Top 5 Ways to Book Clients as a New Professional Wedding Photographer
So you’re just starting out in the world as a professional wedding photographer. Whether you are a young college student, graduate, or even a photographer who wants to expand their client reach, there is a lot you need to know before you get started. The experience can be exciting, scary, and confusing, but this industry is so rewarding, and I promise you won’t regret jumping in! Being a professional wedding photographer allows you to be a part of your clients’ biggest day of their lives, and it is truly an honor to capture it for them in a way that they will cherish forever. We’ve compiled a list of the top five ways for you to book new clients as a new wedding photographer, and which ways are the most rewarding, and which ones you should stay away from.
1. In Person Networking
This will probably sound like a no-brainer, but it is extremely vital that you network like crazy! One of the best ways to do this is to attend every in person networking event that you can. Do your research and make sure to mark on your calendar every time that there is an event in your area. And I’m not just talking about wedding industry events. You should attend any networking event in you area that you thin you could meet business people. Business begets business. And getting to know the movers and shakers of your town are the best way to get your name out there.
In preparation for these events, it is important that you establish good branding on your website, and print out quality business cards. Bringing in a portfolio or wedding album (keep it in your car, don’t walk around with it) doesn’t hurt either! Also, if there is a list of people who are going to be in attendance, do your research just as you would before an interview. Find out who they are, who they’ve worked with, and their back story. This all helps make a great first impression. When you arrive, don’t be shy! Introduce yourself- you’d be surprised how many people are welcoming to up and coming photographers.
One important tip to keep in mind: make sure that you are networking on your own level. While many people welcome beginners, a well established wedding planner who works with $90k weddings every weekend is probably not looking for a beginning photographer to work with her brides. Start by looking for other vendors who are either beginners, or slightly above you. This will ensure that you both get a great contact, and as you both climb up the ladder, you can help each other get bigger clients.
2. Wedding Website Directories
The power of technology is growing every second, so why not take advantage of it for your own benefit? Wedding websites such as Wedding Wire, The Knot, My Wedding, and Borrowed and Blue all offer really great resources to get your name out. You are able to create FREE profiles (you heard that right, FREE) that potential clients can search and look at. These sites act as a search engine for wedding vendors in some sense. They also offer paid profiles, which will get your name up higher on the lists and get more features on your profile.
When making your profile, be sure to make it as strong as possible. Include as much information as possible, sample photos of your work, contact info, and even references (only if you know that they will give positive feedback). There is no surefire way to know which website will be the best for your area and services, so it’s best to try out each one one at a time and see the results. Don’t spend the money on all of the profiles at once- it won’t be worth the money. For myself and my area, I have found tremendous success with WeddingWire and some reasonable success with The knot. However, everyone has very different opinions on the effectiveness of paid directories. I think that as a professional wedding photographer having profiles on these directories is great. Especially because I gather reviews and showcase them there. Brides trust these large sites to have a stringent review gathering process, so all the reviews are real.
3. Print Ads are a No-Go
If I’m being perfectly honest here, print ads for me have been an absolute waste of time, energy, and money. The way that technology is changing, clients are looking for more information than what you can find in print, and let’s face it: most brides are not searching through magazines for vendors anymore. Print ads are also EXTREMELY overpriced- you’re looking at $500-$5,000 a pop. Stick to internet ads, they will be much more effective, both in results and expenses. A typical Google Adwords campaign can cost you $200-500 a month and it will get you solid leads and traffic to your site. So will a Facebook Ad or Instagram ad.
I get calls about 2-3 times a month form local and national magazines telling me all the benefits of print ad and the “so-called” reach of their print audience. In my experience, and in the experience of many of my professional wedding Photographer piers, print ad buys have lost their traction. What you will spent on one print ad you could spend on an entire month of google ads. And the results are trackable metrics. Not just sales pitches from reps who make a percentage of your ad buy.
Facebook, Instagram, and Google all have extremely effective marketing techniques to purchase. Many even offer ways to target a specific audience, which makes sure you are getting the right clients for you. On Google, paying for ads ensures that you get on the first page of search options, rather than the 7th or 8th. You also can customize them a lot more than other types of ads, and is more cost effective too!
4. Personal Invitation
While networking and advertisements are effective in their own right, nothing is more professional than a personal invitation. Take some of the contacts you got from networking events, or even do some research and find vendors that you are interested in working with, and invite them out to talk over coffee. Make sure every email is personalized, don’t be generic and send the same email to every vendor. It’s important to make the vendor feel important and valued.
Introduce yourself, and invite them to meet you in person. Perhaps invite them for coffee. Or send them a Starbucks gift card with a handwritten note inviting them for coffee. When you’ve met, you can talk and get to know them more. Compare portfolios, and only once you’ve gotten to know each other, then you can ask about being on their list of preferred vendors. Making a personal connection will give them piece of mind, and allows for you to also have a great reference in the future.
Your search should start with planners but don’t forget about vendors besides wedding planners. Other vendors are also influential and getting to meet them is crucial! Also, don’t forget to contact other local professional wedding photographers. That’s right! Second shooting for other photographers is crucial to building your portfolio, your skills, your sense of community and getting referrals.
5. Styled Shoots
Visit this blog post to find a step by step guide on how to plan your own styled shoot. Shoots are one of the best ways to improve your portfolio and to network. You should do at least two styled shoots a year with as many different vendors as you can! Read that blog post and get shooting!
Starting out as a professional wedding photographer may seem like a daunting task, but these tips will help to ensure you get your name out in the most positive light possible. Using the suggested techniques will also help you get in contact with other great vendors, which could lead to collaborations and opportunities that you could never have dreamed of before! Thanks so much for reading! As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, and follow us on Facebook and IG to see the latest shoots!
Thanks for reading Top 5 Ways to Book Clients as a New Professional Wedding Photographer blog post! Check out my other articles for photographers like Top 5 Ways to Find An Affordable Wedding Photography Assistant, Why Photographers Need A PDF Pricing Guide, Contax 645 Tutorial #3 | Camera Settings, Film Choices, Metering, and Posing, Contax 645 Tutorial #2 | Camera Accessories, Film Loading and More, Contax 645 Tutorial #1 | Hybrid Wedding Photography Equipment, and many more in our Journal page.
Check out some of my wedding photos at The Market At Grelen Wedding | Virginia Wedding Photos, Delta Plantation Wedding Photos, Belmond Maroma Cancun Wedding among others. And some engagement photos as well like Wormsloe Engagement Photos and Savannah Engagement Photo Session | Forsyth Park to name a couple. Also, go to our General Wedding FAQ and our Engagement Session FAQ posts for information about how to prepare for your photo sessions. We have other posts that can help you in your wedding preparations in our Journal Page. Don’t forget to check out my homepage for my newest wedding photography work.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, and be sure to follow us on social media for the latest shoots and blog updates!
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