way to get to know you better. If you haven’t updated your blog content in 2 months, this reflects poorly and may even turn clients away. (Check out Alexandra’s photography blog.)
3. Give credit where credit is due. Linking from your blog to other wedding industry sites and to the other vendors who worked an event (florists, caterers, etc.) will drive people to their sites and make them inclined to do the same for you.
4. SEO, SEO, SEO. It’s vital to the success of your business.
5. Reposting your blog content onto your photography-specific Facebook Page is also a must. After Alexandra shoots a wedding, she gets together about 10 “teaser” images to post on Facebook and her blog. Once the images are okayed by her clients, she tags the couple on Facebook and links each image to the page on her blog where the images live. Alexandra uses Google Analytics to measure referral traffic, which also lets her know how well that tactic is working.
6. Get creative on Facebook. Offer an exclusive fine art print to anyone who provides a wedding referral that you ultimately book. (Alexandra did this and got 5 booked clients from referrals sent to her through Facebook.)
7. Photo books are not dead. Hard copy photo books can leave a positive impression with new clients, as well as wedding professionals. Alexandra is currently designing a soft cover saddle-stitch book to leave behind with wedding planners and bridal boutiques.
8. Be your own publicist. Take time to research popular and local wedding blogs, wedding planners, and bridal boutiques and send contacts an introductory email. When Alexandra emails a new contact who she thinks is a great fit with her brand, she’ll follow up with a professional packet about her business with nicely laid-out collages similar to storyboards. She’ll also provide a price list, a document showcasing three different custom albums she offers, as well as a personal handwritten note.
And for those photographers just starting out in the wedding biz, here are Alexandra’s 4 tips of advice for breaking in:
1. Don’t take on a wedding before you assist. This means you shouldn’t turn down the chance to be a photographer’s 3rd or even 4th shooter. You’ll learn a ton and may even have a fun time doing it. Wedding photography is about timing, reading people, anticipation, and so much more, so consider each shoot a chance to learn something new.
2. In the beginning, don’t be afraid to say no to jobs that aren’t a good fit. Sometimes you need to turn down jobs to stay on brand and true to what you want to shoot. This might be very hard when you have bills to pay, so if you do take a job you don’t necessarily want, don’t publicize it on your site or blog. You don’t want to get stuck with a bad habit.
3. Remember to build relationships with the bride and groom. Hopefully neither of them will be getting married again, but they do have friends and family who they can pass your business along to. In addition, previous wedding clients can turn into long-term family portrait clients if you offer this service.
4. There’s a difference between copying another photographer and looking for inspiration. Read wedding blogs and magazines often. Get your creative juices flowing, and get inspiration from sites, blogs, and magazines, but also from music videos, trail runs, yoga, art books, the car and so much more. Do what you love and what fulfills you. You never know when that light bulb will go off.
For more tips to build a stellar wedding photography business and beat out your competition, check out our PhotoShelter’s new guide, “How to Grow a Wedding Photography Business.”